Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Square Enix
Access Games
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
May 20, 2014

You know, there’s really only so much dark, twisty, blood-spattered atmosphere I cant take. Some may fond it compelling on some bizarre level, but I’ve never been all that enamored with gritty settings, even if they are fantastical. Drakengard 3 is one of those games that creates a love/hate relationship among gamers simply because of its unique artistic style. Technically, it feels and looks outdated, and the story is amateur-ish, so it’s important that you gravitate toward the game’s design.

Those who enjoy this presentation will be more lenient when judging the graphics, as one might expect. After all, despite the objective nature of visual analysis – detail, clarity, sharpness, authenticity, etc. – the participant still has to enjoy the experience. Hence, you might be willing to overlook the obvious and even glaring graphical hitches and if so, great. For my part, I always say gameplay takes precedence but good games compete favorably on all levels and Drakengard 3 just falls well shy. Some of the character and enemy design is good, and a few of the effects are slick, but that’s about it.

One can apply the “outdated” label to the audio as well, because the voices are hit or miss, the soundtrack isn’t exactly memorable, and the effects are mostly generic. Again, the subjective angle will play a significant role: If you make allowances for the fact that the game falls short in terms of technical achievement, you’ll be more satisfied with the result. A few of the sound effects during combat really amp up the intensity, and I liked several of the more insistent musical selections. Anything that adds to the foreboding ferocity of the world is a plus, even if it’s not necessarily my favorite thing in the world.

The setting consists of a dark, uninviting fantasy world where “Intoners” rule the world. They keep the masses in line with their songs (a strange enough setup to begin with) but things go terribly wrong when one of the veteran Intoners decides that her five sisters need to die. Why? It’s not immediately clear. At any rate, her attack fails miserably and she loses her dragon companion, which is a definite blow. But Zero is back on the warpath a year later, seeking to avenge her previous defeat with a new dragon partner. Unfortunately, this older dragon, Mikhail, is more annoying than anything, as he’s constantly calling for peaceful resolutions to conflict.

Yeah, Zero isn’t interested in any sort of “peaceful” resolution. The game is a hack-and-slash action extravaganza with a mostly linear structure, and Zero attacks with a variety of slice-‘n-dice combos and special abilities. She has access to four different weapons (swords, spears, chakrams and combat bracers) and her defensive maneuvers include guard and dodge. The more foes she dispatches, the more a certain meter fills and when it’s full, she can tap into her incredibly powerful Intoner skills. Actually, the meter doesn’t need to be full to enter Intoner mode, but it does dictate how long Zero can stay in that mode.

This combat is relatively entertaining but it’s nothing to write home about. Some of the bigger enemies pose a definite challenge, and you find yourself utilizing plenty of strategy to take ‘em down. General control is fine but the camera is iffy at best, and often gets in the way. This is really starting to feel like more of an old-fashioned flaw, as most third-party action games these days have ironed out the glaring camera issues of yesteryear. This is an example of Japanese games simply falling behind in terms of technological advancement, and there’s more evidence of that during the aerial gameplay segments when Zero mounts Mikhail.