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Drakengard
Drakengard
Japanese: Drag-On Dragoon
Rōmaji: ドラッグオンドラグーン
Genre: Action role-playing
Developer(s): Cavia
Publisher(s): JP, NA Square-Enix
PAL Gathering
Creative Director: Taro Yoko
Producer(s): Takamasa Shiba
Takuya Iwasaki
Illustrator: Kimihiko Fujisaka
Monster Designer: Taro Hasegawa
Main Scenario Writer: Sawako Natori
Composer: Takayuki Aihara
Nobuyoshi Sano
Platforms: PlayStation 2
Release Date: JP September 11, 2003
NA March 5, 2004
PALMay 21, 2004
Ratings: CERO: 15+
PEGI: 16
ESRB: M (Mature)

Drakengard, known in Japan as Drag-On Dragoon, is a PlayStation 2 role playing game developed by Cavia and published by Square Enix and Take Two Interactive.

The game's theme revolves around pacts, as most characters initiate a pact with other entities to gain certain abilities, and must pay the price of the pact in return.

Developer commentary

According to his comments within a Dengeki Online interview, Taro Yoko answers how the game's general concept was spontaneously conceptualized between Takamasa Shiba and Takuya Iwasaki during a night out at the bar. Since there were members of Cavia who worked on Ace Combat, Iwasaki pitched the idea of making a dragon flight simulator. Originally, Drakengard was going to be centered on just this aspect.

However, Dynasty Warriors 2 came out during Drakengard's development and became a popular hit in Japan. Shiba then pushed to include this title's gameplay into their project. His decision to do so surprised Yoko. Yoko revealed that Cavia was severely undermanned for Drakengard's development process and that he wanted to present the game on two discs. They were rushed by Square-Enix to finish it within their deadline on one disc, a decision which still upsets Yoko to this day. He reveals later that a jump feature was originally in the game but was too buggy for the programmers to fix; it had to be removed due to time constraints.

Even back then, Yoko remarked that he had to fight a lot with Square-Enix to keep many of his creative decisions in the final product. One particular example which he named was how executives kept pressuring him to have a blue sky for natural realism. He strongly resisted them multiple times as he sought to keep the landscape surreal and dreary for the game's tone. Many of the characters' odd quirks and personalities were conceptualized by him for the sake of originality. Yoko felt Drakengard wouldn't stand a chance against Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy if the characters were normal. He is personally surprised to learn that the characters have stood the test of time in people's memories and had no idea the game has a fanbase.

In another part of the interview, Yoko confesses that he became director only because Iwasaki was too busy with other projects at the time. Yoko was originally planned to be the art director. Iwasaki and Shiba had no experience writing stories and were mainly driven to have as many game mechanics and content as possible over creative issues. Even so, Yoko considers Iwasaki the "true father" of the series since he pushed for the project's completion the most.

Although the game is infamous for its multiple "bad" endings with fans, Yoko doesn't feel the same way. He made them with the intents to present unexpected and painful experiences for the playable cast. Yet the B ending represents his opinion for fetishism regarding the superficial "idealistic younger sister". At the time, Sister Princess was the prime source of his ire; he doesn't like the current title which represents this idealism, Oreimo. In his eyes, Furiae and her many monstrous clones in this ending represent how shallow and heartless these sister characters are in fiction.

The E ending (Tokyo ending) and its dramatic gameplay change were added by him and a small group of developers to be a "surprise joke" for players –following a similar train of thought as the UFO endings in Silent Hill. The ending wasn't shown to the entire team until the very end of development; Shiba hated it once he saw it. Yoko became quite fond of the reaction it had on the team and players, and it was one of the reasons why it was revisited again for Drakengard's alternate continuity, NIER. He adds that the phrase used for this ending is "a rip-off" of The End of Evangelion, which is a series he considers a spiritual inspiration of sorts for Drakengard's gloominess.

Gameplay

Drakengard features three basic gameplay types: ground missions, aerial missions, and Free Expedition Mode. The ground missions, where the player and their party run on foot attacking enemies, have often been compared to the hack and slash gameplay of the Dynasty Warriors series. In the less-common aerial missions the player flies on the back of a dragon destroying enemy fortresses in mid-air, which was repeatedly compared to Panzer Dragoon Orta by reviewers. In Free Expedition Mode the player can jump on and off the dragon for a combination of both playing styles. It also has two difficulty modes, Easy and Normal. In Drakengard the dragon gains greater attack power as it gains experience and levels up. At certain points of the story the dragon evolves into a different, more powerful form, which enhances the dragons attack powers, magical attacks and allows to lock on to more enemies.

