Drakengard 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/Low Fantasy medieval setting, and it follows Anti-HeroCaim 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:
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, otherwhite meat as a consequence.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
Leonard and his fairy.
Seere and his Golem.
Verdelet and his petrified dragon.
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's 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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? Notverynice.
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.
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 atpeace, and after two games' worth of death, destruction, betrayal, and despair, the world is finally beginning to improve.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Let's Play: Of the first game by The Dark Id of Let's PlayResident 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 Best said in, quote unquote "The tone of a kooky sitcom catchphrase. Pretend someone looking at the camera with a goofy face and shrugging their shoulders while saying it."
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.
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.
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 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.
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 obviouslythrowing 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 TrekAss Pull and partly justified, given what the heroes are up against.
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.
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.
Drakengard: Deposed prince with a penchant for slaughter, dragon who thinks humanity barely rates above roaches, paedophile and his jerkassfairy 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.
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.
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 HardUnexpected 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 Could Have Been: The final district in Drakengard 2 revolves around a time motif, and Seere's concept art in that game suggested he was meant to be the boss, allowing Manah to get some alternative dimension revenge on him.
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.
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?
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".