This is the story of six sisters, in a world protected by the power of song. But one of these sisters seeks to bring about the world's ruin. And she won't rest until all the others are dead.
The third game in the Drakengard series, and released in Japan on December 19th, 2013. Along with the supplementary manga called Drag-On Dragoon: Shi Ni Itaru Aka, it is a prequel to the first game.Two years ago, the world was saved from the chaos of war by the appearance of the Intoners: five celestial sisters who used their incredible magical powers to unite the world and place it under their benign rule.Peace would reign until Zero, an Intoner and elder sister to the five, suddenly embarked on a quest to murder her siblings so that she would be the only one left with their unique powers. Joined by a young and idealistic dragon named Mikhail, Zero aims to slay her sisters and claim their Disciples (male concubines sworn to an Intoner) for herself. Like its predecessors, it features Multiple Endings, Hack and Slash action mixed with RPG Elements and aerial missions. And lots of blood.Developed by Access Games, the game was directed by Taro Yoko and most of the team behind the original game. Consequently, the game's atmosphere is closer to NieR and the first game, rather than Drakengard 2. While the game is still very bleak, it tries to lift the mood with comedic scenes and sexual innuendo.The western version was released in May 2014.
Apocalypse Maiden: Zero and the rest of the Intoners. If left unchecked, the Flower within them will bloom and mutate them into Grotesquerie Queens.
Author Avatar: The narrator, whose role mirrors that of the player: she is an Recorder from "The Old World" tasked with observing the events surrounding Zero and finding a timeline that does not end in disaster. The Accord gynoids in general are stand-ins for every human from The Old World (including other players and the staff who worked on the game), implying that it is their collective duty to safeguard the future of the Drakengard universe. An Accord representing the director gives a final thank-you to the player at the end of Branch D.
Autobots, Rock Out!: In contrast to the rest of the soundtrack, the boss music for the Intoners bust out the electric guitars.
Become a Real Boy: The Intoners (sans Zero) were originally nothing more than mindless clones created solely to defend the Flower from being destroyed. However, over time they gained their own personalities and (as Zero bitterly notes) ironically decided to fight for world peace.
Bittersweet Ending: Branch B ends with Zero and Mikhail both alive, but the Flower still exists. At the end of Branch D, history is shunted onto a path where the Crapsack World of Drakengard, Drakengard 2 and Nier never occur, but Mikhail is left alone to live out the rest of his multi-millennium life witnessing the rise and inevitable fall of civilisation. Yet even though the world is destined to crumble, this is infinitely preferable to allowing the Grotesquerie Queens a foothold in reality.
Blood Is the New Black: Zero casually runs around covered in the blood and guts of fallen mooks, which is actually a game mechanic. As Zero accumulates more and more blood on her outfit, the Intoner Mode gauge fills. Once full, Zero can activate Intoner Mode for a brief increase in attack speed and power. Afterwards, her outfit is clean and free of blood.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Justified, as Zero's Disciples were once Dragons to the Intoners that she killed. Cent betrays Zero for Two in Branch B, and Dito goes back to Five in Branch D.
Cosmic Retcon: Branch A sets the stage for the events of Drakengard 1 to occur. Everything after that concerns an effort to change the timeline so that doesn't happen, eventually succeeding in Branch D.
Creepy Doll: Three's Almisael puppets that look like really disturbing babies and bear a resemblance to the Watchers. She uses her soldiers to make them.
Darker and Edgier: When contrasted with the second game, which was Lighter and Softer due to pressure put on by Square-Enix and the absence of series guru Taro Yoko. He returned to direct this game, and it shows.
Denser and Wackier: Despite this, however, the game has noticeably more slapstick and comedic scenes and dialogue than the rest of the series, Likely in order to balance out the darker moments of the game.
Difficult but Awesome: Chakrams have insane range and crowd-clearing potential, but all of their power is contained within their charge-combos, which require precise button presses to execute. If you attempt to button-mash (like the other three weapon types) then your chakram will just be a big, clunky, impotent ring.
Downer Ending: Ending A, which leads to the Crapsack World of Drakengard. Ending C, which leads to Zero turning into the Grotesquerie Queen and killing all of humanity.
Downloadable Content: In the form of Cameo costumes (Caim and Furiae from Drakengard, Manah and Eris from Drakengard 2, and Brother Nier and Kaine from Nier) and a bonus story scenario. There's also DLC set before the game in which you play as the other Intoners, including one dealing with Zero and Michael.
Additional DLC includes battlefield arranges of songs from earlier titles such as Seere's Prayer and Tsukiru/Growing Wings from Drakengard, Song of the Ancients and Emil from Nier, and the trailer song "This Silence is Mine".
Equivalent Exchange: Zero makes a cryptic comment in Route B that a price is needed for the flower in her eye to bloom. She later pays it to revive Mikhail, but the audio is muted so we don't get to hear it.
Summon Magic in general seems to work this way. One of the Weapon Tales theorises that transformation magic works not by transforming the caster, but by exchanging the body of the caster with the body of the Angel. Summon Magic therefore requires something to fill the gap, which is why the Disciples need the reality-warping powers of their Intoner's song.
Expy: Invoked with Zero's sisters according their designer Kimihiko Fujisaka, Taro Yoko requested her to "think Puella Magi Madoka Magica" when designing them.
False Utopia: At first glance, the world is not perfect, but it is peaceful enough for an After the End setting. Unfortunately, the "peace" is stitched together through the power of the Intoners' songs, which incite blind love and loyalty to the singer. Without the songs, the inhabitants quickly begin to suffer withdrawal and descend into madness.
Fission Mailed: In Chapter 2, Zero and Dito are crushed by an avalanche and a "Game Over" screen appears, before Zero forces her way back onto the screen.
