is the first game in Cavia's Drakengard
series released in 2003, notable for its combination of a multilayered, surreal plot and excellent atmosphere with rather weak, repetitive gameplay. The gameplay switches between Hack and Slash
and Flight Sim
, so one could think of it as a mixture of Dynasty Warriors
and a sandbox version of Panzer Dragoon
. It takes place in a Heroic
medieval setting, and it follows Anti-Hero Caim
on a mission to destroy an evil empire (aptly named "the Empire")
while also protecting his sister Furiae. Furiae is called "the Goddess" because she is part of four seals that protect the world from an unknown danger
— she is a living seal, and her death would herald chaos in the world.
Caim is joined initially on his quest by Inuart, his best friend and Furiae's betrothed
before she became the Goddess, and four other characters,
the circumstances of each being varied and always tragic.
One of the major concepts in Drakengard
is that of a pact
, or of two beings of different races binding their souls into one. Caim is mortally wounded in the first stage as he runs towards Furiae's castle in the midst of a battle, and discovers a chained and wounded dragon in the courtyard. He proposes that in order to save them both, the two should form a pact. In forging the pact, Caim can control the dragon during flight and has access to the dragon's vast strength, but he gives up his voice (he's capable of speaking telepathically with the dragon). However, if either Caim or the dragon dies, they both die, and it seems the pain one feels is transferred to the other as well. All of the other members of Caim's party have a pact, and a certain price they have paid for it:
- Leonard the forester has a pact with a fairy. With it, he has access to the fairy's powerful magic. He gave up his sight. He was a pedophile in the original Japanese version, but international releases edited this part of his character out completely (sloppily).
- Arioch the elf has a pact with Undine and Salamander, the water and fire spirits, respectively. She can control water and fire to a certain degree (she can be seen walking on water in one cutscene, or being undamaged by a house burning down in another) and can summon the spirits to her aid. She gave up her fertility. She is quite insane; she's developed a certain fondness for the other, other white meat as a consequence.
- Seere the young boy has a pact with Golem, a stone giant. Golem provides the ultimate protection for the boy's life and can destroy The Legions of Hell with ease. Seere gave up his "time", meaning that he will never age beyond his six year old body. He bonds with Leonard pretty quickly.
- Verdelet the hierarch also made a pact with a dragon, but that was long before the events of the game and the dragon has since been petrified. He would normally have gained the allegiance of the dragon as Caim has from his pact, but he can't call upon his pact-partner. As a consequence, Verdelet can understand the telepathy that goes between pact-partners, but he gave up his hair.
The game starts off simply enough, with Caim and any party members he's managed to find running from one location to the next, trying to prevent the Empire from destroying one of the three land-based seals. Each seal that is destroyed makes the burden on the Goddess that much more unbearable. As Caim journeys on, he learns about the Cult of the Watchers
which has taken hold over the Empire and their evil machinations for the Goddess. The game gets progressively weirder
and more surreal
as events go on, and the interactions between characters gradually become more nuanced and complex
from the straight-up swords and sorcery formula. By its end, Drakengard
has gone beyond the standard unspoken agreement between author and audience
and thrown us into the stuff of nightmares
. Watching how the characters react to this and observing their hopeless and doomed plight
is strangely interesting; morbid curiosity drives one to finish the game's five endings
. Much like a certain famous anime
does not shy away from the surreal, the macabre, and the downright depressing.
One of the most striking things about the game is how so many Videogame Tropes
are turned completely on their head. Your main cast is less than virtuous. Caim
is a mute bloodthirsty nutcase
goes completely nuts
isn't entirely innocent
, and the list just goes on and on. Really, there's few games like it out there.
A third game
was released to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the game.
This videogame provides examples of (Warning: major spoilers):
- Alien Sky: Happens several times in both games. When the seals that keep the world from ending are broken, the sky becomes a sickening red (in Drakengard 2, the blue sky literally shatters). In the "bonus" ending of Drakengard, Caim and his dragon emerge in an alien dimension (actually modern-day Tokyo) where everything is Deliberately Monochrome.
- All There in the Manual: Among other things, it's revealed that Leonard was absent from the massacre that killed his companions because he was off in the woods having sex with a young boy. What the hell, Cavia?!
- Alternate History: Surprisingly enough, the recent Drakengard timeline from the 10th anniversary box reveals that the world of Drakengard shared our world's history up until 856 A.D., when an event named the 'Great Apocalypse' happened. After the events of Drakengard 2 in A.D. 1117, the world starts going down on a path similar to our world's history again, though with certain changes such as 'Black Friday' being known as 'Black Thursday', the black death plague being caused by the red eye sickness instead, amongst others. Then Ending E happens in this world, carrying over from the last Alternate Universe of the first game.
- Always Chaotic Evil: How Caim views the people of the Empire. As far as we can tell, this is true as long as the Cult of the Watchers is in charge. Once they're deposed in Ending A and the sequel rolls around, though...
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Among the sequel's New Game+ bonuses are accessories that change the appearance of Urick, Nowe, and Eris.
- Angel Theme Naming: All named dragons introduced so far all have some sort of angelic name such as Angelus, Legna, Mikhail and Gabriel.
