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Video Game / Drakan

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Meet Rynn and Arokh

Drakan is a duology of Action-Adventure games from the defunct Surreal Software, consisting of Drakan: Order of the Flame for PC in 1999 and Drakan: The Ancients' Gates PlayStation 2 in 2002. Given how Surreal moved on to develop The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Suffering duology, was bought out by Warner Bros., then merged into Monolith Productions, it's safe to assume that the series will never be continued.

In the first game, we are introduced to the main character Rynn, the resident Action Girl with a talent to use any weapon that falls into her hands. However, when Rynn's brother Delon gets kidnapped by the Big Bad Navaros' Legions of Hell, she realizes the need for More Dakka and seeks out the ancient petrified dragon Arokh, who already fought Navaros centuries ago. In fact, Arokh was part of the Order of the Flame, a fraternity of dragon-riding knights, which dissolved after Navaros was (seemingly) defeated. Hearing the latest news, Arokh (reluctantly) agrees to perform a Bond with Rynn, allowing her to ride him and thus resurrecting the Order. From there on, they proceed to kick much ass all over the world, defeating Navaros' minions to fight their way to him and Delon.

Gameplay-wise, Drakan consists of Wide-Open Sandbox-like exploration, though you are limited to a particular (fairly huge) stage of the game before you can advance to the next one. Each such stage is a large outdoors landscape, which can only be reasonably traversed on Arokh's back. The area, however, is dotted with ruins and dungeon entrances, which Rynn is often compelled to explore on her own because the entrance is too narrow for Arokh. Needless to say, the dungeons crawl with enemies. Rynn is aided against them by a vast assortment of weaponry, most of which break all too quickly, so you are forced to adopt new ones. Some enemies are found in the air, as well, particularly the enemy dragons who chose to serve Navaros. These have to be defeated in High Altitude Battles, and Arokh acquires their fancy breath weapons afterwards (one dragon, for example, breathes lightning).

The sequel starts a new storyline (after Delon died offscreen between both games): Rynn and Arokh arrive to the southern city of Surdana, which is currently under attack by an evil race of Desert Lords. It is revealed that although Arokh is now the Last of His Kind, there are more dragons hibernating in Another Dimension and only an ancient dragon like himself can open the eponymous Ancients' Gates to access it. He and Rynn are sent on a quest to find said Gates, awaken the dragons, truly resurrect the Order of the Flame, and fight back the Desert Lords.

The games contain examples of following tropes:

  • All for Nothing: Rynn and Arokh fail to save Delon, but they remain together as friends.
  • Another Dimension: Where Mala-Shae and her minions hibernate.
  • Annoying Arrows: You can snipe enemies with nearly polygon-perfect accuracy in the sequel (and your arrows even remain visible exactly where they hit), but this certainly doesn't impair your enemies' fighting ability any.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Weapons made of mithril and most magic weapons will ignore armour. Weapons that go through armour are extremely important in the game as enemies in armour, especially the knight-type enemies, take only scratch damage from regular weapons. Also be aware that enemies can use armor-piercing weapons themselves, such as the knights with their magical swords.
  • Armor Is Useless: Played straight with the starting leathers, but subverted with later armors. Even the humble chainmail reduces a significant amount of damage, and the Dragon Armor is practically Armor of Invincibility, with plate mail not too far behind.
  • Back Stab: Rynn does extra damage if she hits an unsuspecting enemy from behind. Whenever possible, try to do this with her most powerful attack - a leaping twirl that hits twice.
  • Bag of Spilling: The second game starts Rynn off with naught but the clothes on her back, her humble dagger, and Arokh.
  • Big Bad: Navaros in the first game, Jasaad in the second.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Averted; buildings are as big on the outside as their interiors make them appear, although the long corridors that lead to the inside of Surdana's houses and shops might feel out of place.
  • Black Knight: These are the most dangerous non-dragon enemies in the first game. There's the Fire Knight and the superior Dark Knight, both are dual-wielding, magic-using heavily armored warriors that can easily kill Rynn with their enchanted swords.
  • Bond Creatures: The two protagonists.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The war giants in the first game have more Hit Points than most bosses (450) and wield huge axes that usually One-Hit KO Rynn unless she has some pretty good armor. Fortunately, you are almost always riding Arokh when you fight them, and the only time you encounter them on foot, you are expected to sneak by, rather than actually fight them.