There Can Only Be One: She tells Mikhail that she wants to be the only Intoner, hence her violent mission. This is a half-truth, as she wants Mikhail to kill her after she is the only one left.
Heroic Sacrifice: The entire game is essentially one giant Heroic Sacrifice on the part of Zero in order to prevent the Flower parasite from mutating her into a Grotesquerie Queen and dooming the world. On the individual routes, Mikhail exchanges his life to save Zero in Branch A; Zero returns the favour in Branch B; and in Branch D, Cent, Decadus, Octa, Accord, and Zero give their lives to ensure the survival of their friends.
Hotter and Sexier: The game contains a lot more sexual commentary than anything else in the series, to the point it was deemed a Cero D in Japan.
The Intoners are very sexually active and keep Disciples around to serve their needs.
Octa always talks in innuendos and euphemisms.
Five is sexually aroused by pretty much anything.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Happens to numerous characters throughout the different routes. Of note is route B, where a crazy Two impales One on a ginormous spike.
Insistent Terminology: A subversion. Zero and her team can't be bothered to remember "Mount Bernstein of the Vice Norden," so instead begin referring to it as "Mt. Whatever." Accordlampshades this during a narration and the next level is called "Mt. Whatever."
During the aforementioned level, Dito calls Zero out, telling her the mountain has a name. Zero asks him what it is, to which he replies "Mt. Bern-something." They begin referring to it as such.
In Zero's DLC chapter, Michael can't seem to recall the mountain's name with any accuracy either.
Kaizo Trap: There's one at the very end of the game. So you thought that you had beaten the True Final Boss just because the screen had faded to black and the music had stopped? Nope! There is one last note that you have to hit at the start of Mikhail's second sentence.
Kill 'em All: Everyone dies in Branch A, and Mikhail is the only survivor of Branch D.
Lampshade Hanging: Zero and Dito call out the repetitiveness of the game locking you in an area and tasking you with clearing out the enemies in it. Additionally, the whole game points out how annoying platforming can be, with Zero hating it so much that she actually wants to destroy whatever location has it.
Lighter and Softer: At least compared to the first game and NieR. As mentioned above, this game has noticeably more slapstick and comedic scenes and dialogue to balance out the dark moments and even manages to pull off happy ending of a sort in Route D.
Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: A particular irritating case. The pre-order situation for North America's CE and Europe (which only gets a CE without a physical disc and no standard edition at all) is as confusing and badly organized as it gets. Most of the time, it looks like they aren't even trying.
My Girl Is a Slut: Intoners embody lust, so yeah. Zero offhandedly mentions that she has slept with all of the Disciples with her at some point, although she pointedly says that she has never and will not sleep with Mikhail, owing to the fact that he rolls around in his sleep (and since she raised him, it would be a bit like Parental Incest). No mention if she ever has with Michael, however.
Four most pointedly isn't, which confuses the hell out of everyone and makes Zero declare that she doesn't trust virgins. Zero's intuition is right on the money: Four is just as lustful as the others, but forces herself to act otherwise to appear "better" than her sisters.
Overly-Long Gag: Octa's request to join Zero's group is met with awkard silence from Zero's part. For roughly a minute.
Paradox Person: The Intoners, who alone have the power to wield tremendous magic through song due to the influence of the Flower.
Playing The Player: Meta-wise, playing games on a New Game+ in the Drakengard setting (or at least the games headed by Taro Yoko) actually makes things worse. However, playing until the last ending actually nets you the best ending in the game.
Also, the game introduces Zero as a bloodthirsty berserker who wishes to kill all her sisters, which is a nod on how unhinged the player characters were in Drakengard 1 and Nier. Except this time, Zero is actually attempting an elaborate Heroic Sacrifice to save the world from the threat of the Flower parasite dwelling within her and the five Intoners.
Summon Magic: The Disciples can summon Angels on behalf of their Intoner. If they do so without the aid of their Intoner's song, then they must pay a price: losing their human form.
Talk to the Fist: Rather than putting up with the fairies' taunts and insults, Zero just punches them and moves on.
There Can Be Only One: In the true spirit of Highlander, every time an Intoner dies, their power is redistributed amongst the surviving Intoners. This handily explains why the Intoners function on a standard Sorting Algorithm of Evil and how Zero intends to gather all their power for herself.
Unexpected Gameplay Change: Remember the incredibly difficult rhythm game in the first game's final ending? It returns as Drakengard 3's True Final Boss. It manages to be much worse due to a combination of crazy camera hijinks and manic tempo changes.
The flying segments are not as free-form as in the first two games, instead playing out like a 3D Shoot 'em Up or an on-rails shooter ala Panzer Dragoon
Variable Mix: All the battlefield music in the game get an extra layer of percussion and vocals when Zero activates Intoner Mode.
The Virus: The Flower, a parasite that slowly mutates its host into a Grotesquerie Queen.
We Have Reserves: The Accord series of gynoids, one of which picks up the assets of the Accord you know after the latter is killed.
A Wizard Did It: Discussed when the party wonders what's powering the platforms in Two's dungeon. To paraphrase:
Dito: "Just what is powering these things anyway?
Zero: "It's magic, isn't it? Weird shit like this always gets written off as magic."
She does it again in the next verse, in response to the magically enhanced sunlight that drains your health whenever you're in direct contact.
Zero: "Here we go with magic again. It's so fucking convenient."
What the Hell, Hero?: The fact that Zero carves through armies of human soldiers and deliberately aims to leave no survivors (even refusing surrender) is not lost on the various parties in-game. She has a warped point when you realise that anyone who has been enthralled by the song of an Intoner is guaranteed to fall into withdrawal and insanity once it is gone.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Intoners risk losing their minds if they attempt to use their magic without sufficient willpower. Long story short, it's because their "magic" draws power from alternate universes.