It’s been 5 years since the last instalment of the Devil May Cry franchise was released, and since then we’ve seen the development pass from Capcom to Ninja Theory. Lately it’s been a heated debate whether the new game would live up to the previous ones. After being able to play through the game thoroughly it’s fair to say that Ninja Theory have done a good job. Hopefully spoilers will be kept to a minimum so keep reading for the review of DmC: Devil May Cry! Born of both Angel and Demon, Dante and Vergil Sparda are Nephilims (the half and half offspring of the “sons of Gods” and the “daughters of men”) and there’s been no love lost between these two siblings. With their mother murdered when they were young and their father also absent it’s been a rough life for the twins. The story takes place long before the events of the previous games, when Dante is younger and long before he has his characteristic silver hair. Arrogant, bratty and only looking out for himself Dante is everything you can expect from a teenage version of Dante, with the same confidence and cocky attitude that many have grown to love. At this point Dante doesn’t even know that Vergil is his brother, but he does know about his demonic heritage. The story focuses around Dante being drafted in by a mysterious group known as The Order who want to help the humans fight for their freedom against the demons. The world has been pacified and held captive by demonic forces led by Mundus for a long time, and very few people have actually realised this. Those who have are branded terrorists and are hunted down, like Dante. At any point the demons have the ability to pull you into the world of Limbo, the strange and twisted demonic world where the land itself can twist, deform and reshape itself at any point to hinder your progress. Throughout the story there are twists and turns, with Dante learning the truth about what happened in his past and why he has no recollection of a twin brother, as well as finally unlocking his true Nephilim power. There’s love, hate and heartbreak through a surprisingly emotional story and the enemies are definitely designed to be hated. Speaking of characters, the new Dante has been the subject of a lot of hate. To those who say it isn’t the old Dante, you are right. It isn’t the Dante we knew: this is the Dante before that, with a story that shows us how he becomes the man fans know and love. It shows us what happened to make the brothers hate each other, and it’s probably the longest Dante and Vergil have been near each other without wanting to tear the other apart. This Dante is raw, grouchy and a typical moody teenager who just so happens to have a great heritage and be forced into the middle of a war, but throughout the story you see his character grow. You see him starting to become the Dante everyone knows and in the end he even gets his trademark silver hair. Vergil is actually quite likeable here, playing the part of Dante’s loving and caring brother well. He helps the humans defeat the demons but, true to his style, he has his own motives (who doesn’t in these games?!). The interaction between the twins is a refreshing change from constantly trying to kill each other and the friendly banter is quite funny at times, especially one scene later on where the twins are arguing who is the better brother (you’ll know the scene when you see it).
Vergil may look evil here, but he actually tries to help the humans and loves his brother. Good times.
From Harpies to ninja-like creatures, DmC has no shortage of interesting enemies. The game starts you off easy with Lesser Stygians and Death Knights, creatures awfully familiar in design and attacks to Marionettes, and gradually adds increasingly difficult creatures such as flying cupid-like creatures called Bathos, fat behemoths called Butchers and my personal favourite: Dreamrunners. Perhaps the most annoying creature in the game, Dreamrunners are essentially cheating ninjas. Armed with dual katanas they are both fast and dangerous, with the ability to teleport through portals and literally ninja you from behind. They can block your weapons and can even send your projectiles back at you, so getting those with a horde of other enemies can definitely be a handful. Certain enemies have tactics behind them that make them a lot easier to kill, such as Bathos. When they carry a shield you can use Demon Pull to steal it away which makes the flying irritants much easier to deal with.
Once their shields are gone, Barthos are quite succeptable to being punched in the face.
As well as enemies DmC has plenty of bosses to try and kill you. This is perhaps the only real complaint I have about the game so far: the bosses were quite easy to kill. Usually there is a trick to killing a boss, something that needs to be done before you can damage it. For most of the bosses these were quite obvious and easy: for example take the Succubus from the demo. You jump around the different platforms to dodge her attacks and her spit before damaging her. After a certain amount of damage you have to pull out one of the pumps attached to her, and this triggers another part of the fight. After 3 times you think she’s defeated before attacking you again, and eventually after lots of dodging and attacking she is killed by a fan. Quite simple. However these could be significantly harder on the higher difficulties, and I would definitely not want to try some of them on Hell and Hell mode. Perhaps the most annoying boss (although my favourite fight) is the very last one, who has the potential to block pretty much all of your attacks. After causing a lot of rage for the best part of a hour I finally figured out how to kill it and was rewarded with the quite sad end of the game. The bosses themselves are great and they fit in with the story well, but for some people they could be seen as really easy.
Truly a face only a mother could love. The Bosses are well designed and sufficiently creepy to belong in Limbo.
