Never before has a game been announced that has received as much scrutiny and immeasurable rage as the reboot of the Devil May Cry series. DmC: Devil May Cry is a game that many had seen as an insult to Capcom’s much beloved series about a man and his struggle with his demonic ties. Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword, Enslaved) have taken the helm and attempted to make this reboot an adequate source for a new direction in Dante’s adventures. The question is, did they get it right?
In the beginning, Dante was just a simple man. A simple man who loved to ‘chillax’ with a slice of pizza at his desk whilst making tawdry remarks to himself. He’s also the kind of simple man who is a vigilante demon hunter for hire. He chose this profession so that he could placate his need for revenge against the demon spawn that killed his mother and corrupted his brother, Vergil. Oh, he’s able to do this because he’s also half demon as well as half human. But how have they illustrated Dante in his rebirth?
Dante is now a much younger man, very much finding his path. He still appears to hunt demons but it is never made apparent whether it is his ‘job’ or not. He has the same basic defining characteristics as his earlier iteration. He has a head-strong attitude, and is always sure of himself. Although his dialogue is one dimensional, it is nowhere near as corny as classic Dante. However, this time his mother is an angel rather than a human. That makes him a Nephilim. Half-angel, half-demon. Oh…he also has black hair or something. That is an issue for some reason.
He lives in Limbo City, where demons control every aspect of the world and condition the human residents to live by their rule. Almost like a social undertone of how the government control our real world. Dante eventually hooks up with his brother Vergil, who seems to be a good guy this time around. Vergil helps Dante remember his past, and sets him on a collision course with the most feared demon around…Mundus.
Moving on to Dante’s dad, The Dark Knight Sparda. Rather than having Sparda defeat Mundus and then seal himself in his own demonic power to keep the peace, they backtracked to even earlier in the Devil May Cry story, where Sparda was a general for Mundus. In this iteration, Sparda falls in love with an angel named Eva who bore him two sons. When Mundus learned of this treachery, he murdered Eva with his bare hands and imprisoned Sparda to an eternity of pain and suffering. But not before they could get their two sons out of harm’s way. Sparda erased both Dante and Vergil’s memories and left them each a gift. Rebellion and Yamato, two swords that have unimaginable power. He then split the brothers up to live amongst humanity in the hopes that the demon hordes could not find them.
DmC’s story only seems to differ from its predecessor in the slightest of ways. There are many arguments that could be made to the contrary. However, even though we know this is not the case; based on the story itself, you could even argue that this is a prequel to the first game. The story is not amazing by any standards, but it’s not bad by any standards either. Extremely adequate would be the right turn of phrase. Ninja Theory has made a nice little revenge story that has a big payoff. What more could you ask for?
Moving on to the nitty-gritty. The gameplay.
Devil May Cry has always been revered for having some of the most smoothly blended fighting mechanics of all games in its genre. DmC: Devil May Cry has certainly carried on in the same vein. You are presented with a few combos as a starter before you go on rampage unlocking more combos via an upgrade system. All combos are cancellable, much like in fighting games. For example, you could do half a combo, and then introduce another combo to that combo, essentially creating your own master class of combos. I had spent a good few hours in training mode honing my craft to become the best demon killer I could be. Like all previous Devil May Cry games, you will unlock new weapons and abilities as you power through the campaign. The fighting style is not as complicated as the past games, but there is definitely more of a sense of control over your own actions. If you get hit, it’s your fault. Demon weapons are great for taking out the big tough guys, but won’t work if you’re trapped in a crowd. Dante’s angel weapons are specifically catered to crowd-control.
