DmC: Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry, video game, box art, Dante, guns

Review: DmC: Devil May Cry

We gave Ben the chance to get his devil-slaying mitts on the re-imagined, remastered reboot of the well-respected Devil May Cry series. Will it make our devil cry tears of joy or tears of sadness?

Title overview   |   Initial impressions   |   Plot   |   Gameplay   |
Visuals and audio   |   Replay and innovation   |
Screenshots and videos   |   Final thoughts   |   Review round-up

Title overview

Name: DmC: Devil May Cry
Developer: Ninja Theory Ltd
Publisher: Capcom
Release date: January 2013
PEGI rating: 16
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 (Definitive Edition), Xbox 360, Xbox One (Definitive Edition)
More information: Official website

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Initial impressions

DmC: Devil May Cry was officially announced by Capcom during a press conference at the 2010 Tokyo Game Show, confirming an earlier rumour on Game Informer which said that the fifth game in the series would be developed by Ninja Theory Ltd. The publisher’s Japanese staff told the western team to make a title with a different direction. Although the previous release, Devil May Cry 4, was a commercial success, Capcom took into account how other games series had better sales and decided on a reboot, and chose Ninja Theory after being impressed with their work on Heavenly Sword.

DmC is a really good game. In fact it’s better than that – it’s an excellent game. The Definitive Edition is a prime example of the genre, being fine-tuned for current consoles and coming bundled with all of the downloadable content (DLC) from its original release. Capcom took a big risk in asking Ninja Theory to take on the series and backed them to the hilt in the face of much fan anger. I, for one, am glad they did because without that support this rollercoaster thrill-ride wouldn’t exist.

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DmC was meant as a new beginning for the series so when we first meet Dante (our anti-hero), he knows a thing or two about demon-hunting but not the reason as to why he knows what he does. Of course, this is all revealed as the game progresses with his knowledge increasing in line with his abilities and power. It’s the usual Devil May Cry fare with Dante’s sword and guns cutting a swathe through a bloody war between angels and demons that his family just so happen to be the epicentre of. Names such as Vergil, Mundus and Sparda will ring true with long-time fans of the franchise but perhaps these particular incarnations will not.

The game paints a very clever picture of the ‘real world’ actually being a layer of glimmer cast by the demons secretly running the show from the shadows.

What the game does do is paint a very clever picture of the ‘real world’ or rather the world that you or I perceive, actually being a layer of glimmer cast by the demons secretly running the show from the shadows. Their world Limbo is a twisted vision of Earth with the ground erupting and corkscrewing underfoot, monsters leaping out of the scenery and subliminal messaging appearing on the walls. It’s a brilliantly realised vision, none more so than in one of the later levels where Dante is charged with scaling a corporate office building. The more floors he goes up, the more corrupted the humans are with the top brass of the company (secretly run by a demon of course) looking like everyday people when in the real world but their souls in Limbo are dark, twisted, wall-crawling hell-beasts. Genius.

The bottom line is that the plot is wonderfully absurd and you’ve got two choices. One – walk away in disgust or two – enjoy it for the ridiculous guilty pleasure you know it really is. Needless to say, I lumped for the latter.

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Action games like this thrive on the ‘if it moves, kill it’ principle and DmC is no exception. Demons, monsters and all manner of boss creatures hurl themselves at you and it’s your job to take them out as stylishly as possible. Ninja Theory have built a lightening-fast, deep and incredibly robust fighting system for the title. Dante has a combination of a melee weapon and firearm available throughout and earns angel and demon weapons early in the story. Switching between each type is instant and can be done mid-combo to devastating effect; even when you’re in possession of multiple firearms and melee types, a quick press on the d-pad flicks from one to the other. Easy, quick, brutal.

There’s so many upgrades, combos and extra moves to unlock that you won’t manage it on a single playthrough.

Speed is vital here because the faster you can perform combos with multiple weapons, the higher the game will rank you in terms of style. It runs up all the way to Triple-S and the more you attain this mark, the more of the upgrade currency you’ll be awarded with. There’s so many upgrades, combos and extra moves to unlock that you won’t manage it on a single playthrough, so the title keeps you incentivised by giving you harder and harder difficulty levels the more times you finish it.

In essence, Ninja Theory have created a game engine good enough to be ranked alongside any of the best out there. It’s easy to pick up, difficult to master, packed with buckets of depth and – most importantly of all – makes the player feel like a complete badass.

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Visuals and audio

If you’ve played Heavenly Sword and Enslaved you’ll know that the team here are masters of motion-capture and game production. DmC doesn’t let the side down and despite how ridiculous the story is, the delivery from the actors drags you right in – just as a good action game should. It’s well constructed and filmed and the character models move with a realistic fluidity. Dante has a youthful, arrogant swagger to him in the cutscenes and the gameplay itself, often over-extending himself at the end of a combo which really sells the idea that he’s putting all of his effort behind what he’s doing.

