Drakengard - Review

The Thing That Should Not Be...
By: Solon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 2
   Interaction 2
   Originality 2
   Story 2
   Music & Sound 2
   Visuals 3
   Challenge Easy to Medium
   Completion Time 10-30 Hours  

This was cool the first ten times I did it.
This was cool the first ten times I did it.

   What happens if you mix the gameplay mechanics from Dynasty Warriors and Chaos Legion, and remove just about everything that was fun about them? Simply put, the answer is Drakengard. What was going on over at Square-Enix when they created this game is still unknown, but it's obvious that this title is only a failed experiment. On top of it all, there were rumors going around about this game involving incest, rape and homosexuality. Such rumors would most likely lower the sales for the game, even if it's a fact that they aren't true at all.

   Drakengard tells a story about three different characters; Caim (the protagonist), Furiae (Caim's sister, The Goddess) and Inuart (Furiae's husband). In the land where these three live, war reigns. Two powers, the Union and the Empire desperately fights over who should control the Goddess Furiae, who upholds the harmony of the world they live in. The story also tells of three seals, which are scattered around the world. The goddess herself is the fourth seal, and together the four of them is the key to the salvation of all mankind... or so the legend says. Not too surprisingly, the Empire tries to kidnap the Goddess from the Union (in which you fight), and the game more or less is about protecting her. In order to this on your own, you are forced to make a pact with a dragon. The plot is filled with nonsense. Every now and then, characters come up to you and speak in poetry, or just act crazy. Sometimes, an ally can whisper things like "Blood! Salvation! Yes! Humans!". Sometimes it's just embarrassing, since the point was obviously to create a sense of depth and philosophical meaning.

   The gameplay in Drakengard is very similar to Dynasty Warriors, and in some ways Chaos Legion. All battles are in real-time, and you will face hundreds upon hundreds of enemies on the field. As many suspected before the game was released, there is no variation to this whatsoever. You will simply press X over and over and over again. And once you've done that, you better press X some more, because more enemies are likely to show up. There is a variety of weapons though, but there really isn't any huge difference between them. After you kill a certain amount of enemies with each weapon, that weapon will level up and gain more attack power. In some cases, Caim will also swing the weapon faster when it has gained a few levels. As a bonus to soften up enemies, each weapon has a magical spell which also becomes more powerful each time the weapon gains a level.

   After Caim creates the pact with the dragon, aerial combat is available for most of the time. While this seemed kind of cool in the beginning, it unfortunately also quickly becomes repetitive and boring. The dragon can shoot fireballs, and that's pretty much it. If you press and hold the attack button, the dragon can target several enemies at once (much like Jehuty does with the lasers in Zone of the Enders 2, only not nearly as powerful... and not nearly as cool either). Once you've killed enough enemies with the dragon, it can unleash a devastating special attack, which pretty much cleanses the area around you. Cool? Well, yes. Repetitive? Yes, very. I was pretty much tired of all the things you could do after three or four stages.

   Outside of battle, there isn't really anything to do in Drakengard. You can always go back to earlier missions and finish them off again if you'd like to level up your weapons or just slaughter some soldiers for fun. Before each mission, you can also choose which weapons to bring etc. As for the localization in the game, there really isn't much to say either. Aside from the weird dialogue that sometimes pops up for no reason, the characters don't talk much. There are a bunch of story sequences, and they are all well translated. Much of the dialogue was illogical and confusing though.

Enemy design!
Enemy design!

   As every RPGamer knows, a very important factor in order to make the entire gameplay more enjoyable is to add music. Preferably good, fitting music. Unfortunately, Drakengard fails terribly here as well. I really enjoyed the main theme, but the rest felt like something I could've composed myself. There is no variation whatsoever here either, and pretty much the same tune is played in every mission throughout the game.

   While looking at games like Chaos Legion, Dynasty Warriors and even Devil May Cry, Drakengard feels like a total rip-off. The gameplay is very similar to all of the above mentioned games, only a lot worse. The only really impressive part of Drakengard are the FMVs. Like always, Square has spent a huge amount of time making incredibly beautiful CG which, despite only showing us uninteresting stuff in a crappy game, is very impressive. The rest of the visuals in the game are nothing special at all. The backgrounds and surroundings are dull and undetailed, all the enemies look exactly the same etc. It often felt like I was running around in a game that was still under development.

   As for challenge, Drakengard can become pretty frustrating at times. Sometimes the enemies are just too many, and you can't press X fast enough to beat all of them in time. Luckily, some random enemies drop small green crystals that will heal you automatically when you walk over them. All in all, Drakengard shouldn't take longer than about 10-15 hours to finish if you only rush through it (which you most likely will if you have ended up with this game in your PS2). There are a bunch of extra endings and missions though, and if you want to see it all, you'd probably have to stick around for about 20-25 hours.

   There isn't much more to say, so I'll just say this; don't buy this game. Drakengard is hardly even an RPG. It's a poorly executed, repetitive and boring action game which will give you no satisfaction at all. Take my advice and stay away from this game.

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