DmC: Devil May Cry
Developer: Ninja Theory, Capcom
Platform: PS3(Reviewed), Xbox 360, PC
I know most people were wary of the Devil May Cry reboot. It seemed to be a completely different game from the rest of the series. However this is what a reboot is. Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s free to like whatever they want, but do not dismiss DmC just because it is different. The very point of the game is to be different, even Capcom specifically told Ninja Theory to make Dante’s design completely different from the old one.
Let me explain my point. Remember Tomb Raider, which is getting its second reboot soon? After Angel of Darkness, TR was rebooted with TR: Legend. Lara’s character was changed, her backstory was changed, the game engine was changed and with it the platforming and combat were also changed. It played and felt completely different from the old games. And yet, it was always acknowledged as a good game. In a way it is the natural course of a game franchise, they always change. Look at Resident Evil 1 and then look at Resident Evil 6. Or take the Spyro trilogy on the Playstation 1, Insomniac decided to quit after the third game and move on. Why? Because they felt that they’ve done everything they could with Spyro, and that him being a four-legged dragon limited possibilities. So instead of running the series to the ground, they went on to make another beloved platformer series, Ratchet and Clank.
What I’m getting at is that there comes a time when a series starts to grow stale. Not necessarily for the fans, but for the developers. Think back to my Spyro example and ask yourself this: would you rather have DMC rebooted and made fresh, new and different, or would you rather see it slowly fade away, with sequels that offer nothing new because the developers feel like they can’t do more with it? What is better, to have a new universe for DMC where there are new possilities, or to stick with the old, and have another story about how someone walks into Dante’s office and tells him to come save the world for the fifth time? Just like with Tomb Raider or Spyro, if the company felt someone else should make the next game because it would be interesting, it probably wasn’t a random decision.
In short, I’d just like to advise everyone who is being overly dramatic by saying things like „RIP Dante” or „RIP DMC” (which is kind of silly, there could very well be another „old school” DMC game in the future) to just calm down a bit. I’m not saying you must like Ninja Theory’s DmC. What I am saying is that this game was meant to be different. Whether DmC or DMC is better is entirely up to personal taste, which is why I’m not going to discuss it in my review, and instead I’m only going to focus on whether or not the reboot is well-made and consistent. It’s kind of like how the original Star Wars is essentially just the classic story about a young man discovering his inner power and saving the world, except it’s set in a new, interesting universe. DmC is similar, it tells the story of Dante discovering his heritage and saving the world, similarly to DMC3, in a new setting.
So with the rambling out of the way, let’s move on. The main question on people’s mind is whether or not DmC is any good. Well, the short answer would be that it is good, quite good in fact. As far as hack and slash games go, DmC is among the better ones, but it has its flaws. Also, as it was developed by Ninja Theory, it feels a bit closer to games like Heavenly Sword and God of War, but not in a bad way. I think that DMC fans could be disappointed by this, particulary if they are all about the action, as DmC is, much like God of War, somewhat slower than previous DMC games. On the other hand, as someone who never cared too much about whether a game played at 60 fps or not, this change didn’t really bother me.
As I’ve said before, DmC plays quite differently from previous titles in the franchise. For one, there is a lot of emphasis on traversal, platforming. Given how previous DMC games were designed, this might put off some people but there’s nothing to worry about. If you thought that the platforming in DMC4 was bad, (particulary that one timed jumping puzzle where you had to use the Devil Bringer to get around, you know what I’m talking about) then fear not: the game is designed with platforming in mind and thus it works almost perfectly. Unlike in DMC4, where the platforming elements were an obvious afterthought, DmC was clearly put together with traversal in mind, and as such it is very rare that it causes any problems at all. The game even has two functions that are primarily designed for platforming: Demon Pull, which lets Dante pull an object to himself (think Scorpion from Mortal Kombat) and Angel Lift, which does the opposite and takes Dante to the object. These two functions can also be used for combat. The only thing I had a problem with was using Angel Lift and Demon Pull after one another, but this only happened rarely and falls only take away a bit of your health, so even when it happens, it’s not a big issue.
