Let’s just get this out of the way first: Yes, DmC: Devil May Cry is a reboot set in an alternate universe, the world is a little more realistic and Dante and company are a little more vulgar than before, the combat isn’t as complicated and different from past installments and finally, yes, because of these things stated, Ninja Theory has been given the freedom to craft one of the best Devil May Cry games that I’ve had the pleasure of playing. DmC is set in Limbo City where demons run things and its up to Dante, after some convincing from a human girl named Kat and his long lost brother Vergil, to get rid of the demon king Mundus and help the humans achieve true freedom. Unlike the past games, the demons aren’t in the same space as humans and are instead all based in an area called Limbo where Dante gets dragged into from time to time since Mundus is trying to get rid of the last of the Nephilim.
DmC: Devil May Cry (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PC)
Developer: Ninja Theory
Released: January 15, 2013 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) / January 25, 2013 (PC)
MSRP: $59.99 [Buy Now]
Limbo is a crazy alternate dimension that exists parallel to the human world. Limbo also reveals different things about an area as well as the true intentions of things such as a sign in the real world for a soft drink can read “obesity” in Limbo. Limbo also constantly abruptly changing on the player in an attempt to kill them and with some impressive feats of tech, is rarely scripted. A major difference about this alternate Dante is that his mother is now of an angel origin, but besides that the background of Dante hasn’t changed much. Due to the environment that he had to live in, however, Dante is a bit different compared to his younger alternate DMC3 self. Hes still the cocky and slick Dante that we all know and love, but just with a bit more teenage angst and spite mixed in. One thing that had me excited about Ninja Theory’s take on the DMC universe is that they would hopefully get to use their underrated storytelling and character development skills with DmC and thankfully they did just that.
As the game went on, I started to feel a better connection and understanding for Dante due to DmC greatly exploring his origin like never before, as well as his supporting characters like Kat, who helps him get in and out of Limbo from time to time via magic spells conveniently mixed inside of spray cans. Vergil, who veteran fans all recognize, was another character who got a surprisingly good bit of character development as well which anyone who wanted to get to know the character more would greatly appreciate. Just as Ninja Theory used their storytelling skills in DmC, they also incorporated their experience with hack n’ slash games into DmC as well.
During the early levels of the game, not only does Dante have his iconic Rebellion sword and Ebony&Ivory handguns, but he also gets “gifts” left behind by his parents as well. A fast, room sweeper angel weapon from his mother, and a slow, heavy but deadly demon axe from his father. With these weapons, and the ability to switch them on the fly using either the left or right shoulder buttons (reminiscent of Heavenly Sword’s combat system, but still retaining DMC‘s combat roots), I was always given a sense of “Okay this is his mother’s gift, this is his father’s gift to him” thought in the back of my head during combat. While some hardcore DMC fans may think that because styles aren’t present in the game (even though some moves and abilities do mimic them) that combat was dumbed down, on the contrary, it’s just as robust and active as before. Besides those three melee weapons, Dante gets two more, one more angel and one more demon weapon, all of which can be switched on the fly during combat, even during combos.
DmC features upgrades to Dante’s abilities as well as new powers. A nice touch to the upgrade system is that all upgrades are refundable. Bought an ability that you don’t like or just don’t use and want to get rid of it or “trade” it for another? You now have the ability to do so. DmC has to be one of the most experimental friendly DMC games that I’ve played in a long time, and it helps that I never favored any specific weapon or thought that a single weapon was a poor choice. DmC still features the iconic in-combat rating system as well as a rating for each mission completion, offering players motivation to go back and self-improve on their combat skills or go for 100% completion runs on missions. While during combat most DMC veterans will be able to go from a D-A rank easily, getting an S or above rank still takes skill in diversifying moves and staying vigilant.
With that being said, the game’s enemies do throw nice curveballs at the player to keep them on their toes. Some enemies can only be attacked with angel or demon weapons, causing a new type of strategy to come into play for a DMC game and forcing players to rethink how to approach certain situations. While this may sound unfair, the game’s A.I does a good job of not being cheap and constantly attacking you if they’re off camera, letting players focus on either a certain or set amount of enemies in the battlefield and always giving them that sense of control. As great of a game as DmC is, it isn’t without its minor flaws.
The game dosen’t sport a standard lock-on system but has a automatic/analog direction driven lock on system that works surprisingly well. The only time where I did wish that there was a standard lock-on system was when I had to deal with aerial enemies that came up from time to time. Another complaint I have that feels weird for the game is how Devil Trigger dosen’t really play a big part in combat anymore. Besides the fact that it takes so long to charge it up in battle and it depletes too quickly when used, the game makes all of the enemies become stuck in the air as soon as you activate it.
Even though you can either use Dante’s grappling abilities to either pull yourself up toward them or to yourself, it just feels as if besides pummeling a boss when their weak or healing yourself that Devil Trigger wasn’t made to be relied on in DmC as much as in past games. Even though I loved most of the most fights, the level and fight design behind them and how they incorporate the players using everything in his arsenal to dispose of them, the boss fights themselves seem a little more simplified this time around. Once you figure out their pattern and how to make them vulnerable, it just boils down to a wash, rinse, repeat formula to defeat them.
DmC is pretty short and unless you enjoy going back and further upgrading your character, trying harder difficulties to test your skills, or achievement/trophy hunting, it won’t have much left for you after you beat the game. DmC caught me by surprise, I knew I was going to enjoy it because its development was in good hands, but I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it as much as I did. Ninja Theory did an amazing job of incorporating their game design techniques with hack n’ slash games while staying true to what makes a Devil May Cry game a Devil May Cry game. Even with its minor flaws, DmC: Devil May Cry sets a new bar for the series especially in the storytelling department and I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.