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Drakengard 3 (PlayStation 3) artwork

Drakengard 3 (PlayStation 3) review

"Drakengard 3 may be a game that shouldn’t exist, but I’m sure glad it does…"

Drakengard 3 is a game that shouldn’t exist.

The Drakengard series and its spin-off NieR were both critical and commercial failures, especially in the West. The gameplay was never quite there, the camera was atrocious and the games were never exactly pleasing to the eye. A lot of these same problems follow Drakengard 3, which clearly hasn’t learned from its past mistakes.

Fortunately, Drakengard 3 manages to make a strong first impression. The game puts players into the role of Zero, a woman on a mission to kill her five sisters. The game isn’t exactly forthcoming as to the reason she wants her sisters dead, but it’s enough justification for all the buckets of blood you’ll spill.

Speaking of which, one thing Drakengard 3 does extremely well is violence. Every enemy killed will leave Zero with more and more blood on her white dress until she’s almost completely red. The game also loves to cover the screen with blood that slowly trickles down, but this particular effect can become an annoyance when it blocks some of the on-screen action.

Although the violence is satisfying, the gameplay is less so. Like its predecessors, Drakengard 3 is an amalgamation of Dynasty Warriors and Panzer Dragoon. While on foot, Zero will use a variety of weapons to lay waste to thousands of enemy soldiers. In the air, the game becomes an on-rails shooter.

The combination of genres sounds great on paper, but the execution just isn’t quite there. The on-foot sections never become quite as good as a Dynasty Warriors game, since frequent slowdown and bad camera angles frequently get in the way of Zero killing even the simplest of foes.

As for the dragon sections, there simply aren't enough of them. The dragon is mostly reserved for boss fights that are insultingly easy. There’s only a handful of sections reminiscent of the gameplay found in Panzer Dragoon, and I wish there were more.

With all these problems, how can Drakengard 3 be any good? Like any great JRPG, its strength lies in the characters. During battle, Zero will constantly have conversations with her dragon and companions. These conversations range from Zero finally talking about why she wants to kill her sisters, to the companions discussing their various sexual fetishes.

On that note, Drakengard 3 has more to offer than just violence. If you don’t want to hear frank discussion about sex, you may want to avoid this game. Every companion embodies a fetish (i.e. sadism or nymphomania) and they will talk at length about such topics. Zero makes it clear that she has her companions around primarily for the sex, and this frequently comes out in the dialogue.

While some may see the extreme nature of the dialogue as a weakness, I see it as a strong point. Often, I found myself laughing out loud at the ridiculous things the characters would say. There’s absolutely no filter here, and it’s refreshing to see characters taken to such an extreme. Much like NieR before it, Drakengard 3 also has an involving plot at its core. The story isn’t exactly what it seems at a glance, and it throws a number of curveballs your way before the end. I was taken aback at just how good the story was.

Unfortunately, Drakengard 3 lets the game get in the way of the story. While players can discover most of the story through normal play, the final act requires that players obtain all weapons. It took me about five hours of focused play to complete that particular task, and most players probably don’t have that kind of patience. It’s a practice that has been in the Drakengard franchise since the beginning, but some traditions should just die already.

Despite all the problems I faced in Drakengard 3, I still had a blast with it. It’s like a normal toy that became rare through a defect. On the surface, it’s ugly and unbecoming. Once you dig deeper, you find that it’s one of a kind.

Drakengard 3 may be a game that shouldn’t exist, but I’m sure glad it does…

Rating: 7/10

Phazonmasher's avatar
Freelance review by Zachary Walton (May 24, 2014)

Zach Walton likes JRPGs, visual novels, horror games and anything that gives him an excuse to drink.

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