Man, this lady is angry. Her dragon friend seems nice, but she is pissed.
There are very few games that have made me both chortle and cringe while playing them. The only one I can even think of while writing this is Conker’s Bad Fur Day, a delightfully pastel romp about a squirrel who likes romping with the ladies and drinking until he pukes. There’s no drug use in Drakengard 3, but there’s plenty of shameless innuendo (in her endo, am I right?) and skimpy clothing to make up for it, including some of the most depraved talk I’ve ever heard come from my PS3. And all of it wrapped around a mediocre game that’s just interesting enough to keep playing, but also enough that telling people you played it is limited to a “need to know” basis.
The story of Drakengard 3, as I was able to discern, follows Zero, the eldest of six Intoners who are powerful songstresses that have kept the world from war, has five sisters that she really, really wants to kill. For some not clearly explained reason, she’s just really, really pissed at them, and it’s not even clear that the sisters know why. All five of her sisters—creatively named Five, Four, Three, Two, and One—are in control of five locations scattered around the world, so Zero and her dragon Mikhail set out to the different environments to kill them. Zero has the ability to keep respawning herself when she becomes fatally wounded in battle, which actually explains that flower sticking weirdly out of her face: in essence, she re-grows herself and carries on. It’s kinda gross; just a naked woman covered in her own blood with a flower stuck in her eye.
Also, every time she kills one of her sisters, she obtains their disciples. It’s an unusual system, but the most valuable person in time of war is a turncoat. And here, some of them are actually responsible for betraying their Intoner master and directly assisting in their demise. These are some sick bastards as well: an old pervert, an extreme sado-masochist, an obscenely stupid pretty boy (the calmest of the group), and one guy who I wouldn’t trust with a rubber band as he’d find a way to kill me with it. Anybody who declares that he sleeps better because of the amount of blood he's seen in a day, or moans and cringes in orgasmic delight thinking about scissors, is someone who I’ll keep some distance from. They're occasionally funny, credit where due, but they’re the only ones with a fleshed personality outside of either “I’m angry” or “don’t kill me."
Even with the four different weapon styles and multiple upgrades to add and choose from, this is still a one-character Dynasty Warriors; there's a flood of enemies of a certain type, sometimes with ranged attacks coming from behind and homed in on your location, with the occasional stop to fight one really big monster or specific baddie with its own enclosed space, cut off from other exploration. When a big door closes and locks, or a screen of plant life weaves to cover an exit, you'll find a battlefield with enemies both faceless and tactless. The tactics they use aren’t predictable so much as they go “ERMAGERD ATTERK” and charge straight-forward, making only the numbers game much of a challenge when swinging for the fences.
There are a number of weapons, like I said, at Zero’s disposal. She can use spears, swords, chakrams, and combat bracers (spiked gauntlets for fist-fighting). They each have a specific use, and work best against specific enemies, and with the ability to swap in mid-stage (even mid-fight), each weapon will gain a level of wear and tear, which is not only nice but easy to use even in hectic situations. It’s unfortunate that so many of the fights will have recurring and bland enemies to slay, no matter where you are in the story.
Controls are responsive, and each weapon does feel unique and specific, though it feels as though you get simply locked into a chain when pounding on the square button that it’s hard to back out sometimes to regroup; there’s no real way to cancel out of a chain once you have started one, should you find yourself in deep and needing to take a breath.
But why breathe when you have access to Intoner Mode? Clicking L3 and R3 together makes you an invincible killing machine, channeling all of that blood that’s spattered across Zero’s white dress, into a flying red rage of upped attack and speed. It’s a helpful power, but it’s more of the same, just mashing the square button and occasionally the triangle button for an attack that takes some additional stamina. The glowy-flowiness of the visuals is nice, but only when compared to the rest—uninspired, though occasionally nice to look at, with detailed main character models, with the occasional awkward moment of characters stuck in corners and the camera going haywire. At some point in every level some enemy somehow gets stuck in the environment or becomes otherwise completely unresponsive and still.
In some spaces, you’ll actually ride on the back of your dragon Mikhail in a sort of Panzer Dragoon, Star Fox-like fight where Mikhail can lock onto enemies and spin-attack on the ground, breathe fire and throw explosive fireballs, and dive-bomb an opponent. Controlling Mikhail is annoying in crowded spaces, which happens a few times, but otherwise, it’s the most fun I had in playing; yeah, I was a dragon, and I was ripping apart everything I could, which was a lot (some rooms are “Kill 50 Guys” and the like, so there was plenty to aim at). Dragon-fighting felt sluggish at times, but it's a good reprieve and offers some strategy against bosses and rooms of targets.
While I suppose the game is good for mindless fun, with a solid voice cast and some salty language, it’s ultimately just a mash-fest of murder and mayhem. This Zero lady is pissed, her sisters fight back, and lots of dead bodies clog the river of blood. Everything from the controls to the graphics are just okay. Some of its lazy touches recall a PS2 relic that was better off being pretty on older hardware. If it does interest you for some reason, I’d advise you to wait for a sale price at least, because I can’t see this flying off of store shelves.
Copy provided by publisher. PS3 exclusive.