  • Bottomless Pits: Lots of them. Generally replaced by mile-high drops in The Ancients' Gates.
  • Breakable Weapons: Nearly all weapons and armor have a durability after which they are rendered useless, so you will be forced to start using the various weapons you collect. Not to mention your limited inventory space....
    • The second game allows you to repair weapons and armor at the blacksmith's, although this costs the weapon 10% of its original durability in the process, so after two or three repairs you're probably better off replacing it altogether. Reloading a bow's arrows counts as repairing too. (Maybe there's some restringing involved?)
    • The three subversions in the first game are Atimar's Blade, your first weapon (though very short ranged and weak in terms of damage inflicted); the Mournbringer, which is not just indestructible, but also vampiric (i.e. charges your health when it lands a hit); and the Runeblade, which is so story-relevant, they made it indestructible, so you wouldn't break it before facing the Big Bad.
  • Breath Weapon: Arokh starts off with the classic fire breathing and goes on to acquire ice breathing, acid breathing, lightning breathing, and so on, and so on. Incidentally, the strongest breath weapon in the first game? Short-range fire, alternate mode for the very first attack. It can literally fry any dragon boss without needing recharge. But be prepared to take some hits. Notable for defeating the ice dragon within 5 seconds of the start of the boss battle.
  • Bridge Logic: In Arokh's "tomb". Later in the Spider-infested mines as well.
  • Can't Live Without You: Once the Bond is established, if the dragon dies so does the rider, but not vice-versa. In fact, Arokh has already outlived at least one rider (Heron). To clarify, if the rider dies, the dragon turns to stone (Arokh escaped that fate with Heron's death because the latter was in a dimensional rift when he died, but then later Arokh went to stone-sleep voluntarily after Heron's burial), whereas if the dragon dies, the rider becomes a Soul Shadow who wanders for eternity. Both cases can be remedied by finding the dragon's Soul Crystal. The second game seems to show this as "if one dies, so does the other".
  • Casting a Shadow: Jasaad appears wreathed in shadows when appearing in Surdana, but looks relatively "normal" for a Desert Lord when met in person.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Wartoks love this. All their prisoners seem to end up either worked to death, tortured horribly to death...or both.
  • Cool Big Sis: Rynn to Delon, before he died. This is a sister who was willing to awaken a dragon and bond with him just to save him. But sadly it didn't work out in the end.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: One section of the ruins where Rynn must find an amulet has a corridor with a spinning blade moving back and forth along it, and a section where she can duck in to avoid it (and she must be crouched while there, because that section also has spikes that pop out at waist level).
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Both Rynn and Arokh takes turns at this, although Arokh is probably more so.
    Arokh: (after a boss battle) Ah, there you are.
    Rynn: Barely. You should have seen the giant I just had to fight.
    Arokh: Yes, I'm sure it was... horrible.
    Rynn: No, really, it was HUGE!
    Arokh: Yes, of course it was.
    • There's also the moment listed on the CMOF page. Upon encountering yet another old enemy of Arokh's that has been brought back to life and is looking for revenge, Rynn asks "Didn't you have any friends?"
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: At first, Arokh was not pleased at having been awoken by Rynn, especially just to rescue her brother. Rynn, obviously not amused at having her brother spoken so poorly of, talks him down for it. Only then was he willing to listen to what she had to say, because he was legitimately impressed at how she was willing to stand up to him, a dragon who could have toasted her right then and there.
  • Doomed Hometown: Rynn's village in the first game.
  • Downer Ending: The ending of the first game has this in spades. Delon, Rynn's younger brother that you are trying to save the whole time ends up being possessed by the spirit of Navaros, and she has to fight him in order to snap him out of it. She succeeds, but he falls off the edge of the area, and into the abyss of the Rift, screaming his sister's name. What we see after that is Rynn, who is laying on the ground and looking over the edge, muttering about how sorry she was for failing to save him. It is then that we get the actual final boss fight with Navaros in his true form. After he is defeated, we get the final cutscene with Rynn and Arokh trying to find Delon. We never know his fate until the second game, though, where he is revealed to be dead.
  • Dracolich: Both games feature undead zombie skeletal dragons as enemies.
  • The Dragon: In the second game, Zola Dane, Myschala's royal seer, is revealed to be one for the Big Bad Jasaad Duthane.
  • Dragon Rider
  • Dungeon Crawling
  • Durable Deathtrap: Lots of them in the dungeons.
