written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Okay, so let me preface this by saying that when I first saw footage of DmC and saw this new Dante, my immediate knee-jerk reaction was “zOOOMG these bitches be ruining Dante!” Devil May Cry 4 was the last game in the series developed by Capcom, this brand new vision for the infamously snarky demon hunter would be developed by UK based Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West). Suffice it to say, I was wrong… I was so very very wrong! This game is every bit as much Devil May Cry, I’m sure you know where this is going… but please read on.
If you’ve played any of the previous games in the series, DmC feels more like Devil May Cry 3 in the sense that the Dante you control is a much younger Dante. Rather than being the proprietor of a free-lance paranormal investigation agency, he’s a bit of a party boy with a penchant for brandishing a middle finger and a big ass “fuck you” to established authority. In this world, Dante is from Limbo City, a modern metropolis in a random part of the world. Limbo City is a human city managed and controlled by the Demons. In this world, the Demons are the politicians and the decision makers; they subjugate the citizens via drinks like “Virility” and food that encourages “gluttony” and offering loans to keep the citizens deep in debt. It’s a city where humans are the cattle and they are no wiser. The denizens of Limbo City as constantly monitored via CCTV cameras, which in actuality are demonic eyes watching the people. A parallel world to Limbo City called “Limbo” is where the Demons actually rule from, run by the evil Mundus; here is where Dante has to fight for his life.
The story plays out as a bit of social commentary, with a news network called Raptor News (FOX?!?) and a surly news personality named Bob Barbas (Bill O’Reilly much?) with a penchant for spouting propaganda and supporting the conservative viewpoints of the demons in charge. The antithesis to the demons is a group called The Order (Anonymous?!?) known for the masked man speaking to the masses attempting to wake them up to the corruption of the demons. Obviously the game doesn’t play nice with conservatives… personally I find it funny, and when I sent that bastard Bob Barbas to his very own special section of demon hell, I saw a bit of good ol’ Bill O’Reilly… I’m still SMDHing to his “Gangnam Agenda,” but I digress. DmC! Yeah, the story is a departure from the gothic modern theme of previous games in the series. Limbo City looks like any random metropolis and the demonic realm of Limbo looks like a twisted version of the real world, with the humans none the wiser.
True to the theme of the series, DmC manages to reboot the series without losing that “soul” that made us all fans back in 2001. Sure the setting is different, the characters are different, and they pretty much reset the already determined (though honestly confusing) timeline of our white haired snarky demon hunter. Those who are fans of the series will recognize Dante’s twin brother Virgil, he along with newcomer Kat act as a support system for Dante throughout the game. Kat is a human who can peek into limbo, while she can't physically interact with Limbo, she can support Dante from the Limbo City side, helping him out along the way. Dante (and his brother Virgil) are still half demons, but rather than being half human, their mother in this continuity is an angel making the pair an Angel/Demon hybrid known as Nephilim. Though the story is fantastic, it’s not without its flaws, Dante acts pretty douchey at times and the ending did leave much to be desired. If they ended it just one mission less it would have had a nice satisfying end. I don’t hate the ending, but I did see it coming.
Graphically, the game is a freaking beauty. The world of Limbo City is sprawling and full of life and when our hero gets sucked into Limbo, the city transforms to a living deathtrap, complete with demons and creepy souls hanging out the walls. The demons are all grotesque and truly terrifying, in fact wait till you meet Lilith, a woman barely held together with skin just barely fitting on her body, or the Succubus, that ugly beast was a boss battle from the demo.
From the bosses to the regular enemies you’ll face, many of them are unique and very distinct. The character models are all well animated and overall the game flows well. A few frame rate hang-ups make for some frustrating moments, but these aren’t too frequent. I say give it a few patches and hopefully by my next play through it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The cinematic scenes look fantastic and the facial animations are top notch, if you’ve played Heavenly Sword, Ninja Theory’s attention to detail during these moments is clearly evident.
Here is the crème-de-la-crème of this game; here is why I’ve endured games like Devil May Cry 2 and the truly confusing Devil May Cry 4. It’s like falling off a bike; you get right back on and even without the red coat and white hair… THIS… IS… DANTE. Cutting up demons flows perfectly; you dish out combos and switch back and forth between melee combat and firearms in a perfect mix of absolute savagery. New abilities and combos are purchased from Divinity Statues or between missions. Throughout the levels you’ll come across collectibles such as Lost Souls (look out for the moaning), keys that unlock doors that yield special missions, and of course items. I love that they kept the combos fairly similar to the past entries in the series, you can button mash if you like, but many of the enemies require a balanced strategy of dodging and picking the right weapon for the job.
Speaking of weapons, what kind of Devil May Cry game would this be without an arsenal of awesome weaponry? Dante’s trusty Rebellion returns, along with it come two types of additional weapons, activated by holding down a left or right trigger button to transform Rebellion into either a Demonic or Angelic weapon. You start with Arbiter (a massive demonic axe) and Osiris (a swift angelic scythe); eventually you attain Eryx (think demonic Hulk-hands) and Aquila (contrary to the Spanish sounding name, these are shuriken). Both types of weapons have their strengths and weaknesses, and later in the game… some enemies can only be defeated by Angelic or Demonic weapons. When either mode is active, the shoot button turns into either a grappling hook (Angelic) or a hook-shot-esque-Scorpion-like (Demonic) tool, these can be used in battle or to traverse the world of Limbo.
Boss Battles play out as grand as you remember, most of which make it clearly evident where a “weak” spot is, but some just keep you guessing, forcing you to think fast and devise a tactic while learning the pattern from each boss. Overall, I reveled in these boss battles and see myself obsessively trying to get a better score in future playthroughs.
While not perfect, few new games are, I see a strong future for this franchise. Ninja Theory handled the character and franchise with such care, and it’s evident in this game. I’m sorry for ever doubting you Ninja Theory, thank you for staying true to the franchise and giving us such a truly awesome game!