Developer: Access Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: May 20th
Rarely have I ever gone into a game knowing as little as I have about Drakengard 3. I enjoy my wacky, obscure games from the land of the rising sun as much as the next guy, but I’ve barely even heard of the series, let alone played any of the previous entries. This is also the first entry in the series in a decade, with the previous games way back on the PS2. Luckily Drakengard 3 is a prequel, so while there may be nods to the previous games, you certainly don’t need to have played previous titles to jump into this one. But do you want to?
The world, characters and story in Drakengard 3 are just downright odd and bizarre. The world is saved from pointless war by 6 magical goddesses known as “Intoners”. Zero, one of the Intoners, wants to eliminate the others. She fails pretty badly in her first attempt, losing her arm and her dragon, Michael. She survives though, and a year later with a new dragon (Mikhail) and a new arm, she’s ready to try again.
Sounds like a pretty standard tale of revenge, right? Well, Drakengard 3 is filled with things that try and subvert your expectations. Like swearing. Lots of lots of swearing. And sexual innuendos. Characters like Decadus, who shudders in pleasure whenever something painful is talked about. Or Orta, an old man with a scary libido who likes to talk about sex at every opportunity. There’s even meta-humor where Zero complains about sections of the game. Soldiers regularly talk about how hot either Zero or their personal Intoner is. It also has Mikhail peeing and farting. If this sounds awesome and hilarious, you may enjoy the atmosphere of Drakengard 3 enough to play through the whole game. Personally, I was laughing my ass off half the time and rolling my eyes or groaning the other half.
Drakengard 3 is the ugliest game I have played in a long time. Every level is essentially the same bunch of uninspired corridors with an incredibly basic theme like forest or desert. There is generally a lot going on at once, and if the game ran smooth with plain, ugly graphics I could forgive that. Unfortunately, it’s a complete mess. It often stutters and glitches, with enemies popping in and out and getting stuck on terrain. The frame rate also chugs at incredibly slow rate when there’s something like a plethora of explosions being displayed onscreen.
Drakengard 3 is filled with things that try and subvert your expectations. Like swearing. Lots of lots of swearing. And sexual innuendos. Characters like Decadus, who shudders in pleasure whenever something painful is talked about. Or Orta, an old man with a scary libido who likes to talk about sex at every opportunity.
The real downfall of Drakengard 3 is that the gameplay is barely functional; every level is pretty much the same. You run through a bunch of meatbags that are little more than things for you to swing your choice of several weapons at. At some point, you run into some giant boss, which can all be beaten with roughly the same strategy; dodge until they attack and miss, then pound on them for a bit and repeat. You are accompanied by disciples of the Intoners you kill, but they are useless 99.9% of the time, often seen running into walls while you are fighting. The .1% is because every once in a great while they do distract enemies. Lock on targeting often fails to lock on. Nothing really works well.
Drakengard 3 does try to diversify a little bit with sections where you fly on top of your dragon, but the controls in these sections barely work as well. I often had to fight them and the camera itself to do something as simple as hit enemies with a fireball. However, the game offers little to no challenge in these sections, so I was able to somehow muddle through.
I assume there is some very hardcore contingent out there that will be very forgiving of Drakengard 3‘s many faults. After all, this is the third one; there must be an audience for it. They will enjoy the mindless action, the humor and the admittedly-unique take of a protagonist who isn’t really a hero, just a murderous psychopath. If Drakengard 3 was an anime, I might be able to recommend it because it’s crazy characters and humor can grow on you after a time. But Drakengard 3 is a video game, and on just about every level it’s a disaster.
(A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review)