  • Energy Bow: The Energy Bow in the first game, doesn't have a lot of durability but it creates its own ammo and those energy arrows hit hard!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Subverted in the second game. It's suggested that the Desert Lords trapped Yutaji the flesh mage in his own palace because he was too evil even for them. Turns out that Jasaad is the one who drove him to madness in the first place.
  • Everything Fades: Averted in the sequel. Anything you kill will remain where it fell throughout the entire game.
  • Fat Bastard: The Succubus Queen in the first game, unlike her lithe subjects, is enormously fat and will try to squish you under her bulk. She's also every bit as evil as your typical succubus.
  • Flaming Weapon: Flame Swords live up to their name and are some of the best weapons in the game.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Order of the Flame leaves this one to the player's imagination — while you never get to encounter its owner, there's a weapon hidden in a cave in the Wartok Canyons level called "John the Monster's Axe". Given the kind of world Drakan is and what kinds of enemies are encountered, there's no telling what kind of monster this John is, though at least they could have two arms to wield said axe with.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Rynn is impervious to Arokh's firebreath, even though Arokh generally won't use it if there's a risk of hitting her anyway. On the other hand, spells and projectile weapons are not friendly-fireproof: You can get caught in the blast radius of your own spells if you're not careful, but you can also position yourself so that tha arrows or spells from one enemy will strike an enemy in front of you.
  • Frog Men: The Trogs (a pun on "frog" and "troglodyte") in the second game.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Your introduction to the giant tribes in the first game always involve this. The first primitive giant you face is locked away behind a giant boulder, and the enemy mooks unleash it, knowing full well that it will see them as ammunition because you've torn through so many of them that they feel they have to stop you, no matter the cost. The unleashing of the Thunder-head and Starving giants aren't under much better circumstances.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of the best weapons in the second game, including the swords you need to find to unlock the Mournbringer, are hidden in out of the way areas you'd never think to look in unless you knew beforehand that they were there. The Earth Blade, in particular, requires you to save Nichols the Bold from being electrocuted by some Trogs while you're in the Shadowmire. Nichols can die, and if he does, you can forget the Earth Blade or Mournbringer.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: For the first game, a cheat mod does exist that allows you to alter enemy aggression to 100%. If you do this, enemies will turn and attack each other in the case of friendly fire. The most amusing of this is when it applies to the primitive giants, they will pick up and throw their enemies, and a Big "NO!" always ensues. Even without doing that, there is always a chance that the enemy troops will turn on their fellows in the case of a friendly fire incident.
  • High-Altitude Battle: And between dragons.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: During the final boss in the second game, after Jasaad is knocked off the hand of the Pain Golem by Rynn and Arokh's attacks, he is too weak to get away on time when he hits the ground, and it falls on him, crushing him.
  • Homing Projectile: Magic arrows in the first game, will home in on enemies and do better damage than an ordinary arrow. These are great to have against the flying succubi enemies.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Runeblade, which belonged to Arokh's original rider Heron, in the original game; and the Mournbringer in the sequel.
  • Instant Expert:
    • In the first game, Rynn is immediately proficient with all weapons she finds, from daggers, through maces, to claymores.
    • Averted in the second game: In order to equip more powerful weapons and armor, you have to posess the matching Melee or Archery skill (which you gain from Level Grinding).
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Of the Grid Inventory variety, with weapons and armor requiring the most space to hold.
  • Inverse Dialogue Death Rule: The guy who dies at the beginning performs an infodump that lasts forever while gasping and struggling the whole way, as though on his last breath.
  • Invisible Wall:
    • The first game limits Arokh's flying abilities in two ways: an altitude ceiling so he can't just fly over very high mountains to go past them (and interestingly, it prevents him from flying out of a volcano crater), and at one level, a wall of wind that blows hard enough to counter his forward flight so he can't proceed.
    • The second game, although one is technically visible . . . even though it's supposed to be over after a certain point. The storms over the Andrellian Isles.
  • Kaizo Trap: Stand too close when landing the finishing blow against a giant opponent and you will die from its corpse falling on top of you. Ouch.
  • Large and in Charge: In The Ancients' Gates, Arohk lampshades this on the way to optional boss Snotmaw's territory: "Since he's a chieftain, I'm guessing he's a very large wartok. Their system of government isn't particularly complex."
  • Last of His Kind: Arokh is apparently the only remaining Dragon of the Elder Breed in the world. The sequel puts emphasis on "in this world", as the plot revolves around trying to reawaken the Dragon Mother and her children, the rest of the Elder Breed. There's also a pair of dragon antagonists who are traitors to the Order (who only stick around for one fight).