- Anti-Hero: Caim is a... not very pleasant fellow with a magnificently enthusiastic approach to violence who just so happens to be fighting people and/or things which are even worse.
- Anyone Can Die: And they do. Especially the children.
- Apocalypse How: In some of the most horrifying ways ever committed to the medium.
- In an Alternate Continuity example: Caim and Angelus are responsible for devastating the world of NieR.
- Armor Is Useless: The protagonist and company rarely wear more than a little shoulder armor. The hordes of tin can knights might as well be in jammies for all the good their armor does.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: When Verdelet attempts to exorcise the Watchers from Manah, they turn her into a gigantic Final Boss. The big momma Grotesquerie counts as well.
- Bad Ass: Caim and Angelus, definitely. You can even stretch if you want, to Arioch and Leonard.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Only in cutscenes, though.
- Badass Boast: Angelus gives a good one near the end of game one.
Angelus: Nothing is stronger than we are now. Let nothing that values life stand before us!
Angelus: You fight well. But your strength is no match for my dragonfire!
- Balance Between Good and Evil: Embodied in two characters, Manah and Seere. Also Caim and the Grotesquerie Queen.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: The Grotesqueries are missing any sort of identifying genitalia, making them androgynous.
- Battle Couple: Caim and Angelus are upgraded to this.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Used and averted. While Furiae becoming a world-destroying terror is most definitely an example, Arioch is both attractive and a crazy baby-eater, and the mother of the Grotesqueries has a chiseled marble loveliness marred only by the whole giving-birth-to-the-end-of-the-universe thing.
- BFS: Part of Gameplay and Story Segregation, and also played straight with Hymir's Finger.
- Hymir's Finger cannot be anything but a Shout-Out to the Dragonslayer.
- Hymir's Finger appears in the sequel with a new name and appearance: Broken Iron. The similarities are still blatantly obvious, and even the backstory states that it used to be the largest sword in the world. That was essentially the title of Hymir's Finger.
- A new sword introduced in the sequel is Pitch Black, which resembles a black flamberge.
- Bittersweet Ending: For the first game, Ending 1 and Ending 3. Ending 4 is also this with a bit of Fridge Logic: "Europe" is frozen in time and the protagonists have all suffered A Fate Worse Than Death, but the world as a whole is safe from the Grotesqueries. As for Ending 5, Caim and Angelus's world is safe (maybe), but not only did they die immediately after their victory in an exceedingly humiliating and contrived fashion, they also completely ruined another world. Also, the first two endings in the second game.
- Black and Gray Morality: Good Lord.
- Bolivian Army Ending + Charge-into-Combat Cut: Both endings to Chapter 9 in the first game. One of which has you fight what is probably the hardest (actual) boss in the game (one of your friends mutated into an Eldritch Abomination) and then realizing that the Seeds are giving birth to hundreds of copies of said boss. Uh-oh. The other ending begins after killing Angelus, with Caim charging to fight an entire horde of dragons.
- As well as Ending 2 in the sequel, where Nowe and Eris are shown leading an army of Holy Dragons to fight against the gods descending upon the world. The end.
- Bond Creatures: In the setting, a person can form a bond with a creature (or in one case, a pack of creatures) in exchange for the person sacrificing something of themselves.
- Caim and his dragon, Angelus (sacrificing his voice).
- Leonard and his fairy (sacrificing his sight).
- Arioch and her twin spirits, Undine & Salamander (sacrificing her fertility).
- Seere and his Golem (sacrificing his time.
- Verdelet and his petrified dragon (sacrificing his hair).
- Bowdlerise: The Brother-Sister Incest was slightly more overt in the original Japanese. Also, Leonard was a pedophile (or had urges towards pedophilia) in the original that were completely removed for the American release. The incest was crucial to the plot, but one could argue the paedophilia was not. Also, Angelus' racism was significantly toned down from "blind, genocidal hatred" to the more subdued "I'm a Dragon, your argument is invalid" that is common to most dragons in media.
- A Boy And His Dragon
- Brother-Sister Incest: Furiae wants Caim. Sexually. References to such were mostly removed, but some hints remain sprinkled across a few scenes.
- Came Back Wrong: If Inuart succeeds in resurrecting the goddess Furiae, it goes... poorly.
- Character Development: It's still character development if your protagonist becomes slowly more evil over time, right?
- There is also the changing relationship between Caim and Angelus. They start out hating each other's guts and only cooperating for the sake of survival. Canonically, they grow to respect each other and by the end actually become friends, which is why the canon ending is such a Tear Jerker. In the sequel, Caim is willing to break the world in order to free Angelus from her torment.
- Character Level: The main reason to thrash thousands of optional soldiers.
- Chasing Your Tail: The dragon versus dragon aerial fight with Inuart later in the original game. The fight with Angelus in the second game also counts.
- Child Soldiers: A small garrison of these appears in the chapter "Leonard's Regret".
- The Chosen One: Nowe, which earns him some disrespect among the Knights. Nowe himself just wants to be normal.
- Collision Damage: Considering you'll be fighting enemies by the hundreds, this is one thing you don't have to worry about. (Except for the occasional ramming attack.) A few of Caim's spells can damage adjacent/nearby enemies on contact, and the "shield" power in the sequel enables Legna to ram through enemies while it's in effect.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Note that red Mooks are immune to magic (including dragonfire) and will merely reflect spells back at you.
