Drakengard 3 review
Drakengard 3 is a game with a lot of potential. When you first enter the game you are introduced to a fast paced hack-and-slash ground combat that rewards skill over button mashing, but once you get past the ground combat Drakengard 3 begins to fall apart as graphics, controls, story, characters and technical issues really let down what could be a great game.
For those who don’t know anything about Drakengard 3, developed by Access Games, is the third game in the main Drakengard series, although the game is a prequel to the original Drakengard, which was released on the PlayStation 2. Drakengard 3, which is a mixture of hack-and-slash and dragon riding aerial combat, has you play as Zero, a goddess like creature known as an Intoner. Zero who is accompanied by her dragon Mikhail has but one mission, kill her five sisters and rid the world of all Intoners.
The main technical issues with Drakengard 3 is that the game suffers from screen tearing and an inconsistent frame rate, which can plummet from 60 frames per second to below 10 frames per second in an instant. The frame rate drops seem to occur when the game attempts to render effects such as a dragon’s fireball hitting the ground, fights against large bosses and when fighting on your dragon. What makes the frame rate issue worse is that the game isn’t that pretty with objects and textures looking like they were lifted from a PlayStation 2 era game.
The different locations where you must fight through are uninspiring with very little variety apart from once of special features such as a fog filled forest that can only be cleared by following a certain path and a scorching desert that requires you to stay in the shade. While special features is a bonus it doesn’t make you forget that on each and every stage you are doing the exactly the same thing – fighting a wave of soldiers, a locked area where you need to defeat X number of enemies to progress and finally a boss fight, which is usually a Cerberus, Titan or Centaur. To keep you from getting bored each location you have to run through contain chests for you to break, these chests give you gold, materials for levelling up your weapons or a new weapon to use. In an attempt to make you forget about the boring linear stages, the game has side quests.The side quests are boring with them being nothing more than missions where you have to kill X number of enemies before the timer hits zero.
Drakengard 3’s storyline is incredibly weak with the game keeping secrets hidden for far too long. I understand the need for plot twists, but when the plot twists/secrets don’t appear until you have completed a good portion of the game, and as such the reveals had more of a “Oh there is actually more to this game than Zero senselessly murdering her younger sisters” rather than the indented wow, what a twist factor. Speaking of killing Zero her sisters, her reasoning for doing so is terribly explained, even in the game when Zero is asked what she is doing she states “I kill my sisters. I take their men.” The men part refers to each of her sister’s disciples, which join Zero after you kill the sister they are with. To be honest I can see what the developers, Access Games were trying to do, because as you approach the first of four endings the plot twists/secrets begin to revealed and tell players to continue on and get the next ending to learn more, but I personally found no desire to carry on after the first ending even after the twists game started revealing secrets. While the trickle of information was a turn off, the characters you meet and play as were far worse.
The characters in the game are bland with very little development. The disciples you gain can each be characterised by a single world, Zero’s sisters apart from First are forgettable and like their disciples can be characterised by a single world. Zero herself is a terrible lead as all she seems to do is throw curses, bad mouth everyone around her and constantly go on about how she wants to kill her sisters. Although as the game progress we are given glimpses of a more caring and compassionate Zero. Zero’s dragon companion Mikhail is similar to Zero, but instead of constantly talking about killing he acts like a pacifist telling Zero to stop with her plan to kill her sisters. With Mikhail it was obvious the writers were trying to make him into a moral compass for Zero, but honestly it turned out badly as all you see is them having shouting matches during stages. While the characters aren’t overly interesting the English voice actors do a great job of bringing the limited emotions of the all the characters to life.
As I said earlier ground combat is the highlight of the game for me. Combat felt fast and smooth as you pull off a combo, dodge powerful attacks and switch weapons all within the blink of an eye. What I most appreciated about the combat is the special “Intoner Mode”, which makes Zero temporarily invincible and greatly increases her damage output. While combat is fun, the camera is at times rather annoying, because once you decide to lock onto an enemy you are left to its mercy and if you are in an enclosed location you can only pray that the camera doesn’t think that looking at a wall is more important than the fighting.
While fighting on the ground is fast and smooth, fighting in the air as Zero’s dragon companion Mikhail is a painful and arduous task that didn’t get better no matter how many times I had to do it. The main problem with the aerial combat is that you are required to perform perfectly timed attacks all while fighting with your camera, hammering the X button to make sure Mikhail stays in the air and hoping that after you attack the frame rate doesn’t nose dive just as the enemy counters.
Before I end this review I would like to state that the game has an amazing soundtrack. Each of the sisters have their own song, and the music played while in “Intoner mode” makes you feel as powerful as you look.
SCORE: 5/10 (average)
Drakengard 3 is a game with a lot of potential, but that potential is squandered by technical issues, poorly developed characters and a story that takes too long to get going. However, the game has some fun hack-and-slash combat and great soundtrack.
+ Fast and smooth hack-and-slash combat
+ Great soundtrack
– A lot of the characters are very one dimensional
– Frame rate issues
– Dated graphics
– Limited enemy variety
Drakengard 3 information
|Access Games||Square Enix||Action RPG||18+||PlayStation 3||May 21, 2014|
Author: Aaron Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.