What You’ll Like:
- Dark and brooding new artistic style and level design
- Fun and deep weapon combo mechanics
- Some killer fighting music
- Great voice acting and character animations brings the story to greater life
- Various difficulty settings and fun extras add significant replay value
What You May Not:
- Decreased challenge as compared to previous installments
- “New” Dante personality and look (subjective, really)
- Moments of lame and lazy dialogue
- A few upsetting moments of audio/visual glitchiness
- Some upgrade and health items feel useless
What You’ll Remember:
- The surprising and epic final boss battle
The Devil May Cry franchise made its debut back in 2001 to stellar reviews and ambitious gamers excited at the prospects of such a defying and fun new adventure. Meeting the cool, slick, and smart-mouthed half-demon half-human goth-inspired hero Dante gave the gaming world its next beloved character that was a force to be reckoned with. While the hack-n-slash action genre had existed beforehand, never had its gameplay been chock full of such incredible depth, super tight controls, amazing atmosphere, gorgeous music, and finger action/reaction chops only its intended hardcore gaming audience could master. This was no casual gamer walk in the park, and granted its instant popularity, Capcom only saw fit to make sequel after sequel as Playstation 2 exclusives, all leading to the big next-gen adventure in Devil May Cry 4 exploding to great reviews, if perhaps not the greatest fan reception, on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Spanning all through its time, Capcom stayed true to its hardcore audience focus.
In now comes Capcom’s newest idea in the franchise’s 5th iteration, DmC: Devil May Cry, where the developing process was seen as best handed off to American developer Ninja Theory, who unfortunately was blamed by many hardcore fans as single-handedly responsible for seriously harming and perhaps even destroying the Ninja Gaiden franchise with it’s 2012 upset, Ninja Gaiden 3. Furthermore, early trailers of DmC showed fans a brand new Dante, with the white-haired smart-alec we’ve all come to love swapped out for a younger and more human looking dark-haired emo-style bad boy. It’s more “Twilight”-esque Dante, as well as his reworked infamous brother Vergil, had fans biting their nails, praying to God that Ninja Theory would not also destroy this franchise as well. To their own defense, Ninja Theory assured fans they would not disappoint, and decided to make this game a total reboot of the entire franchise, labeling it as a complete “re-imagining” of DmC. Yet, suffice it to say, while the new DmC does have its own luggage of setbacks, I am happy to state that not only will this new entry to the series please the vast majority of its faithful audience, but also has enough pazzazz to wow an entirely new generation of players.
DmC introduces us to a very young, brash and apathetic Dante, who loves to live his half-demon life partying, drinking, and sexing it up with party girls, nihilistic to the world and all of its problems. This futuristic and downtrodden world we are now in is quite different from the other-worldly and near medieval gothic/Victorian style we got in previous DMC games. Instead, Ninja Theory decided to create a more contemporary world where things take on a much more twisted and darkened appearance, but more on that later. Dante is closer to an anti-hero this time than anything else, and he is initially seen as a threat by up and coming villain Mundis, who now is a human male who looks akin to a corrupt and sleazy drug lord kingpin, and desires a new world order (in previous games, Mundis played more of a god-like super villain). He and his overly botoxed and inflated plastic-looking girlfriend plan on ruling the human race using debauched politics as their loophole.
Dante is soon interrupted by a mysterious new female protagonist Kat, a young but bold pagan witch demon hunter who is able to speak to beings in the game’s new world palette known as ‘Limbo,’ which demons and spirits live through, existing as a parallel universe to our normal world, yet with a much more brooding look. Demons can control things that go on in the real world by doing things in Limbo, and seeing as how Dante is a half-demon, he can go in and out of this world if he pleases. Kat soon convinces Dante to fight the demons in Limbo, and can work as an aid to get him in and out of this world at various points. Yet as it turns out Kat has been sent by Dante’s brother Vergil, who explains to Dante exactly where he came from, the story behind his murdered mother, Trish, and estranged father who was sent to this world’s version of hell to be tormented forever; the reason being is that these parents rebelled against Mundis and his plans to take over the world. Dante becomes aware of his place, and throughout the game learns further about his intentions and why exactly he should be fighting back against Mundis and freeing the human race of his enslavement. Therefore, it should be stated that because this is a prequel and re-imagining, Vergil is one of the good guys, leading Dante and Kat as the brains in the fight against Mundis.
