Better the devil you know? In Bloody Disgusting’s Devil May Cry 5 review, find out why Capcom has kept up its recent winning streak.
Devil May Cry 5 is a warm glass of nostalgia served after a heady shot of fresh ideas. It isn’t always a good thing, but it works really well most of the time, and is at least a welcome change from just more of the same.
While I loved Ninja Theory’s attempted 2013 reboot of the series, it is admittedly rather nice to see the original Dante return alongside much of the team that created previous Devil May Cry titles. Yes, Nu-Dante had a more nuanced story and character arc, but this Dante, this Dante is so deliciously indulgent in his absurdity. He and his games (apart from the dry toast Devil May Cry 2) are fantastically over the top demon-slaying, quip-flinging extravaganzas. It also helps that they’re generally bloody good games too.
This Dante is now a seasoned pro, and ably assisted by Devil May Cry 4‘s Nero, and enigmatic new character V as they face off against yet another potentially world-ending threat. The magic here is, the already cocky Dante gains a whole new level of cheesy bullshit to his repertoire, and the youthful quipping is left to Nero, who has seemingly absorbed much of the swagger, look, and attitude of Ninja Theory’s Dante in a much-needed redesign. Here, the pair are much further apart in style and appearance, but that bit closer in terms of personality traits.
V, meanwhile, brings the newest stuff to the table, and it’s fair to say he’s set to be an acquired taste, but we’ll come back to that in a while.
The story sees the action pick up several years after Devil May Cry 4‘s end and initially focuses on a battle between a powerful demon named Urizen and our plucky band of demon hunters (Trish and Lady briefly join Dante and Nero during this time). Unfortunately, things don’t turn out well for the gang and Nero has to return at a later date to find one of his number.
It’s a slick opening too. Capcom’s RE Engine has provided some grimly beautiful visuals for Resident Evil 7 and the remake of RE2, but in Devil May Cry 5, the first non-Resident Evil game to use the engine, it dazzles with its detail, vibrancy, and animation. This is an unbelievably good-looking game, and the level of character detail really helps to connect you to this loveable bunch of goofy badass demon slayers (new assistant Nico is utterly charming even when she does go on yet another excitable ramble).
As noted earlier, the possible exception is V. He’s so different from the other two, especially in terms of playstyle and personality. He’s quieter, more mysterious with his words, and can come across as a bit boring compared to the in your face nature of Dante and Nero. His combat is interesting as he himself does not attack the enemy, rather he summons two beasts to do the fighting for him, with his raven essentially acting as his gun, and his panther as his sword/melee stand-in. It all feels a bit unnatural when seen next tot he more intimate hack n’ slash styles of the other two, and the camera initially draws your eye towards the wrong point. It takes some getting used to, but dare I say that as the game went on, I warmed to V more and more. There’s just something refreshing about his style, and it prevents Devil May Cry 5 from being a simple, straight sequel by offering up something new.
As for the others, Dante has the odd new trick, but feels comfortably familiar and somewhat limited in his moveset. He’s great to play still, but he doesn’t bring a lot new to the table. While Nero has been greatly revised thanks to his new cybernetic ‘Devil Breaker’ arm that he can use as a missile, a rocketboard, and more (you can find lots of different ones). His overall movement and moveset make for a more exciting character to play this time around. There’s something to like about all three, but personally, Nero proved to be the most satisfying overall.
The main takeaway from all fighting styles is that they’re weightier than you may be used to from the original series. It’s something of a halfway house between DmC: Devil May Cry‘s slower, more diverse combat, and Devil May Cry 4‘s sleeker, faster, and lighter feel. That it still manages to be largely comfortable and familiar is a testament to the work done by this Capcom team.
It’s well-complimented by a stonking soundtrack that, while not the series’ best, is a wonderful thematical continuation of previous scores. Devil May Cry is always at its best when the combos are flowing and the music is in full force, and Devil May Cry 5 certainly provides plenty of that.
It’s not all sunshine and demonic rainbows though. The chopping and changing between characters in each chapter doesn’t always gel. Given the movesets, and button prompts being a bit different in each character, it can get pretty jarring going from one to the next. Most of the time though, it works well enough. Plus, you do get a choice sometimes.
Elsewhere, the environments start out well, but disappointingly, the game goes through a spell of drab, predictable locales such as sewers before returning to more interesting and varied fare. In fairness, even brown sewers look pretty great in Devil May Cry 5, but a bit more inspiration when choosing locations wouldn’t go amiss next time.
At least the game goes at a good pace so you don’t spend too long gazing upon pretty sewage. The 20 or so missions fly by, and the combat is generally good enough to mask the dour (but sparkly) scenery when it does crop up. The creature design is also top-notch in Devil May Cry 5, with a wide selection of delightfully repugnant monsters to shoot, slash, and punch into oblivion. The bosses, in particular, are some of the best-looking beasties in the entire series, and almost without exception, they are a joy to battle.
With Devil May Cry 5, Capcom tweaks the winning formula here and there to not only freshen up the most famous action hack n’ slash series around, but actually push it back to the top of the pile once again. Yes, it stumbles occasionally, and perhaps replay value isn’t quite as high as it could have been, but Devil May Cry 5 once again embraces the kinetic madness that made so many fall in love with Dante and his blood-spattered adventures in demon-slaying in the first place, and that’s truly what makes this a great game.
Devil May Cry 5 review copy purchased by the author.
Devil May Cry 5 is out now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.