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Our main "heroes." From left to right 

I hear a sound.

Drakengard, known as Drag-On Dragoon (Japanese: ドラッグ オン ドラグーン commonly abbreviated as DOD) in Japan, is a series of action role playing video games published by Square Enix. The eponymous first game in the series was released in 2003 on the PlayStation 2, and has since been followed by a sequel and a prequel. It was conceived by Takamasa Shiba and Takuya Iwasaki as a gameplay hybrid between Ace Combat and Dynasty Warriors 2, with the ability to switch between on-foot hack-and-slash gameplay and riding a dragon for flight-sim fighting action. The story was created by Shiba, Iwasaki, Yoko Taro, and Sawako Natori, who were influenced by European folklore and popular anime series and movies of the day. Shiba, Yoko, and Sawako have had involvement in an entry of the series since its debut.


A Spin-Off series was created in 2010 named NieR, set in an alternative reality and followed by a sequel called NieR: Automata developed by PlatinumGames with Yoko Taro as director, same as the original series (not counting Drakengard 2).

Installments include:

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  • Drakengard (2003, PS2). A young man named Caim sets out to destroy The Empire and protect his sister, who acts as a Barrier Maiden to a horrific threat. Caim isn't a great guy.
  • Drakengard 2 (2005, PS2). note  A conventionally heroic young man named Nowe fights to save the world from both his own corrupt knightly order and Caim himself.
  • Drakengard 3 (2013, PS3). A prequel. Zero, a bloodthirsty young woman, sets out to kill her sisters, the godlike Intoners, so that she will be the only Intoner left.

  • NieR note  (2010, PS3/Xbox 360). Nier, a somewhat downtrodden older brother (or father, depending on the version) looks for a cure to save his sister (or daughter) from a mysterious disease.
    • NieR: Replicant (2010, PS3) note 
      • NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139... (2021, PS4, Xbox One and PC) note 
    • NieR: Gestalt (2010, Xbox 360) note 
  • NieR: Automata (2017, PS4/PC) note . A race of androids fight a civilization of invading extraterrestrial machines After the End.
  • NieR Re[in]carnation (2021, Android and iOS). A mobile spin-off set in a world known as “The Cage”. How the game connects to the rest of the franchise is currently unknown, but it contains references to several games in the series.
    • “The Story of the Girl and the Monster”: The First Arc (total of twelve main story chapters) features a Girl of Light awakening in a world of "The Cage”, accompanied by a ghost-like figure called “Mama”, to regain her lost memories and recount her “past sins” while encountering a Dark Monster roaming around the higher levels of "The Cage”. The little girl and the monster switched bodies before the start of the game.
    • “The Story of the Sun and the Moon”: The Second Arc involves two high school students of modern-era Japan being transported to “The Cage”, both determined to return home to one of their parents (the father for the girl and the mother for the boy). Unlike the previous arc, players can choose either the Sun route (the female student) or the Moon route (the male student).

  • Drakengard Judgement, a canceled prequel manga that only made it to two installments. Contradicted by later canon.
  • Grimoire Nier, a Universe Compendium to NieR as well as containing several short novellas.
  • NieR Replicant Drama CD: The Sealed Verses and the Red Sky, a collection of Drama CDs that mostly focus on characters and events surrounding Project Gestalt. It also contains the story The Space War, which delves into what happened when the aliens arrived after the end of NieR.
  • Drag-On Dragoon Shi ni Itaru Aka (Drakengard Fatal Crimson), a manga following Ending A of Drakengard 3 that leads to Drag-On Dragoon 1.3 below; it could be considered canon to the first Drakengard as well in Broad Strokes.
  • Drag-On Dragoon Utahime Five, a Lighter and Softer (Well sort of at first...) prequel manga to Drakengard 3 focusing on the Intoners and how they overthrew the evil lords who ruled Midgard before them.
  • Drag-On Dragoon 3 Story Side, a novel that acts as a sort of Ending E for Drakengard 3, the events of which are canon to the first game.
  • Drag-On Dragoon 1.3, a series of novels showing the alternative version of the events of the first game that follows from Ending A of Drakengard 3.
  • World Inside, a guidebook with 3 novellas inside as well.
    • The Garden of Light, a novella set after Ending A of Drakengard 2.
    • The Song of Fourteen Years, a novella set before the first Drakengard but separate from Drakengard 3.
    • The Fire of Prometheus, a novella set roughly two thousand years after the end of NieR.
  • YoRHa, a stage play series set thousands of years after NieR, setting up the premise of NieR:Automata.
  • SINoALICE, a free-to-play fairytale-based mobile game also created by Yoko Taro whose collaborations with the NieR series and Drakengard 3 imply a connection.
  • Final Fantasy XIV, an Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, features an Alliance Raid based around NieR: Automata. Written by Yoko Taro, it follows the Player Character dealing with Androids, Machine Lifeforms, and other threats from NieR: Automata. Its unclear if it is canonical to the series, but the story is set after the events of said game, and contains references to the past games.