- Colossus Climb: See that scaffolding on the Imperial war cyclopses? Better get ready to... take them out from the sky with your dragon instead.
- Concepts Are Cheap: In the second game, Nowe and Manah bang on about "peace and equality" while cutting a bloody swathe through hundreds of people in an effort to break the seals that keep the world from ending.
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: One of the most major reasons for the Broken Base regarding the second game was due to the shift from the cruel Caim to the standard fare Idiot Hero Nowe.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Deconstructed with vengeance. The brutal deaths of Caim's parents act as the driving force behind his bloodthirsty behavior.
- Convenient Questing: For the main story, at least. The side quests needed for Ending 4 in the first game instead take the heroes well out of the way of where they're supposed to go. Also, Chapter 10 is called "Astray" for a reason.
- Cool, but Inefficient: Hymir's Finger is huge and damaging but slow. It's brutally damaging, but until it reaches its highest level, it's too slow for its damage output to be meaningful. At level 4, though...
- Copy And Paste Environments: Nothing but bleak landscape for miles in some, even most cases. The second game does a better job with the environments.
- Not to mention the Ocean Fortress has the exact same floorplan as the Sky Fortress, the only real difference being whether you'll have to deal with anti-magic enemies.
- Cosmic Keystone: The seals, including Furiae, a living seal. They keep two extraordinarily important things under wraps.
- Counter Attack: Most enemies have this ability; strike them repeatedly, and they'll eventually flash and become impervious to frontal strikes as they prepare to strike back.
- In the sequel, when defending against attack, pressing the Attack button with precise timing will throw the attacker off guard and allow you a quick combo.
- Crapsack World: Uh... if the summary at the top of the page didn't hammer this into your head, consider this: in Drakengard 2, Legna reveals that the horrific red-sky hellscape which overtakes the normal world when the seals break is the default state of things.
- Creepy Monotone: As practiced by The Evil Army, who mutter inane semi-ominous gibberish a few times throughout the game.
- Critical Existence Failure: For Caim and the world itself if the seals go bust.
- Cutting Off The Branches: Of the five endings in the first game, only the first one is treated as canon by the sequel.
- The fifth ending leads into NieR, but the two "sequels" are treated as two separate Alternate Continuities. Then the fifth ending of the first game happens hundreds of years after the end of the second game, from an Alternate Universe.
- Dark Fantasy: At first.
- Death Course: The final level right before Ending 4.
- Death from Above: Following the biggest military engagement in the game, the Empire nukes the victorious Union army from their sky fortress, rendering your entire efforts pointless. ...uh, thanks?
- And as a gameplay mechanic, in ground missions you can incinerate most enemy Mooks via dragonfire with absolute impunity.
- Deconstruction: The game gives us a glimpse into the psyche of the kind of person in an RPG who would be willing to kill a buttload of people in order to strengthen his weapons and level himself up. The result? Not very nice.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Modern-day Tokyo in Ending 5.
- Destructible Projectiles: Attacks from enemy mages and archers can be blocked by striking them with an attack, although the precise timing for this can be difficult to accomplish when fending off swarms of other Mooks at the same time. Some projectiles (like the bounty hunters' knives) can even be deflected back at the thrower For Massive Damage.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: The universe of Drakengard is deadset on killing any chance of hope or success.
- Distressed Damsel: There exists Furiae concept art where she wields a crook as a weapon and is shown with a pact-beast. In-game, she spends all but the first handful of levels captured and dies in every single ending.
- Doomed Hometown
- Doppelgänger Attack: The boss battle against Manah's personal demons in the sequel; defeating the dopplegangers doesn't even earn you kills or experience points.
- Downer Ending: Every single ending ever in the first game, most especially Ending 2 and Ending 4.
- The Dragon: Inuart after his Face-Heel Turn, replete with his own dragon. Manah is often this to whatever Big Bad winds up threatening the universe next. And Eris proves to be this to General Gismor.
- Dragon Rider
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Ending 5, which was likely played for laughs. Given what utterly hideous boss precedes it, it's a joke at the expense of the player.
- Dysfunction Junction: Anyone who is important is either a tragic figure of some sort or a slaughter-happy monster.
- Earn Your Bad Ending: The first ending you get in the first game is bittersweet. All subsequent endings get worse and WORSE and require more and more effort to unlock.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: In the second game, you need to beat it at least three times to get the best ending. The bad part? The game automatically fixes the difficulty to hard and then extreme. Not even an option in the first game, where each ending becomes both harder to achieve and more depressing.
- To wit with the second game's best ending: The corrupt Knights of the Seal are defeated, both the Grotesqueries and the Dragons are gone for good, freeing mankind from the demand of the mass sacrifices of innocents by the former and the manipulations of the latter, all of Nowe's friends survive, Caim and Angelus are finally at peace, and after two games' worth of death, destruction, betrayal, and despair, the world is finally beginning to improve.
- Easter Egg: The SU-47 in the first game.
- Eats Babies: Used (by Arioch) and hilariously/creepily inverted (by the Grotesqueries).
- Eldritch Abomination: The Grotesqueries, in an unspeakably creepy parody of innocent baby-like cherubs. They have fucking teeth and slasher smiles.
