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Drakengard (PlayStation 2) artwork

Drakengard (PlayStation 2) review

"Caim and his fire-breathing friend will travel down a long road that brings them nothing but pain and misery, with death comprising the only means through which to achieve peace of mind. Ultimately, all that they can do is make sure they deal an equitable amount of grief to their adversaries in turn. "

"Endless fields, our home, I long for those days..."

Outside of a war-torn castle on a bleak and bloodied battlefield, a horrifying drama begins to unfold. Due to their unwillingness to compromise, two stubborn factions are about to subject the world to the unforgiving hell that will accompany the arrival of otherworldly abominations. The most terrifying of myths and legends will materialize and annihilate all signs of previous existence on this besieged land, sowing the seeds for a new breed of life that will prosper amid the doomsday remnants. There will be no silver linings, no hopes for redemption or salvation for the reluctant participants in this tragedy as they endure the trials that fate has laid out for them.

But that doesn't mean that they can't put forth every last bit of effort that their bedeviled hearts can stand to exert. As inhumanity and savagery take center stage, the most beleaguered of our players will be Caim, a young swordsman burdened with the unenviable job of protecting a deity from the legions calling for her death. This goddess is Caim's own beloved sister, a circumstance which compels him to go to every possible length to ensure her safety. To that end, he forms a binding pact with a fearsome dragon, sacrificing his individuality and his voice to garner the power that partnership with a mythological beast will grant. The two become one and dedicate themselves to the protection of the goddess and the demolition of their opposition.

It is a foregone conclusion that their efforts will prove futile. Caim and his fire-breathing friend will travel down a long road that brings them nothing but pain and misery, with death comprising the only means through which to achieve peace of mind. Ultimately, all that they can do is make sure they deal an equitable amount of grief to their adversaries in turn.

They will not be alone in their suffering; among those who will accompany the troubled duo is a young lady named Arioch, a pitiable being who was forced to witness the bloody murders of her own offspring. Driven mad by her grief, Arioch now scours the land in search of other children, children whom she can tear apart limb by limb and devour once their screams have subsided. Already imposing and revolting due to the extent of her lunacy, Arioch acquired immeasurable power by finding her own pact partner, though her unholy union came at a steep price--that price being her womb.

It can be quite disturbing to consider that horrifying Arioch travels among Drakengard's band of good guys. But then, there are no true heroes to be found in this forsaken world. Caim himself, the man we expect to stand up and assume the posture of a noble swordsman, submits before long to the madness engulfing the land. Upon discovering an imperial garrison housing youthful conscripts, Caim goes mad with rage and stomps off on an extraordinarily insane rampage, slicing the children apart and leaving them in bloody heaps despite their screams for mercy and his own comrades' pleas that he stop. Catharsis for Caim comes via mass murder. Don't give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that unrelenting outside forces caused him to crack, however; the dragon's taunts regarding our "hero's" rather impure thoughts about his pretty little sister serve to show that Caim has deeper issues than those that surface under such horrifying conditions.

Of course, not all evildoers will fall to the madman's blade as easily as those grade-school conscripts did. Eerie specters prance about moonlit temple tops while gargantuan axemen roam the wastelands below during a gorgeous nighttime romp through the desert. Mounted Death Knights patrol misty valleys and magic-wielding phantasms lurk behind the trees and crumbling structures found in an enchanted forest. Caim will collect dozens of weapons with which to spill the blood of his foes, each of which can be strengthened into a uniquely powerful instrument of devastation (one dull and broken blade evolves into a glowing, crimson dragon slayer capable of sending massive conflagrations roaring across the land).

When the Dynasty Warriors brand of relentless melee action reaches points of being overwhelming, Caim can usually hop atop his pact partner and set the vast plains aflame, scorching thousands of the empire's warriors in mere moments. Some free-roaming aerial missions call for the exclusive utilization of the dragon's capabilities; these scenes match the intensity of the hack-and-slash segments by pitting the beast against gargantuan airborne nemeses. Wraiths swat away fireballs with their massive scythes; warships bombard the duo with cannon shots; and brutal cyclopes standing taller than skyscrapers smash through their surroundings, emitting laser fire all the while.

But even with all of the demonic entities you'll encounter and all of the disturbing events you'll be privy to during your journey, nothing will prepare you for the horrifying finale, when mankind finally realizes the consequences of perennial avarice and stubbornness. The arrival of the Grotesqueries--gigantic, repulsive beings that rain down in thousands from a merciless sky--will remain in your thoughts long after Caim and his friends have ceased to think at all. The many moments of frustration and pain that this group will endure simply suggest the continuation of an eternal thread of struggle and despair.

Yet somehow they all come together to form something beautiful.

darkfact's avatar
Community review by darkfact (August 06, 2005)

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