The setting of the main series is a North European-style dark fantasy world where humans and creatures from myth and legends live side by side, while the spin-off game is set in an alternate reality leading from one of the first game's possible endings. The stories generally focus on the fortunes and personalities of a small group of protagonists either directly or indirectly connected to and affected by the events of the story. Dark or mature plot and character themes and multiple endings have become a staple of the series. Their popularity in Japan has resulted in multiple adaptions and additional media in the form of novelizations and mangas.

The series is considered highly popular in Japan, having sold well and gaining a cult following, though it appears to be a niche series in western countries. The main games have become noted for their dark storylines and mixture of ground-based and aerial combat, while Nier stood out because of its mixture of gameplay styles. The series has received mixed to positive reception in both Japan and western countries: the majority of praise has been given to its story and characters, while the gameplay has been criticized for repetitiveness. NieR: Automata seems to have finally broken this trend, releasing to excellent reviews and being showered with praise in both the gameplay and story departments.

Tropes that appear in the series as a whole:

  • 100% Completion: Traditionally, each game in the series requires you to get all weapons, which usually requires the completion of most sidequests, before you can view the final two endings. Most are easier said than done.
  • After the End:
    • In 856 AD something happened known only as the Great Disaster, when a huge earthquake struck in the Iberian Peninsula and the Cathedral City suddenly appeared overnight. This released all kinds of mysterious creatures on the world and led to the current state of the setting of Drakengard. It also led to the appearance of "Singularities", unique conditions that can cause the timeline to split, as seen in the multiple endings of each game.
    • The NieR setting takes place centuries after the modern world was devastated by White Chlorination Syndrome and most of the human race was killed by it. NieR:Automata takes place further down the road than even that.
  • All There in the Manual: See that big list of side materials? That's where you'll find most of the worldbuilding and and backstory of the Drakengard world.
  • Alternate Timeline: Each game has multiple endings that work this way. The spin-off series NieR's storyline follows directly from Ending E of the first Drakengard, while Drakengard 2 follows Ending A or one close to it. In Drakengard 3, the character Accord records and moves between these "Branches".
  • Anyone Can Die: No character is safe. Not even the main characters, as there are endings where many of the cast die in some form.
  • Arc Words:
    • The first is "I hear a sound" or some variation of it. Most often it appears when the gods start to influence the world.
    • The second is less a word and more of a chain of letters. They are hidden in the various magical incantations spread throughout the series written in the celestial script and spell out ACGT. Or in other words, Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine and Thymine. The bases that make up part of the DNA molecule.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: In the Drakengard series, Caim is a bloodthirsty Ax-Crazy Sociopathic Hero only saved from Villain Protagonist status by The Empire he fights being worse. In the sequel, he's something of an antagonist and the protagonist, Nowe, is a fairly standard Wide-Eyed Idealist who doesn't know things he logically should. The fact that they're related, as Nowe is Inuart and Furiae's posthumous son and thus Caim's nephew, makes this even more notable. Zero is a brutal Anti-Hero who slaughters every enemy she comes across and seems as close as Caim to being a Villain Protagonist, only she has noble intentions to save the world from being destroyed by the puppets of an Eldritch Abomination flower.
  • Crapsack World: Pretty much. Sometimes less so than others, but still pretty crappy regardless.
  • Dark Fantasy: Occasionally delves into some Cosmic Horror Story tropes as well.
  • Deconstruction: One of the core themes of the series can be summed up with, "Why do you kill?" This in turn often lead to deconstructions of the One-Man Army and Heroism tropes as well as the exploration to why a human being would kill hundreds if not thousands of people, all for something that may be more selfish than they intended.
  • Divine Conflict: The Gods and Dragons have been in a recurring one, though its unclear how long it has been going on for, and why it even occurred. All that is known is that Dragons were originally made by them but now are waiting for the chance to step in and take down the Gods, which becomes an important plot point in Drakengard 2.