It is a gigantic positive how much work Ninja Theory put into the voice acting as well as the facial character animations here, as close up shots of dialogue during very intricate and entertaining mid-level cut scenes are wonderfully cinematic, and players will most likely find themselves gradually more and more invested in the story, not because it is the best story in the world, but because it is acted so flawlessly. The relationship frictions between Dante and Vergil also do more to entice the player’s attention span. The trio have a very contemporary and human-like presence, which is exactly what Ninja Theory promised us, bringing us a game where our once brash and caricature-like heroes are leaps and bounds more relatable. The entire feel and presentation of DmC demands respect due to its more mature and realistic tone, even if at some points it gets a few setbacks in the form of Dante and fellow monster bosses using f-bombs which come across as forced and a tad tacky. One of the things that made the old Dante so likeable was the fact that he would intimidate and anger his foes withOUT having to resort to such cheap and filthy smack talk, and this new one doing so may come off as more human, but faithful fans may decrease their liking of the newly realized anti-hero. The idea works to help his “bad boy” image, but at the same time makes him just come off as way less intelligent. Yet when all is said and done, audiences cannot deny how much greater the story gets as it goes along, leading to the very memorable and epic final boss battle which will surely please hardcore DmC fanatics.
No need for fans to have frayed so much in Ninja Theory’s development process, as all the depth and full meaty menu of combos have just as much seductive flair and tight controls as the previous DMC games. Dante initially begins with only his trusty sword, Rebellion, beginning with only a few attack options in the form of light and strong attacks. Yet once he gets his hands on his trusty girls, Ebony and Ivory pistols mid-way in the first level, a bit more depth is then added as well as a lot more style. Fans will feel right at home with the responsive control reactions and sweeping Dante acrobatics. Hacking and slashing demons as well as various objects to collect red orbs feel just as fluid as ever, if not more, and progress through the game as Dante picks up greater weapons that split themselves in categories – both the white frosty Angel and red fiery Demon weapons. Angel weapons being quicker yet more weak, while Demon weapons being slower but stronger. Using these weapons can be switched off by either holding the L2 and R2 shoulder buttons and using the attack buttons in various combinations to perform all kinds of demon slaying maneuvers. Dante is also given Angel and Demon chains which can be used as latches to either pull items like platforms and enemies toward him, as well as pull his own body toward their directions. The results in combat combinations are seemingly endless. Similar to previous installments, newer abilities can be unlocked the more experience you get and combos can extend as far as your imagination and finger dexterity and timing will allow, and this is where the hardcore gamer skill kicks in.
While in DmC health upgrades and items can be purchased at mid-level points as well as “shop” areas scattered throughout levels using red orbs collected, newer fighting abilities are unlocked through experience upgrade points, which are harder to get; the more enemies you kill in the greater style of kills, the more your XP meter fills, eventually filling up to an unlock point. More points are awarded after a level is finished, depending on how stylishly you hack up your foes; yet beware as points can be deducted if in the level you use up any health items, yellow orb regenerating continues, or die. Final grades come in the form of letters, from D to A, and greater S, SS, or SSS rankings (“Savage,” “Sadistic,” and “Sensational,” respectively). Other extras include “lost souls” which are hidden throughout levels and could all be killed off to grant further points after the level is over. Secondly the beloved demon trigger form is also present, and just like older games, give Dante a boost in strength for a limited time. Hidden secret levels also make a return here, unlocked through hidden keys scattered around, offering up some intense challenges which pit Dante up against several enemies to achieve a certain objective when defeating them, such as doing so in a certain amount of time, or slaying them in specific ways. Passing these grants health and demon trigger upgrades which make Dante all the more powerful throughout. Many of these rooms are not too difficult to find, and as levels can be played over again, Dante can use his greater abilities to finish off certain objectives which weren’t so easy previously.
