This Devil Still Cries
Devil May Cry has always been synonymous with badass, anime-style beat ’em up gameplay. When the first installment came out, it immediately started selling itself on statements like, “You can launch an enemy into the air and then shoot it full of bullets.” Dante became the iconic trench-coat-wearing action hero, whose flair for style and ability to shrug off being impaled were essentially the center points of his character. Dante could be eating a pizza one minute and killing demons the next. It was all just routine for him.
Then we got our first previews of DmC: Devil May Cry, the new reboot by Capcom and Ninja Theory, and Devil May Cry fans were up in arms about Dante’s new emo hairstyle. They were afraid that the Dante that they knew and loved was dead, and that he was being replaced by some sort of darker and grittier facsimile that wouldn’t nearly be as satisfying as the original. Well, I am here to say that the Devil May Cry fans can rest easy because Dante hasn’t really changed that much at all. In fact, DmC stays true to the classic Devil May Cry formula in more ways than just the main character’s personality. Sure, it may look different, but this game has Devil May Cry written all over it.
At first glance, the story does seem a bit more serious than the plots of Devil May Cry’s past entries. This is a tale of Limbo City, its unseen demonic overlords being combatted by a resistance lead by Nephilim (half-angels/half-demons). This definitely has a darker tone to it than Dante’s original “demon killer for hire” storyline.
However, Dante hasn’t changed much at all. He’s still incredibly full of himself, spouting one-liners and cockily laughing in the face of demons who tower stories above him. At times, this new Dante can be abrasive, acting more like an outright jerk than the old Dante, but he still has that Dante “feel” about him.
Kat is less overtly sexualized than Dante’s other companions were, but she still plays “straight man” to contrast with Dante’s overall recklessness. Dante’s enemies are still haughty demons that think they are far more powerful than they actually are. In fact, the character that seems to have gotten the biggest overhaul is Vergil, who has traded in his silent warrior persona for a more straight-man persona. As a Vergil fan myself, this was slightly disappointing at first, but Vergil’s new personality actually fits in just fine with the story. The story itself plays more on modern day issues, making some interesting political and social parodies. It’s a new direction, but it still has the same old over-the-top Devil May Cry feel.
Of course, Devil May Cry was never simply about the story; it was about the action. And DmC has action by the demonic truckfull. On the surface, the game uses the same action formula we have seen a hundred times before. You have two main attack buttons, a ranged attack button, and a jump button, in addition to simple commands that let you block and dodge (though you’ll likely ignore those for most of the game). So the game is, at least, very easy to jump into.
However, this is not a game that you can just mash your way through. Dante is certainly more powerful than all of his enemies, that’s for sure, but only if you put a bit of thought into your ruthless slaughter. The last hit of Dante’s basic sword combo is powerful, but it actually has a very long cooldown, leaving him open to assaults from other enemies all around him. So you actually have to include launchers, weapon switches, and other abilities in the middle of your combo in order to deal the most damage in the safest way possible.
Dante has always been known for being a master of all weapons, and the same holds true for his DmC incarnation. In addition to his standard gigantic broadsword and strutted Ebony and Ivory pistols, Dante will also gain a holy scythe and a demonic axe. Unlike other DMC titles, which would have you entering menus to switch between your weapons, these weapons can be pulled out at any time by holding a shoulder button allowing you to switch between them mid-combo. Osiris, the holy scythe, is fast and has huge range, while Arbiter, the axe, is slow, short ranged, and powerful. Certain enemies are weak to certain weapons and resist others, giving the game a bit of an Ikaruga or Outland feel. These weapons also change Dante’s ranged attacks, turning them into long-ranged grapples that pull enemies and objects toward him.
And that’s just the beginning! Dante will earn several new abilities as he goes through the game collecting orbs and defeating bosses, and he’ll even pick up several new weapons. Dante’s Devil Trigger survives in DmC intact as well, although his Devil Trigger form, once again, is entirely new.
The core gameplay of DmC is pretty much exactly the same as every other Devil May Cry title. Dante is placed in a stage and tasked to get to the end where there inevitably will be an awesome boss battle. In the middle, you’ll find groups of enemies to dispatch, short story segments, and light platforming.
Actually, the platforming is more like puzzle-platforming in this game, tasking you with using your weapons and abilities to make a path forward. This is a good thing because the game’s controls don’t really suit the “jump on this platform without overshooting it” style of platforming. In the rare instances where this is necessary, you will find yourself misjudging distances here and there, but the platforming segments never last long enough to break the pacing of the game. In fact, the “kill all the enemies to move on” segments tend to break the game’s pacing more than anything, but you can always make your own fun in these segments by trying to work your way up to an SSS combo. Players who like exploration will also be able to go off the beaten path to find hidden collectibles in out-of-the way places as well.
The graphics in DmC are worth mentioning, as they’re done in a style that we haven’t really seen before. They sort of combine the gory elements you’d see in Silent Hill’s nightmare world with a neon-colored Escher painting. Level design is brilliant, hammering home the idea of a living city that hates you. Levels will change underneath your feet as you go through them, while brightly colored words will show up on surfaces when you look at them the right way, calling out their hatred for you while simultaneously mocking the sloth, stupidity, and obesity of the human race. It sure makes you think about the foibles of human society more than previous Devil May Cry games ever did.
But the game does have some faults, admittedly. First off, it’s kind of hard to dial in the difficulty to the exact level you like. One notch up or down can make the difference between enemies dying far too easily and failing in just about every battle.
Additionally, the controls feel like finger-twisters at times. I’ll just come out and say it: Action games should never tie primary functions to pushing in the analog sticks. And while the game’s camera works well in most circumstances, there are times when you’ll find it settling into a position where you lose sight of some of the enemies around you. This leads you to blindly whiff attacks in a general direction in an attempt to make contact with enemies that you can’t see. However, all of this really just nitpicking, as none of these issues hold the game back from being fun.
Overall, I really enjoyed DmC. Yes, it’s darker, grittier, and deals with more relevant issues, but it’s still everything I want from a Devil May Cry game. It tells the tale of a cocky demon-hunting protagonist that saves the day through fast-paced, combo-centric action gameplay. If Capcom and Ninja Theory were trying to make a brand new Devil May Cry for a new generation, then they’ve certainly succeeded. I’d wholeheartedly recommend this game to any fan of the Devil May Cry series, or of action games in general.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.6 Graphics
DmC manages to mesh the abstract with the horrific in a strange and twisted vision of modern day culture. 4.5 Control
Being able to switch between every single weapon in your arsenal in one combo is a treat. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
It’s got that classic DMC rock beat with phenomenal voice acting that makes gratuitous use of profanity. 4.7 Play Value
One of the best action titles I have played in a long time. This will surely suck countless hours out of your life. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|