When it comes to fan-favorite antiheroes, Vergil from Devil May Cry is near the top of most people’s lists. Dante’s badass brother was given a makeover in the recent release of DmC: Devil May Cry, changing from a spikey-haired silent killer to a straight-laced, pragmatic, self-centered individual. He was the complete opposite to Dante in just about every way. Now, he gets a chance to show his stuff in DmC: Vergil’s Downfall, a brand new standalone DLC mission for DmC that lets you play as Vergil in all his katana-swinging glory.
Vergil’s Downfall takes place immediately after the events of DmC, which means this review is going to have a ton of spoilers. So if you haven’t beaten DmC yet, I advise you look away now.
After the climactic fight at the end of DMC, Vergil is left slinking away with a gigantic hole in his chest. As you remember, Kat pleaded with Dante to spare Vergil’s life. Unfortunately, it was too little too late and Vergil kind of dies right in the beginning of the DLC, being sucked into a sort of personal Hell dimension as a result. It’s here that he has to confront the demons of his past as he struggles to claw his way out of the pit and get a second chance at life.
One of the best aspects of DmC was the game’s level design, which combined all of the best elements of Silent Hill’s nightmare world with the abstract style of an Escher painting. Unfortunately, the level design in Vergil’s downfall is not nearly as interesting. In DmC you traversed an upside-down prison, battled through a corrupt soft drink factory, and even tore up a demonic nightclub. Vergil’s Downfall, however, all takes place in the same nightmarish Hell world.
The background of each stage is a cloudy blue and red with some lightning and other apocalyptic imagery. The levels themselves are made out of floating pieces of land that look as though they were ripped from other levels in the game. Remember those mini-stages in DmC that Dante needed to traverse in order to learn abilities? The whole DLC looks like that and, unfortunately, it does get repetitive. There are some really exceptional set pieces toward the end that stand out above the rest, but the game switches right back to red-and-blue abstract mode as soon as they’re over with. In fact, you essentially replay the first level of the DLC as the last level, which feels cheap.
Vergil’s Downfall doesn’t quite hit the target in the enemy design department either. Most of the enemies are just flat out reused from the main game. There are a couple of unique enemies and bosses, but even they are reused at multiple points throughout the DLC. There is only one truly epic boss battle here, which takes place toward the very end of the DLC. Every other stage ends rather abruptly and somewhat anticlimactically.
What Vergil’s Downfall does excel at, though, is its story. Much like how Vergil is the exact opposite of Dante, Vergil’s Downfall is the exact opposite of DmC. Devil May Cry has always been about how badass Dante is; no matter what otherworldly demonic being Dante was fighting, he was always ready with a snappy comeback and a multi-weapon combo for maximum killing. Vergil’s Downfall, however, is about how tragic Vergil’s story is. He tried, to the best of his ability, to do what he thought was right, yet from his point of view, he was betrayed by everyone who mattered to him.
While the story of DmC was told mostly through in-game cutscenes, Vergil’s Downfall is told mostly through animated cinematics. The cinematics almost have a motion comic feel to them, looking like moving ink on paper. There are only one or two in-game cutscenes, and they actually aren’t all that impressive, looking like they were pieced together from other parts of the game.
The other big draw of Vergil’s Downfall is the ability to control Vergil himself. Unlike Dante, who will swing anything with a pointy end at his enemies, Vergil fights in a more sophisticated manner. He chooses to rely only on his sword, Yamato, and his own powers to get the job done. As a result, Vergil doesn’t switch between demonic and angelic weapons as much as he switches between demonic and angelic styles with his sword.
This is easily the coolest part of the DLC. What Vergil lacks in diversity he makes up for in sheer style. You’ll string together quick Iaido strikes with slow punishing blows. You’ll ensnare your opponents in a forest of swords and then cause the ground to quake and explode, blowing them all up. Vergil’s combos have ten times the style as Dante’s, because he isn’t awkwardly switching weapons out in the middle. And yes, you do get to use all the attacks that Vergil used against you in the final boss fight, as well as some iconic Vergil moves from Devil May Cry’s past, like Spiral Swords.
The only place where Vergil’s gameplay suffers is in his ranged capabilities. Since he isn’t the type to use guns, he instead fires sword projectiles at his enemies. While they work just fine in combat, they are kind of lame in the platforming department. His blue angelic projectile teleports him to where it lands, while his red demonic projectile teleports his target toward him. Sure, they have a different flavor, but they don’t really act any differently from Dante’s whips. His neutral projectile can cause hidden platforms to appear, which is pretty cool, but overall, his projectiles feel like the weakest part of his battle design.
Vergil’s Downfall has some noticeable problems. It’s short (only three to five hours), it feels highly reused, and it’s a huge departure from the tone of DmC. However, the tragic story of Vergil and the comic-book way it is told, as well as the ability to play as Vergil himself, make these few short chapters more than worth getting. This content may not be quite as good as the original game, but it’s a must-have for any fan of the Devil May Cry series.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.9 Graphics
The DmC graphics engine is still impressive, but it’s used to show us repetitive levels that start to wear on you by the end of the game. 4.2 Control
Vergil controls like a katana swinging dream. Slice those enemies up! 3.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Vergil is the primary voice actor here, and while he was decent in DmC he wasn’t the best. The sound design is still superb as ever though. 4.5 Play Value
Despite all its flaws, Vergil’s Downfall is still incredibly fun. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
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|