PS3 Reviews: Drakengard 3 Review

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Drakengard 3 Review

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Replay Value:



Overall Rating:       6.0



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 Technically, it feels and looks outdated, and the story is amateur-ish, so it’s important that you gravitate toward the game’s design.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One can apply the “outdated” label to the audio as well, because the voices are hit or miss, the soundtrack isn’t exactly memorable, and the effects are mostly generic.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.

I got used to the flying controls after a while, but they still could’ve been much better. Combine this with the seriously lacking visual presentation, and you get a game that’s occasionally downright comical: Characters, both friendly and otherwise, will get stuck in walls, collision detection concerning enemy’s interaction with the environment is poor, and that clumsy, irritating camera is ever-present. I hate to say this, but I only write about such flaws when I’m reviewing Japanese games. Everyone else seems to have moved forward at a faster clip; why am I talking about collision detection problems in 2014? I mean, come on.

I must reemphasize that subjectivity does play a significant role. For instance, the main character is just a horrid bi*** of a human being, as far as I’m concerned. She has few – if any – redeeming qualities and her entire shtick involves insulting everyone around her. This is another Japanese-centric character trait, it seems, because I remember encountering the same thing in The Witch and the Hundred Knight. I suppose someone somewhere might find such behavior funny, but I don’t. It’s even worse in Drakengard 3, though, because everyone is just…awful. There are no sympathetic characters, nobody you care one whit about, and no, it isn’t funny at all.

That’s my own reaction, however. I know there are others who have enjoyed this game and in truth, I can understand why. It does have a singular style and flair and as disgustingly offensive as I find it, some people obviously like it. Besides, there are multiple endings that add a great deal to the longevity of the adventure, and the more you learn about the world, the more interested you become. Granted, I never got to the point where I really wanted to learn everything about my environment or the characters, but I did reach a point where I began to appreciate the virtual world Access Games had created. That’s a plus, right?

The combat can be invigorating and even rewarding and if you commit to the quest, you will find plenty of fast-action content. There are some twists to the story that you might not see coming, and the backdrop is unlike anything you’ll see in other games. Despite the technical issues that cropped up when atop Mikhail, and despite that wildly frustrating camera, I still managed to have a good time. Blood spattering everywhere, enemies falling before my competent blade; sure, I can get behind that. I just can’t get behind the overarching theme, which is just plain unpleasant, as far as I’m concerned.

Drakengard 3 is sort of an enigma. You should either avoid it like the plague or, if your curiosity has been piqued by this review, you should give it a try. I’ve been quite candid so don’t say you don’t know what to expect. It’s riddled with what I perceive to be outdated shortcomings, it looks and feels outdated, and the characters aren’t even remotely entertaining. However, you may feel different about the characters, and because you become engaged in the relatively entertaining combat, you’ll be less likely to complain about the lackluster graphics and terrible camera. I can’t guarantee what you’ll think, but I can assign a score that makes sense to me.

The Good: Decent combat control and entertaining combat. Main character always feels powerful and effective. A unique love-it-or-hate-it atmosphere. Story has a few twists.

The Bad: Mediocre technical elements throughout. Terrible camera. Aerial control is a little iffy. Horribly unappealing protagonist and a bleak, oppressive world. Often feels very tedious.

The Ugly: “The whole damn thing is ugly…but maybe that’s your bag.”

6/3/2014 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (17 posts)

Tuesday, June 03, 2014 @ 11:24:01 PM

I enjoy the sick, twisted sense of humor, story, and playing a villain. You'll recognize the same kind of behavior on display from playing Nier.

It's the camera and frame rates among all the other technical probs that bug me. I wish it had another year in development. I'm gonna keep it though, it's a rare piece of work and I bet these hard copy discs will be worth a lot some day since none were stamped for Europe.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 6/3/2014 11:25:04 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 12:46:13 AM

Nier's protagonist was nowhere near as annoying. He didn't have much of a personality at all, but I prefer that to the one-dimensional "everyone sucks but me" routine.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 12:57:23 AM

Remember Kaine?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 11:15:56 AM

No, not really. But I don't remember encountering anyone in Nier who was half as disgustingly juvenile as Metallia or Zero.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 12:57:10 PM

Oh man you forgot a lot! "She" is the foul mouthed partner in lingerie always trading barbs with Weiss.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 1:20:25 PM

Okay, but she's hardly a main character. There's a big difference between having that as some sort of nasty comedy relief, and having that be the focal point of a story with the protagonist.

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Monday, September 15, 2014 @ 5:41:36 PM

Kaine had redeeming qualities. She cared deeply for Emil even if on the surface she thought his sentimental nature weak. She eventually opened up to her companions and you realize that her toughness is a bit of a facade.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 1:10:39 AM

Too bad, thought this might be worth picking up on the cheap, but I have a huge back log and picking this up doesn't look like it would be worth the time.

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 2:58:58 AM

Shame to see it get nailed like this, but it still interests me. Maybe I will import it...

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 9:02:42 AM

That's the position I am in. I am not buying a digital version and I have only seen poor reviews on this game. Ben's is actually one of the higher scoring reviews I've seen online. I would like to get the game but not at full price, but as I will have to get an import copy I don't think I'll ever get a physical copy cheap :(

Interesting perspective on the character. If anything that actually interests me more. I don't mind playing as completely heartless wrench, some people are wicked and that shouldn't always be compromised through the narrative. I know it is suggested that you make the character easier to relate to which can add more depth but many games either have a friendly character or the flat avatar approach. If she is as heartless and wicked as you say, I can only remain curious.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 6:38:54 AM

yeah this game looks a bit to dark for me tbh i'll pass

happy gaming =)

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 12:11:18 PM

I'm having fun with the game BUT its only because I find the story so interesting. I really like the world they created here, if only the characters were more likable.

As you play the story branches off and in certain plot branches you see Zero being a little more kind although she is still a prickle to everyone.

Overall I think if you are interested in a weird story and liked NIER give it a shot, if you hated NIER I think you will hate this.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 12:23:14 PM

NIER was wonderful game by far one of the most interesting this gen. Is the soundtrack to this anywhere near the quality of NIER's?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 1:21:12 PM

Not necessarily. I loved Nier. In fact, my positive review was one of the first the developers posted up on their Facebook page.

But I definitely do not like Drakengard 3.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 3:07:41 PM

Nier got a special place in my heart for a lot of reason. The music is one of them. Nier soundtrack was one of the best of the last gen. It's the same people that did it but it was not as memorable...far from it...

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 @ 5:06:20 PM

Knew we would end up talking about Nier. One of last generations cult classics.

Nier was excellent and the music sublime.

Nier 2 please for PS4 (and the Vita - I can dream).

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Thursday, June 05, 2014 @ 3:56:29 PM

well if you loved Nier maybe you should read the grimoire of Nier
i honestly think you never got to ending D either or you would of raged about how ending D was a rythem fight where if you fail to parry 1 attack you die and how the camera does weird crap but the song to ending D rythem fight is beautiful

obviously your not a fan of drakengard and your review seems almost identical to other reviews i read just with a few of your own thoughts added i wonder did you even truly beat the game or were you copying another review and watching a Lets play off youtube?

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