There was some controversy and a lot of angry fans when it was announced that Capcom were rebooting the Devil May Cry franchise with revamped character models, settings and story changes. I never played any of the original Devil May Cry games so I might be missing out on some of the nostalgia that became some of the defining games of the PS2. That being said, Ninja Theory have silenced most critics and have established the beginnings of a whole new series that can stand alone without being compared to its predecessors.
From what I’ve read, the story in DmC focuses on different aspects to the original games. The story follows Dante, the son of a demon father and angel mother who with help from his twin brother, Virgil and a human named Kat seek revenge by taking down the powerful demon Mundus. The story doesn’t get too much deeper then that. Ninja Theory kept any detailed demon vs angel lore out of the game and focused on a more stream lined experience where the story only gets as deep as it needs to. This works great in a fast paced, action game like this and the only story that becomes fleshed out is the relationships between the three main characters.
This title is obviously the first in a planned series, as Dante and Virgil’s personality conflicts (avoiding spoilers) set the tone for expectations of a next instalment. Speaking of Dante’s personality, the script in this game left for a lot of cringe worthy cut scenes which should have been great cinematic moments. Except for when Dante is talking about his mother or father, all of Dante’s dialogue sounds like it were written by a college frat boy trying to impress his bros. Dante goes over the line of being a cool anti-hero to being an unnecessarily crude jerk. This is a trend that was seen in several game scripts last year so here’s hoping poor attempts at humour in scripts dies a quick death.
Another feature that has been seen in some games recently is frequently referring to women in a derogatory tone. From the three female characters in this game, they are almost always referred to as a bitch, slut or whore. Without starting a dialogue on the role of women in games, in DmC it became really annoying and seemed like a cheap tactic to elicit some kind of emotional response from the player. I don’t want to use the “misogyny” word but DmC really wasn’t too far off.
Now that that’s out of the way, the gameplay and presentation are where this game. DmC gets the hack and slash formula perfectly with its use of the score tracker. Each fight can be won by spamming the same two or three attacks repeatedly but the real fun comes from finding unique ways to juggle opponents in the air and make use of your wide variety of weapons. Your score is monitored in the top right hand corner of the screen during fights and your rank is measured in style by the different weapons you use and the unique combos you chain together on enemies. They are then saved on the online leader boards and compared against the world and friends, satisfying the wants of all competitors and perfectionists.
Dante has a standard sword attack and guns for ranged attacks but holding the shoulder buttons in will modify attacks to angel or demon mode. Angel mode uses quicker, crowd controlling weapons with a chain that will pull you towards enemies, whereas demon mode uses slower, more powerful weapons and a chain pulls enemies towards Dante. The game gets the balance perfect when introducing new enemies, weapons and abilities and each of the 20 levels feels like it has a reason for being included.
The game is rather light on actual puzzles outside the frequent platforming ones but each battle is like a mini puzzle in itself, with some enemies immune to certain attacks and having to learn how to crowd control efficiently while getting the highest score possible. In total, DmC has seven different difficulty settings with harder settings adding different enemy waves and the added challenge of one hit killing Dante. This allows for a lot of replay value as the campaign can be finished on normal difficulty in about 9 hours, this could potentially become a 50+ hour game if you were to attempt to complete every difficulty. About 6 of the 20 levels are boss fights and they are all very similar except for the last one but each of them have slightly different attack patterns and designs which make them enjoyable enough to play.
The art style of this game is what really drew me into this game. Despite being a game about demons, the art design avoided the overuse of black and red and each level doesn’t look like you’re in hell all the time. Most of the game is set in Limbo, a world parallel to the human world and this allowed the design of each level to run with their ideas without restrictions. A lot of the scenery is run down cities and corridors but there are some great unique levels such as a night club, a carnival, and a media conglomerate-themed boss fight. It’s as if the designers were told that if they had an idea to just run with it and create as much inspired level design as they could, and it really paid off.
There are a few frame rate issues during cut scenes, which all look great, but this is expected when running on the Unreal engine–you can tell that DmC is pushing the limits of current console hardware, which is an achievement in itself. You can also unlock various art works and concept art for the game and I looked at every single one, I was a big fan of the religious elements incorporated into a grimy backdrop, I can’t fan boy enough over it. Games last year loved having dubstep exclusive sound tracks last year and DmC does the same but mixes it up with some thrash metal. The soundtrack, despite being similar to a lot of other titles, seemed appropriate to DmC as it only played during fights, giving them a feeling of significance.
DmC: Devil May Cry has gone beyond silencing critics and can now stand on its own merits as one of the great games that pushed console hardware to its limits before the next generation is introduced. This game would be nearly perfect if it weren’t for the over-the-top dialogue and mishandling of certain themes. If you can look past that, DmC is still very fun if you are into fast-paced action games with some puzzling elements. I would also have liked to see at least some attempt at a co-op mode but I expect that to be included in the next title of the series. This is still a very good second-beginning to a series I’m hoping continues for a long time.