I’m proud to say that in terms of gameplay DmC: Devil May Cry plays out in the most familiar of ways, from the button-mashing combos in the fights to the small arsenal of weaponry you acquire. The story splits itself into 20 Missions which are replayable at any point and it uses both checkpoints through the level and the Yellow Orb system. At key points it will save a checkpoint so if you fall of a ledge you won’t have to start again or waste an orb. If you die however, you need to use a Yellow Orb which, in the usual DMC style, brings you back from the dead with full health to continue Dante’s ass-kicking. The controls are a little more complicated this time though due to the addition of a tonne of weapons: Rebellion is still a standard Y attack with Ebony and Ivory dishing out pain with the X button. However if you have either Osiris (a heavenly scythe that’s great for crowd control) or Aquila (dual wielding angelic blades which are great for long distance attacks) and press the left trigger you get a whole new bunch of attacks! Pressing LT+X will use the Angel Pull which drags you closer to an enemy or across large gaps, perfect for launching aerial attacks or getting to places. If you have Arbiter (a demonic axe that delivers massive damage and can break through enemy shields) or Eryx (powerful demonic gauntlets reminiscent of Beowulf) and press RT, you have an assortment of demonic attacks as well. RT+X will use Demon Pull, which drags enemies closer for that extra smack in the face and is capable of moving the terrain as well, making new areas reachable and clearing the way. As well as this you also get Revenant, a new and powerful shotgun, and Kablooey, a sticky grenade launcher with the most entertaining name in the game. The demon and angel pulls are one of my favourite elements of the game: instead of a flat and stable world, Limbo is a demonic and twisted realm capable of changing in a heartbeat. These allow you to traverse the world in a different way to running and jumping and they make getting around just that little bit more fun. The combat itself flows well with the ability to switch between any of the weapons at a given moment. Pressing up changes your guns, right changes your demonic weapons and left changes the angelic weapons and combining these together is the key to getting the elusing SSS ranks. As well as being able to fight you are able to parry certain attacks and even hit some back at the opponent, which is key to their defeat. For those of you worried about the ranking system being too easy, think again. While it’s possible to come into the game, button-mash and get yourself a decent ranking at the end of the level, the SSS ranking requires true skill which means mastery of each of the weapons and knowing how to use them together. DmC veterans will feel more at home here as your hard-earned skills are put to use.
Top: Using Osiris for crowd control. Bottom: Arbiter deals large amounts of demonic firey damage.
There is also an upgrade system for both yourself and your weaponry. Unlike previous games where the skills were bought with red orbs, your skill ranking gives you points which add up to upgrade points. Each item costs one upgrade point and all weapons are upgradable in some capacity. This means that the weapons you use the most can be powered up with new abilities, but after playing through I found that I had unlocked almost all of the upgrades for each weapon and for Dante. Just make sure to start with the ones you really use! The upgrade menu is available either in between missions through the shop or also in the levels themselves through statues at key points. There’s also the usual shop where you can buy Vital Stars, Devil Trigger Stars and Gold Orbs which can be accessed from the same places. Finally Dante also has his Devil Trigger ability. Unlike previous games this one unleashes his true demonic form and this is where you see him with white hair, and upon activation enemies are thrown and suspended in the air. This makies picking them off a heck of a lot easier especially if they are harder to kill, and your style points get a slight boost while in his DT form. The Devil Trigger bar goes up while you damage enemies and once the bar has reached a certain level pressing LT+RT will activate it.
Dante in Devil Trigger form.
While the game plays out fantastically it’s also visually impressive. The world of Limbo contrasts with reality in both design and colour, opting for the vibrant red hues that seem to accompany anywhere associated with demons. While in the real world the levels are designed exactly as you would find them in real life: tall buildings leaning over small streets with their boring ochre and white coloured walls while people wander below. But as soon as you get into Limbo everything changes. The world takes on a red and blue hue, colours twisting as everything seems to become the visual opposites. Large black rocks appear out of nowhere and the weather can range from sunny to snowing. While I wouldn’t say the world is technically beautiful, it’s certainly freaky and otherworldly enough for people to understand it’s as close to Hell as you’re going to get. What’s more when the wind blows Dante’s hair and clothing reflects it pretty realistically. Needless to say, it looks quite nice.
The graphics and level design are impressive and gorgeous yet creepy at the same time. A great combination.
It’s not all about looks however. DmC sounds as good as it looks: each weapon has the accompanying sound whether it’s hitting demonic flesh or impacting into a shield. The world is filled with sounds of people, the wind and I can’t honestly remember a part that was just purely quiet. The voice acting was also superb. While Dante’s voice was a little annoying at first, I think it’s a voice that seems to grow on you as you play the game more. He loses some of the annoying qualities and becomes more like the Dante we all know and love. Kat, Dante and Vergil bring emotions to a story that I expected to be another ‘kill everything in sight’ and you even start to feel sorry for them with everything that’s happening. And of course there’s still the metal songs that play during integral fight sequences. You know something is about to happen when a heavy metal song starts randomly playing, and it never seems to get boring. As well as the story there are 2 other aspects to the game: the Secret Missions and the Lost Souls. Lost Souls are people trapped from crossing either way and by breaking them you free the poor person. These count towards your level completion, which ultimately counts towards your final level ranking. Each level has a set amount, and these are viewable from the Pause screen. There are also Secret Missions. There are 4 types of keys that can be found throughout the levels: Copper, Gold, Argent and Ivory. Each one opens a specific secret door which give you extra objective-driven battle arenas. Completing these objectives (such as kill the enemies within a set time limit) rewards you with items. These also count towards your level completion, and the Secret Missions are replayable through the main menu. The game doesn’t just end once you finish it the first time. There are Secret Missions to be unlocked, SSS rankings to obtain and more difficulty modes to try, so if you think Human was too easy then just wait until it gets to Hell and Hell – you’ll be begging to go back to the easy modes. Plus there is soon to be the release of Bloody Palace mode, a free title update that should be out pretty soon after release! As with before it’s going to have over 100 levels of demon killing including 5 brutal bosses, and stylish combat will be recognised too. It’s your chance to compete against all the other players around the globe and hack some demons apart while you’re at it. The final verdict? DmC: Devil May Cry is a pretty awesome game. It’s got a story that pre-dates the existing ones and helps to flesh out Dante and Vergil’s characters, there’s a whole bunch of new toys to kill things with and each time you complete it you’re brouht back for more punishment on a harder mode. For those who have judged the game just because it’s not made by the same people, at least try the demo. You never know, there may be something you decide you like! It plays great, it’s easy for people to play whether you have played the DmC series before or are completely new and it still requires a large amount of skill to get the SSS ranks. Ninja Theory have done a pretty good job here and it’s great to see Dante back and kicking ass once more.