DmC: Devil May Cry
Instead of the usual hype and excitement that greets the announcement of a new title in a much loved franchise, DMC was greeted with outrage. Not only was Capcom not handling the development and palmed of responsibility on UK based Ninja Theory, but the lead character, Dante, was changed from the effortlessly cool and over the top badass we all know to a foul mouthed, emo little punk. The outpouring of hate that followed must have made Ninja Theory more determined than ever to prove themselves to the fans.
Since they were responsible for Heavenly Sword and Enslaved, there is no doubt that Ninja Theory can deliver good action games. I am happy to report that while DmC might have viciously split opinions about the visuals and character designs but when it comes to the gameplay this title can hold its own against any other in the series.
Since this is a reboot, we are introduced to a younger Dante, who lives in a trailer at the edge of a huge city. The game tries very hard to sell the fact that Dante is a lone, rebellious outsider that loves nothing more than partying and getting laid but this doesn’t exactly make him an endearing character. As a Nephilim (that’s the offspring of a demon and angel in case you didn’t know) Dante has some extra abilities such as the ability to see and kill demons. Initially Dante does this for fun, but upon meeting a psychic girl called Kat, he is convinced to join “The Order” which is a secret organization that is hell bent on destroying the demon king Mundus. It also happens to be run by Dante’s twin brother, Virgil.
The plot might lack the over the top wackiness that permeated the Japanese games but it makes a little more sense. Everything has been given a western spin with the demons secretly controlling mankind through an energy drink called “Virility.” Dante has a very personal score to settle with Mundus, but instead of the action taking place in the “real” world, Dante usually ends up being pulled into the demon dimension of Limbo which is a twisted reflection of the human world. This gave the designers and artists a lot of freedom to create some bizarre and spectacular scenery to serve as the backdrop for Dante’s quest.
Levels warp and change when Dante is pulled into Limbo and while some of the scenery can appear very garish, the game does have its moments. The game runs on the Unreal Engine which as we all know has some issues with textures, but after installing the rather large patch, I didn’t experience too many technical problems. The game thankfully features none of the backtracking that marred the previous title, but levels now requires a lot of jumping and swinging to traverse. Don’t worry as you will still run into hordes of demons and this is where the action really kicks in.
Besides his blade and gun combination, Dante also gains access to new weaponry which he can switch between at the tap of the d-pad. These weapons are either angelic or demonic and are activated by holding down the corresponding trigger button. This instantly opens up the combat to a whole new level of combinations which is sure to please series veterans. The weapons can all be upgraded with more moves using points earned during combat and you will face plenty of enemies that are only susceptible to attacks from a certain alignment. Luckily they are color coded to make it easier it can still be tricky to pick out individual enemies from a crowd due to the lack of a dedicated lock-on button.
Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, but more importantly, require different tactics to deal with so combat is never just button bashing. You can push or pull enemies towards you or activate your Devil Trigger to slow down time and juggle enemies in the air. The camera can be a bit unwieldy during combat, but fortunately off-screen enemies seem to resist attacking your blindside. Boss encounters look pretty spectacular, but feature rather predictable attack patterns, making for battles that feel rather dated.
The combo system encourages you to attack your enemies with as many different moves as possible and you receive higher points and ratings if you can pull this off. The game has a practice mode where you can get the hang of all your moves, but the overall difficulty seems to have been toned down considerably. There is a rather generous selection of checkpoints and falling off platforms only cost you a little health. The latter is probably a good thing as the controls work great in combat, but can feel a bit loose for all the platform jumping. Levels are generally very linear, but you can still collect orbs to purchase items, free trapped souls to increase your score and track down hidden keys to open up new challenge doors.
The voice acting is generally quite good, but the swearing sounds a bit lame. There were a few instances where I laughed at Dante’s wisecracks, but when it degenerates into a swearing match with a boss you can’t help but feel that the game is trying too hard. The soundtrack is handled by Noisia and Combichrist so if you are a fan of their sound you will enjoy it. Nothing really stood out to me as being particularly great, but it certainly fits the theme of the game.
If you can get over the fact that this is not the Dante that you are used to, you will find that DmC is actually a pretty good game as far as reboots go. Sure the lead character is a bit of an idiot, but he does show some growth during the course of the game. The gameplay is what really matters and here DmC still delivers in spades. It does have its flaws and with only twenty levels the game can be completed in less than ten hours but it definitely exceeded my expectations.
*Review originally published 2013.