Drakengard is divided into chapters and subdivided into verses. Missions numbered with Roman numerals lead to endings other than the one merited in Chapter 8, and can only be played if the player meets certain requirements. Because the player can to go back to an earlier chapter or verse at almost any point in the game, the player does not need to erase the game and start over to try and achieve a specific ending. The game has four additional alternate endings. Each of these endings, along with the canonical ending, are achieved by certain events in the game.

Plot

Setting

The Empire relentlessly advances, and the goddess Furiae, protector of the world and sister to Caim, is threatened with capture. It is an ancient time, and dragons still roam upon earth. Two great powers, the Union and the Empire, wage fierce war for the control of a goddess who protects the harmony of the world. In only a short time, the Empire has become powerful beyond reckoning, and now it turns to attack the castle where the Union safeguards the goddess. The world teeters on the brink of chaos. Its fate now lies in the hands of one man.
— Prologue

Drakengard takes place in a world named Midgard. It is protected from the Watchers by the four seals; the seal of the ocean, the seal of the desert, the seal of the forest and the seal of the Goddess herself. However, the Cult of the Watchers had gained control of the Empire, and is seeking to destroy the seals in order to invoke the Watchers into the world.

Characters

Playable

Name Description Voice
DOD Caim Art
Caim
カイム
The 24-year-old heir of the kingdom of Caerleon (カールレオン Kārureon?), Caim was forced to witness the brutal murder of his parents by an Imperial black dragon. Since then, he swore vengeance on the Empire and dragons, fighting as a soldier in the army of the Union. Mortally wounded at the beginning of the game, he encountered the dying red dragon Angelus. Though he hates dragons, Caim demanded Angelus to accept his offer of a pact that would save both of them. As the price, Caim lost his voice in the exchange, marked on his tongue. Japanese:
Shinnosuke Ikehata
English:
Fleet Cooper
Angelus 01
Angelus (Angel)
アンヘル
A 10,000-year-old red dragon. Finding her cruelly fettered to the ground, Caim gives her a choice—make a pact with this human to live, or die by his blade. Understanding their mutual need to live, she reluctantly accepts. Being of a kind revered by others as masters of the natural world, Angelus comes off as arrogant, seeing humans as inferior, careless and defiant. But in time, Angelus made an exception in Caim, whom she revealed her name to.

Japanese:
Peter
(Shinnosuke Ikehata)
English:
Mona Marshall

Leonard Blind
Leonard
レオナール
A kind-hearted man who distasted the horrors of war. He was constantly tormented by the knowledge of his faults and past mistakes; blaming himself for the deaths of his brothers enough to attempt suicide upon seeing them dead, but couldn't do it. By then, Faerie appeared and took advantage of Leonard's instability at the time to force a pact upon him, robbing him of his sight that is marked on his eyes. He befriended Seere, who seemed to remind him of his brothers. Japanese:
Koichi Yamadera
English:
Paul St, Peter
Arioch art
Arioch
アリオーシュ
Arioch was a loving elf mother and wife until she was driven mad by the murder of her family at the hands of the Empire. Since then, she has become an insatiable murderer, only feeling joy as her young prey fall victim to her insanity. She formed a pact with Undine and Salamander in exchange for her fertility, marked on her waist. As an ally, Arioch is a threat to herself and others. In the Japanese version, it is implied that she murders and cannibalizes children as a result of her trauma. Japanese:
Megumi Hayashibara
English:
Michelle Ruff
Seere art -2
Seere
セエレ
Manah's twin brother, he felt it was his fault Manah was neglected by their mother who loved him. Though he shares his sister's magical abilities, he possesses the gift of prophecy. After his village was destroyed, Seere formed a pact with his newfound "friend", Golem, in exchange for his "time" (the ability to age), marked all over his body, thus can never grow up. He joins Caim's party to search for his lost sister, only to feel more guilt when he sees what became of her. Japanese:
Sota Murakami
English:
Mona Marshall

