Controversy in the video game industry is nothing new. From hated endings to developers not releasing a single patch or DLC for certain consoles, gamers have unleashed their feelings whenever they have felt disrespected or betrayed without remorse. However, no company or game in the past year or two has received more hatred and disdain than DmC: Devil May Cry. The moment Ninja Theory revealed Dante’s new design, ridicule and criticism erupted across the internet. Following the redesign of Dante, players then expressed disapproval with all of Ninja Theory choices claiming the game “sucks” and that it “doesn’t deserve to be called Devil May Cry.” It was clear that fans of the previous DMC series felt abandoned by Capcom. However, are these statements justified? Is DmC a bad game?
Let’s start from square one: the story. Ninja Theory has decided to take Dante back to his roots, explaining how Dante became the famous demon hunter he is known to be. This time though, Ninja Theory has incorporated an entirely new atmosphere into the storyline and setting of DmC. Gone are the flashy, over-the-top action sequences and gothic lore; these have been replaced with a more grounded, cinematic approach that attacks the politics lifestyles of the modern day.
We’ve all heard of conspiracies concerning the government and secret groups trying to control us with subliminal messaging and fast food, and DmC tackles that head on. The big baddie demon king, Mundus, rules mankind with an expressive news anchor and a popular soft drink that causes the mind to become complacent. However, a certain “terrorist” organization called The Order hopes to put an end to his rule.
Dante could care less about all this as he spends his time partying and sleeping with half-naked dancers, until he is dragged into the fray by a witch named Kat and his twin brother, Vergil, who happens to be the leader of The Order. Vergil informs Dante that the two of them are powerful beings known as Nephilim; half-angel, half-demon. Their parents, an angel by the name of Eva and a demon by the name of Sparda, were hunted down by Mundus for their blasphemous relationship. Eva was later killed protecting her children, and Sparda sentenced to eternal punishment. This revelation sparks Dante’s anger and begins his tale of revenge and desire to free mankind from Mundus’ illusions.
The plot, though nothing in terms of revenge tales, is quite interesting. Seeing Dante’s origin story unfold is appealing especially since his character truly does evolve throughout the course of the game. He transforms from a foul-mouthed punk to a foul-mouthed demon hunter with a cause he believes in (he loves those curse words). Another enjoyable aspect is Dante’s relationship with his brother Vergil. It could have (and should have) been expanded upon even more; but the game identifies the strengths and cracks in their relationship and shows that even though they have their differences, they still care for each other.
What drags the storyline down, however, is the dialogue. Some conversations are stronger than others, but at some points it seems the dialogue was written by children who just discovered profanity. I understand Ninja Theory was trying to integrate a hip, western flair into their characters, but it simply feels forced and unnecessary at times (come on, we’ve all heard of the infamous “F*** youuuuuuu” scene).
Nonetheless, does anyone really play Devil May Cry for the story? While I’m grateful it’s much more coherent and easy to follow in this entry, the true reason gamers stand behind this series is for the gameplay; and the gameplay is great… to an extent.
As always, Dante is first equipped with his old fashioned sword, Rebellion, and his two famous pistols, Ebony and Ivory. Thanks to his angel and demon heritage, Dante will discover even more weapons akin to each; all of which can be upgraded. Each of these will aid his combat-filled trek through the demon-infested world known as Limbo.
Throughout his linear adventure, Dante will have to fight demons big and small, fast and slow. The boss fights are a mixed bag; some are memorable, such as the Bob Barbas fight, while some not so much (Hunter demon). Still, none of these are technically bad. Some just fall into the category of a patterned boss fight where you dodge one move, dodge the next, attack, and then repeat. On the other hand, fighting the normal enemies is where the combat truly shines and shows the game’s variety.
The combat feels fluid and exhilarating. Even though some may disagree with the term “fluid” due to the action standing still at a solid 30 frames per second, it does flow quite nicely. This is due to the ability of switching between normal, angel, and demon weapons on the fly simply by holding either of the trigger buttons. Would you like to focus on a single enemy with brute force? Hold down the corresponding trigger to ground and pound with Eryx. Do you need to focus on crowd control? Then whip out the angelic scythe with the opposite trigger and clear the immediate area. Or maybe you just need a balanced weapon to dispatch some of these pesky demons? Then utilize the always trusty Rebellion. Being able to switch back and forth with such ease is very helpful when fighting a variety of enemies, and it allows players to discover all different sorts of combos between the different weapons.
The weapons also allow other combat opportunities such as grapple techniques, somewhat similar to Nero in Devil May Cry 4, with the angel weapon pulling Dante towards the enemy while the demon weapon pulls the enemy to Dante. This helps tremendously when trying to create air and ground combos, allowing players to move enemies or Dante to the position they want them to be.
