Review by dragon0085

Reviewed: 06/06/14

I was a fan of the others, non-existent story and bad characters ruin a mediocre game

Drakengard 3 is a perfect example of writing a story based entirely off TV-tropes or perhaps letting a 9-year old write an ‘adult’ game; to be frank I have not played a game with this disastrous of a story and characters in over ten years. Everything good about the series has been ripped away, while all the bad points remain untouched, leaving a game even fanboys would be hard pressed to defend. I have never hated a main character so bad in my life, she represents literally everything wrong with modern attempts at writing a ‘tough’ female lead; the tropes she embodies and attempts to invert are so ham-fisted and pathetic you can only shake your head at the stupidity you are enduring.

I was a fan of the series, while they certainly possessed their fair share of faults, the intriguing story was so refreshing the simplistic gameplay could be over-looked, further the premise of riding a dragon was actually utilized in a game titled after dragons. That doesn’t happen here.

Let’s take a childish plot, slap in lots of blood and swearing, and be content that it is suddenly ‘adult’ or ‘good’

This game has a lot of problem, most of them related to the non-existent story, and the paper-thin characters that not only lack anything to them, are so repetitive in their lines you hate them fairly rapidly after meeting them and this never changes. Before I touch on its major two failings, the entire atmosphere of the game has been switched from serious/dark to this childish cartoon that employs the most base levels of ‘humor’ in an unclear purpose. We switch from watching people cut in half to watching characters have the Wile-E-Coyote off the edge of a cliff moment before falling, I am not even joking about this level of juxtaposition, its disturbing, and not because someone just got cut in half.

First, there is an aberrant about of toilet humor in this game, and its not even funny. Literally the first line you hear in the game is someone whiny about ‘they have to go pee’. Not cute, not funny, and only serves to underline the repetition this game represents.

This is a significant departure from Drakengard 2 for example where this type of humor was never used, and for good reason – its childish. Very rarely is it ever funny, and when you are trying to have a serious ADULT game – which is the entire premise of this game – it only contributes to the general bipolar feeling the game has. Someone gets killed or lost, then the next scene is someone else groaning…are they in pain? Oh, nope, just going to the bathroom, and everyone says how bad it stinks, so funny! Not.

In addition to this, the random slapstick humor is woefully out of place. There are multiple times the ground gives away, and it literally does the cartoon thing of them standing in the air, looking down, realizing they should be falling, then proceed to ‘woooahhh!!!’ and fall down.

The hole of a story and the characters summed up in one line

What I noted up above sets a bad atmosphere, but it is a small crime related to the horrendous writing of the story and characters.

First the story, this will be shorter, as the story is short so there is little to cover. You are ‘Zero’ the toughest girl around, and you are on a mission to kill all your sisters, Five through One. Ok, sounds like it could be cool, after all that’s why I bought the game.

The problem is…this is ALL the story is. You all killing everyone in your path, and when asked about it she answers ‘I want to kill them all’, this is the only motivation you are offered the entire game. This is not an exaggeration. You are never told why you are amassing this huge body counts other than you want to be the only one. There wasn’t even a Highlander-like premise of ‘There can be only one!’ that the game would have been improved by.

Sometimes these vague plots work, when there is SOMETHING to grasp on to, some hint that the world is not what it seems, that the main character knows something others don’t. None of that. All we see is the rest of the world in love with characters we are killing, and everyone saying how psycho and pointless the main character’s mission is. The entire purpose is to kill your sisters, and you learn NOTHING about them, I was surprised when the first sister was killed, because I was expecting exposition at some point, nope, cut in half and moving on to new chapter.

This ties into the 2nd major problem with this game is the characters. Ok, so the actual story is non-existent, sometimes these games can still be good if the characters are classic. Sadly, they are even worse.

For a game whose premise is killing your sisters, this is a great opportunity to show some serious character development, are your sisters evil, did they pick on you, how do they change in behavior as you come closer to killing them, what’s their motivation etc? You know, things that conventionally define characters.

Instead we are given such shallow tropes for characters its actually somewhat humorous in how one-dimensional they are. Take for example the sisters, we have the slut, the virgin, the tired one, the drugged one and the leader. Play the game and tell me you know more about them then what these stereotypes would suggest. In fact the stereotypes suggest MORE depth then even they had. Though I suppose when a character is given two lines total before they die there can’t be much development.

Ok, how about your party? They talk a lot, but there lines are the exact same combinations of the same theme. You get four people, 1 who is violent, 2 is masochist, 3 is horny, 4 is a playboy. Almost every interaction is someone pulling a line of out their trope 1:’woah that guy got smashed!’ 2 then groans in some weird sexual way and so on. I think 2 actually groans in pleasure more than he utters lines.

