Look at this Punk!! an unexpected reverence for DmC: Devil May Cry
note: I initially posted this on my blog, PATRICK RAINVILLE VIDEO GAME BLOG, but figured I should post it as a review on Giant Bomb as well.
DmC: Devil May Cry (2013) is a game that should have come and gone, completely unnoticed by someone like me who’s rarely cared about action games.
Sure, I loved Bayonetta (and who didn’t?!), but by and large these “character action games” I do not care for. This makes it all the more surprising to me that developer Ninja Theory‘s DmC has turned into one of my favourite games of the past couple years.
From the cocky looking Dante to the dreadful, dreadful blend of heavy metal anddubstep, there is seemingly so little to love. The plot is simplistic and, while very well voiced and acted, poorly written for the most part — what a damn shame considering Ninja Theory’s excellent track record for building compelling worlds and characters!
Dante’s partner, Kat, comes across as helpless and constantly in need of his help. It echoes some of the character dynamics from Ninja Theory’s past work in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, but this time around the characters are nowhere near as fleshed, nor very likable Dante’s brother Vergil comes out most unscathed of the bunch. His motivations are interesting and his writing is solid. He occasionally wears a fantastic hat.
But really this is all trivial because the combat and the world design is DmC’s bread and butter. Put simply, this is my favourite “feel” to an action game. Sure, Bayonetta was (a lot) tighter and faster, but the variety of weapons and combat puzzles felt more interesting to me in DmC. Not since Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1-3 have I really wanted to just keep playing a game again and again in hopes of getting better at it. Everything clicked for me here.
And this goes hand in hand with hands down the best level design I’ve ever seen in an action game. The visual design is incredibly varied and the levels are surprisingly large and full of secrets, demanding repeat visits with better upgrades.
After having played Enslaved, my takeaway from Ninja Theory was that they knew how to craft beautiful worlds and very memorable characters.. but stumbled when it came the time to make interesting combat mechanics. Putting them on the reigns of the Devil May Cry series, which had always put gameplay over storytelling, seemed like a terrible idea at the time. The end result stuck much closer to older Devil May Cry formula than I could have anticipated.
I’m glad I gave this game a shot. I think you should too. I’m replaying it now on harder difficulties (“normal” was quite easy), and want to try out the older Devil May Cry games. They never grabbed me in the past but hoping my new found love of the series will shed a new light on these old titles. The main complaint about this new game is that the combat is too slow and less responsive than in the previous titles. If such hyperbole ends up being anywhere near half the truth, I’m in for some mind-altering gameplay experiences.
I give this game five stars, warts and all. Few games can match it in terms of sheer fun-ness and visual variety. Vanquish, Just Cause 2 and Bayonetta come to mind, in that these are all very stupid games that excel in one or two key areas enough so to completely render irrelevant how forgettable their plotlines are. If DmC had been released last year, it’d be my runner up for Game of the Year after Journey.
Right, so either make meaningful art or make the funnest thing you can possibly make. Hats off to Ninja Theory, as I am now totally on board for whatever comes next from them.
Wicked start to 2013.