The plethora of variability in enemies and challenge is also well present. While Dante begins by battling more weak and wimpy demons and little flying nymphs, very soon are bigger and tougher demonic oppositions making their way to stop you in your tracks, some requiring some patience and planning to counter, and others that are only weak to specific weapon types and completely immune to others. Add to this in later levels going up against multiple hordes simultaneously, and we have where Dante will find himself finally meeting death’s door… if only a few times. That said because as creative and exciting as many of the beautifully smooth and satisfying demon crushing can be, even at the hardest game difficulty, many gamers may find wiping them away a bit on the easy side. At the start, the three difficulty levels offer a small caption as to what each will give the player, and the hardest, called Nephilim (the official name of half-human half-demons), promises a true hardcore DMC experience. Though while offering some better challenging fights mid-game and beyond, is not to the standard of the DMC original and its super tough second sequel Devil May Cry 3. It may come close, but part of this setback has to do with just how powerful Dante becomes, just too much too soon. While it is apparent the developers wanted to give gamers a power high, which they most definitely do, the trade-off is with the sacrifice of coming too close to general invincibility. But don’t discount this as too much of a minus considering just how plain fun it is to whack all kinds of enemies in all different ways, though without the option of the four fighting styles that were introduced in DMC3 (Trickster, Sword Master, Gun Slinger and Royal Guard). No matter, as such a mechanic is not all too necessary considering the game’s overall combat design. I do hope that these four fighting styles do make their way back in future installments, yet without sacrificing the incredible new art style and fist-pumping sound production.
The visuals in DmC are without the doubt some of the most impressive you will see this generation of gaming. Ninja Theory have taken their idea of Limbo and birthed an incredibly beautiful and darkly twisted world which looks like a mix between an earthly version of a comic-style hell and an insane asylum patient’s most vivid nightmares. The whole Victorian romantic color and tone of previous games look as if it’s been forced through a meat grinder and drugged to the Nth degree, and the result is a dirty yet fetishist appealing gorgeous new DmC universe. Moreover, the level design itself here spared no expense in its creative inspirations; most notably the completely evil opening in the amusement park from hell, and the awe-inspiring night club level, taking Dante through what look like stereo equalizer display graphics along with some killer club music. Another level works more as a news media satire that is so creative it has be seen to be believed.
As stated earlier regarding the character animations, all the characters feel so realistic due to incredibly smooth textures that can almost pass for a full-length CG movie. The production values in the visuals alone are downright pristine, and sooner than later hardcore fans will come to love not only the new art form, but also the new Dante; trust me, while the old Dante will be missed, this new one is a fantastic and suitable replacement. They may also appreciate the newer and uglier bosses this time around, even if none of them can match wits with such classic DMC bosses such as Berial the Conquerer of Fire from DMC4.
Yet as grand as the visuals are, it should be noted that the Playstation 3 version alone is known to be the only version of DmC to carry some strange visual glitches that are fairly sparse but still at times noticeable. These come in the form of texture break-up and some choppiness during fast battles, yet again, this are very few and far between, but do not come as often as what the glitches in sound can bring. As a whole though, DmC certainly will not disappoint to the eyes.
The best thing regarding DmC is in its bombastic soundtrack, doing away with the generic riffs and techno beats of old and incoming more contemporary industrial-style dark tracks. Industrial metal/rock band CombiChrist contributes many of their tracks which compliment the psychotic art style and action perfectly. Even in the opening menus, the haunting atmosphere is heightened solely due to the choice of dooming keyboard lines. Yet the choice of score and music is merely the start of what makes DmC sound so entrancingly gorgeous.