As with all action games, combat is very important. Thankfully, there is little to complain about, DmC’s combat is fluid and well done, the game almost never becomes boring. With five melee weapons, three firearms and the previously mentioned Angel Lift/Demon Pull, Dante has a versatile arsenal to play around with, and if you are good, you can string together some truly spectacular combos. The only complaint I have regarding the melee weapons is that they aren’t very varied. The Rebellion is your standard sword, while the two Demon Weapons are slow and strong, and the two Angel Weapons are quick and weak. It’s pretty obvious that the Demon Weapons are strength based, while Angel Weapons are about crowd-control. This isn’t a problem in itself, but the game has specific enemies that can only be damaged by either Angel or Demon weapons and since the weapons are so formulaic, these enemies can become a chore to deal with. They require strategy of course, but at the end of the day, you either wreck them with heavy attacks or use fast weapons until they go down. It kind of goes against stringing together different weapons for stylish combat when you have enemies that can only be damaged by two of your five melee weapons. It would have been better if the Angel and Demon weapons were more varied, or if these enemies were left out of the game. Another problem I have is that Ebony and Ivory are still too weak, the Shotgun and the Kablooey guns are somewhat useful, but E&I are just kind of there. I was hoping the developers would find a way to make them better, but at the end of the day, the firearms (particulary the handguns) are still not nearly as useful as the melee weapons. I find this annoying mainly because it has been this way since DMC3, and I was really hoping that finally we’d get a DMC game where guns could be just as useful as melee weapons, but no, they are mostly just there for style.
The enemies in general are varied and require different tactics to combat, so fighting never boils down to random button mashing. Being a hack and slash, button mashing can work alright, but the game really is designed around fast paced but tactical combat and on higher difficulties, you’ll definitely need to pay attention to what you’re doing. By paying attention, you’ll be able to have some spectacular battles that will make you feel like an all-powerful demon hunting god, just like previous DMC games. The bosses however are a bit different in this game. I feel they are a bit easier than some of the previous DMC bosses but also somewhat more „user friendly” so to speak, in the sense that I never had too much trouble grasping their patterns and exploiting them. Unlike in DMC3 or DMC4 where some bosses had attacks that felt unfair, the bosses of DmC require you to be at the top of your game, however you won’t need to die a dozen times or abuse invincibility frames to figure out an effective way to deal with them. Except for maybe the final boss, who is a real handful. The only real problem I have with the bosses is that a lot of them have cutscenes in the middle of a fight, which I understand is for story purposes but it makes the fights feel more scripted. One of the reasons I loved DMC was because it was mercifully free of QTEs and cutscenes in the middle of battle, and I really wish these weren’t in the game. They are short and don’t really get in the way, but they could have also just been left out entirely. Not a big problem because they are just there to show that you’re making progress, but they can break the flow of the boss battles and make them feel a bit scripted.
The technical aspects of the game are mostly fine. The graphics are as good as you’d expect from this generation and the sound is also great. There are some minor issues, like textures not loading fast enough or the sound cutting out on loading screens, but nothing too bothersome. The soundtrack of the game was done by Noisia and Combichrist and they both did a very good job. Although neither group plays the kind of music I like (though I do like one or two Combichrist songs) the music they created for the game is a perfect fit for the game’s tone and environments. It says a lot about the soundtrack when music that you can’t listen to by itself manages to feel perfect when you’re actually playing the game. And believe me, I tried. My pre-order came with a soundtrack disc and I specifically tried listening to it after beating the game because I enjoyed the music in the game, however when I listened to it by itself I almost skipped the entire thing because it’s just not my style. So, good job Noisia and Combichrist, you managed to make music that fits so well into the game that even someone who doesn’t like your musical style found it perfect when hearing it during the game.
The last thing I want to talk about is the story and writing. The story in essence is nothing too special: Dante is found by his twin brother Vergil and his subordinate Kat, a medium, and after regaining his childhood memories, he joins Vergil’s Order in order to kill Mundus and bring freedom to humanity. In this continuity, the world is run by demons. There are two worlds: the human world, and Limbo, the demon world, which are closely connected, however humans are unaware of Limbo’s existence. Demons control the world through the media and large businesses, without humans realizing – this is an obvious social commentary from Ninja Theory. Dante is Nephilim (the offspring of an Angel and a Demon), who can traverse both these worlds due to his race. So Dante begins his quest, he’s a disillusioned person, who finds release in killing demons, partying and having sex because he feels he might die any minute due to the demons hunting him since his childhood. As he finally gains control over his own life, he starts to become a better person and pretty much becomes the same heroic Dante we all know, except a bit rougher around the edges. He’s a bit more foul-mouthed, but he’s very much a likeable and normal person, he just has some flaws. Over the course of the game he does some things which make him look bad but overall, he’s very much the hero of the story, who ultimately fights for the sake of humanity, and shows concern for his friends, particularly Kat, whom he cares a lot for. He’s a bit more realistic and less campy, as he doesn’t start to do crazy moves and pozes like a Power Ranger whenever he gets a new weapon, but he still spouts out silly or funny one liners, particularly during boss fights.
