Here’s an interesting fact that you may not be aware of: Capcom originally developed Devil May Cry as part of its Resident Evil series, but ended up deciding that the game was simply too different. As such, the decision was made to release the stylish action title as a brand new intellectual property. Of course, the rest is history, documenting one of the company’s most notable success stories, blending impressive sales figures with sequels that forever changed their genre.
After over a decade of bringing digital demon slaying to the controller-loving public, the men and women at the top of the aforementioned Japanese gaming giant decided that it was time to inject some fresh blood into the Son of Sparda’s tale. As a result, the talented folks from Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword) were brought in to develop a Westernized retelling of the character’s origin story. Fast forward to this very week, and that very game (DmC: Devil May Cry) has made its way to our favourite video game retailers’ plastic-filled shelves.
Those who are familiar with the Devil May Cry series will have a good idea of what their sixty dollars will get them. That is, a whole bunch of action-packed and stylishly presented melee combat. We’ll discuss that more later on, however, as it’s time to talk about the plot itself.
This time around, players take control of a newly interpreted, younger version of Dante. A brown-haired, trailer-owning playboy who only seems interested in partying and intercourse with pretty girls, this variation is certainly quite a bit different from his well know, white-haired doppelganger. That’s especially true given his relaxed but cocky attitude, and his general lack of ambition. Of course, things quickly end up changing.
Once things begin, they don’t let up. DmC: Devil May Cry is a game that grabs players from the start and doesn’t let go until its conclusion, thanks to addictive gameplay and an interesting storyline. Now, continuing with the discussion regarding the latter list item, it’s important to note that a large portion of the experience takes place in an alternate and demon-filled dimension known as Limbo. The idea is that it exists as a parallel reality, which can affect the human plane. It’s a mechanic that plays into the storyline on occasion, as Dante is regularly brought into Limbo, or intentionally enters it with the help of a magic-using human ally named Kat.
Through Limbo, Dante ends up learning about his past, and finds out about the unholy origin that led to his birth. Those origin details end up becoming key aspects of a plot that has the fledgling demon hunter meeting a long lost family member, while on his way to try to take down a powerful, god-like demon, who wishes him dead. I won’t go into any more detail in an attempt to avoid spoilers, mainly for those who are new to the series, but also for those who would like to experience this re-telling without knowing much going in. I’d just like to let it be known that, while the presented plot line is interesting and entertaining, it’s not a masterpiece. That’s to be expected, though. After all, these games have always been about combat. Unsurprisingly, this one isn’t much different; although it focuses a bit more on story aspects than its peers generally did.
Now it’s time to get into the heart of the matter: the melee combat-filled gameplay. It’s available in spades throughout this seven to eight hour-long release, as players are given control of a myriad of weapons in an effort to let their inner creativity thrive. Like before, those who hope to get triple S rankings, or anything close, will need to vary their attacks on a regular basis. That means that you can’t just stick with Dante’s trusty blade, although you won’t want to anyways. The game’s presented cache of death dealers is as expansive as it is impressive, although the sheer amount can become a bit overwhelming at times.
The best way to describe what’s available is to categorize it all into three different types: default, devil and angel. Dante’s origins allow him to wield both of the latter types, but they don’t come into play until later. It’s at the beginning of the tale where one must make good use of the character’s trusty default weapons – his blade and his two trusty pistols – both of which are helpful for dispatching of different types of enemies throughout the campaign. However, as things progress Dante gains access to devil weapons like a brutish arm attachment, an incredibly powerful axe and an explosive dart launcher. Then you have the obligatory shotgun, as well as the angel cache, which consists of a reaper’s scythe and throwable glaives. Needless to say, there’s a ton of variety here, which makes varying kills easy and enjoyable.
Some may say that this reboot is dumbed down a bit, which is partially true, because Ninja Theory developed it to be more accessible than its predecessors when it came to difficulty and gameplay. That’s not a bad thing, though – it just means that seasoned gamers will want to start on hard instead of normal. I made the mistake of choosing the mid-range option, and ended up finding the majority of the experience to be really easy, even though I’ve never been a genre master. Things only became difficult during the latter few acts, but not in an unforgiving way or anything close to that.
Despite being more accessible, the controls, mechanics and combos are classic Devil May Cry through and through. Everything is fast-paced, stylized and immersive. The controls feel like they should, and work very well, even during the game’s many platforming sections, where Dante must use an angelic propel move or two different types of chains to make his way to distant platforms. However, there is one rather minor downside, as a few of the unlockable combo options are unforgivingly difficult to pull off, due to where their required inputs are positioned.
When it comes to presentation, DmC: Devil May Cry truly shines. Not only is the level design strong and oozing with creativity, but almost every location stands out thanks to stunning visual design. The same thing carries over to the combat animations, enemy designs and boss battles, one of which will be tough to forget because of its quality. In addition, there are quite a few collectibles to be found, which unlock conceptual artwork and combat-filled test chambers.
On the audible side of things, there isn’t much to complain about. The voice acting is above average, albeit far from extraordinary, and the writing has some comical aspects to it although it’s far from award worthy itself. Simply put, those who pay the sixty dollar admittance fee will get what is expected: an action-packed experience that sometimes takes things to B-movie levels. That rock n’ roll attitude is further accentuated by a heavy metal soundtrack made up of fitting tunes from Noisia and Combichrist.
From start to finish, I enjoyed DmC: Devil May Cry quite a bit. It’s an entertaining ride with interesting characters, immersive worlds, thoroughly entertaining combat, great design qualities and tons of replay value, with the latter aspect existing thanks to several different (and varied) difficulty levels. As a longtime fan of the series, I didn’t know what to expect from this reboot, and had some worries about its new direction when it was revealed. Thankfully those concerns were for naught, as Ninja Theory has developed a high quality game that does its source material justice in visceral and engaging ways.
This review is based on the PS3 version of the game, which we were provided with.