Review by Unleashed Vortex
"Love me. I want you to love me."
Love. Crimson Blood.
Swords clash and blood spills as two gargantuan armies rip each other apart on the battlefield. A scarlet shape hovers ominously in the sky, slowly gliding over the carnage that spreads as far as the eye can see. With a tremendous roar, the dragon hurtles to the ground and crashes into the heart of the battle. Its talons rip through the flesh of those underneath, its gargantuan tail sweeps away garrisons of the enemy in one stroke. Its fire burns their bodies to ash.
A man leaps off the back of the magnificent creature; with his sword unsheathed he decimates any soldier that comes near him. Blood splatters across his armour. With a disturbed grin that sends a shiver down your spine, he proceeds to hack and slash anything that opposes him. He turns to see his comrade struggling against the sheer number of the enemy. His face becomes enraged as he charges towards her but his anger is soon calmed by the constant slaughter and devastation that surrounds him. A rather disturbing introduction to the blood-stained and morose world of Drakengard.
As fire rains from the heavens. Steel clashes below!
Caim was a soldier of the Union, before he entered into a pact with a colossal crimson dragon. His younger sister, Furiae was recently awarded the role as the Goddess, a position which turned her life as one of the seal's a force which protects the world from certain destruction. This burden makes her a key target for the invading forces of the Empire, a demonic army with a mysterious origin. Caim, while in a ferocious battle to protect his sister from the empire forces, is mortally wounded by their onslaught. With blood pouring down his chest, he drags himself to into the castle courtyard where he sees a dragon, beaten and chained down to the stone floor.
Rage builds up inside him. You see, it was a dragon that mercilessly butchered his family many years ago. But, his wounds are far too deep for him to gather enough strength:
Kill me if you desire, but you can never dirty my soul, wretched human.
Tell me, do still want to live, Dragon?
A Pact! There is no other way
And a legend begins..
As pact-partners, Caim and the dragon merge their souls together. Caim sacrifices his ability to speak for the sake of gaining more strength. With his wounds healed, he leaps atop of the Dragon's back and takes to the sky, ready to burn the Imperial forces to ashes. Caim's sword cuts through garrisons and garrisons of imperial forces, leaving a bloody trail of corpses behind up. If Caim sets off a chain of combos, his blade will glow purple and with the press of circle, his weapon will rattle the earth, sending any nearby enemies flying. When more and more soldiers approach Caim, he can unleash a magical attack which can clear away a ton of enemy knights in one hit. His equipped weapon will decide which elements he will summon. Caim can throw balls of fire at his enemies, freeze them with blocks of ice or shoot lightning bolts at them. Every weapon that you collect and equip has a different magic attack and as you get stronger, the damage dealt will be a lot higher. Every time you kill an enemy, you will be awarded with EXP. Points, which obviously increase your strength.
When Caim gets fed up of slaughtering the oncoming foes, he can summon his dragon and scorch the ground clear of enemies. Perched atop of the dragon, he can fly across the breadth of the level, shooting balls of fire at the foes below. When the dragon has dominated the battlefield for long enough, she can scorch the ground with flaming comets which erase anything that they touch. Caim will also have to rely on the dragon for missions that are completely aerial, where the magnificent creature can be fully under your control. Using her flames to home onto imperial airships or demonic creatures that float ominously in the sky, she can bring the entire imperial air force to its knees. Caim perches on the neck of the dragon as destruction surrounds him while she taunts his bloodlust and desire to murder
I will regret making a pact with a mad fool who believes in neither good nor evil.
With friends like these
On their journey to destroy the empire, the unlikely duo will bond with a number of misfits who have also made pacts with beasts. Verderlet is the first to meet with Caim, he is a hierarch and great political and spiritual power within the Union. He sacrificed his hair to also create a pact with a dragon; however, this once magnificent creature has been petrified. Verderlet is a weak-willed snivelling man, who decides to stay with Caim to use him to prevent the seals of the world from being destroyed by the empire.
With Verdelet's wisdom and Caim's strength, the two make a powerful bond against the empire. However, although Verdelet's inability to fight anything, he manages to get the demented elf, Arioch to join their crusade. Like Caim, Arioch has also made a pact with a creature after her children were butchered by the empire. The loss of her children turns Arioch into a demented murderer, insatiable until she has killed a child. She created a pact with two elemental forces named Undine & Salamander under unknown circumstances. However, her sacrifice to form this pact was the abandonment of her own womb. Caim also meets with Leonard, a soft-hearted warrior who was overwhelmed by the murder of his younger brothers and then tricked into a pact with a cruel faerie, with the price being his sight. Finally, a young child named Seere is inducted into the party, his pact price is his age and his companion is a colossal Golem.
Caim can choose to summon one of these per stage whenever he chooses. Unlike Caim, they cannot change weaponry or magic but can pick up the baton if Caim is getting his ass whooped by the empire forces, he can switch to one of these characters. When you play a summoned character, his/her health, magic and time is bundled into one decreasing energy bar. Arioch and Seere have devastating magical attacks which wipe huge amounts of foes off the map with a press of a button. For example, Seere's gigantic Golem can clear a battlefield in seconds with his enormous stone fists:
Ten enemies gone!
Another ten enemies gone.
While Arioch has a pretty strong combat strength, Leonard and Seere seem to be rather lacking in this department. Seere's puny little dagger barely scratches the armour of most enemies, while Leonard's pole does as much damage as a wet fish. Poor Leonard's weak weaponry isn't even balanced out by his magic, which sends a rather poor amount of faerie dust after enemies, light slapping them on the face. Playing as Leonard is a horrible task that you can easily avoid by simply just selecting Arioch as your ally. Her well balanced combat and magic abilities and her unquenchable blood-lust on the battlefield make her a brilliant ally to the equally violent Caim.
The Ongoing Quest.
When Caim and his party destroy a portion of the empire's army and proceed to more stages, they will unlock free expeditions and levels. In these side-quests, you will have to perform some tedious missions such as wiping out a gigantic army of soldiers, laying waste to a certain amount of enemies within a time limit. The main idea for these missions is to encourage you to collect the game's entire gallery of weaponry, but all they really do is try to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment that the game has to offer.
The Sheathing of the Sword.
Drakengard's over-the-top action, deep and twisting storyline and brooding atmosphere are the key pieces that turn a seemingly standard brawler into something special. With multiple endings, new characters and weapons to find and plenty of death and destruction, this title may be the ultimate brawler. Forget the pretentious and annoying world of Nasty Warriors and take the dark and twisted path into the fantastical and macabre world of Drakengard.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/05/06, Updated 08/29/06
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