Zero- my most hated character ever

I have a high tolerance for bad characters, as RPGs tend to produce some pretty bad ones, but never has one grated on me as bad as Zero. She is completely ham fisted in her entire presentation. We are told she is badass and repeatedly told this fact. Her two lines consist of ‘I’m going to kill you because I can’ or ‘stupid dragon’.

You are playing an evil character, because you have nothing that ever contradicts this fact, and the whole game people are running from you in fear, trying to be saved by the sisters you are killing. There is no hint that they are mind controlled, you are actually good, etc, you are just on the blood thirsty rampage, because you are just so tough.

The game forces us to accept just how cool she is. Your party endlessly dotes on her, despite her criticizing them repeatedly. She swears completely unnaturally. Now I am completely in favor of swearing in video games, as it is realistic, however this game shows how wrong it can be. She routinely lashes out in childish insults that are actually bleeped out and the subtitles show ‘you ****er!!!’

The average player can only take some much ‘run because I am going to kill you all!’ announcements because you have zero reason to feel anything but revulsion for this character. She is as if you take any ‘cool’ character, Dante, Kratos, Duke Nukem and kick it up even more, those characters I listed are not exercises in subtly, and her even worse falls so flat on its face you cannot even respect the doggedness they proceed with this ‘characterization’ with.

Here’s a perfect example, you meet the virgin sister, and the entire dialogue is essentially ‘Zero I love you why are you doing this?’ and she answers ‘Because I want to kill you.’ Woah, cool man…

This is not even including the obvious flower stuck in her eye, it was a dumb character choice, a worse plot element, and just adds to the annoyance of her character because it is just another piece of evidence of how bad character writing went on here. I guess this is what passes for ‘original’ anymore.

It is tough to describe just how bad she is, imagine the most non-existent story you can, the most 1-dimensional character you can, and imagine the game trying to convince you she is the coolest character you have ever seen despite you hating her, because that is kind of what this game is like.

She would be infinitely improved if she never talked.

Really this whole game would have been improved if no one ever talked, it’d be mysterious and a whole lot better than the same lines regurgitated ad nauseam.

Gameplay – They even made the bad gameplay worse

To be fair, some of the boss fights were actually cool, it had good music and felt sufficiently epic, but even the fairly simplistic gameplay has been ruined. Consider Drakengard 2, the average level was a big open field or castle, everything was there in front of you, you could go wherever you want, explore around, and RIDE YOUR DRAGON. “Legna!” And you were hovering around the battle field laying waste. It was great, it was cool, the game itself was woefully simple but at least it made atmospheric sense and pulled you into the game. In this game you run forward for a majority of the levels. The 1-2 that are not pure running forward are notable because they remind you of what you once had.

There is no exploring, no sieging out a big castle, no trying to flank here or there, and NO RIDING YOUR DRAGON. There are a few special ‘arena’ areas that you go hit a button and suddenly your dragon gives you a bit of air support and flies away. Colossally stupid. Or they give you a token riding the dragon area which is a on-rails affair not inspiring, they give you 2 short areas you ride your dragon and its not on rails, but they are very short and serve only to remind you of the better way D2 did it.

In this game you are running forward through canyons nearly the entire time. You come across enemies in small packs, and you move on. There is nothing epic feeling about any of this.

Another really weird thing, is in general you can beat the game just mashing your attack button over and over and rarely take damage beyond bosses. However, sometimes you will be essentially perma-bashed by regular units. They will hit you, give you tremendous knockback or knockdown, run up to you, and right as you are getting up hit you again. Again, it is weird when it happens, but it happened a few times, where a single guy with his AI timing essentially completely stun locks and kills you where a unit of guys just stands there and gets slaughtered.

They even messed up the weapon system. D2 had a cool system that as you used a weapon it improved, and you got a pretty cool ‘weapon story’ along with it, I still remember a few of them. D2 gave you interesting decisions, like whether to level up the Nobuyoshi which was very weak but became one of the best weapons if you stuck with it, or to stick with a decent weapon that wont get much better. This game, you get gold which then can be used to improve any weapon, regardless if you use it. You never need to touch a weapon and can make it to the highest level, and for some reason you have to exit the game just to read the weapon stories.

Conclusion

The game is absolutely impossible to recommend, and this is coming from a former fan. The gameplay is simple, and the story and characters are ruined. The writing is completely childish, the humor is shallow and out of place, the characters grating, and Zero is the worst main I have ever seen. Even silent NES protagonists are more complicated then this pathetic try-hard, I am so glad I beat this game because I never have to touch it again.

Rating:   1.0 - Terrible

Product Release: Drakengard 3 (US, 05/20/14)

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