If all else fails, the Devil Trigger can get you out of a pinch. The Devil Trigger causes Dante to increase in power and speed and… turns his hair white! Sorry, I had to. With this trigger activated, enemies fly up into the air defenseless and give Dante free reign of the combat area. At first, I personally disliked being forced into air combat. Enemies do fall once attacked, but the Devil Trigger never lasts long enough for that. However, once a certain enemy came along (damn you, Dreamrunners) I adored my Devil Trigger.
Unfortunately, even with these options, veteran players will notice that there isn’t as much as previous installments in the franchise. The lack of different styles and cancels will have older DMC fans reminiscing of the “good ol’ days.” The reason for this is because Ninja Theory wanted to make the game more accessible.
Now, do not take that statement at face value. If you do, you’ll assume the game is purely made for casuals, which it isn’t. What it truly means is that Ninja Theory wanted to appeal to newcomers who previously had no interest in Devil May Cry before. The reason for this is how intimidating the previous games were. With the confirmed rumors of their difficulty, and the necessity of learning ridiculous combos, many people passed over the series simply because it seemed unapproachable.
Does this accessibility make the new DmC easy? No. Does it make it easier than the previous games? Yes, it does. However, once you reach the Dante Must Die difficulty and those above that, you’ll find that DmC: Devil May Cry is a challenging game; and I can guarantee there will be a few bloody controllers at the conclusion of it all.
One unforgivable flaw, though, is the lack of a lock-on button. The player-controlled camera is a brilliant idea for the series, but there are times when it works against you causing the lock-on feature to be sorely missed. For example, when fighting a group of enemies, the camera, when not being used, will perform a semi-lock on a certain enemy in order to keep them in your view. The problem with this is that Dante’s aim falls in that same direction, and instead of attacking the flying demon you were focusing on, he goes after an enemy you weren’t yet worrying about ruining your combo when you’re forced to take a hit.
Puzzles have also been removed from gameplay, and have been replaced strictly with platforming segments. This could have been a negative, but I found the platforming to be enjoyable. Once Dante acquires his angel and demon abilities, the grapple features become paramount in creating new platforms or pulling yourself towards the next area. The platforming does become somewhat repetitive towards the end of the game, but it’s over before it starts to get stale. It’s too bad Ninja Theory did not expand upon this aspect of the game as they could have included much more variety with the usage of Dante’s abilities.
You’ll most likely forget about any type of repetitive platforming as you take in the world surrounding Dante. Ninja Theory has created a beautiful setting for Dante to fight in. Limbo, where most of the game takes place, is varied, in both environments and color palettes. As Dante is pulled from the real world into Limbo, the city will post phrases (i.e. OBEY), morph, twist and turn in every possible way to halt Dante’s progress. Watching a normal street contort itself into a narrow passageway with numerous obstacles to overcome before it closes in on Dante is pleasing to the eye. However, that’s just one section. The game continues to impress with its imaginative design all the way until the end.
Do not assume Limbo (or the real world) is some type of paradise as graphical problems do appear, but mostly in cutscenes. Shadows look decent enough in some while in other cutscenes they seem like choppy layers plastered on the characters. I’m just glad they don’t look like they were made with Microsoft Paint (here’s looking at you, Assassin’s Creed 3). There’s also a small amount of pop-in throughout as the hardware, but once the hardware catches up with the current scene the amount detail placed into the landscape and character models is amazing. When you see such detail put into this world, such as Dante regaining his composure after landing on a platform or stumbling a bit after issuing his final attack in a combo, or a flying car colliding with piece of debris in the air, it adds up and helps you forget about any minor faults.
Accompanying the illustrious world of DmC is the action-packed soundtrack. You may not always notice the background music when you attempt to clear a room, but be aware that it’s always there fueling your combo-desiring rage. The music is filled with metal infused techno similar to that of Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening and Devil May Cry 4. When you combine the blood-pumping tunes of Noisia and Combichrist with the ferocity of Dante’s deadly attacks, every fight is intensified and unique.
The voice acting between these moments does its job well enough. As I’ve stated before, the dialogue falls through at some parts due to the childish writing. Even so, the voice actors do well with what they have coming across as believable when telling an unbelievable story.
DmC: Devil May Cry has had a bumpy road to its release, and even today that ride still has not smoothed out. This is a shame because DmC is a very good game and it absolutely deserves the title of Devil May Cry. Many fans of the previous series will not agree, but that is perfectly understandable. They want what they had, not what’s being given. As someone who played Devil May Cry games for the addicting combat and to feel like a badass, DmC fills that void for me. It’s also because I understand what Ninja Theory tried to do.
They took a series that Capcom told them to recreate from the ground up, and went back to the basics. This new Devil May Cry does not have everything I want, but it gave me everything I needed in an action game, except for that lock-on feature. I know that if Ninja Theory were to continue with a sequel, they would likely include even more of the features fans loved from the older DMC’s. However, only time will tell as much of disdain for this reboot has yet to dissipate, and most likely never will. Nevertheless, if you give Ninja Theory’s DmC a chance, or if you’re a newcomer to the series, there’s a great possibility you will experience an action game worth diving into.