DmC: Devil May Cry for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
This is a game which pissed off a lot of people. Diehard fans of the previous four games in the Devil May Cry were horrified at this reboot to the series, in particular this new iteration of Dante, long time series protagonist. Well, I can’t really comment on this, I have no real experience with the earlier Devil May Cry games, but I can say that this reboot is excellent. Although we can all agree on one thing; DmC: Devil May Cry is the stupidest name for a game ever. It’s like calling a game SMB: Super Mario Bros.
DmC takes place in a world in the thrall of demons, with the method of control being manipulation of debt, fattening soft drinks and partisan media. Yep, this is a hack and slash game with social commentary. Our Dante is a young man unaware of his origins, living a life of indolence and violence. Dante is warned of impending demon attack by Kat, a member of an organisation which fights against the shadowy demon overlords known as ‘The Order.’ Dante is bought into ‘The Order’, headed by his hitherto unknown twin brother Vergil, where he learns of his past and joins the fight against the Demon King Mundus.
Most of DmC takes place in Limbo, a shadowy dimension which borders our own, with geography similar to that of its corresponding real world location but twisted by the desires of powerful demon lords. This leads to some truly brilliant locations to fight in; I thoroughly enjoyed a demonic nightclub, and found the few missions set inside the reflection of a huge tower in the river a lot of fun. DmC has some of the most imaginative environments which I’ve seen, although the classic ‘Renaissance’ architecture look for some of the levels, which also appeared in Bayonetta, was a bit redundant. Still, the vast majority of the environments in which Dante fights are cool and well designed.
DmC’s plot was a real pleasant surprise; I was expecting ridiculous silliness in the vein of Bayonetta, and whilst DmC has plenty of that going on, it’s also got a real heart. Dante may seem on the surface like the cocky jerk he seemed in the early trailers, but this is really only the surface layer for this character, and underneath he’s actually a surprisingly likeable protagonist. I particularly enjoyed his relationship with Kat; it’s not romantic, but it is quite touching. One scene in particular starring these two was actually quite emotional, something which I did not see coming in this game. The satire is incredibly unsubtle, but it’s there, which is more than the norm for most games. Mundus is two villains; the primal force of evil and the modern villain, the capitalist unrestrained by any morality. The latter is much more interesting, and I would have liked to see a bit more focus on this aspect of the character, but he still made for a great antagonist. The storytelling reminded me a lot of Ninja Theory’s last game, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, an incredibly underrated game which told a great story with very likeable characters. Sadly, like Enslaved, it looks unlikely that DmC is to get a sequel due to poor sales, which is a shame because I’d love to see more of these characters and this world.
DmC is a melee action game, a genre which I’m generally not mad about, but there are a few which I’ve enjoyed (Bayonetta and No More Heroes to be specific). I’m not really a huge fan of games which rely on fiddly combos, and thankfully the combat in DmC is more about timing than anything else. Dante has four weapons equipped at any time, his sword, a gun (of which there are three to choose from), a ‘devil weapon’ and an ‘angel weapon.’ Access to the devil and angel weapons come from holding the left or right triggers, with quick switching between weapons standing as the key to victory rather than memorising lots of different moves. That’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of options, but generally they’re fairly easy to access. DmC is all about style, with extra experience for further upgrades awarded based on how stylish the battles are. Your favourite move may help you stay alive, but you can’t simply rely on one or two moves to max out your style ranking, which is something that you’ll want to do to get the best upgrades. There’s a surprisingly fun platforming element, with a whip allowing Dante to both pull objects towards him and to pull himself towards objects to traverse the environments in a fun way. Anything which involves precision jumping is typically suspect, but launching around with the chain never stops being fun.
There are twenty missions in this game, and it comes to a decent length. This game is highly replayable, with a wide range of difficulty levels and items in early levels which can only be accessed with equipment only available later in the game. There’s actually a decent amount of exploration in this game, with taking the time to look around usually rewarded with experience, currency or keys which open doors to little challenges which give the player health boosts. This is not a game to simply rush through. The boss fights are quite simplistic, but are still a lot of fun. They tend to follow the standard ‘wait for enemy attack then go for weak spot’ routine, but at last they’re not quick time events!
DmC looks good, with none of the roughness around the edges which is beginning to define this last year of the current console cycle. The faces are particularly impressive, as they were in Enslaved, which, combined with the impressive voice acting, makes these characters feel genuinely human in a way few games really manage. The environments are lovely and stylish as well, with the animations for Dante’s attacks being fluid and smooth. The screamo and dubstep soundtrack isn’t going to please everyone, but it actually works pretty well here. I can understand the detractors, but like Far Cry 3, DmC offers dubstep in a use which I can understand.
DmC: Devil May Cry is a great game, one of the few melee action games to really appeal to me. A surprisingly emotional and interesting plot combined with wonderful visuals and voice acting help the experience, but it’s the truly solid and fun combat mechanics which make this game. Rebooted Dante deserves his own franchise, although I now suspect that this will go the same way as the underrated 2008 reboot of Prince of Persia, and that a return to the original timeline is more likely. I for one hope not, but regardless of all this, DmC: Devil May Cry is a great game that you shouldn’t let fly under your radar.