The Let's Play Archive

Drakengard 3

by The Dark Id

Part 37: Episode XVI: In Which You Must Stay in the Shade to Regain Your Strength!

Episode XXVI: In Which You Must Stay in the Shade to Regain Your Strength!

After decimating the enemy's base, Zero discovered documents pointing to the location of the Shrine of Sands.

Narrator, no. I am calling all the bullshit on this justification as to how we arrived at the next level. Y'all already pulled the "there just happened to be a message detailing the location of the chapter end" thing. And the only reason it got Zero's attention was that it emerged from the permafrost and was embedded in a massive stone tablet. And even then she just got Dito to read it for her. Zero actively sifting through filing cabinet archives to find a specific useful document is not within her abilities. Shut up. Not buying it.

Verse 3: Hell on Earth
Music: Antipurity ~ Battleground

Welcome to The Land of Sands: Desert County's Arid Plaintown, 34rd Abundant Sun Voting District.

Our goal is quite simple: continue wandering across a massive desert. See, I told you that narrator was unreliable! Hell the game's prologue probably cut out six hours of Zero going block-by-block searching for the main cathedral of Cathedral City, as perpetually unprepared as her dopey ass always manages.

The sunlight reflects off the sand, making it seem even hotter. Perhaps removing your clothes would provide a bit of relief? Go on! I don't mind! Just... take them off right here!
Shut up. You're making me hotter.

This area begins like any Drakengard 3 mission map. There is a long, narrow linear path leading onward. Surely following it will inevitably lead the party to their end goal. Perhaps several scores of men, sub-human beast folk, and uppity wolves might be slain along the path. It happens. But that is not actually the case here...

No, what we have here is a nice, good old-fashioned helping of some gimmicky bullshit. The sun in this particular region of the desert is fueled by arcane wizardry.

The sunlight seems to have suddenly grown stronger.
Can't we do anything about it? It's suckin' the life out of me.
This is no accident. There's something weird going on here.
Perhaps our foes are using magic to amplify the sun's rays.
Here we go again with the magic. Real fuckin' convenient!
I wager there might be a wizard casting spells nearby.
Hiding like a little bitch, huh? Figures.
I'll tear him a new asshole! And then a third!
Ha ha ha! That's my Z!
Stay in the shade to recover your strength!

Zero's health will steadily tick down when she is in direct sunlight at a rate of about around 40 seconds from full health to a fatal case of sunburn. Seeking out the shaded regions of the desert and hanging out will regenerate any lost health due to sunlight. And only due to sunlight exposure. It's not Super Mario 64 water where hanging out in the shade will fully restore her health. Any depleted HP due to damage taken is not restored. That would be silly and send a bad message to children.

Alongside the blazing magical sunlight's rays, there are packs of angry sand wolves roaming the shifting sands. They are completely unaffected by skin searing wizard rays burning from the sky. I mean they're covered in fur. It checks out.

Wolves are a touch more hazardous than usual in this gimmick mission. Zero's sunburn health depletion gauges her total remaining health up to the amount lost from the sun. However, if she takes damage while getting baked, the health that could have been regenerated from taking a load off in the shade goes out the window. So if you're not careful, a rogue wolf bite can take Zero from needing to hide behind a rock to regenerate health like some pansy space marine in power armor for a few seconds to half dead.

It is also worth mentioning this is one of the few non-linear maps. Well, I mean it is still linear progression wise. But it is an open field like the old Drakengard games. By the way there is an area map I don't think I have ever shown off previously. Mostly because it doesn't display where enemies are in relation to Zero. Nor what direction we ought to be heading unless we'd like some bloom blinding looking at the sun. I'll proceed to never show it off again because the game doesn't pull a huge open map like this again. Well... other than when it reuses this exact same region. Several times...

Lastly, Decadus this MOTHERFUCKER has one solitary battle quote he'll say every time Zero is out in the sunlight for like more than twelve seconds after each mission checkpoint. No fucking shit, guy. The cutscene, the health drain, and the tutorial prompt didn't clue me in. No! I need you to remind me the solitary gimmick of this godforsaken level a dozen times over. It's helping, Decadus. Not at all annoying as all hell. By the way, are you the same prick that left a multiple voice recordings, a text message, and graffiti smeared in blood on a wall to cut off limbs in Dead Space? Was that you?!

I had to replay this level a couple of times since my recording crapped the bed. I wanted to go find Cam Clarke and punch him in the throat after doing so.

No, fuck off, Decadus! You're not getting away with trying to win my favor by defying the laws of gravity. You are on notice, mister. If Cent almost inevitably joins the party, your ass is getting kicked to the curb.

Other than playing hot and cold sand while Decadus tries your patience, there is very little to trekking across the desert. The temple looking ruin to the far east of the plane is our first destination.

Within our three wizards throwing a member's only disco inferno that Zero and the gang just happen to crash. The results...

