The new Dante hasn’t had the easiest time finding acceptance from fans. It would seem his white-haired predecessor was a little more popular than Capcom thought he was. The thing is, Devil May Cry’s selling point has never been the old Dante. He was cocky and consistently fun to watch, but his absence has no negative effect on the series, which is and has always been about slick, fluid combat and pummeling demons as stylishly as possible. If this is what kept your interest in Devil May Cry, DmC has all that and more.
DmC doesn’t look like a Devil May Cry game, but that’s for the best. This series has always looked good, but DmC is beautiful. Visually, the first three games were dark and gothic, and that contrasted well with their over-the-top action and wacky nature. In this “reimagining” of Dante’s origin story set in a parallel, and apparently significantly more colorful universe, the story is darker (we’re talking tone now, not visuals), but the environment is the opposite.
The new art direction is thanks to Ninja Theory, a studio that’s making a name for itself by simply making beautiful games. Too many games these days share a monotone color palette, usually focusing on brown or grey. Ninja Theory’s titles, which include the PS3 launch title Heavenly Sword and the more recent Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, are stunning games. They also use more than one color, and in this case, they’re using every color.
The environments are all beautifully realized as well. They look like concept art come to life and they do a fantastic job of changing up the scenery. One level has Dante running through city streets as the buildings close in around him, another has him navigating a massive warehouse, and one of my favorites takes place in an upside-down prison. Even the rain falls upward. It’s an amazing environment, so I’m glad it wasn’t limited to spending one chapter in it.
Scattered about many of these stunning environments is the message that permeates almost every pixel of this game. DmC wants you to stick it to the man, to not be brainwashed by the media, to be cautious of your government, and to stab every goddamned demon right in the eye with your sword until it blows up and gives you all its orbs. Red orbs are good, and if you’re injured, green ones are too, but the white ones are where it’s at. Yeah, boy.
False news reports from demon news anchors who say they’re “doing God’s work,” signs that read “Pier Arcade,” “Hot Food,” and “Fun Land” from one angle and “LETHARGY,” “OBESITY,” and “SUBMIT TO DEBT” from another. It’s everywhere, and it fits this anarchic take on the series brilliantly. I only wish the news station, which is called the Raptor News Network in the game, had poked fun at Fox News, which has been a pretty consistent source for anti-gaming propaganda over the last handful of years.
Now, you’re probably wondering how it plays. A Devil May Cry game that isn’t fun to play isn’t a Devil May Cry game at all, is it? You’re right, and thankfully, this game plays extraordinarily well. If you’re new or here for the visuals or action, then you can play on an easier difficulty that doesn’t penalize you for your inability to memorize the dozens of moves in Dante’s arsenal.
If you’re a longtime fan of the series, there are several punishing difficulties to choose from — including one where you can’t be hit or you die instantly but enemies have normal health — and a bevvy of weapons, combos, and abilities that you can use to unleash vats of whoopass on the hordes of demons that are thrown your way. I’m not very good at these games, so I tend to take on the normal, or demon hunter difficulty, but there are plenty of options for everyone.
The weapons are your standard fare. You have your sword and guns, which have been Dante’s primary tools for dishing out pain since the first game. Along the way you’ll find two sets of light weapons, including a scythe and dual spinning blades, which you can use to deal small amounts of damage to multiple enemies. On the opposite end of the damage dealing spectrum is a heavy axe and fists, which are great for dealing a lot of damage on a single enemy. Switching between these weapons is as simple as holding a trigger and pressing a button, so it’s crazy easy to mix and match while in combat.
The series has always been about spectacle and airborne combat, but DmC really takes this concept and flies with it. Among your cache of weapons are two grappling hooks — one grabs and pulls enemies to you, and the other grabs enemies and pulls you toward them. Mastering both is crucial to dealing as much pain as possible while in the air and without your feet ever touching the ground.
If you’re like me, then you probably enjoy showing off some of your favorite games to people, such as friends and family, who might not necessarily be gamers themselves. DmC is perfect for this, because it will make you look like a total gaming badass, even if you’re not necessarily all that adept at the game.
For fans of the heavy metal music that’s long been a staple of the franchise, don’t worry, because it’s back, it’s in-your-face, and it matches the on-screen action perfectly. It’s the work of electronic groups Noisia and Combichrist, which have done a brilliant job of crafting a bombastic soundtrack that will easily live up to fans’ expectations.
I did have some camera issues, which I’ve noticed tend to be a problem in Ninja Theory-developed games (Enslaved and Heavenly Sword both had serious camera issues). I’ll try to maneuver the camera so I can look around at the beautiful environment only to have it snap back to its previous position. In more claustrophobic environments, such as hallways or small rooms, the camera seems to have a bit of an issue showing me everything I need to see in tight spaces.
I also wish there was more of a penalty for falling off the stage. It’s not something that happened to me very often, but the platforming sections would’ve been significantly more intense had there been a bigger penalty for failing — outside of losing a sliver of health and respawning to the position I was at a few seconds earlier. Not necessarily a problem, but that is something that bothered me a little.
Unsurprisingly, this is the first Devil May Cry game where I actually cared about the story, and specifically the relationship between the two leads, Dante and Kat. Ninja Theory is very capable of creating amazing faces, and their expressions help to make the characters look and feel more realistic.
DmC isn’t perfect, but I think it’s safe to say I haven’t had this much fun playing a Devil May Cry game since… ever, actually. The environments and enemies are beautifully realized, the combat is intuitive, and the music is everything I’d hope to hear while playing a game like this. Ninja Theory done an incredible job of not only reaching, but raising the bar set by previous games in the series. This is an amazing time to be a Devil May Cry fan.
In case you’re still not sold on this game, then think of Dante. On the outside, he’s a cocky, sex-starved boy, but that’s because on the inside, he’s struggling. You see, Dante doesn’t have… a penis. There, I said it.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of DmC Devil May Cry, which was provided by the publisher.