The recently merged Square Enix company is best known for its talent with role-playing games. This is proved in numerous world-renowned series such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, so when we got our hands on the latest 2004 game, Drakengard, we were surprised by just how little role-playing was actually present in the game. However, what it loses in random battles and summon spells, it makes up for in frantic gameplay and storytelling.
Set in a mythical age when dragons still roam the earth, two great factions - the Union and the Empire - wage war against one another in a fight for control over a legendary goddess. And within this world it is known that human and animal are able to merge their souls to become greater, stronger beings. As one of these unified souls, you must lay your enemies to rest.
It is in fact, a great story - one of Square Enix's best yet - and sets the pace for a frantic slash-em-up adventure. There are three distinct playing styles within the world of Drakengard - Melee, Strafe and Aerial Combat. Melee is the most common of the three, involving hand-to-hand combat with myriad ground troops. Here, you'll be armed with a variety of weapons, each with a range of 'magic' abilities that typically include fire, ice and lightning attack elements. Strafe mode also focuses on grounded enemies, but gives players the ability to hop on the back of their dragon and engulf hordes of enemies in flames. Very useful. Aerial combat speaks for itself, and is arguably the most fun aspect of Drakengard, whereby players get to take to the skies on the back of their dragon-friend - a la Panzer Dragoon - to destroy any airborne foes.
And that's basically all there is to it. Drakengard isn't a true RPG, but its great story, and its chaotic gameplay and varied playing styles make for a great action title