- In Ending 2, Inuart places Furiae into a Seed of Resurrection, causing her to return to life... as a horrifically twisted version of herself. The end result has thorned tentacles, massive angel wings with her old arms on the very ends, and with her human face still on the end, among other things. And then, in the end, every other seed gives birth to a copy of that monstrosity!
- Eleventh Hour Superpower: In the first game, the dragon obtains a Chaos Form for use in the final air battles and one boss fight against Caim in some routes. In the sequel, depending on your ending, Nowe will fight the final boss in his "New Breed" form.
- The Empire: The antagonists of the first game.
- Endless Winter: The E ending means this in the real world. Subverted in that, 1312 years later, it looks normal again (or at least as normal as a post-apocalyptic world can be).
- The End of the World as We Know It: Every single ending except the canon one in the first game.
- The Evil Army: Fielded in huge numbers by the Empire. We Have Reserves indeed.
- Evil Hero: Caim.
- Exploding Barrel: You'll find plenty of them hanging around in the sequel, with completely no explanation why. Their explosions are surprisingly deadly to Mooks and surprisingly harmless to you.
- Faceless Goons: Clad in color-coded full plate armor.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Furiae dies in every path of the first game.
- The Fair Folk: Brushed upon. They're mostly jerks who mock humans for their failures and weaknesses.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Several. Including...
- Manah begging for death after being defeated in the canon ending.
- Furiae being resurrected into not one, but several thousand horrific monstrosities.
- Seere, Caim, and the dragon when time itself is destroyed around the Imperial capitol. Seere never gets to die and rejoin his mother, and Caim and the dragon are stuck in the midst of being devoured by Grotesqueries. Forever.
- The Federation: The Union.
- Feel No Pain: Anyone under the effect of the Red Eye Plague.
- Fighting Your Friend:
- Subverted with Urick in the sequel. He explicitly informs you how to actually kill him, but Nowe won't have any of it and decides to take Caim out instead. In return, Caim's the one who slays Urick.
- Then there's ending number 3 in the first game, where the dragon ends Caim's pact and the two of them fight to the death to determine the fate of the world.
- Likewise, the standard ending in the sequel pits Nowe against Legna. The same thing happens for the final ending.
- Five-Man Band: The first game.
- Flavor Text: The histories behind each and every weapon you can collect. They also differ between the two games.
- Foe-Tossing Charge: Caim, opening movie and during gameplay.
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: The Final Boss theme of the first game is nothing but eerie bells.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble
- Freak Out!: Nearly the whole cast has a little moment at one point or another.
- Friendly Fireproof: Friendly units in the sequel almost never take any damage from your attacks, combos, spells, whatsoever. Even Legna's dragonfire, which sends them flying like any other enemy, fails to inflict actual damage on friendlies.
- Functional Magic: Very lightly touched upon besides the pact-beasts.
- Gameplay Ally Immortality: In the first game, allies are "summoned" to replace Caim for a limited time. The manual even recommends summoning them when Caim is low on HP.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: Very little of what you accomplish in-game makes a difference in the story.
- Genre Shift: From dark Heroic Fantasy to Cosmic Horror Story Survival Horror.
- Gentle Giant: Seere's pact-partner, Golem.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The final boss changes based on the ending route, and most of them could not have been expected from information presented in-game —
- "A" route: Giant-sized Manah! While the opponent was expected, the form was not.
- "B" route: Giant mutant resurrected Furiae!
- "C" route: Not-that-giant-but-still-rather-large Chaos-version Angelus!
- "D" route: Giant swarm of Grotesqueries (those freaky monster babies you've probably read about by now)!
- "E" route: Rhythm game with a giant Mama Grotesquerie in downtown Tokyo! And then some fighter jets blow you up.
- "D" and "E" routes also apply for the title of Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
- A God Am I: Several end bosses go this route, to varying degrees of success.
- Gods Of Evil: The Watchers. That being said, in this game, who isn't?
- Going Through the Motions: Averted.
- Gorn: The manga is... brutal, to put it bluntly.
- Grim Dark: In spades. Here's the little story for Bonebreaker, an axe you can unlock: "Once, a man opened a shed, and there were a bunch of skeletons and stuff. Oh, and he had an axe. THE END." And it just goes from there.
- Ground Pound
- Guide Dang It: The various weapons have often-counterintuitive and occasionally contradictory unlocking conditions.
- Hack and Slash: It's similar to Dynasty Warriors with RPG Elements, except with extremely limited combos and magic and a slower pace and... well.
- Hand Wave: Happens a lot in some of the more disturbing endings, often as a Lampshade Hanging on the intensity of how crazy things get.
- Harmful to Minors: As a child, Caim witnessed the brutal death of his parents at the hands of the Empire.
- Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Nowe vs. Caim in the sequel.
- Heal Thyself
- Heroic Fantasy: In an extremely dark, negative take.
- Heroi-, errr, Antiheroic Mime: Caim is mute, due to his pact price with the dragon, and tends to 'communicate' through the medium of "kicking my allies in the head and brutally murdering my enemies". This carries on into the second game, where he is an Enemy Mime (and not as in the trope) instead.