  • Dysfunction Junction: If someone doesn't have a problem within the world of Drakengard, chances are that they're probably going to be dead sooner than later. Nowe and Eris are by far the closest thing to a normal person in here but even they still got issues.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: A number of endings of the games will feature the entire cast being killed off.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Elves, fairies, ogres, sea serpents, eldritch demon-angels and dragons are real, and so are aliens, time travelers from the future and mechanical lifeforms.
  • Flower Motifs: Most of the games share a recurring use of flowers as some form of symbolism. Drakengard 3 and NieR make the most use of it due to plot reasons, but from NieR onward, each game has flowers play some form of importance.
  • Formula with a Twist: The franchise was conceived when its creator, Yoko Taro, expressed confusion about how games and their players could casually enjoy death and killing. Each of his games have thus centered around themes of life and death, exploring what it means to die (and to be "alive" for that matter). This has resulted in some of the darkest, most bizarre and existentially-engaging games in the RPG genre.
  • From Bad to Worse: "It Got Worse: The Franchise". One thing one always can be certain of in this series is that no matter how grim things get, it can always get worse. A lot.
  • Jerkass Gods: In the Drakengard world there is one or several gods that created everything in it. Unfortunately they view humanity as a failure and a plight that needs to be purged, leading to the creation of creatures such as the dragons and the Watchers.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: While it did start somewhat confusingly, it was still relatively straightforward. Then numerous extra materials and installments added even more depth to the Drakengard world, and with the inclusion of numerous alternate timelines things start to get hard to keep track of. This is mitigated somewhat by the continuity between titles being rather vague (with the exception of Drakengard 2). Therefore, knowledge of past entries or of the overarching universe is not necessary to play the games.
  • Magically Binding Contract: One of the core concepts of the setting is Pacts, which allow humans (or elves) to make a contract with beings of different species such as fairies, dragons, golems or elementals for power at the cost of something. This is typically a physical aspect of the mortal such as being unable to speak or see, but in some cases can go beyond and range from losing one's ability to have children to being unable to age or feel full from food. The Pact central to the backstory of the NieR setting is more one-sided; those who become infected with White Chlorination Syndrome either die or must make a Pact with the Jerkass Gods of Drakengard and join the Legion.
  • Multiple Endings: Three-to-five endings in each game. Very rare to have an Earn Your Happy Ending. All endings are canon due to branching timelines (a concept explored most thoroughly in Drakengard 3), and Drakengard 2 and NieR stem from different endings of Drakengard.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons are among the most powerful of magical creatures; often cynical and proud, they were originally created by the gods to guard the world and purge humanity. In times since, however, dragons turned against their creators and waged their own conflict to gain control of the world. They also possess Evolutionary Levels, allowing them to adapt as needed.
  • Recurring Element: It wouldn't be a Taro Yoko game without them:
    • A very handsome early-adult-to-late-teenaged boy who hides some dark opinions underneath his seemingly normal exterior. Caim, Brother!Nier, and 9S.
    • A very Fanservicey woman wearing Stripperiffic clothing who hates her current circumstances and is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Kainé, Zero, 2B and A2.
      • A romance including one or two of the above that is doomed to fail for one reason or another. Caim and his sister due to his rejection on the grounds that he finds incest disgusting, Nier and Kainé because of circumstances, and 2B and 9S due to the In Love with the Mark relationship they share.
    • A motherly figure is revealed to be in on a dark secret and/or is responsible for the current state of affairs by proxy. Zero, Popola and Devola, and the Commander.
    • Something that shouldn't have human emotions is found to exhibit them. Often the main character's assist character. Angelus, Weiss, and now the Pods.
    • A computer-like character meant to oversee the events of the story due to the story being an experiment of some sort, and is tasked with ending it once all data was collected, but then they ultimately choose to go against it because they have come to believe in the protagonists' efforts. Accord and the Pods.
    • Artificial beings who were supposed to be empty shells mysteriously develop human behavior. The replicants, the YoRHa androids and the Machine Lifeforms.
    • A Too Good for This Sinful Earth character who always gets the short end of the stick and either gets killed off or sacrifices themself in some way to save their friends and loved ones. Seere, Mikhail, Emil, and Pascal.
