Friday, May 6, 2011

Drakengard: Dragon Ate Your Tongue?

And then there are a few scenes you just don't think you'll ever see in your life time, things that don't even cross your mind may exist, let alone in a Square Enix videogame. For me, one such episode was one of the endings of this game Drakengard.

Drakengard came out back in 2004 but, to this day, it remains imprinted in my mind as a great, revolutionary game that completely changed my expections of Square Enix games. I was, like most of us were, used to the addictive yet light hearted nature of games such as Final Fantasy and... Front Mission? Anyways, I first got my hands on it because my boyfriend at the time had a part-time job reviewing games for a magazine (if only I'd played my cards right at the time). I was expecting a light game with dragons. Maybe a bit of flying around, a bit of passable dialogue, a bit of lighting things on fire.

The game went beyond all my expectations and delivered a solid story, good voice acting and absolutely purgative as well as addictive gameplay. The soundtrack was powerful enough to keep up with the game's pace which was pretty intense.

The main premise of the game was that Caim, a young prince who had seen his parents murdered by a dragon, now found his life tied to that of a dragon in order to save his own. He underwent such a ritual so he could, in turn, go and save his sister Furiae. The dragon agreed to this pact because it was dying itself. After this co-dependency pact, Caim loses his voice but gains a dragon. A fair trade, if you ask me.

I must say, the details of the game become a little fuzzy (it has been seven years since I played it) but I remember that, apart from the main gameplay, there were a few bits where you did get to fly around and blow stuff up on dragonback. Which is always a plus in my book. But the main gameplay consisted of you picking up a big sword of your choosing and hacking and slashing through hordes of baddies. Baddies on foot, baddies on horses, big baddies, smaller baddies... And this, ladies and gentlemen, was what made me play this game.

It was absolutely cathartic to just pick up a big sword and slash the heads off pixelated opponents. And there were hundreds of them over a pretty big map. You had the option of collecting said swords and upgrading them. 'And how, pray tell, did you upgrade said swords?' you ask, your eyes all atwinkle. By killing more baddies. Oh, the bliss. This engine reflected the co-dependency between you and your dragon: you needed swords to kill things and you needed to kill things to better your swords. At the time, I couldn't and wouldn't ask for anything more.

The game didn't receive that many great reviews and it probably never will what with its outdated everything. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was out of the norm and it had a solid base: it entertained both by bloodthirsty thumbs and my story hungry mind. Which leads us to the event I mentioned at the beggining.

Drakengard had a multitude of endings. By multitude I mean around 5. My bad. But the FMV leading to the end (I'm not sure if it was to all of them or just a specific one) was what marked me. 'Wow,' I said, all those years ago. 'Naked babies falling from a red sky. I did not see that coming.' And I didn't. And, to this day, I never expect to see it again. It might not be everyone's cup of tea but it worked for me.

On skimming the Drakengard Wikipedia article, I gathered that one of the endings was actually a bridge to a new Square Enix game: Nier. Although Drakengard had a sequel (originally titled "Drakengard 2", who picks up from a different Drakengard ending) I never got around to playing it, possibly because I was so content with the first one.

But I might try out Nier. I recently watched a Zero Punctuation review on it and, seeing as I don't recall Yahtzee being particularly harsh on the game, it might even be any good.

I'm sidetracking again. My main point in dragging Drakengard from the grave is: repetition may not always be a bad thing IF that's what you're looking for. When I played Drakengard, running around the field slashing things and opening crates was what I was looking for and it was extremely rewarding. I got to see some weird ass shit as a result, too. So, for me, Drakengard was an extremely rewarding game and one that set the bar for the entertainment value of other games. Hmmm, mindless slashy goodness.

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