The Arbiter axe is Dante’s demonic weapon of choice. A huge axe that has the power to take out even the strongest of foes. His other demonic weapon is Eryx, two great big hammer fists that can be thrown around a lot easier than the Arbiter and is therefore safer to use if you’re being surrounded. His mainstay angelic weapon is the Osiris, which is a scythe that will help you knock multiple enemies around in a pinch. Of course the famous Ebony and Ivory make a return. Dante’s trusty hand-cannons always get the job done. They are joined by the Revenant Shotgun and a brand new gun named…Kablooey. All of these weapons can be improved and you can unlock new abilities for them via the in-game upgrade system. All of these weapons can also be used at any one time during any one combo by using the brilliant combo-cancelling system. It will take a bit of practice to become prolific at mixing combos, but it will definitely become necessary as you face many enemies at once that are only vulnerable to a specific kind of weapon. Just to make some of the fans feel better, Dante does have access to Devil Trigger and yes, it does turn his hair white.
The platforming aspect of the game made very well but not worth a strong mention as it doesn’t break any boundaries. It doesn’t suffer from the usual “my camera angle killed me” diagnosis that many games of this type do, it does however always point the camera towards the objective, even though you can explore alternate routes to find hidden objectives and collectibles.
The difficulty of the game, as it stands is nowhere near the levels of the older games. It does however offer more difficulty levels once you’ve finished the game. You will start with the three core difficulty levels (Human, Devil Hunter, Nephilim). Nephilim by itself is something of a challenge, but it is still easily achievable if you apply yourself. The hard part comes after completion. You will unlock some extremely upsetting difficulty levels known as Son of Sparda. Which makes the enemies stronger; it also shakes up the enemy waves to provide a greater challenge. Once you have completed Son of Sparda, you will unlock the Dante Must Die difficulty. This does the same as Son of Sparda, only the enemies are now at their maximum level of strength. Complete Dante Must Die, you get Heaven or Hell. In this difficulty, both Dante and all other enemies will die in one hit. Playing smart is the key here. We’re not finished yet, beat Heaven or Hell and you will unlock Hell or Hell. Hell or Hell sees Dante die in one hit, but all enemies have the regular amount of health. Make sure you have a therapist on hand before you give this a go.
DMC is truly a fantastic looking game. Graphically it is amazing; the scenery differs so much from sunny topside streets to disgusting underground lairs. The gameplay blends straight into cut scenes so that you don’t get annoying loading times, much like Max Payne 3. It all makes for a visually stunning experience that will put a cheeky grin on your face.
On to the voice acting. This is the most negative aspect of this game, it’s not so much that the lines were poorly delivered, I feel that the actors did the best they could with what they were given. It’s the script that falters. The cheesy one liners worked in the previous games because Dante was always that brash, in your face character with a sense of humour. However, present day Dante fluctuates from serious to Arnie’s biggest fan. There doesn’t appear to be a good balance between the two, and an issue like this can only help prove the doubters right.
The music could also be a very debatable subject as the score was left to NOISIΛ, a Dutch electronic band and Combichrist, a Norwegian aggrotech band. The conflict that comes with this is simple. If you don’t like this kind of music, you still won’t like it in a game. However, the music is definitely suited to the kind of game that DmC is, and the pacing of the music is perfect to whatever kind of battle or cut scene you are experiencing.
In summary, the rebirth of Dante is a shining beacon of light of what is to come in the future for the series and for Ninja Theory. They made a blend of what is great from the old and made it more relevant to today’s standards. Changes in the story have proven to be adequate and promising, and I for one am extremely excited to see where they go from here. You’ll have you plate full, with the initial run taking you between 7 and 10 hours. As well as having 3 extra playthroughs on the higher difficulty levels and all of the secret missions.
Dante’s new-look has been under scrutiny for the better part of a year. But it’s a new game, new story, new Dante, new Vergil. Quite frankly, it works…deal with it.
Does it hold up against the pandemic that is Devil May Cry 1-4?
Yes, and then some. DmC: Devil May Cry can stand proudly beside its step-brothers. It can even look down on a couple of them and laugh proudly (I’m looking at you 2 and 4).
With DmC: Devil May Cry, Ninja Theory has definitely hit the “Jackpot”.