Review by Gambler_Justice

Reviewed: 01/02/14

A welcome addition to the series

The Drakengard series of games has always had a strange sort of appeal: with an erratic, confusing story joined by mediocre gameplay, it is not something you would expect to find on most people's list of favorite games. And yet, in spite of all its flaws, the world of Drakengard is extremely alluring. The insanity of the setting, the madness of the characters, the sadomasochistic aspects of the gameplay, are all things that will frustrate and perplex the player, but most importantly, they are also extraordinarily intriguing, and their ability to capture your interest and hold it in an iron grip is surely why these games have such a cult following.

Drakengard 3 is, in many ways, similar to its predecessors. Calling it flawless would be an outright lie. Anyone who plays the game for more than an hour could easily point out several aspects of the game that just don't work as well as they should, and yet, despite all of this, Drakengard 3 is my favorite game of 2013. Its flaws are rendered irrelevant by its smashing success in the area that matters the most: being interesting, being unique, having heart.

The gameplay of Drakengard 3 is a hack-and-slash variant reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors. While nothing particularly impressive, the 51 weapons and decent variation in combos and movesets is more than enough to carry the game, and I found myself having some genuine fun with the gameplay. The soundtrack is commendable: Keiichi Okabe is a wonderful composer and there are many memorable songs in Drakengard 3. My only complaint is that the regular on-ground non-boss battle missions could've used some more songs, as the standard 2-3 tracks will get very repetitive after tens of hours of gameplay.
The story is easily the main attraction of Drakengard 3, and Yoko Taro's idiosyncratic touch is very noticeable. The game magnificently captures the same feel that the original Drakengard had, although slightly less dark and a bit more humorous this time around.

The most notable failing of Drakengard 3 is in its technical aspects: the default settings for the camera are horrible, and the cutscene volume feels far too loud compared to the in-game volume. While these can fortunately be fixed to some extent by messing around with the options, the same cannot be said for the framerate and long loading times. Loading times in-between missions average at about 30 seconds, with the longest load time I encountered reaching up to 2 minutes. The framerate suffers any time explosives are on the screen, sometimes dipping below 10 FPS as you order your dragon to hail fire on your enemies. There is some relief in the fact that the framerate remains stable during the parts of the game that require the most concentration.

Any game that can capture my attention for more than 60 hours and leave me wanting for more is a game that has succeeded at its core mission: to entertain the player. While I did at times feel annoyed, confused or frustrated by the game, there was not a single moment when I found myself bored. This is a hallmark of excellence which I feel warrants the game a 9/10, in spite of its flaws. There are, no doubt, many who will play Drakengard 3 and grow disillusioned, incapable of overlooking its failings, and this is a legitimate concern. But for those who can overlook these problems, Drakengard 3 offers something spectacularly unique and rewarding.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Drag-On Dragoon 3 (JP, 12/19/13)

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