  • Last-Second Chance: Rynn offers Jasaad one at the climax of the second game, encouraging him to cut his losses and depart with the rest of his people while they still can. Unsurprisingly, he is offended at her presumption that her actions will amount to anything in the long term and engages in some Cultural Posturing before committing to the final battle.
  • Left Hanging: What happened to Delon after the end of the first game?
    • He died between the first and second games. Presumably the Rift did him in.
  • Legendary Weapon: The Runeblade from Drakan: Order of the Flame belonged to Heron, the last great dragonrider, and is also the best weapon in the game.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Chicken in The Ancients' Gates.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: In the second game, Rynn returns to full health when she gains a skill level.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Ironically combined with Harmless Freezing, at least in the first game. Any foe reduced to zero hitpoints or less by a weapon with a freezing effect becomes a solid statue of ice. If hit with a non-freezing weapon while in that state, the creature shatters, which is often the only way to be rid of giant enemies, since some giant corpses can't be hacked into Ludicrous Gibs, and this trick only works while the creature is alive. On the other hand, if the player waits too long, the ice statue thaws, and the enemy goes right back to atacking you like nothing's wrong despite being at zero hit points.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The fate of almost any creature thrown by a primitive giant, including Rynn. The only known creatures that defy this are the armored knights for some reason, although they are vulnerable by the Literally Shattered Lives entry above. To balance that, the armored knights take less damage per blow from freezing weapons. So it's very easy to see a landscape littered with armored knight corpses, in unusual positions.
  • Master Race: Jasaad Duthane considers his ancient people, the desert lords to be this, and is determined to see the humans submit to their stewardship.
  • Mega Manning: Arokh acquires the breath weapons of the dragons he shot down.
  • Mind Manipulation: This is what happened to the women in the Bridal Hall in Stratos. They are described by the guard outside to be under a spell that 'sedates the mind and destroys the will.' The whole place is under an enchantment that causes those to enter to become this way, and the only way to bypass it is through the use of a special potion. Sure, you can go in there without it, but it is very ill-advised.
  • More Dakka: Arokh is able to reduce even the toughest non-aerial enemies to ash in mere seconds... provided, of course, you can lure them into his breathing range.
  • No Hero Discount: One has to wonder why Jade, the sorceress in Surdana who summoned Rynn and Arokh to save them in the first place, charges Rynn so much to teach her magic. This is especially apparent with the purchase of higher spell levels.
  • Obviously Evil: The Desert Lords appear to have detached heads with three faces, one of them being a skull.
  • Oh, Crap!: We get a pretty good one from Jasaad in the second game before the Pain Golem falls on him.
  • On-Ride/On-Foot Combat: You play between Rynn on-foot, and on-dragon atop Arokh, who has much greater firepower and can fly. Due to his size, however, Arokh cannot enter buildings or caves, forcing Rynn to dismount multiple times per level.
  • One-Hit Kill: If Rynn can lead an enemy to a landed Arokh, it's a death sentence for that foe. Arokh will either roast them with a stream of fire or he'll bite them.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Some enemies... really take their time to die. Though this does not stop you from, say, hacking an arm off an enemy in the first game, which causes them to bleed to death even if you do nothing else.
  • Order Reborn: The eponymous Order of the Flame.
  • Orphaned Series: No new releases or, indeed, news since 2002.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The dragons of the Order are sapient, intelligent, and capable of speech. Modern-day dragons are just feral beasts to be slain, and come in a few varieties: Blackwing dragons have feathers and Bone dragons are animated skeletons.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Goblins appear as tailless green Lizard Folk in the first game, alligned with the Wartoks and Grulls. They appear only on the tropical islands area, being able to wield knives and crossbows.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Both the Wartoks and Grull are of the Pig Man variety and are sometimes referred to as "orcs". They are apparently good builders and blacksmiths, though of course they are also Always Chaotic Evil. The Wartoks are human-sized and (as their name should imply) resemble warthogs, while the Grulls are taller than regular humans and resemble wild boars with huge tusks.