- High School A.U.: Not really, but there are some images of this for the second game in the Memory of Blood supplement. They even show how Angelus and Legna would look like in human forms!!
- Hit Me, Dammit!: Manah to Caim in the canon ending.
- Hive Mind: The Grotesqueries, probably.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: The Fairies justify their Jerk Ass natures with this. Angelus also has a tendency to act haughty and superior when around humans.
- "A wise man chooses death before war. A wiser man chooses not to be born." Ouch.
- Legna picks up right where Angelus left off in the sequel.
- 100% Completion: Required for Ending 5, the hair-tearing difficulty of which is rewarded with the most anticlimactic finisher imaginable. You also get a bonus mission where you fly an Su-47.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: You can carry eight weapons ranging from polearms, hammers, and axes to daggers and swords (including the world's largest sword) into battle with you. Joy!
- Idle Animation
- Idiot Hero: Nowe. Dear god, Nowe. He doesn’t like that people have to be sacrificed for these seal things to stay active and he falls with Manah to destroy them, ignoring everyone else screaming at him that the seals are the only thing staving off the apocalypse. He has the audacity to be surprised when he destroys the seals and trigger the apocalypse.
- Even before that is the event with Grismor. The Dark Id put it nicely.
The Dark Id: Nowe decides to not even attempt to mention to his best friend key facts like, I don't know: Gismor poisoned him, the said poison is right over on the table, the general just confessed to murdering the former leader of the Knights of the Seal, or anything that would improve the situation in his favor. Instead, he just smashes through a nearby window and runs away crying. Way to go, kiddo!
- Inescapable Ambush: Quite often.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests: that appear or disappear at the behest of myriad arbitrary triggers.
- Infallible Babble: Graffiti written in blood is surprisingly reliable!
- Infinity+1 Sword: Kingsblood and Hymir's Finger in the first game.
- Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: During one Timed Mission in the sequel, Nowe picks up some dungeon keys, specifically noting that each one only works once. Otherwise averted.
- Interspecies Romance: Caim and The Dragon. Trust me, it's much more beautiful than it sounds!
- Invisible Wall
- Jiggle Physics: Averted, in one case because the mother of the Grotesqueries seems to be made of marble, and thus wouldn't be prone to a-jigglin'.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: In the sequel, Nowe enters Manah's mind to save her.
- Kaizo Trap: In the original, the final battle for Ending E is a two-and-a-half minute rhythm game, where getting hit once will force you to start the "battle" over. As it approaches the end, the Queen-Beast will launch a rapid-fire series of 49 attacks. If you manage to survive this attack, don't put down your controller and relax just yet. She'll fire a single attack five seconds afterwards.
- Karmic Death: Arioch, in the fourth and fifth endings, gets devoured by the Grotesqueries.
- Katanas Are Just Better: They look better, sure, but they're actually no better numerically than any other weapon you could choose from.
- Kill 'em All: In most endings, the cast gets decimated at least, wiped out entirely at worst. The events of Ending E are directly responsible for the extinction of the human race.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Deconstructed in the first game with Caim, and then played straight with Posthumous Character Oror in the second.
- Knight Templar: Eris, at the beginning of Drakengard 2.
- Knockback: Hammers, maces, and axes generally send enemies flying with every hit that connects, making them useful crowd-clearing weapons in your hands, and annoying weapons in the enemies' hands.
- Lampshade Hanging: When the metaphysical shit hits the fan this hard, even the game has to step back and acknowledge it. In an especially cruel fashion, Seere's Heroic Sacrifice is mocked in the ending titles when he tries to compare it to a fairy tale his mother told him.
- Law of Cartographical Elegance: Yup, all the world a square. At least the map is.
- Let's Play: Of the first game by The Dark Id of Let's Play Resident Evil fame. Particularly notable for turning the interplay between Caim and the dragon into that of a Buddy Cop Show (with more murder) and pointing out some of the hypocrisy and lunacy of the characters and setting. Drakengard! note
- He later moves onto Drakengard 2, where Nowe is presented as a self-absorbed nitwit clueless of things he should by all means be aware of who only became a Knight of the Seal because of Dragon Dad, while Eris, Urick, and Legna are forced to weather his stupidity. Also, General Gismor is a Troll.
- Level Grinding: The main reason to slay hundreds upon hundreds of enemy Mooks.
- In the first game, Caim's kills increase his maximum HP (which the dragon shares), while the dragon's kills increase her attack power. Weapons increase based on the number of actual kills, so replaying early levels to slaughter scores of low-level enemies is a fairly easy way to level up.
- In the sequel, characters collect their experience points individually, with slight increases in HP, attack, and/or defense power as they level up.
- Level-Map Display: Both games display a map of the level when pausing the game; the second also allows you to switch between your enemy-radar and level-map overlay at any time (once you collect the area's actual map).
- Lighter and Softer: Drakengard 2, compared to the original, is much less messed up in its tone.
- The Load: Seere borders on this: he wastes a lot of the group's time by making them go on a wild goose chase looking for his family, then gets kidnapped and needs rescuing; without Golem, he's about as useful in combat as you'd expect from a real eight-year old. His (or rather, Golem's) actions when they encounter Manah may make up for it, though. (May being the key word, seeing as this act ends up causing the Grotesqueries to descend upon the world.) Verdelet also borders on this, not so much because he needs saving all the time, but because he never really does anything useful, and one of the few times he tries, it backfires spectacularly.
