Drakengard 3’s DLC – Should you buy it?

The new "pop-up" style for cutscenes--likely cheaper and easier to render than the other ones.

The new “pop-up” style for cutscenes–likely cheaper and easier to render than the other ones.

I’m here yet again to talk about Drakengard 3–is anyone tired of it yet?  All humor aside, it’s a game I think has been tragically overlooked by many, even with its rough edges, and I can’t stop thinking about it for a variety of reasons.  The most recent reason?  Its DLC, which I bought a few months ago and just recently got around to finishing.  Since this DLC is quite expensive ($30 for 6 new chapters), and since Drakengard 3 is already a game not too many people have “got around” to playing yet, I thought it would be useful to some if I did a little overview/review of what the DLC entails, to help all of you decide whether or not to purchase them.

First off, let’s talk about what you get in the DLC chapters.  There is one for each of the sisters, One through Five, and a new prologue chapter for Zero.  Each of these chapters is four stages (with one of those being a dragon level) that take about an hour or so to complete in total.  You play as Zero’s sisters for the first time, but this isn’t much more than a model swap with many of the same animations.  Each of them also have their own weapon, one of the four types from the original game, with its own stats and attack patterns–these weapons also unlock for the main game after finishing each chapter.  You can level up each sister but on a much smaller scale that caps at 10.  There are a few cutscenes for each chapter, most of them in a new pop-up storybook style that works quite well if not appearing a bit cheaply made.  Every chapter also has TONS of in-game VO fleshing out the sister in question and her relationship with her Disciple (including One’s “new” Disciple).

The DLC handily contrives a reason for dragon levels by having One's dragon, Gabriella, aid each sister.

The DLC handily contrives a reason for dragon levels by having One’s dragon, Gabriella, aid each sister.

The story of each of these chapters is obviously tailored to the sister it stars, exploring part of their life before the events of Drakengard 3 occurred.  Because of this, the DLC does a much better job relating each of the sisters to the player than the main game ever did.  Also, many of the questions you would probably want to know after playing the main game are answered in these chapters, either indirectly or during the actual events of the gameplay. The most interesting of these in my opinion are easily Two’s chapter, where you learn how she became catatonic in the events of the main game, and Zero’s prologue chapter, which details how she met her original dragon Mikhail.  The rest vary in relevance, some focusing on humor instead of serious backstory, but they are all at least entertaining enough to experience once.

Furthering this backstory information are the Memoirs for each sister.  These Memoirs are a series of relatively short journal entries from that chapter’s sister that unlock as you level up the sister in question.  Many of these mimic the tone found in each sister’s chapter: for example, Five’s Memoirs are a series of orders she made to a speciality store for things like high-end cuisine, art she cares little about, and even a variety of sex toys.  These journal entries pack some of the funniest bits of the entire DLC.  Four’s journal, easily my favorite, contradicts her usual “holier-than-thou” tone of perfection with what essentially consists of a burn book towards everyone in her life, including herself.  It’s unfortunate that this entertaining writing is stuck behind an arbitrary leveling process, one that forces you to replay the smallish amount of content multiple times, but the Memoirs are easy enough to find online (link) if you’re curious.

Two's chapter is a tragic, yet well-told story of how she lost her mind.

Two’s chapter is a tragic, yet well-told story of how she lost her mind.

The strength of each of these DLC chapters varies greatly from one to the next, for various reasons.  You are locked into a certain weapon type for each sister, meaning that you may have to use spears or chakrams exclusively–even if you don’t much care for those types of weapons.  Some of the chapters throw a lot of rather difficult enemies at you, demanding excellent execution or a lot of health items (which gratefully carry over from the main game).  Most notably, however, is that some of the content just features poor design decisions.  Three’s chapter is easily the worst in this regard: it packs in wave-based encounters in each level, has the most horribly tedious dragon level of the bunch, and features an end “boss” encounter that is poorly explained and frustrating.  Sadly, her story is also one of the most terrifyingly fascinating, which made me gladly plow through to see how it ended.

There’s a few other problems I had with the DLC as a whole.  First, it only reuses levels from the main game in each chapter.  I wasn’t really expecting brand-new content, but it still makes the DLC a bit more tedious, especially considering how much the main game already recycled those same levels.  Second, there isn’t much replay value to any of the chapters.  Odds are, you won’t want to play through the levels more than once: unless you want those Memoirs, which force you to replay several levels to hit max rank and see them all, or a perfect set of Trophies.  Finally, the DLC reuses a lot of the humor tricks used in the original–bleeping out lines, breaking the fourth wall, making jokes about platforming sections–and saps them of all their remaining humor.  I know the dialog was written by the same people as the main game, but a bit more creativity and variety would have been nice–especially considering the price tag.

While I greatly enjoyed this content as a big fan of Drakengard 3, I do think it’s a bit overpriced for what you get–$30 for a bundle containing all the chapters or $6 a chapter (meaning don’t buy them all individually).  In the end, I can only really recommend the DLC to those who loved the original game and want to see more of the humor, characters, or storytelling.  The amount of content you get isn’t worth it otherwise, especially considering that the combat absolutely doesn’t hold up well for that much time.  I also recommend that you only buy all of the DLC or none of it whatsoever, unless you just really want to know more about a particular sister.  The DLC works better as a whole than as six individual pieces.

Hopefully, this closer look at the DLC of Drakengard 3 is enough to tell you whether or not it’s up your alley.  For those of you reading this who haven’t even played the original game, give it a try!  It’s still one of the funniest and most entertaining games I’ve played all year (link), even considering the often monotonous feel of the gameplay.

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