While most companies will wait to reboot a series at the beginning of the console cycle, things didn’t work out that way with Capcom and the new DmC Devil May Cry (DmC). Instead, they are rebooting the series near the end of the current console generation. If that wasn’t enough, they signed on Ninja Theory to do the reboot instead of developing it in house. Dante’s look got an overhaul in the process, and the cries of the fans were louder than those who didn’t like the new look for Cole for inFamous 2. While Cole’s extreme makeover got canned, Ninja Theory and Capcom stood strong. Now with the release of DmC, with stylized capitalization included, will the game please fans and bring new ones in?
Dante has always been known for having a flippant attitude, looking for whatever thrills he can get. If you have seen the videos of the very beginning of the game where he flies through the air slipping into his clothes one piece at a time, rest assured the absurdity gets toned down throughout the game. Sure, there is the “Virility” soft drink and spray cans filled with some special magical sauce used to create portals, but the game mixes the extreme with the subdued.
If you have played the original games in the series, you know that DMC3 occurred first chronologically. It explained Dante’s origin and his messed up family life. In the new DmC incarnation, Dante’s past is heavily integrated into the cutscenes. I liked the mix of story in between the action sequences. While you could say that it sounds like every clichéd Japanese RPG where some slacker without a care in the world is the only means to stop evil overcoming the world, and you would be right. Still, Dante becomes more likeable as the game progresses. His dark sense of humor comes out fairly regularly, but it fits the tone of the game.
Dante is always concerned about his style, and I’m not talking about his wardrobe. As Dante attacks, a letter grade appears in the upper right-hand corner, filling up with each attack. To get better grades faster, you must switch up your attacks constantly without getting hit yourself. You can do this by changing weapons and switching up the kind of attack.
You gain most of your weapons early in the game. The first two you have at your disposal are Rebellion, his sword, and Ebony and Ivory, his two handguns. Shortly thereafter Arbiter, the slow but powerful ax is added to Dante’s collection, and then Osiris the fast scythe. Some other weapons will eventually come into play later, but these are your bread and butter weapons for most of the game. Each of these weapons can be switched at will, allowing you to change up your style to achieve the magical “S” grade.
As you complete levels you gain upgrade points. The better you do during a level, the more action points you can get to gain new moves. Upgrades can take place at statues within the level as well as in between missions. You can either upgrade Dante’s natural abilities, or you can upgrade the moves each of his weapons can produce.
The combat in DmC is some of the smoothest I have experienced in a hack-and-slash. With other action games you can get stuck waiting for an animation to complete, but because you are switching weapons and attacks so frequently in DmC, you don’t get that awkward period where you can’t get out of an attack. You can control the camera, but it does a pretty good job of following you as it needs to. Sometimes the camera did get stuck under an enemy because of the crowd surrounding Dante, but this was the exception more than the rule.
While slicing and dicing all sorts of demons on the screen takes style, there is some strategy involved. Certain enemies can only be defeated by specific weapons. For instance, an ice soldier can only be damaged by attacks from Osiris, while the fire knight only succumbs to the Arbiter. When they work together against you, you really learn the importance of switching weapons.
A platforming element is included in DmC. While jumping around is nothing new for Dante, you’ll need to jump on floating objects in the air as well as firmly planted on the ground. Most of Dante’s experiences happen while in limbo, where the world is alive and actively working against Dante. Trailers hang in the air, roads crumble beneath Dante’s feet, and walls move towards each other to try to crush him. If you don’t make a jump and causes Dante to fall for eternity, you only lose a small portion of his life bar instead of die. Arbiter and Osiris can also transform to become a whip with a claw at the end. At times you will need Arbiter to attach to the environment and pull it out towards you, while Osiris lets you swing across large chasms Tarzan-style. Icons on the screen will show where you can use each. These abilities can also be used offensively while fighting enemies, either pulling you towards your attacker or pulling the enemy towards you.
The first few levels allow you to adjust to the controls and find out about Dante’s abilities, but from there the difficulty ramps up. It will be difficult to survive a level without dying a few times even on the human difficulty modes. You can switch the difficulty modes between levels if you’d like, which is something that more games should incorporate. After you complete the game on the highest difficulty mode, more difficulty modes become available, but you’ll need almost perfect precision to make it through them. Certain areas are only available after you have completed the game as well, so you’ll have to play the game multiple times to search through every nook and cranny.
The metal soundtrack behind DmC keeps the intensity high throughout the levels. The music intensifies as a constant stream of enemies comes at you. It’s as hard pounding as Dante with Arbiter in his hands. Even the new voice actor for Dante works well. While he has a mostly flippant attitude, the serious and somber tones of his voice are believable.
Graphically, you couldn’t have asked for a better light show. The particle effects radiate red, white, and blue, depending on the weapon yielded at the time. While there is some color swapping going on with some of the enemies, enough variety exists to not be bored.
If you go into the game expecting the same Dante as you knew before, then you might not care for the less serious aspects of the game. However, I feel that DmC Devil May Cry actually does a lot more to integrate the story into the game than previous versions. The action is incredibly smooth, giving you plenty of style with your swordplay. Ninja Theory has done a great job capturing the action of the Devil May Cry games, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better action game.