- Love Triangle: Inuart is in love with Furiae. Furiae is in love with her brother. Caim is in love with murdering everything that gets in his way.
- Low Fantasy: While the game is technically high fantasy (flying castles, airships, enemy wizards, goblins, giants, apocalyptic horrors, dragons, seventy-odd cursed magical weapons collectible by Caim), the game is so dreary and depressing the wonder of such things is replaced by horror.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The dragons' magic attacks in aerial battles.
- Made of Plasticine: Any and everything on the receiving end of Caim's blade.
- Magikarp Power: A few weapons in the sequel (including the legendary Weapons of the Seal) have weak attack power, learn few or no combos, and level up much slower than other weapons. But once they reach maximum level...
- Magnet Hands: Gets ridiculous when bigger weapons are involved.
- In the first game, the only time we ever see Caim without his sword visibly in hand is in one of the ending cinematics.
- The Man Behind the Man: The Watchers.
- Meaningful Name: Caim, Arioch, Seere, Manah.
- Mercy Invincibility: Except for a few enemies' combo attacks, taking any damage in the first game results in this, allowing you to counterattack immediately. The second game lacks Mercy Invincibility entirely.
- Metal Slime: In the first game, magical soldiers with a 60-second timer appear in a few levels. If you can defeat one, they drop a bonus orb that bestows free "kills" on all weapons you brought into the level with you.
- Mind-Control Eyes: Inuart and the whole Empire — anything acting at the behest of the Watchers.
- Mind Rape: Inuart and Furiae, both by Manah.
- Mind Screw: Endings 4 and (especially) 5 in the first game.
- Mirror Boss: Inuart's Black Dragon has similar abilities to your own.
- Mook Chivalry: Nope, enemies will gladly surround you and start poking you from all directions. Most enemies don't actually attack very frequently, but if several of them start attacking all at once...
- This also applies to enemy squad leaders (marked with a yellow dot) in the first game, who are often higher-class soldiers than their subordinates, and are more aggressive.
- More Than Mind Control: Inuart and, again, possibly the whole Empire. While some are under obvious Mind Control, a few soldiers at least retain their individuality; they may even make small-talk when they aren't required to fight.
- Multiple Endings: Five for the first game, three for the second. Both games are kind enough to tell you exactly how many, and toss in some broad hints for unlocking them.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Verdelet's goes off all the damn time. To a lesser extent, Leonard might as well have 20/20 vision thanks to how he "senses" his way through battles.
- Never Grew Up: Seere in the second game, thanks to his pact with Golem.
- New Game+: Unlike the first game, Drakengard 2 doesn't allow the player to revisit/replay earlier story chapters at their leisure ... but all weapons, items, and Experience Points carry over to a new game, and it explicitly tells you what other bonuses you get (like rare weapons, and the ability to use all party members at any time). This is also a requirement for achieving the alternate endings, but it's also accompanied by an increase in the game's difficulty level.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Seere in Ending 4. We know his time has been taken away from him, so obviously throwing him at the Time Monster causing the world to fall apart will end in kind-of sort-of victory! It's a cross between a bad-episode-of-Star Trek Ass Pull and partly justified, given what the heroes are up against.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Drakengard 2, Nowe and Mannah's crusade to stop the knights' oppression unleashes Angelus, who's gone Ax-Crazy from her imprisonment and wants to burn down the entire world. And since Angelus is the new Goddess Seal, killing her means saying hello to The End of the World as We Know It. Oops.
- Hilariously, our heroes had always been told that disaster would follow if the seals holding Angelus were broken. But because they believed the organization protecting them was oppressive, they mistakenly assumed it must also be lying and corrupt.
- Nintendo Hard: The final boss only, due to a sudden and awful genre shift.
- No Biological Sex: Dragons, while they may have voices and traits that may make it seem that they have genders they are genderless.
- No Endor Holocaust: Averted. As Grimoire Nier reveals, the events of Chapter 13 in Tokyo do do damage. 320 are injured, 56 are dead and 60 billion yen in damages was dealt.
- No Ontological Inertia: The world. It Makes Sense in Context, kind of.
- There are also a few cases where defeating a squad leader eradicates its entire party, such as with the Imperial war cyclopses in Chapter 7.
- Not Worth Killing: Reversed; see Fate Worse Than Death above.
- Odd Couple: Caim and the dragon.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Subverted. Some of the game's stages have it as part of the background music, but Ominous Latin Chanting is never used to underscore an important plot event.
- Ominous Pipe Organ
- One-Man Army: The player character, whether it be Caim and his allies in the first game, or Nowe and his in the sequel.
- The One True Sequence: Averted.
- Optional Party Member: Leonard, Arioch, and Seere are completely optional. Seere in particular cannot be unlocked until having beaten the game once already.
- Outside Ride: With the unlockable jet figter Caim decides to sit on top of it instead of in it.
- Party in My Pocket: Only one member of the party is actually on the field at a time, though dialogue overlays imply that they're intended to be all present at once.
- Path of Inspiration: The Cult of the Watchers.
