DmC: Devil May Cry is set in an alternate reality to the original series and Ninja Theory has taken the opportunity to give Dante’s appearance a bit of an overhaul, one I must admit at not being too keen on, you may warm to him although many will find his foul language a bit OTT at times. It’s important to remember DmC is a reboot, a retelling of the Devil May Cry story so leave all your fan aspirations at the door and step into the shoes of an altogether new Devil May Cry, one that is as enjoyable and stylish as the original series although it’s a very different demonic beast.
Devil May cry wouldn’t be complete without demons and the demonic horde, headed by Mundus, have enslaved humanity by assuming the form of key figureheads at banks, political parties, news broadcasters and spiking your favourite fizzy drink – that’s right, Fizzy pop rots your mind! Mundus isn’t entirely comfortable though, betrayed by his right hand man Sparda, a demon who falls in love with an Angel, Mundus is fearful that Sparda’s offspring will one day rise against him – believing that Dante is an only child, Mundus sends his hordes of demons to pull Dante into Limbo to trap and kill him.
It’s in Limbo that the action of DmC plays out, guided by the mysterious psychic Kat; Dante is guided through a warped and twisted version of the real world. Limbo is excellently crafted, the landscape twists, pulses and falls away from beneath your feet – it’s beautiful and stunning with blooms of red and blue mixing to create some stunning graphics.
The combat sequences and boss battles may be a far throw from the intense onslaught of the original series, but DmC’s combat is fluid, slick and looks pretty dam stunning. Dante is well animated and has a huge variety of moves, luckily there is a training mode accessible from the main menu, and the combos are never too overwhelming or complicated, you will easily be chaining through different attack patterns in no time at all. It’s difficult not to allow yourself to just button mash your way through the game’s 20 missions – rarely will you get punished for undisciplined button bashing, but ramp up the difficulty to Nephilim or Dante must die and here is a taste of what Devil May Cry was about – precise, disciplined and deadly moves.
The combat is insanely satisfying and I found myself mixing up the combos far more than any other game, where in the past I seemed to rely on one combo set time and time again. I found each of the combos to be useful in certain situations depending on the environment and the enemies I was facing. Rather than one all-powerful combo that could be constantly spammed, I found myself not just mixing up the combo chain but also flicking between Dante’s weapons. Dante boasts quite a large arsenal of weaponry that is slowly unlocked as you progress through the game. What works brilliantly is the fluidity of hot swapping between them, although one complaint I do have is that there is no way to lock-on and focus on a single enemy – not a huge issue but annoying when there is a horde of demons and hidden amongst them is one powerhouse who you’d prefer to focus on first.
As well as a variety of guns and your trusty sword Rebellion, the signature weapon from the series, Dante has access to a set of Demonic and Angelic weapons. Demonic weapons are slow and heavy hitting which makes them highly effective against shielded enemies while the set of Angelic weapons are fast and highly effective at crowd control. Later in the game you are forced to use a certain set to deal with enemies, dictated by red and blue colour coding.
The final element to mixing up the combat is Ophion, a whip that may be used either in its Demon form to grapple enemies or environmental objects towards Dante or in its Angelic form which lifts Dante towards an enemy or object. The whip gives you access to some excellent combat tweaks and makes for some truly impressive combos. The whip also serves as a means of navigating Limbo’s platforming elements; you must quickly switch between either a Demon Pull and an Angelic Lift in order to navigate certain platform sections, which although can be rather juxtaposed, are by no means badly executed.
Each level has plenty to hide, although exploration isn’t as abundant as in the previous titles. Secret missions return which reward you with bonus items should you complete them as per their restrictions, like only killing enemies whilst in the air. Each level is also marked by grade so the longer you spend looking at just how you are going to reach that platform the worse your grade will be, although saying that at a leisurely pace I easily nabbed an S rank overall – something that wasn’t an easy feat in the previous series.
Devil Trigger also returns. Fill a bar that generates as you attack enemies and you will be able to unleash Dante’s inner Demon turning the screen into a haze of black and white with intense flashes of red, Dante himself almost looks like his original signature character that he is renowned for! Whilst in Devil Trigger you regenerate health and can inflict increased damaged but at its basic unlocked level it’s over before you gain much ground so you need to be quick to maximise its effect. Like the health bar, Devil Trigger can’t be upgraded with skill points but by buying Devil Trigger crosses from the shop or by completing certain secret rooms.
The many boss fights mix everything together including some rather long cut scenes that break the pace of each fight. Environmental hazards need traversing using the correct Demonic/Angelic grapple; obstacles need avoiding and all the while a large Heath bar of the boss needs tending too. They’re large, memorable and quite fun although they are nowhere near as demanding as the original Devil May Cry’s bosses! Trial and error will reveal a weakness which you can exploit, then all you need worry about is a very methodical set of timed jumps to avoid each bosses attack patterns.
I really enjoyed DmC although bar the obvious defining features that make this look like a Devil May Cry game I found the gameplay and style let down what defined the Devil May Cry name. The levels and high action combat is far more alike to that of Dante’s Inferno, particularly the boss battles. The lack of reserve when going into a fight is something that goes against everything that you learnt when attempting to complete Devil May Cry. Fans of the series will certainly feel a little hard done by with this reboot, especially as it’s a relatively short campaign which can easily be completed in 10 hours.
Saying that, I quite enjoyed being able to wade into fights and completely destroy hordes of demons without so much as breaking a sweat – Devil May Cry was hard, very hard – DmC not so much but it’s certainly as stylish. I enjoyed the retelling of the story, everything is served up on a plate and although it’s a little zany I found it to be well told and convincing.
I must applaud Ninja Theory for their boldness in reimagining a well-loved series and opening the game to gamers of all abilities but DmC is far from the Devil May Cry that we all know and love!