Non-playable

Name Description Voice
Furiae Art
Furiae
フリアエ
Caim's younger sister. Raised as a royal princess, she struggled to come to terms with her appointed role as the goddess at the time of her parents' death. As her cursed fate unfolded, Furiae began to despair. Living in her brother's castle, sitting quietly and offer silent prayers. She was abducted by Inuart, as she is the Final Seal that keeps the grotesqueries from appearing in their world. Furiae harbored feelings toward Caim, and he rejecting her is a grand cause towards one of the endings. Japanese:
Eriko Hatsune
English:
Kari Wahlgren
DOD Verdelet Art
Hierarch Verdelet
ヴェルドレ
The hierarch whose duty allows him to speak directly with the goddess, Verdelet is a pious man who is always careful of his words and of doing the right thing, but places himself first should the situation becomes dire. When young, he made a pact with a dragon that is now in a petrified state that left a mark on his head, losing his hair and ability to grow more in exchange. In the end of the game, Verdelet performed the sealing ceremony over Angelus. Japanese:
Iemasa Kayumi
English:
William Frederick Knight
Inuart
Inuart
イウヴァルト
Caim's former friend and son of a noble of the kingdom once ruled by Caim's family. Inuart possessed a beautiful singing voice and master of the harp. Though sincere and honest, his heart is weak and relies on his former betrothed, Furiae. But Inuart was taken by the Empire and tortured by them until he swore allegiance to them. He then made a pact with the very Imperial dragon that killed Caim's parents, sacrificing his talent for singing to cement the pact with a mark on his neck. He did this to fulfill his desire to protect Furiae instead of Caim, who was the object of Inuart's envy. He battles his former friend, taking Furiae to the Empire, where he believed she will be safe. Japanese:
Toshiaki Karasawa
English:
Fleet Cooper
Manah facial
Manah
マナ
A mysterious 6-year-old girl who commands the empire as High Priestess of the Cult of the Watchers. In reality, Manah was possessed by godlike entities that she refers to as "the Watchers", who use her as a means to direct the Empire to remove the seals that prevent chaos from ensuing. Prior to it, Manah suffered abuse from her mother, which led to her current state of mind. Japanese:
Natsuki Yamashita;
Daisuke Gori (possessed)
English:
Sherry Lynn
Daran Norris (possessed)
DD1 - Watchers - CGI3
Grotesqueries
A mysterious otherworldly race related to Manah's possession, only appearing once the seals are destroyed. Most grotesqueries resemble giant human infants with stony skin and sharp teeth. They are in turn, led by an adult-like Queen Grotesquerie. They only accomplish their goal in two alternate endings. Their true identity is revealed in Drakengard 2. Japanese:
N/A
English:
N/A

Story

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Note: These events follow Drag-On Dragoon 3 Story Side.

The game begins with Caim and the Union fighting a battle against the Empire. During the battle, Caim is mortally wounded, but comes across a red dragon, chained to the ground by Imperial forces. Although neither Caim nor the dragon are fond of each other, Caim proposes that they make a pact to save both their lives, as they share a mutual need to live on. As a result of the pact, Caim loses his voice, rendering him mute and causing a pact emblem to appear on his tongue. Caim and his pact partner soar into the sky with newfound power, obliterating the Empire's air force and disposing of the rest of their infantry.

Caim and the dragon regroup with his sister Furiae, the goddess of the seals; and Inuart, Caim's childhood friend and talented musician. Inuart proposes that they seek asylum in the elf village near the Seal of the Forest. Without protests or delay, they head off, only to find the village invaded and the seal destroyed. Hierarch Verdelet, guardian of the seals, speaks through the dragon, pleading with the group to bring the goddess to the temple that holds the Seal of the Desert. Caim learns from a dying elf, that hostages have been taken by cultists to the Shrine of the Watchers. Caim sets off to rescue them, as Inuart takes Furiae to the desert temple.

Caim fights through the shrine, only to find that the kidnapped elves have been taken elsewhere. Later, within the Valley of the Faeries, Caim meets Leonard, who joins him as an ally. The dragon reveals that Inuart and Verdelet have been captured, so the group quickly set off to the Seal of the Desert. Arriving at the desert, Caim finds Furiae safe, though realises it was too late for Inuart and Verdelet. Caim heads to the Imperial Prison to rescue them, succeeding only in finding Verdelet, learning that Inuart has been taken someplace else.

They return to the desert, only to find the seal broken. The group then finds Arioch, an elf driven to insanity after witnessing the death of her family by the Empire who sealed a pact with Undine and Salamander, her pact price being her ability to conceive. After Arioch joins the party, Inuart appears, having sealed a pact with a black dragon—the same one that murdered Caim's parents in the past. Inuart demands that Caim allow him to free Furiae by bringing her to the Empire. Instead, Caim engages Inuart in a brief fight, where Inuart defeats Caim and kidnaps Furiae. Caim, realising his duty, delays the rescue of his sister to reach the Seal of the Ocean, only to find the seal destroyed.

