Drakengard 3 – The twistening

Hey all. Against all odds, I am sticking to my guns, and still playing Drakengard 3. While the opening hours were a little bland and the trademark Drakengard insanity had only reached “silly” on the bonkersometer, I forged ahead, undeterred by mediocrity.

And it’s begun to pay off! But we’ll get to that in just a moment. First: gameplay. It hasn’t changed much. In addition to the swords that you begin with, I have unlocked spear and bracer weapon classes. Spears are kind of garbage, as they don’t cut a nice, wide swath like swords do, and it’s difficult to connect with enemies if you aren’t locked on. This is in stark contrast to NieR, where the Phoenix Spear was my weapon of choice for nearly the entire game. Bracers, on the other hand, are super fun, as they let you combo a whole bunch of hits really fast. That, and punching guys just feels right, you know?

I also learned that blocking is a thing. And like most games of this style, you can parry attacks if you block just before they land. Unfortunately, enemies are kind of hard to read, which makes parries even more difficult to perform than in, oh, let’s say Dark Souls. Also, Zero has crazy long recovery lag after attacks (even worse with spears), making it nearly impossible to time a block properly in the middle of an attack combo. As a result, I basically haven’t been blocking at all, relying mostly on the dash as my defence strategy. So essentially, I’ve been playing Drakengard 3 the same way I play Monster Hunter. Only Zero’s dash doesn’t have any invincibility frames, so it’s not terribly effective on large enemies with wider attack ranges.

I think the best way to describe Drakengard 3’s combat is ” like Hyrule Warriors but slower.” But it’s still a heck of a lot faster than the combat in the original Drakengard.

Luckily, the game isn’t all hack-n-slash. It also has a handful of stages in which you ride around on Mikhail and blast fools with fireballs. The missions that still technically take place on the ground (All-Range Mode, if you will) are a little janky, as you have to manage Mikhail’s altitude by flapping his wings now and then. It’s a little more involved than other air combat games where you have the privilege of consistent propulsion. Missions in the sky proper are a lit more fun, as they’re basically just less interesting Star Fox levels. It’s on-rails, and you just blast everything out of the sky. No obstacles, no wingmen, no power-ups. It may actually be more akin to Galaga than Star Fox, to be honest.

What surprised me the most about Drakengard 3 so far is that it has a very overt sense of humour. The first game and NieR may have had their moments, but were typically played very straight. D3 takes every opportunity to make a joke, whether it be the soldiers freaking out about being slaughtered, or Zero and her companions trash talking back and forth. Though, in the latter case, whenever a companion character takes a jab at Zero, her response is usually “You wanna die?”

Zero and Mikhail also have a very weird relationship, wherein she is like a very abusive mother towards the immature dragon. There is a touch of love buried deep beneath the insults that Zero is constantly slinging at Mikhail. And while Mikhail does question Zero’s motives, he always follows her orders and tries to do his best in an effort to earn her respect. It’s very entertaining just to listen to the banter between the two. Criticize the game all you like for its awkward gameplay and last-gen graphics, but it’s got some excellent writing.

There are also the hilarious hijinks that ensure during cutscenes, like when Zero kills Five and the screen switches over to a censor card stating “this content has been deemed inappropriate for pretty much everyone” while Z stabs her sister repeatedly. Or the time where Zero and Dito are crushed by an avalanche and a “The End” screen pops up, only for Zero to burst out of the snow shouting “I’ll decide when it’s the end!” while Dito turns to the camera and shrugs. As a fan of comedy, Drakengard 3’s sense of humour is very welcome, especially since it stands in such stark contrast to the ultra-violent and otherwise horrific content of the rest of the game.

Speaking of which! It’s time to see what makes Drakengard 3 completely bonkers!

So, after the prologue, Zero was severly injured, having lost an arm. The arm was replaced with a metal prosthetic, which is apparently controlled by a parasite that attaches to the wearer’s body. Gross. But what’s more, Zero also mysteriously started growing a flower out of her right eye. A flower with what sort of looks like the butt end of a syringe sticking out of the middle. We get no information on this weird flower until halfway through chapter 2, where Zero’s other arm is chomped off by a wayward Cerberus head. Zero is about to collapse and die when the flower suddenly blows up to super-size. Then, a bloody had shoots out if it, and pulls out… a fully-formed clone of Zero, complete with the arm that just got bitten off, covered in nothing but buckets and buckets of blood. Calling this scene grotesque may be underselling it a little.

And that’s more or less been it as far as actual shockers go. There’s the rather explicit implications that Zero is banging her companions, which isn’t weird in itself. But when she recruits Decadus, she orders him to “Clean yourself up. Front and back. We meet tonight.” to which his eyes widen in fear and his voice beings trembling as he complies. At one point, Dito asks if Mikhail and Zero have slept together, completely serious. Mikhail, of course, is incredibly naïve and has no idea what Dito is really asking. I can’t decide whether the exchange is hilarious or disturbing. Probably both.

So that’s pretty much the extent of my impressions as far as the end of Chapter Two. Stay tuned for more, maybe!

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