Square Enix invited us over as part of the New York Comic Con festivities yesterday, surprising us with a developer driven demo of the just-announced Drakengard 3. The title is on track for a Japanese release this year, with intentions for a North American arrival in 2014.
We spoke with producer Takamasa Shiba, who explained why Square Enix was revisiting Drakengard after an eight year hiatus.
Shiba tells us that the decision to make Drakengard 3 was to provide an experience for console gamers in a market that is becoming more casual. "Drakengard 3 is made specifically for the Japanese market," he says. "There are JRPG fans worldwide though, so it's a game for any JRPG fan."
Shiba also indicated that Square Enix in Japan has largely been restricted to Final Fantasy RPGs on home console. "Instead of creating more JRPG games, we were making games just for casual gamers," he says. "We were only helping the market to shrink."
Shiba walked us through the twisted world of Drakengard 3, explaining its mature setting. Players assume the role of Zero, who formerly controlled the world with the power of her singing. Throughout the game, she will pursue her sisters (One, Two, Three, Four, and Five) in order to kill them.
"Typically in JRPGs, you'd expect a hero that's fighting for justice," Shiba says. "In Drakengard 3, we have an anti-hero. It's a dark fantasy and a mature game."
"Zero is not out there for revenge," Shiba says. "She doesn't want to destroy them. She just wants to kill them." Shiba is careful not to reveal much of the plot, but emphasizes this point.
Zero is an Intoner, and uses the blood collected from her fallen foes to trigger an ability that slows down time for those around her. She often has a companion with her, and they are as twisted as the rest of the story.
The first companion players encounter is Dito, who often makes veiled (and not-so-veiled) sexual innuendos. There is also an extreme masochist, a sex addict, and a more traditional Final Fantasy type hero that just gets everything wrong.
The combat is very fast-paced, and the visuals are gorgeous and bloody. The Intoner blood gauge at the top left is handy, but Zero's clothing also serves to show how much she's collected.
Of course, Drakengard 3 features a dragon ally. Mikhail is an immature dragon, but nonetheless enormous and powerful. He can be called in to the fight to assist, and the moments riding the beast look exciting.
In a new move for the series, players will be able to stay on the ground with their dragon mount. This allows for more options, including stomping and rushing.
Our first look at Drakengard 3 revealed a lot of promise. The combat looks slick. The story pushes the genre into the most mature of settings thanks to the overt sexual context and graphic violence. Square Enix is giving the PlayStation 3 one more big hurrah, and it's coming to North America in 2014.