Playing Nier Automata piqued my interest in the Drakengard universe so I bought a copy of Drakengard 3 for the PS3. It is a prequel to the series of Drakengard games and focuses on an Intoner who goes by the name Zero. Intoners are goddess like beings who have a special power of magic known as “song” which can be used to manipulate elements. They are worshiped by the common folk as heroes because long ago they saved the world from chaos created by various warlords. The source of the Intoners power comes from an evil force and they have sinister plans for the people they rule.
In the Drakengard 3, Zero goes rogue and sets off on a mission to kill her sisters because she suspects that the Intoners plan on using their powers to end the world. After Zero defeats her sisters, she uses them for protection and each has her own weapons and skills. However, Zero’s sisters are pretty useless in a fight and don’t really participate in battles.
The series is very dark and ultraviolent. Killing, the cycle of violence and the reasons people kill are explored in the series. Sexuality is another concept touched. The Intoners in particular have various degrees of sex drives, from insatiable pansexual nymphomaniacs to asexual virgins. Disciples are men who serve them for both protection and sexual purposes.
As the game progress, you learn more and more about Zero’s motivation for going on a rampage. The story, lore and themes are interesting and are the best highlight of the game.
The same cannot really be said for the majority of everything else. Zero is without a doubt one of the most annoying and terrible characters I have encountered in a video game. She gets angry at the most trivial things and this causes her to waste time in achieving here objectives, especially when she needs to remain calm. Her rash decisions can cause trouble and also even prevents her from reaching goals. She is also a complete jerk to everyone she encounters. She enjoys killing and her bloodlust is insatiable and she even would kill kids and the elderly. The other characters as well is just as vile and miserable as her and they enjoy killing and taking part in immoral sexual activities.
Zero is aided by a dragon known as Mikhail who is a pacifist and disgusted by the violence and pointless chaos around him. As you progress in the game Mikhail becomes more and more powerful with more powerful attacks and defense. You can either go through flying sections that are on rail shooter like or free range combat that combines ground and aerial gameplay where Mikhail can use slash and swipe enemies with his body and he can fly as well to strike enemies from a distance. Sometimes in ground based missions, you can call Mikhail to send airstrikes on enemies. The controls for the flying sections is really clumsy.
It is a fairly long game and you can replay chapters anytime you like after completion. Completion of the game multiple times allows you to explore new chapters in order to fully understand the story and to unlock the true ending like in many Yoko Taro projects. You can also take part in accord mode where you complete objectives at a certain period of time in exchange for bonuses like increased amount of potions or new equipment.
After completing missions, you are given various rewards like money and equipment and you level up after completing them and your weapons becoming more powerful also.
On the ground, hack and slash-based combat is used. You can select up to 4 different weapons at anytime during combat and each weapon is useful depending on the type of enemy being fought. The game has a variety of weapons to choose from. You can upgrade them with cash that you have earned from the treasure you discovered, by either killing enemies or by finding chests. You can find more as you progress and level up in the game. Defeating enemies will give you xp points and also sometimes they drop treasure on the ground which can be used as money. Sometimes there is puzzle solving in the game but its super easy and serve only as to pad the time in the game and after a while, it gets boring.
As you attack your enemies, your gauge fills up allowing you to enter Intoner mode which enables you to kill enemies at a faster rate for a period of time. You can also create combos during combat to use special attacks on enemies like in typical hack and slash games. You can also use the stamina button to deliver more powerful attacks but you have to wait for it to recharge the more you use it. Combat can get boring and tedious because of the amount of button mashing. Boss fights were really easy as well, just look for a weak point, dodge at the right time and repeatedly button mash. Repetitive objectives are prevalent as well; just kill “x” amount of enemies, rescue “Mikhail” and go to the next part.
There is some replay value if you are really dedicated to this game. You can look for treasure chests in the game to get more weapons, materials to upgrade and get extra money. You can also unlock extra costumes and music for the game and look at the cutscenes.
The voice acting in the game serviceable. The musical score is really great and it fits perfectly with the story and themes. This game overall is just a mess both character wise and in gameplay. The dialogue is quirky and weird and the game has a dark and adult sense of humor. Jokes about murder, sex and suicide are very dark and edgy and even morbid. The game has a lot of technical issues. It often slows down and lag during dense areas or if surrounded by enemies. The graphics and visuals are extremely bad and very bland. It is also really glitchy and poorly made and the textures were really low res and comparable to a PS1 console.
It gets 2 stars out of 5.
A cutting edge high tech company like Square Enix, which is notable for taking full advantage of console capabilities would never allow something like this to happen considering their own track record even with older games like Final Fantasy 7 or Parasite Eve. Those games were out in the 90s and even today they look incredible. I greatly enjoy the cult classics Square Enix has created like Nier Automata and I was really interested in getting more into Drakengard and Yoko Taro games but this was not one of them. You are better off buying Nier Automata or any Square Enix merchandise instead of playing this game.