The demons are also different in this game. They are not meant to be like the ones from older DMC games. These aren’t the demons you’ll find in pop-culture. They aren’t cool looking monsters whom have humanoid traits mixed with supernatural power. They are more like various mythological demons. They are meant to be foul, disgusting, vile and overall pure evil and this is how they are presented. Just like the good characters, the demons are also consistent in how they are represented and each major demon you face, from Succubus to Mundus, are equally evil and disgusting. These aren’t the „cool” demons from pop-culture, these are the true demons you hear stories of in religion, the ones whom you’d never, ever want to meet, because they’d stop at nothing to make your life miserable. The kind who’d torture you, abuse you, rip off your limbs and sew them back on, and make you watch as they’d take away everything and everyone you love, just for their own sick pleasure.
Knowing this, I find it odd how some people complain about the swearing in the game. First off, there isn’t even that much of it. Dante and his friends don’t curse too much, mostly only when it is realistic, like when Dante’s pissed off or when he’s taunting demons. When he’s having a normal conversation he doesn’t do it. Most of the cursing is done by demons and I don’t understand why people make such a big deal out of it. Some people claim that the writing is that of 12-year old who just discovered curse words but I think people who think this just don’t understand the whole point of the demons. I will admit that in some instances the swearing could have been lessened, but overall the whole point of the cursing is to give character to the demons. As I’ve said they are meant to be vile and disgusting and they swear precisely to show that. Some of the cursing isn’t even used as cursing, for example Dante’s mother is constantly referred to as „Eva the whore” by the demons and I’ve seen people complain about this in particular. However this is because Eva had a child from Sparda, and love between angels and demons was forbidden. It’s meant to show that what Eva did was considered a sin by demons. Similar to how in the middle ages, if a royal female had sex with a peasant, she’d be considered a whore for choosing someone who was beneath her in status. The characters aren’t just swearing randomly for no reason, in fact the only one who does it excessively is the Succubus, who does it because she is meant to be the most disgusting and gross of the demons you face. I find it ridiculous how people seem to think that this game has bad writing simply because of the swearing or because it’s more „edgy and dark” when the story flows perfectly well and every character from Dante to Mundus is written in a way that they come off as consistent.
With all of that said, all I have to say is that DmC turned out well. The gameplay is fun, the soundtrack serves the game well, the levels are interesting and varied, and there’s even a lot of secrets to hunt down after you beat the game. 21 secret missions to complete, 80 lost souls to collect, and seven different difficulty levels to play offers a lot of replayability. It isn’t quite up there with the best hack and slash games, and I still think DMC3 is the best of the series, but if you are a fan of DMC or action games, definitely give it a chance. Just remember to not expect the old Devil May Cry and instead take the game for what it is. Sure, you might prefer the old games (I myself also love the old DMC) but don’t let that get in the way of your enjoyment. Just remember this isn’t the same Dante, this isn’t the same DMC, it’s a new universe, a new story, and just take it for what it is and see if you like it for what it is. If you do, you’re guaranteed to have a good time with the game. I myself think Ninja Theory made a good game and I’m also looking forward to the upcoming Vergil’s Downfall DLC. Not to mention, I wouldn’t mind a sequel, perhaps with a plot similar to the old games, with Dante opening up his shop and hunting demons. Then again I’d also like a DMC game that is closer to the older ones, so Capcom, how about giving us both?
The Final Word
DmC: Devil May Cry is an interesting take on the Devil May Cry franchise that ultimately proves itself to be a competent, well done hack and slash game. Its changes to the formula will no doubt alienate some fans, but if you’re open to change and interested in Ninja Theory’s take on Devil May Cry, you will find yourself an enjoyable game.
– MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good