A couple of days before the release of DmC, developers Ninja Theory tweeted this: “We feel we’ve made a game worthy of the Devil May Cry name. I hope you will all agree. No doubt some of you won’t, but we accept that.” Such has been the controversy surrounding the reboot of the Devil May Cry series that the developer felt the need to say such a thing. Perhaps they are being a bit smug because in reality they have made a fantastic game. It is worth noting that rabid Devil May Cry fans have been known to overreact somewhat in the past. When Devil May Cry 4 was announced as being released on Xbox 360 as well as PlayStation 3, the reaction from some was outstandingly vitriolic and, let’s face it, utterly moronic as an additional platform release takes nothing away from its ‘home’ platform. That said Capcom and Ninja Theory have made some huge changes with DmC. By starting over in a new world and with new versions of beloved characters, they were taking a big risk. The changes are so vast that to go over them all would not only be an epic task not suited to a review but would also spoil some of what makes DmC so enjoyable. Suffice to say that the re-imagined characters fit well into their new setting while remaining faithful to what makes them so beloved by fans. The setting and style of the series was becoming very dated and this reboot makes it feel fresh and relevant once again.
Clocking in at around ten hours for a first playthrough it is a little on the short side, both the story and the gameplay could have easily stood up to being half as long again. That said I found the draw of collecting keys and souls engaging enough to carry me through a good five hours of replaying missions before I took on the challenge of the additional game mode. The standard game is offered with three difficulties and I would implore those well schooled in the genre to play this on the hardest as once you’ve mastered a couple of decent combos you’ll find enemies fairly easy to keep under control. Once completed, ‘Son of Sparda’ is unlocked offering a remixed experience of harder enemy configurations while allowing you to keep your unlocked skills and weapons. The spike in difficulty is considerable, and you’ll need to deal with end game waves of elemental and countering enemies from the start. Beyond this there are another two modes to unlock and, judging by their descriptions, each is more brutal than the last. So while the game might go a little easy on you at first there is a plenty of punishment on offer for those that crave it.
While the back story of DmC is very familiar there have been significant changes to how those foundations have played out in this new world. Dante is no longer the son of a demon and a human, he is now a demon/angel hybrid, a nephilim, and has no real clue about his heritage. The game starts with him learning his own history and continues on to a story of revenge against the demon king that has enslaved the world through some very modern vices. Namely rolling news, CCTV and doped energy drinks, a thinly veiled indictment of modern society that while prominent throughout is never rammed down the player’s throat. DmC is often humorous and I found Dante’s sarcasm and overconfident patter quite endearing. Certainly more-so than I expected and considerably more-so than I ever did with the original Dante.
While Dante does a great job of focusing the narrative along his transformation from cocky smart-arse to cocky hero the real star here is the parallel world of Limbo and more specifically how it comes to life by distorting the perceived real world. The deformed world gimmick manages to stay fresh and compelling throughout with each mission area offering something new. While some ideas work better than others credit needs to be given for the creativity applied to the environmental design.
A core mechanic that runs through the environments, story and most significantly the combat is the demon/angel divide. Early on Dante will receive a weapon representing each of his parents and this will also grant him the ability of pulling and lifting. While these abilities are most explicitly used, to great effect, in the traversal of platforms their importance to combat should not be overlooked. As the difficulty ramps up the art of crowd control is paramount to success and the trick of quickly moving yourself to an enemy or vice-versa becomes indispensable. As you progress you will unlock further elemental weapons in addition to firearms and your standard sword as well as multiple techniques for each configuration. The trick is learning how to chain each technique into a combo that will not only keep you out of harm’s way but also take into account the elemental alignment and defences of some enemies. You will often find yourself in combat with an enemy that can only be harmed by demon weapons that is being protected by a shield, cast by another enemy, that can only be broken with angel weapons. The pay-off is when it all clicks in your head and you dispatch wave after wave of demons without taking a hit and with every blow you dish out being on target and of the correct type. While it is possible to ‘game’ the combo system somewhat in terms of rankings, in general playing well and within the defined systems is the best and most satisfying way to achieve long combos and earn the highest rewards.
If you’re after a second opinion be sure to check out Bit Socket’s video review.