  • Point of No Return: In the second game- Depending on who you are, the flavor of P.O.N.R. in this game can be anywhere from polite to nasty. After the first battle with Zola Dane, Lady Myschala advises you to be sure you have everything you need before heading into the Desert, implying that there is a P.O.N.R. ahead. If you also speak to Dehrimon afterwards, like she suggested as well, he will further imply that the Desert is the P.O.N.R. He will also tell you that you should avoid Stratos, the land of the Desert Lords. HOWEVER, once you hit the Desert, there is another Gate that you open that allows you to travel back to Surdana. As it turns out, the actual P.O.N.R. comes right after the second battle with Zola Dane. After the battle, you let Arokh into the cave by opening a nearby entrance. This triggers the cutscene where Rynn and Arokh head into Stratos. At this point, there really is no going back.
  • Primal Fear: The spiders for some players.
  • Promotion to Parent: This seems to have been the case with Rynn and Delon, seeing how Rynn appears to be significantly older than Delon and their parents are never seen or mentioned.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake
  • Sapient Steed: Arokh.
  • Shared Life-Meter: Rynn and Arokh share a single life meter, though this seems to only work one way (if Arokh dies, so does Rynn, but if Rynn dies, Arokh seems to survive). This is justified in-story by the nature of their Bond, which magically links the lives of the dragon and his rider, and Arokh has already survived the death of his previous rider in the backstory.
  • Shout-Out: There's a pure black sword called Mournbringer in the first game, which howls with distant screams of many, and it gives you health back every time you hurt something with it. Stormbringer + Mournblade = Mournbringer? Man, I love that weapon. It also exists in The Ancients' Gates though if you miss picking up even one of the Swords of the Order of the Flame, Brekk will not have it in stock. There's also Lestat's Blade if you know where to look.
  • Synchronization: The Bond between Rynn and Arokh.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: At least in the first game, the enemy may be one army, but they don't get along. Primitive giants view their supposed comrades like ammunition. The armored knights look down on the orcs and goblins. Even without tampering, a friendly fire incident between any two enenmy units could easily lead them to attacking each other with wild abandon until one or both are dead.
  • Third-Person Seductress: Rynn. Bonus points for being modeled after a hot girl in Real Life (Myrna Blankenstein, who appeared later on the promotional posters for the first game, google them).
  • The Time of Myths: Back when the original Order of the Flame existed.
  • Title Drop: Both games' subtitles appear as Back Story elements in the respective installments. The word "Drakan" apparently is the name of the world where the games take place.
  • 20 Bear Asses: Be prepared to go on a few of these: A hermit in the Shadowmire asks you to retrieve four bags of black powder from his mine to build a bomb with, and Sevoth in the Andrellian Aisles asks you to get, oh, "about twenty" crystal shards from a nearby crystal mine (fortunately, in the latter case, the mine is very large and you can collect over one hundred shards).
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The original game is very gory, with things like dismemberment, decapitation, and reducing the humanoid monsters into halves being very common. In The Ancients' Gates you can slaughter chickens or other animals with Rynn's weapons, magic, or of course Arokh's breath. Though there is one character who deserves to have her livestock slaughtered. Hint: she's in the first town.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: Yutaji the flesh mage regains his lost sanity after his defeat and gives Rynn the knowledge and power needed to defeat the Big Bad.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: Rynn can be dressed several different types of armor to help shield her from enemy attacks. But like most weapons, they get damaged from hits and eventually break, so searching for new ones along the way is a good idea. And unlike weapons, if the armor actually breaks then it's gone, it cannot be repaired.
  • Waif-Fu: At the time the first game was made, Tomb Raider was the biggest game featuring a female protagonist, with Lara's acrobatics being especially lauded. Drakan took influence from it and had Rynn be very nimble, capable of flipping in various directions and her most devastating attack being a two-hit twirling leap.
  • What the Hell, Player?: If you hit Arokh with one of your weapons, he'll fly into the air and yell at you to, "watch where you stick that!" He will not come back down until you call him if you do this. Also, injuring him does damage to your health as well.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox
  • Wizards Live Longer:
    • This is implied to be true by the wizard, Zeggoro in Ravenshold.
    Zeggoro: The Half-Men are wretched creatures, and I like them less with each century.
    • The first game also had this when meeting Rimril for the first time.
    Arokh: Our wizard I presume? Forgive us wise one but...
    Rimril: Arokh? It is you. I couldn't be certain until you spoke.
    Arokh: Do I... do I know you? Forgive me but I have slept long.
    Rimril: You once knew me as Rimril, though you may not remember.
    Arokh: Theoret's apprentice? Yes of course, but... that was ages past. Even a wizard should be long dead.