I had already stated how great the voice acting is here, despite some points of tackiness in dialogue, but the real meat here gameplay-wise is with the combat itself. There is nothing better here than walking into a room surrounded by enemies, setting off all kinds of combos, many of which gather multiple enemies in bunched up hordes, and hearing each meaty and gutting slash and hacking of their crusty cadavers. Seeing and hearing them break apart during the slo-mo close-up of the final hit (similar to the final punches of the Batman Arkham game fights) will only feed that always hungry power high that DmC is so genius at providing. Even the pistol and shotgun fires are full and whole, leaving nothing to the imagination. Furthermore, as you rank up in style a gruff announcer speaks each level from D to A, and epically grunts either ‘Savage,’ ‘Sadistic,’ and ‘Sensational!’ once the top style levels are hit, and hearing that only will egg the player on to keep up this mode to further kills; it triggers some awesome vein-pumping excitement to say the least. Such satisfying audio quality screams top notch production, yet it’s those pesky setbacks which can unfortunately take the player out of the experience at times, in the shape of skipped audio cues that come moreso than those visual bugs.
This negative occurs mostly during cut scenes and dialogue sections, where if setting up the options to subtitles, one will see that the characters say something, but for some reason at times the audio glitches and the words are not audibly spoken. It may not seem like such big a deal, but these mishaps seem to take the player away from the action and wondering if there is anything else they may have missed. It’s good that this only happens a few times throughout the game, but the times it does always feel like one too many.
Yes, if you have not already noticed, DmC is one fun game. Despite its lack of old school challenge, there is still plenty of game here to grant old and new fans their just do for the full retail price. The average playtime here runs roughly 10 or 12 hours, and goes through 20 levels, a couple of which are merely boss fights. The production value, story, characters and various challenges from secret levels and numerous difficulty levels will do well to keep you coming back to this one over and over, especially for completionists. Even though we begin with just three initial difficulty settings, once the game is beaten on at least the normal setting, a ‘Son of Sparda’ difficulty level is unlocked, mixing up stronger enemies in earlier levels. This is followed up by giving you the ‘Dante Must Die’ difficulty, which is even tougher. Yet these are nothing compared to the ‘Heaven and Hell’ difficulty which grants Dante allowance of only ONE hit before death, yet also has enough grace to grant enemies only one-hit kills as well… but wait, there’s more! Lastly, we have the ‘Hell and Hell’ difficulty, which mercilessly allows a one-hit kill to Dante, meanwhile granting all enemies NORMAL health, meaning each enemy will take the standard amount of hits to die. If this doesn’t sound completely sadistic and intimidating for a difficulty level I’m not sure what will. There are PSN trophies which can be granted for each of these achievements, as seemingly impossible as they sound to accomplish.
Further adding to the replay of this game are the two current DLC modes, one being the completely FREE Bloody Palace mode. Exactly like the old DMC games, this pits Dante in fight to the death arena battles between him and ALL of the game’s enemies, while seeing how far Dante makes it with only one bar of health. The second mode currently costs about $8, and is an all new Vergil campaign, which contains his own set of PSN trophies, as well as the same insane difficulty levels as Dante’s mission. This extra is shorter, with less production value, but does grant some very nifty comic-style artwork during mid-level cut scenes. While Vergil is not as agile or bombastically pounding as Dante, his character certainly does require greater craft, reflexes, timing, and skill, especially if one desires to rank up style points. Vergil also has his own smaller set of weapons as well as the ability to upgrade through XP as he goes along. This one will perhaps last about a quarter of the length of Dante’s campaign. Besides these there are various skins that can also be downloaded, but those are really superficial at best, distracting at worst. At the very least these extras give gamers all new experiences besides just higher difficulty levels.
The new DmC is a game that will likely have not only a whole new following, but also an entire new set of sequels. Given its beautifully executed style of game given by Ninja Theory, this only adds to a prospective grand future for the steadily growing franchise. Although DmC does require more challenge and perhaps even a longer single playthrough, more of the other minuses are mostly a superficial affair, and cosmetic points that can easily be fixed in later installments. It is safe to say that this is undoubtedly the BEST game in the series, despite all the cheap smack talk that may have gone on about it by hardcore fans. Is it the hardest? No, but I would be surprised to not hear people say it is surely the most fun. Definitely worth the full retail price, which at the time of this writing currently stands about $50. I’d say 3.5 Rebellions out of 4. Action fans, this is one experience you surely want to take on.