- Pet the Dog: Near the end of the second game, as Angelus lays dying, Caim does his best to comfort her.
- Point of No Return: Nope, the first game uses a level-select feature, while the second allows you to return to the World Map for shops / sidequests before any mission.
- Power at a Price: Pacts. The human partner loses a function of their body, with implications that the beast is the one deciding what that price is. Some prices are particularly karmic, and some less literal than others; Caim lost his voice, Leonard his sight, Seere... his ability to age? Verdelet lost his hair?!
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: In the first game, the seals were just kind of... there. In the second, they're fueled by the life force of the surviving Imperials.
- Psycho Strings: The first game's soundtrack is pretty much entirely made of spliced and distorted samples of classical orchestral symphonies, and thus is all over this trope like jam on toast. The sequel, less so, but when the world breaks again after the seals get destroyed, the background music makes use of it again.
- Rage Against the Heavens: The backstory behind the Weapons of the Seal.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Consider the, uh, "heroes" —
- Drakengard: Deposed prince with a penchant for slaughter, dragon who thinks humanity barely rates above roaches, paedophile and his jerkass fairy companion, cannibal survivor of the elven holocaust with a taste for human veal and her elemental buddies, blond kid with a giant magic robot, and a long-winded old bald priest.
- Drakengard 2: Over-idealistic fluffy-haired protagonist, his slightly grumpy childhood friend of the opposite sex, amnesiac major antagonist from the last game, purple-haired masked coolguy with a pile of hidden remorse, and non-amnesiac antagonist from the last game (who is a dragon).
- Raised By Dragons: It's never clarified how old Nowe was when he was adopted by either Legna or the knights; there are hints that he used to think he was a dragon (and didn't know how to wear clothes), but that he also apparently hasn't had too much trouble learning how to behave as a human.
- Real Is Brown: The sequel has noticeably more colorful visuals than the first.
- Recurring Riff
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: A sure sign of (some degree of) Imperial Mind Control.
- In the manga, it's a sign of the Red Eye Plague.
- Ring Menu: The Weapon Wheel allows the player to switch between up to eight weapons during combat. The sequel adds a second layer which can hold up to six items (Healing Potions, etc).
- Rival Turned Evil: Inuart.
- Rogue Protagonist: Caim in the second game. And nope, it's not due to the main character being Locked Out of the Loop, or any of the other common reasons: All that's changed is that you're now on the receiving end of Caim's sword.
- RPG Elements
- Rule of Empathy: Let's face it, you wouldn't be so sad for Caim and Angelus if you hadn't played through the first game.
- Saving the World: Which you either do or fail to do in each ending.
- Schizo Tech: The Imperial gargantuan cyclops, airships, and cannons. The Let's Play wonders why people don't have cars, or actually use guns.
- The Scottish Trope: See quote above.
- Scratch Damage: While melee attacks can be blocked without harm, blocking magic attacks will incur token damage to Caim in the first game (though at least without the accompanying stun or knockdown).
- Screw Destiny: Nowe's answer when he learns how the dragons intend to save the world.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Legna? 'Cause if Angelus was just "Angel" in the Japanese version, then...
World Evil In A Can: The Grotesqueries.
- Sequel Hook: The cutscene after the end of the credits of Drakengard 2's Ending C shows the shadow of a dragon flying overhead, despite what Seere said before about all the dragons disappearing. That could just be Nowe, though.
- Shared Life Meter: Caim and his dragon share a life bar both when he's riding and on the ground, though Caim has the opportunity to replenish it (by killing enemies such as archers, who can take out them very quickly when airborne).
- Shoot the Medic First: Some enemy mages have the ability to strengthen/heal their comrades, and the game explcitly advises slaying them first to gain an advantage.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Many of the endings of the first game, except the canonical A ending, are like this. Probably the worst offender is the bonus "E" ending, which only unlocks after collecting all 65 weapons (Guide Dang It!), whose sole mission pits the player against a Nintendo Hard Unexpected Gameplay Change, with a... less than optimistic ending to reward them. Was the effort worth it according to most players? Not exactly, no.
- Shout-Out: When Caim is about to face Manah in the Temple of The Empire, if you take time to wander around before the "final confrontation", you can see several paintings. One of them is The Skull Knight.
- Show Your Children And Slaughter Them Mercilessly: As The Dark Id's Let's Play can attest, Drakengard hates children.
- Silent Credits: Ending 5, immediately after the Dropped a Bridge on Him moment.
- Simulation Game: Flight Sim in particular, via Dragon Rider.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Very cynical. The second game shifts a little towards idealism, but only just a little. With the exception of the final ending, which takes a sudden turn into Glurge territory.
- Small Annoying Creature: Leonard's fairy. She's like Navi's abusive older sister.
- Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Directly in proportion to eerie otherworldliness.
- Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Shaken up with some poor balancing decisions.
- The Stoic: Arioch's pact-partners Undine and Salamander, for what little time they have on-screen.
- Storyboarding the Apocalypse: Subverted. By the time you see it happening, it's too late to stop.
- Summon Magic: Leonard, Seere, and Arioch summon their pact monsters for magic attacks. Caim appears to summon his party members to deploy them in the field.
- Sword Beam: Specific weapons can produce a projectile attack when finishing certain combos.
