DMC Devil May Cry Review: Dante Must Die
Devil May Cry is one of the big names in the Capcom roster of franchises and is commonly held as the pinnacle of its genre, along with Ninja Gaiden. It has had some rough entries in its history but despite this the series is held in reverence by a core fan base, and it is from this source that the disdain for the Ninja Theory rebooted DMC is coming. It has been portrayed by these people as an insult to loyal fans, and as a watered down version of the combat in the original 4 titles, but once you actually sit down and play DMC Devil May Cry you may find all of its components falling into place to create a surprisingly fantastic experience that surpass expectations.
DMC takes a very different approach to its narrative than the previous games in this series, and it is in this area that Ninja Theory make it their own and show the complete scale of this reboot as being a completely independent game from all that came before it. Names like Dante, Mundus, and Vergil return, but the characterisations and roles are different, as is the setting and style. This is not a story that is going to stoke any nostalgia in Devil May Cry fans, as it is completely its own thing and has its own identity. Dante is a cynical hot-headed young man with a lot of anger while Vergil is his polar opposite, refined and logical. Mundus is the villainous king of demons, and plays the part of a world dominating banker who has enslaved humanity through various nefarious means. Mundus’ rule over the word is being challenged by a group called the Order, who bear a striking resemblance to Anonymous, and Dante ends up being dragged into this conflict after an attempt is made on his life. It’s a very politicised modern take for Ninja Theory, but they craft a nonchalant feel to the whole experience that fits perfectly and is as effective as their work on Enslaved in 2010.
The script is really well written, containing just the right amount of absurdity, and the game has a healthy amount of self-awareness at how ridiculous much of the content is. DMC is not an incredible tale by any means, but it provides an interesting reimagining of the set up with a fresh take on familiar characters. Fans that are determined to only accept the same old series will not get much from it, but if you just sit back and take in the concepts and characterisations that DMC provides then you will have an entertaining time.
The interesting but well-worn ground of demons vs angels is treaded by DMC, but thanks to the particular style of Ninja Theory it all feels very fresh. Kat is better female roles than Trish ever was, and all the character interactions greatly benefit from improved acting thanks to the way Ninja Theory work their craft. The game really strikes a strong balance between its “punk” atmosphere and the more contemplative and quiet moments seen in some sequences. I also really enjoyed the ending of the game, which really brought to fruition this title as a reboot and leaves the series in a fantastic position if it is to have another sequel. The last boss fight is also a truly excellent and fitting finale to the game.
Visually, DMC is a treat thanks to its incredible style and sleek level aesthetics. The art of the game is at times stunning, with a rich colour palette and lovely design to the architecture and environments. From otherworldly mystical backdrops with crashing waves and beautiful ancient statues to a carnival park with amusement rides and disintegrating bridges, the variety that is packed into DMC is impressive throughout its duration. The rich art style is enhanced by the technical beauty of the game. Textures are rich and detailed, character models are fully realised to their concepts and the facial animations are in particular impressive, and the range of enemies that Dante faces are suitably evocative of where Devil May Cry has been in the past while also treading new ground. The game maintains a lovely frame rate, and while it is not up to the pace of the PC version I have absolutely no problems playing the console version and felt the game was extremely fast paced and visually exciting.
The game world jumps in and out of the demonic realm of Limbo, and this allows the developers to integrate so many interesting features that are based on the transition and interplay between reality and Limbo. Corridors snap and twist, and the world itself is hostile to Dante, and all of this is done through the visual design of the world itself. The style of the game is also enhanced as Limbo tends to have writing literally burned into its walls and features that have a direct influence on the gameplay. The world of Limbo may command “Kill Dante” and a wave of demons will burst forth as a result. It is a fantastic feature and really fits into the games themes of a hidden reality that people are blind to in their imprisonment.