    • Events transpire to turn a young person into a psychopath with an insatiable grudge against a group and their followers, whether they deserve it or not. Caim against the Empire/anybody who isn't his friend in Drakengard, the younger smith brother against machines in NieR, Zero against Intoners but with a very good reason in Drakengard 3, 9S against Machine Lifeforms.
    • Due to the action or inaction of the adults caring for them, children suffer horribly.
    • Violence perpetrated by the player is heavily chastised.
    • Red eyes on a character as a sign of intense hatred and/or hostility.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In this series, red eyes are never a good sign since it signals the Watchers' influence, be it the Red Eye Disease of Drakengard, the Legion of NieR's backstory, or the Logic Virus of NieR: Automata. In fact, Word of God is that these are all linked somehow.
  • Science Fantasy: The series combines gods, magic and dragons with androids, aliens and robots.
  • Stable Time Loop: Heavily implied that the setting is tied together through one. The background lore for the Drakengard setting reveals that its world was once our world, until a more modern city suddenly appeared on the European continent, causing fantasy elements to spawn from it and magic to come into existence. This was called the "Great Disaster" and completely reshaped the land into a more fantasy-like one named Midgard. The last ending of the first game ends with Caim and Angelus in roughly modern-day Tokyo, causing the events of NieR after they defeat the Final Boss and are shot down. It's implied that these two events are connected to each other in some way, and that both events created a loop of some kind, which is further strengthened by the setting's usage of words like "over and over again" and cycles being a recurring element of each game.
  • Tenuously Connected Flavor Text: The first two games have some for its weapons, which are connected, but takes levelling up the weapon a while, to reveal how:
    • Drakengard has a short story for each of its 65 weapons, unlocked as they level up:
      • Apostate's Misery: Poleaxe:
        Level 1: There was once a wind spirit who fell in love with a mortal man. Though it was against all the laws of her race, each day she allowed her love and passion to grow.
        Level 2: The spirit was condemned to death for the betrayal of her race. The Lord of Spirits sent vassals to carry out the sentence, armed with a bardiche enchanted to slay spirits.
        Level 3: Sensing that her life was in danger, the spirit made one last visit to the man she loved, then fled through the forests and seas and mountains, pursued all the while by her would-be executioners.
        Level 4: Some years later, a healthy young boy was seen playing around the village. This remarkable boy could control the very winds. His father never told him who his mother was...
      • Butcher's Joy: Cleaver (Sword):
        Level 1: Juices oozing from tender, succulent flesh, the sweet aroma of fine herbs... The master cook made dishes of meat that none in the city could resist.
        Level 2: Every day, customers lined up outside his inn, waiting for their chance to partake. Even the king himself would sneak down from his castle to sample the master's art.
        Level 3: But once he entered his kitchen, the smiling cook's face would grow stern. The meat he used was no ordinary meat...
        Level 4: The years passed, and the cook and his inn disappeared from the town. But his cleaver remains as gleaming and sharp as ever, waiting for its next master.
    • Drakengard 2:
      • Apostate's Misery: Poleaxe:
        Level 1: The young man was popular with everyone in the village. He had the ability to control the wind, and was often seen flying over rivers and valleys. He was a cheerful boy, though he always seemed be troubled by something.
        Level 2: Several years later, his father passed away. Before he died, he told his son about the young man's mother, whom his son had learned never to mention in his presence.
        Level 3: "Go to the place marked on the map." said his father. As if guided by a spirit, the young man took up his scythe and left, carried by the wind. How long had he been travelling? Over the forests, oceans and mountain Ranges he flew. Exhausted and frail, He came at last to a village.
        Level 4: The chief of the village welcomed the young man and told him that the scythe he was carrying had once belonged to the village. Just then, a beautiful woman entered the room. The young man knew at once that she was his mother. From that day forth, he helped keep peace between humans and wind spirits. The scythe was never used again.
  • Ultimate Evil: The Gods. They tend to serve as the central unseen antagonists for the whole series, and their influence is felt in every game, even ones where it is not outright stated to have them in.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Ever since NieR, all protagonists have white hair, and nearly all of them usually get broken in their experiences, are unintentionally a Villain Protagonist in any part of their story, or started like that.