- Sword Pointing: Caim's Idle Animation in the first game.
- Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Nowe's swords are super-effective against knights. Eris's spear is super-effective against undead (she even says so in a bit of in-game tutorial); Manah's staff against mages, and Urick's axe against monsters.
- Take Your Time: Sure, go and chase after Seere after he gets his fool ass kidnapped. It's not like you're going to save that seal anyway.
- Taking You with Me: Leonard's death in Chapter 12 (leading to ending 4).
- Theme Naming: The main cast in the first game are named after demons, while the dragons seem to have angel-related names.
- Time Stands Still: Ending 4, and parts of Ending 5.
- Timed Mission:
- All missions in the first game have a standard timer of 60 minutes (not that you really need that much time to complete your objectives), although some missions have shorter time limits and will display the clock onscreen. Chapter 10, Verse 3 in particular gives you 150 seconds to traverse the level (fortunately, devoid of any enemies to slow you down).
- The second game generally lets you Take Your Time, except for a few cases where a blue "time" meter is shown on the side of the screen and slowly drains.
- Too Much Information: On a second run through Drakengard 2, there's a bunch of additional scenes. One of them is a flashback to 13-year-olds Nowe and Eris talking, and suddenly Eris brings up her period out of nowhere. Ew.
- Trauma Conga Line: Gets worse and worse as you obtain the rest of the endings (in the first game, anyways).
- Trippy Finale Syndrome: Ending number five. Caim and the dragon are warped to modern-day Tokyo, where they defeat the queen Eldritch Abomination with an Unexpected Gameplay Change. Then they are shot down by Japanese air defense pilots. Really.
- The Trope without a Title: The Watchers.
- Turns Red:
- About the only boss who doesn't change their attack patterns is the Final Boss of Ending 2 in Drakengard 1, the Came Back Wrong goddess Furiae.
- General Gismor also plays this literally; he normally switches from red to blue to indicate his particular attack pattern, but when he runs low on HP, he turns a dark red and opts for homing projectiles instead of the usual energy shockwaves.
- Two Guys and a Girl: Caim, Inuart, and Furiae.
- Ultimate Evil: The Final Boss.
- Unbreakable Weapons: Which is good, considering how much of a workout they get.
- Underground Monkey: Most enemies in the first game also come in red armor which protects them from magic attacks, but they are otherwise the same. Enemy mages in the sequel have different colors and attacks, and then there are "the gods'" monsters which resemble knights and orcs.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Final Boss fight (which proceeds like a game of Simon Says) is a controller-shattering exercise in frustration until you memorize the pattern.
- Upgrade Artifact: The weapons.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: That level where you kill Child Soldiers with Leonard calling you out on it? It's possible to have Leonard kill them.
- Villain Override: Sucks to be you, Manah!
- Visible Silence: Caim, considering the price of his pact was his voice.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Caim and Angelus. They eventually become actual friends and partners.
- Voice of the Legion: Manah, sometimes. It's Narmy as all get-out, too.
- War Is Hell
- The War Sequence: Chapter 1 and Chapter 5.
- Wave of Babies: The Grotesqueries in Chapter 12.
- We Cannot Go On Without You: In the sequel, characters have discrete HP meters, but if any one of them dies, it's instant Game Over.
- Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Seeds of Resurrection aren't particularly good for resurrection, unless you count the last thing in the universe you want resurrected.
- Wham Episode: Chapter 12, "Chaos." The chapter that introduces the Grotesqueries. The Dark Id's Let's Play sums it up nicely:
"This is probably the most appropriate title for this chapter. If you watch this chapter and do not have an eyebrow raised expression of bewilderment and mutter 'what the fuck?!' at least once, then I suggest you seek counseling immediately as something is clearly broken within you."
- Wham Shot: The shot of a modern cityscape in Ending E of the first game. Followed by TOKYO.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Whatever happened to Leonard and Arioch in the sequel?
- Leonard gets a brief mention in the City of Rust, and his weapon's Flavor Text says he went back into hiding due to his "certain anti-social tendency". Arioch is never mentioned at all.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Caim is openly criticized for his eagerness to go out, fight, and slaughter Imperial Mooks by the hundreds. Especially in "Leonard's Regret", which involves wiping out Imperial child conscripts.
- Where It All Began: the Castle of the Goddess was the very first stage in the first game. In the sequel, the skies above it are the setting for the final duel against Angelus, aka Red, aka the new Goddess.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Urick in Drakengard 2.
- Wolfpack Boss: A dogfight against Tokyo's elite air defense pilots is unlocked if you successfully unlock (and complete) bonus ending 5 in the first game. Who will win, a dragon armed with homing firebreath, or a squad of five high-speed fighter jets with (equally high-speed) air-to-air missiles?
- World Half Empty
- Would Hurt a Child: The side chapter, "Leonard's Regret", involves taking out a garrison of Imperial child conscripts despite vocal protests from Leonard. And frankly, the whole game may as well be renamed "Would Hurt A Child: The Game".
- The World Is Always Doomed
- Worthy Opponent: Inuart desperately wants to be one to Caim. Succeeding is another matter.
- You ALL Look Familiar: Any soldier you talk to looks the same and has the same face.