Since its announcement DMC Devil May Cry hasn't been short on controversy. Long time fans of the hack and slash franchise have called foul, shouting from metaphorical rooftops (internet forums) in disgust and anger because Capcom went and changed their blonde haired hero and the world around him. Passing the torch onto a new developer in Ninja Theory, this revision of Dante and his demon filled world is one that on first inspection rides close to being tacky, tasteless and even laughable. All I have to tell you is that angels and demons are fighting a bloody war and you should get where I'm coming from here. However in the hands of the folks who brought us Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, one of my favourite games of 2010, I had a little more faith in Ninja Theory to deliver.
But of course, how about the gameplay? Well say what you will about the storytelling in past Devil May Cry games, one area in which it as most excelled is in gameplay, and this 2013 reboot is no different. DMC offers various levels of challenge, whilst never feeling unfair or cheap. Stylish whilst at the same time having depth that rewards experience and skill, the combat in DMC is some of the best I've experienced in the genre. Even when I was getting my backside kicked in it was always in the knowledge that I wasn't honing my skills to the situation or the button masher in me was taking over, so my mistakes were paid for in a game over screen once I'd run out of golden skulls, the item which allows Dante to jump back into the fight. This makes the outrage and controversy surrounding DMC even more baffling, because deep down this still feels like Devil May Cry, where skill and expertise is rewarded.
It's also one hell of a stylish game, with some of the most memorable boss encounters I've witness in a good while. On the default difficulty (of which there are numerous to choose from) the boss battles aren't particularly challenging but the way in which they are presented are something to be seen. I won't go spoiling anything here, but it's obvious the folks at Ninja Theory wanted to leave their mark when they created the world in which Dante, Vergil and new sidekick Kat inhabit. From the over the top set pieces to the powerful mix of it's dubstep and heavy metal soundtrack, it's a style that will rub some the wrong way, but will most certainly provide some memorable moments.
The new Dante is... well how do I put it, a bit of an arse at first. It's not exactly the fault of the story but more to do with his silly one liners and cocky attitude. But having had no attachment to the 'old' Dante it's hard to know how well he'll eventually go down with long time fans. That said, Ninja Theory have a proven track record of being able to create characters with emotion and (dare I say) depth, in this Dante isn't such an awful guy. As the story develops you start to see Ninja Theory's trademark motion capture work at... well work. From the slight facial movements to a level of realism that only real actors can pull off, the story of DMC Devil May Cry ends up being more memorable than it has any right to be on paper.
Style is key to getting the most from skills and upgrades for Dante and his many angelic and demonic weaponry, the stylish the kill the more points you'll receive to upgrade various areas of Dante's arsenal. This has been rooted in the DMC formula since the original and it's a system that still works wonders. There's a simple thrill from completing some awesome 20+ hit combo and it looks so damn good. Experimenting with weapons and new skills is one of the real highlights and Ninja Theory were nice enough to throw in a training mode to help you hone your skills. All in all it's a combat system that holds up through multiple playthroughs, one which had me excitedly anticipating the next combat scenario throughout it's 8-10 hour long campaign.
Speaking of multiple playthroughs there's a number of higher difficulties on offer for the hardcore and boy, are those levels difficult. Thankfully Dante enters with the weapons and skills you've unlocked from previous playthroughs, so it's basically a new game plus. It's here where long time fans, skilled at all areas of hacking and of slashing will excel and face a real challenge, honestly it'll take time and practice for me to beat even the next level up from the default difficulty. But it's great to see that Ninja Theory have taken to heart one of the key appeals of the DMC franchise, the level of difficulty and challenge that made it a fan favourite in the first place. Just be prepared for one hell of a challenge. Though now I've gone and said that, I'm sure I'll have people telling me 'it's not difficult, not like the old Devil May Cry games, you're just crap at games'. Fair enough!
If this indeed is the new direction for the DMC franchise, than I for one look forward to what we see next from Ninja Theory and Capcom. While long time fans will never be truly satisfied, they and Capcom must know or realise that spitting out the same old DMC game every year or two simply doesn't work and in that regard this 2013 reboot has been able to attract an audience of gamers who might have entirely ignored it if it were just another same old DMC game. Ninja Theory haven't just gave the franchise the care and attention it deserves, but have been able to leave their very own mark with style and some of the best combat in gaming today. Give it a chance, who knows, you might love it.
Thanks for reading.