Rebooting a longstanding series like Devil May Cry is no small task. The series has been around for twelve years, already has a wholly fleshed out mythology, and not to mention countless fans. Whatever Capcom’s reasons for going back to the drawing board after 2008’s Devil May Cry 4 were, they’ve certainly paid off. For the franchise’s fifth release the Japanese publisher took a risk by transferring the development from an in-house team to the wizards at Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West), with the hopes of breathing new life into the series. The final product, DmC: Devil May Cry, turns the series on its head, and starts fresh with an all-new Dante.
Whether or not the humans realize it, their version of reality has come under the control of demons, and they are being contained and manipulated by one of the most powerful archfiends of them all, Mundus. Through his three-pronged attack on civilization, Mundus is monitoring the humans, brainwashing them, controlling what they eat, and keeping them in their place by making sure they all suffer from crippling debt. However, the humans have no clue what is going on since all of this is being enforced under the guise of their everyday life, that is until a terrorist group, The Order, starts making a name for themselves by trying to wake up humanity. The Order eventually enlists the help of a hard partying demon slayer, Dante, as he is the only one in the world specifically equipped to take down Mundus. Dante is a Nephilim, part demon and part angel, and can walk between worlds, both the human’s reality and the underlying world of evil, Limbo. Dante soon finds out that his newly discovered twin brother, Vergil, runs The Order, and together the two of them plan to take down Mundus as payback for murdering their mother and eternally banishing their father.
The Devil May Cry games have always been known for a few specific elements that make them standout from the pack: stylish gameplay, tight controls, and over-the-top action. While much has changed in DmC, these three key principals are all present. Mastering the art of battle in DmC takes some time as Dante’s battles are full of weapon swapping, air lifting, and an assortment of ranged and melee attacks making every encounter feel unique, even if you’re fighting the same low level demons over and over again. As you progress through the game, Dante collects experience which unlocks new combos and abilities for himself and each of his weapons, making him a more formidable challenger as the game progresses, building at a pace that should be just right for most players.
One of the games few problems actually falls into the gameplay department, specifically the arsenal of weapons at Dante’s disposal. By the end of the game, our little Nephilim has twelve different attacks, each of which can be used at a the press of a button or with the use of a button combo, and that’s where things get a little complicated. Certain enemies are only affected by his Angel attacks (left trigger combo buttons), whereas others only take damage from his Demon attacks (right trigger combo buttons). While that mechanic is all well and good, swapping between the different weapons in the heat of battle can be a bit overwhelming. His full range of attacks breaks down like this: two Angel attacks (a scythe and a flying glaive) plus a grappling hook, two Demon attacks (a battle axe and gauntlets) and a grappling hook that pulls, as well as his basic sword, and three different types of guns, all of which are swapped in and out on the fly using the d-pad. This assortment of weapons makes Dante a well-rounded, formidable attacker, but it also makes for too many options at any given point during a battle.
DmC follows the game format that is becoming more and more prevalent amongst action games: run here, engage in this fight scene, defeat everyone, run over there, and fight all of those monsters. This makes the occurrence of just about all of DmC’s action sequences predictable, but Ninja Theory have a way of making it work. Each battle feels like it can stand on its own two legs, and the match-ups never feel like they’ve become tired or overused. It’s this variety that makes DmC a pleasure to play from start to finish, since you never know what you’re going to get, and that’s one of the best parts of the game.
While the game flows wonderfully, in almost every level there’s bound to be one spot where players are bound to stumble a bit; platforming. Ninja Theory have given Dante some astounding aerially powers, but that still doesn’t make it super easy to land on that tiny floating section of road 30 feet away. Added to the simple experience of jumping is Dante’s ability to use his grappling hook to attach on the certain points of each level and pull himself there, and this, of course can be combined with his double jump, and his ability to fly/glide for short distances. Much like with his weapons, Dante has a lot going on in the air, and it will take some time to master, but since the mechanics are used in just about every level, its more of a necessity than an option.
Anyone that has spent any time with Ninja Theory’s other games, specifically Heavenly Sword should be aware that they are experts at making beautiful games, and DmC may set a new standard for the studio. Just about everything in this game is a pleasure for both the eyes and the ears – cutscenes are enjoyable to watch, combat flows beautifully, and the throbbing heavy metal metal soundtrack works throughout the entire game. All in all, DmC is the complete package, both looking and sounding good, both in and out of gameplay, and really, you can’t ask for much more than that from a game.
DmC: Devil May Cry may be one of the most successful reboots of a video game series, ever. With so many things that could go wrong, Ninja Theory manage to avoid all of the potential pitfalls and create an amazing game, whether you’re a fan of the Devil May Cry series, or not. DmC is a solid action game from beginning to end, with crisp controls, set piece action sequences, and a relatively enjoyable story. There is a bit of a learning cure when it comes to the controls and Dante’s varied arsenal, but once that’s overcome, DmC opens up as one of the best hack-n-slash games to come along in a very long time. Don’t let the word “reboot” scare you away from this title, if you pass on it, you’ll be missing out on one hell of a game.