Verdelet explains that destroying all seals will scatter "Seeds of Destruction" throughout the world, capable of creating a legion of murderous monsters from one human corpse. The party arrive at the Imperial Lands and find a young orphan boy by the name of Seere, who explains that his sister was taken by the Empire and pleads to join the group. It is then revealed that he also sealed a pact, a pact with a golem in sacrifice for his "time" or ability to age. The entire group join the final battle between the Union and the Empire, resulting in the latter's defeat. Celebrations are short-lived, however, as the sky turns black and an unsettling evil arises.

Endings

the Anguish of an unsmiling Watcher

Caim and the dragon succeed in stopping Manah, High Priestess of the Watchers and Seere's sister, and sealing her powers. Manah begs Caim and Verdelet to kill her, but they coldly push her aside, the red dragon stating that Manah must suffer for the crimes she has commited. The dragon volunteers to become the new seal, shocking Caim and Verdelet. As Verdelet performs the rite, the dragon sees Caim cry for the first time. She tells him her name—Angelus—before bidding farewell and disappearing.

flowers for the Broken spirit

After Furiae's death, Inuart takes her dead body and tries to resurrect her with a Seed of Destruction. She comes back to life as a monster with god-like powers and wings. She kills Inuart and engages Caim in battle. After a long and grueling aerial fight, Caim succeeds in defeating his reborn sister. Standing atop a destroyed building, carrying Furiae's remains, Caim gazes upon the landscape as a myriad of monsters rise from the seeds—a myriad of the same monster he holds in his arms.

a Companion's eternal farewell

Manah, out of desperation and realization that all is lost, attempts to summon a dragon; instead of obeying her, the dragon consumes her. Angelus, now a Chaos Dragon, breaks the pact between herself and Caim. Although Angelus still has respect and love towards Caim, she knows that they must fight for the rising dragons plan on destroying humanity and taking over the world. Caim manages to defeat her, but hears more dragons coming his way. Resolute, Caim runs outside full speed to battle until his final breath.

the wild dreams of a Deluded child

After running out of options, Seere's pact partner Golem kills Manah. As a result, the infant-like grotesqueries descend fron the sky, consuming and destroying everything in sight. Arioch becomes obsessed with the image of children and runs towards them as they crush and consume her. Leonard sacrifices himself to blow a path clear for Angelus, Caim and Seere. Soon after, the queen-beast rises from the ground. Angelus and Caim desperately weigh out their limited options, finally deciding on what must be done. Seere, with his significant pact sacrifice, has the ability to stop time, at the cost of his life. Caim, Angelus and Seere fly towards the queen-beast, dropping Seere onto her. Angelus and Caim, having achieved their final task, are killed by the overwhelming grotesqueries. Finally, Seere asks his sister to forgive him as he releases bursts of light from his body as black fume surrounds him, covering the queen-beast and grotesqueries, forever frozen in time.

the End of the dragon sphere

Note: This branch ties into the events of Nier.

Caim and Angelus travel across a dimensional boundary to fight the Queen Grotesquerie, and in a strange twist end up flying over modern-era Tokyo, Japan. After defeating the queen-beast in an unusual battle, Angelus states, "It is done, at last", before the pair are shot down by a pair of fighter jets when finally a radio transmission is heard, "This is Bravo 1, unidentified target has been neutralised. Over and out". The final credits roll silently as the sounds of a typical urban area in Tokyo is heard, the end of which scrolls down to a dead Angelus impaled onto Tokyo Tower. This ending leads to the events of NieR.

Spoilers end here.

Theme song

Packaging Artwork

Gallery

Trivia

  • Scarface, the Japanese codename of the pilot in Ending E, is commonly associated with protagonists in the early titles of the Ace Combat series. The jet used in the free mission unlocked by this ending is later identified as a Su-43 Berkut in Ace Combat 3.
  • The series has a reoccuring trend of naming human characters after demons, and non-human characters (usually dragons) after angels.
  • The title of Ending E, is likely a reference to Project Dragonsphere, Drakengard's project name.
Characters
Playable characters
Caim & Red DragonLeonard & FaerieArioch & Undine and SalamanderSeere & Golem
Other characters
FuriaeInuart & Black DragonManahRuler of the FaeriesVerdelet & Petrified Dragon
Database
EndingsItemsLocationsNovellasStagesTimelinesWeaponsWeapon Histories

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