The soundtrack of DMC is energetic, aggressive and perfectly fitting for its themes and story. The pacing of the music and there tracks are placed result in the individual songs hitting at just the right times, adding a feeling of power into certain combat situations and the entire game as a whole. The music is not really the kind of thing that I would listen to in my free time, but it is delightful for the attitude of the game and is a great fit. The voice acting is also largely excellent, with Dante himself striking as an individual without ideology and just looking for a good time. The liberal use of cursing did draw some complaints, but once again I stress that it fits the style and story than Ninja Theory implemented in DMC. Kat really endears herself and overall the voice acting combined with some smart dialogue really does do a lot for the limited cast in a short amount of time. Vergil/Dante and Mundus/Dante in particular had some moments that really made me laugh with the way their interactions were written, and really add a lot of life to the experience.
The gameplay of DMC is still cemented in third person action, with plenty of advanced melee combos and options for combat. Now it is important to note that DMC is not a match for the lavish Devil May Cry 3 or even Bayonetta, but it is still a wholly satisfying and fun game to actually play. The controls are responsive, and multiple weapon options are mapped to the D-pad to allow a quick change over for different tactics. There are also 2 distinct types of weapons: angel and demon, and these are coloured blue and red respectively. There are certain enemies that can only be hurt by a particular weapon type, and while this does force a change to a weapon that may not be your favourite it does increase the challenge that groups of foes can pose and lets players try everything. The combat itself is still fast paced and the enemy types require a mix of tactics and strategies to take down. The difficulty is certainly less than the Devil May Cry of old, but that is what the higher difficulties are there for, and they are certainly a serious and imposing challenge.
DMC also wisely gets rid of the annoying puzzle segments that older Devil May Cry games contained, and I applaud Ninja Theory for concentrating on what the series is actually good at and disposing of the archaic trappings that even Devil May Cry 4 had retained for some reason. There are no quick time events in DMC, it is just a straightforward and pure action game, and with responsive controls, satisfying combat and greatly improved platforming mechanics it is a damn fine one.
The levels of DMC are designed really well, and flow naturally into each other to ferment a great sense of pace to the whole experience. I experienced no technical issues with the game during my 2 playthroughs and there is plenty is plenty of incentive to explore areas as there are hidden items and secret levels spread throughout. You can purchase items, upgrades and health buffs in shops located at certain points in and between each level, and the currency for this is still received from killing enemies and collecting those precious red orbs.
The highlight of enemy encounters are the lavish boss fights which provide some visual treats and impressive settings that really stick out, though it is a shame that almost all the games bosses are heavily formulaic and predictable in their movements. Despite this I feel that DMC is an exquisitely designed game with fast and fun combat, sleek minimalistic menu features, a lovely selection of difficulties and an overall pacing that just works.
There are two main complains with the design of DMC that I have, and both are regarding elements of the combat. Firstly, the useless and disappointing the devil trigger. What should serve as the money shot move of the entire game is actually a redundant move that locks enemies suspended in the air for a very short amount of time, relegated to simply changing the colouration of the screen. Secondly, there is no ability to lock on to enemies, and this is a bizarre omission that really begins to annoy in the later stages of the game as you face large groups of specialised foes and cannot easily prioritise attacks without a lock on. The chain that is used to traverse platforms could also be a bit better in terms of its responsiveness.
DMC Devil May Cry is what I would consider a near perfect example of how to reboot a series. It retains a laser focus on what it was that made Devil May Cry good in the past and disposes of the unnecessary baggage, all while providing a great new setting and mythos for the background which just freshens the whole thing up. This may be a game that ardent fans will not be pleased with, but such a slavish attitude is not a healthy way to approach things and you are only doing yourself a disservice if you are a fan of the genre and give DMC a miss. It is a fantastic game, my favourite that Ninja Theory has ever produced and probably my favourite entry in the Devil May Cry series to date despite its lack of grand scale and predictable story twists. I highly recommend DMC.
- Fast and enthralling combat
- Good enemy variety and selection of weapons
- Good voice acting and music
- Gorgeous art style and visuals
- Obvious story twist
- Devil trigger is a joke and no lock on
- Some minor platforming issues
- The Wig joke
- 8/10 - Great