Drakengard (known as Drag-On Dragoon in Japan) is a hack and slash game with RPG elements and flight combat developed by cavia inc.
Gameplay in the Drakengard series is split into two parts. The first, which features hack and slash gameplay similar to the Dynasty Warriors franchise, is the main form of gameplay. As you fight waves of enemies, your character levels up and can gain multiple kinds of weapons with various magic abilities. These weapons also become stronger the more blood is spilled with them. As each game progresses, allies may join the party. In the first Drakengard, you can switch to a different ally for a limited time and summon their respective pact partners, which include a fairy, golem, and others. In Drakengard 2, you can switch to various party members on the fly and play as them for as long as you need, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and their own sets of weapons (one character exclusively uses swords, another staves, then axes, and finally spears).
The second part of gameplay features flight combat through the use of a dragon. Once you obtain a dragon you can summon them during the hack-and-slash portions of the game to get around the map quicker and to breathe fire down upon your enemies. However, this option is only available when the map is out in an open area where a dragon may be able to fly around (not indoors). However, certain sections of the game are played exclusively in the air, allowing your dragon to lock on to various enemies and shoot multiple fireballs at them.
The story of Drakengard features Caim, a young soldier fighting to protect the goddess Furiae, who is also his sister, from the Empire. In the beginning of the game, the Empire forces begin an attack on their home. Caim goes to fight the soldiers to defend his sister. He cuts down many of the opposing army's soldiers, but suffers a near fatal blow to the back. As he fights his way into the courtyard, he finds an injured dragon the empire had captured. Remembering a dragon had killed his parents, Caim prepares to slay the beast, but knowing his life is almost at an end, he offers the dragon a choice. Die by his hand, or form a pact so they both can live. The dragon takes him up on his offer of a pact, and the two become pact partners. However, for a pact to take place between human and beast, the human must sacrifice something of theirs. Caim's sacrifice is his voice. The two fly together in order to destroy the Empire once and for all and to keep the seals of the world safe.
Drakengard features five different endings.
- Ending A: Furiae, the goddess and final seal keeping the world together, is killed. In order to save the world, Caim's dragon decides to become the seal in order to save the planet. She finally gives Caim her name, Angelus, and will be the only human to ever know her name. Caim takes the main antagonist, Manah, with him to show her the destruction she has caused so nothing like this can happen again. This is the canonical ending that sets up the events of Drakengard 2.
- Ending B: Inuart, Furiae's betrothed, is driven insane by her death and resurrects her. When she revives, she is a beast that murders him. Caim defeats his former sister, and watches as clones of her bestial form descend to the planet, plummeting the world into chaos.
- Ending C: Dragons are able to break free of their hold from the Watchers. Angelus regretfully turns against Caim and breaks their pact. Caim slays Angelus and watches as thousands of dragons begin to destroy the planet.
- Ending D: Grotesqueries fall to the earth after Manah, who was under their control, is killed by her brother Seere, who cannot control his anger. The Grotesqueries devour anything and everything in their path, killing off most of the main party. Seere decides to go to the Grotesquerie Queen and seal that part of the world away forever.
- Ending E: During the war with the Grotesqueries, a rift of space and time is opened, taking Caim, Angelus, and the Grotesquerie Queen to modern day Tokyo. Caim and Angelus are successful in slaying the Queen, saving the world, but are shot down by fighter jets soon after. After this ending, the events of the game Nier, also developed by cavia inc., take place.
All copies of Drakengard released outside of Japan were heavily censored. References to incest, pedophilia, and murdering children were almost completely removed from the game.
The events of Drakengard 2 take place eighteen years after the original game's A ending. Nowe, a boy raised by a dragon Legna, joins a group of Knights that keep the seals that power Angelus' seal safe. However, the ethics of the seals are questioned once Nowe finds out the seals are powered by the life force of some of the citizens of the area. After an attempt on his life by one of the head knights, Nowe leaves the order. He soon meets Manah, who wishes to break the seals and free the people from the control of the knights. Nowe and Legna join her on her quest. Like the first game, Drakengard 2 has multiple endings, which are gained through multiple playthroughs of the game.
The game Nier takes place after the events of Drakengard's "Ending E," in Earth's distant future after the events of Drakengard's ending lead to the devastation of humanity. Other than its hack-and-slash combat, the game shares very little in common with the gameplay in the Drakengard series, as it's more of a straight-forward RPG and there is no dragon mount. The game features four endings, the latter two of which can only be attained on a subsequent playthrough.
Developed for the PlayStation 3 by Access Games and the creative staff behind Drakengard and Nier, Drakengard 3 is a prequel to the rest of the series.