You can see and feel the way the darkness seeps into everything, breaking it apart and contorting it into something sinister.

Limbo is a another well-realised aspect of the design, helped by it being a twisted reflection of the real world; this allows the designers to play around with the concept and they’ve created a variety of distinct twists on how we perceive reality around us. You can see and feel the way the darkness seeps into everything, breaking it apart and contorting it into something sinister. Needless to say it looks stunning and runs without dropping a beat throughout, even in the new Turbo mode – more on that later.

The audio carries over well from the 2013 original with the voice-actors delivering their lines convincingly, which is no mean feet given the insanity of the plot. The various weapons all sound different with the explosions, clangs and swooshing of swords exactly as you’d expect. The highest quality moments are saved for the atmosphere, with the team creating an imposing background in Limbo that makes it feel the world’s closing in on you. The music is provided by CombiChrist, a band that describes themselves as ‘aggrotech’ which is pretty accurate: think metal-meets-electronica-remixed-by-a-demon and you’re pretty much there. It’s the best soundtrack for the slaughter of Hell’s minions.

There are two levels where the gameplay, audio and visuals come together best. The first is when you have to storm an television broadcasting centre. It plays home to a propaganda-spewing demon that’s the face of the news in the real world but in Limbo is a bizarre cross between The Lawnmower Man and the MCP from TRON; it’s an incredibly memorable boss fight that’s as intense on the senses as on the fingers. The next is a level set in a nightclub which has you leaping across neon platforms on a hunt for the club’s owner, cutting a swathe through demons as you go. It’s as if you’re playing inside a winamp plugin. The design is ingenious and highlights again the flexibility of being able to create twisted visions of the world in Limbo.

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Replay and innovation

If you want to keep challenging to get better and better, then ratcheting difficulty levels combined with the Definitive Edition’s Turbo mode will test you.

Replayability value all depends on how much you enjoy perfecting your combos against repeated viewings of the same story. If you want to keep challenging to get better and better then ratcheting difficulty levels combined with the Definitive Edition’s Turbo mode, which makes everything twenty percent faster, will test you. Once that’s conquered you can take on the Bloody Tower. This was DLC for the 2013 release but is now included in the title, and throws wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies at you. Survival mode meets training complex: the more you play it, the better you’ll get.

If you just want to see the story from start to finish then you’re looking at eight to ten hours all in, fifteen if you want to go back and collect all the bits and bobs. The Definitive Edition also includes the Vergil’s Downfall DLC which fleshes out the history of another character. He plays completely differently to Dante and doesn’t feel quite so fluid, but no matter which you choose you’ll get a lot out of the main title simply because it plays so well.

I consider the game to be innovative because Dante’s, and in fact the whole DmC universe’s, redesign to be so drastically different from its predecessors. It’s a breath of fresh air into a world that was beginning to creak a little under a progressively more convoluted canon. The ability to switch instantly and mid-combo between four weapon types and variants makes for a distinctive and fresh approach to combat that I hope other developers will follow.

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Screenshots and videos

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Final thoughts

There’s no escaping the fact that there’s a Devil May Cry fanboy lurking inside me and it’s that side that feels obliged to hate it. Dante looks and feels different, the mythos has been changed enough for it to feel out of place with what has gone before and there’s no mistaking the differences to gameplay that come from a UK rather than Japanese developer. And yet to play DmC is to love DmC. It’s over-the-top, it’s ridiculous, it’s got attitude oozing from every pore. It’s as if Ninja Theory heard all the fanboy roars and asked Johnny Rotten to produce the game. The result is strangely charming but strictly for grown-ups.

I found DmC to be one hell of a thrill-ride with rock-solid mechanics that make this one of the great third-person action games.

You can probably tell from the gushing first paragraph that DmC is going to rate highly which it absolutely should. A release needs to be judged on its own merits, not by how similar it is (or isn’t) to earlier entries in the series. I found it to be one hell of a thrill-ride with rock-solid mechanics that make this not only a great third-person action game but one of the great third-person action games. It’s never going to appease those that come into the title wanting to hate it because it’s not a true sequel to the series but they’ll be missing out. It might not be a great Devil May Cry game but it is a great, great game in its own right.

Yes it should be on the 1001 list, yes it should stay there for a long time and yes, it’s going to take something quite special to topple it.

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Review round-up

Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Source: We purchased the game from GAME for £24.99
Positive: Deep and robust combat system with plenty of replay value
Negative: Will continue to polarise opinion, especially with long-term fans of the series
Score: 45 out of 60
Grade: Buy it now!
DmC: Devil May Cry, video game, box art, review, graph, Buy it now!

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