...are rather predictable. And that is pretty much the gameplay loop of this mission up until the end. Oh what you thought we were done? Pfft.

As soon as the first group of wizards lie dead and their false sun blotted out from the sky, another group sees it fit to take up the mantel on the complete opposite side of the desert to the far west. Of course.

Oh ho ho! We'd better watch out. I see another conjured sun over there!
...Oh, that's just wonderful. I think I'm about to go insane.
This odious sunlight is something else. It's enough to make even me go limp!
We'd best stay in the shade to preserve our energy.
What's wrong? Shouldn't you be complaining about something?
Too hot. Can't talk.
Perhaps a story would help! Let me tell you of the time I was in a a brothel with a cactus and three lovely vixens...
Stop... Making it worse...
Is the sunlight not bothering you, my lady?
It takes more than a little sunlight to hurt me.
Still, please don't overdo it. Best stick to the shade.
Stay in the shade to recover your strength!

Since there's nothing much else to this mission or the gameplay quirk, I did have Zero and the gang take some snapshots of the journey. Like the giant fuck-off dragon skull in the northeastern part of the map. Well, it might be a dinosaur. There's no wing bones so I cannot be sure. It's a shame we couldn't find any petrified dragons out here to smash and save a whole lot of headache in Drakengard's world future.

Here's Zero taking a selfie in front of the Shrine of Sands. It's shaped like a giant formless stone dude for reasons unknown. This region is a nondescript desert with a big pyramid shrine and a gaol for keeping cannibalistic elves a hundred years from now, so your guess is as good as mine.

Beyond that there are wizards, this time in greater numbers...

...they all die a bloody death at Zero's hands. I'm sure Octa might have ran past one and confused it to contribute.

And due to the video game rule of threes, there is of course a third and final artificial sun located due north over by our destination of the Shrine of Sands. I don't like this mission one bit, if you haven't noticed. I don't think I am the only one.

It's not like we have a choice. This sun is a disciple killer! We aren't all invincible like you, remember?
Well, it still pisses me off.
Stay in the shade to recover your strength!
Lady Zero, watch where you step.
Nnngh! This is taking forever! How big IS this area!?
Ho ho. Travel is like sweet love: a terribly long journey for an all-too-short climax!
Quit trying to be deep, Octa. It doesn't suit you.
*Huff, huff...*
Having trouble, Decadus?
Nnngh... Indeed, I am... But... I will face any trial for my lady's sake.
You sure it's for her? You seem awfully excited.
Stay in the shade to recover your strength!

At last we come to the final wizard hoedown. The final gauntlet has some real jerk instances of wizardry. Eight wizards are present, but only four stop to fight Zero and the disciple gang. The other four are content to continue casting the sun spell until at least three of them are knocked on their ass. Or more preferably killed outright. The remaining wizards can take up the mantle if left unattended for too long.

Man, fuck wizards.

Taking out the final remains of arcane scholars in the region will not end the stage. This is one final foe to deal with beforehand. No even half-assed introductory cutscene beyond the gate opening and closing to the arena. It's a centaur. It's on fire! It's on! FIGHT!

Great. Now we've got a giant, flaming man-horse.
Uhh... I don't mind any of those words on their own, but together...

Flame Centaur is a jerk. A real kneebiter. I mean first of all he's on fire. That's not just a cosmetic effect. He's engulfed in flames and fire is an element that hurts most things. Zero included in the list of flammable materials. Just getting close to the flame centaur will cause Zero damage. And in a game almost exclusively involving combat via close-ranged melee attacks that is problematic. The amount of proximity fire damage is fairly low. Nothing close to magical sunburn. Skin cancer is no joke, man. Third degree burns? Meh.

Beyond its fiery gimmick, flame centaur has a similar move set to its non-burning wood based cousin. Just a far more wonky, hard to dodge variants of attacks. The normal centaurs already had odd hitboxes for their swinging detachable hand business. Fire man-horse replaces those with a... really shitty looking flame effect that has a hitbox far larger than you would think. It also "swings" its flamethrower around at a slower and thus more difficult to evade arc.

If that wasn't enough, its ground pounds now have a larger radius due to explosion after-effects what with the fire and all. And on top of all that it has around as much HP as a golem. Maybe even a little bit more so. The only upside is this jerk doesn't hit nearly as hard as the sand ogre bruises at the end of Verse 2.

But like all mid-boss level baddies, perseverance and a key application of Intoner mode when appropriate can lead to victory. For a real barn burner, wait until they start throwing multiples of these bastards with supporting units.

And that concludes Mission 3 of 4 in our adventures in The Land of Sands. These last two chapters are pretty short affairs. Zero is well on her way of the end goal dream of being an only child.

Video: Chapter 4 Verse 3 Highlight Reel

Land of Sands Concept Art - No, the giant ominous sand man statue will never come into play. Really. It's just weird scenery.