The best entry in the franchise
DMC; a game that sends furious rage up the spines of the supposed hardest of hardcore Devil May Cry Fans, showing once again that for whatever reason Capcom’s fans are some of the most passionate and thus easily provoked sub culture in the wider gaming populace.
The insanity that has poured forth from their misguided hatred was to be honest; a key element of my interest in Ninja Theory’s latest. While I am one of few people (apparently) who not only owns and has played both of their previous games; Heavenly Sword and Enslaved I enjoyed them for what they were; relatively simple action adventures with exceptionally impressive and compelling presentation made possible with some truly industry bar setting animation and motion capture.
So I knew this game would at least look good but I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy playing it as much as I did. The following statement could potentially cause some of the aforementioned passionate DMC fans to truly despise my opinion but nonetheless. DMC is not only the best entry in the franchise, a fantastic reboot and an overall great game I would go so far as to say it’s combat system is one of the most satisfying, intuitive and enjoyable I have experienced in games to date. I would easily place it amongst the ranks of Batman: Arkham City and God of War 3, two of my favorite melee combat focused games.
To further quantify my particular interests, while having played all four of the past dmc games I only finished 3 and 4 and found 4 to be most enjoyable. Crazy some people would say but that’s just how things were for me. So I was certainly in the crowd of wanting something new and different from the series when the reboot was announced and Devil May Cry 5 was not. It is great that’s what happened though admittedly I am somewhat sad old Dante probably won’t be seen again outside a fighting game cameo.
I did in fact play the PC version of DMC and for good reason; I don’t need these games to have high frame rates but I do need them to be consistent and from what I understand the console versions as with Ninja Theory’s past games don’t quite maintain that consistency which is actually pretty crucial to this genre I feel. I did of course play with my 360 gamepad so more or less I was just playing a better version of what is available on Xbox 360.
Without spoiling anything specific, the boss battles are the definite highlight of DMC with the more visually unique clearly being the standout. Whether it is a parody of mainstream news media taken to the visual and thematic extreme or a giant gross slug woman that wants to smash you (while hilariously cursing at you the entire time) these are certainly the set pieces to look forward to in the overall experience. That isn’t to say the regular enemy encounters are uninteresting, far from it, between having to regularly vary your damage types of either angel or demon and deciding when to combo, when to mash and when to time a charge attack for that final critical hit this is a system clearly made by people who understand how to make these sorts of games work really well.
The lessons of Heavenly Sword's lack of intuition and Enslaved's over simplification are shining bright in DMC and the game is as fun as it is to play because Ninja Theory tried both other paths of design and I think this is the first of what will hopefully be many more games where they truly get how to keep things balanced to a fine sheen. Depth and challenge without the need for steep learning curves or vaguely taught interaction are no easy feat so it is to be applauded here.
I ultimately found my favorite weapons to be a pair of flaming fists Dante acquires late game that allow for some more methodical slower paced close range punches but of course varying up how you attack is key to keeping things fun so thankfully switching between all the weapons is as fast and responsive as is required but taken further in this instance provides some truly satisfying gameplay that is all too rare from other games.
The story sadly is where DMC falls a bit short, all of the plot points you can see coming a mile away and while I didn’t find any of the characters grating or annoying none really stood out beyond their base presentation and design. Dante himself is fine for what he needs to be, he has an ark as does his brother Vergil that anyone who has played the past games can see where it is going but it isn’t the worst writing, games have long since proven far more capable of less.
Kat; the lead female character or love interest so to speak I found to be the most off putting as she strikes me as just “a girl” put in the story to be less of a character and more a motivator for the protagonist. It isn’t so much that she’s unlikable as poorly realized. Perhaps a little less heavy on the sad teenage girl with melodrama backstory and more exploration in to her abilities and skills would have helped elevate her to be more interesting.
Overall despite the handful of tiny flaws I had so much fun playing DMC and look forward so much to many more repeat plays I really do consider it one of the best in this genre and highly recommend it be played by anyone.