Devil May Cry has been round for quite some time now, since 2001 to be exact and over the years it has gathered an army of loyal fans (myself included), eagerly anticipating Dante’s next instalment. So when Ninja Theory took over the development reigns from Capcom, alot of controversy was stirred up as they turned Dante’s world upside down and made some big changes and a fresh start for their reboot.
As with all reboot’s, a fresh chapter is opened, a clean slate if you will and this is certainly the case with the new DMC. Think of Christopher Nolan’s rebooted Dark Knight trilogy, in the Dark Knight Begins, it tells the origin story of why Bruce Wayne is the way he is, why he became Batman. Many thought his trilogy would not be a success, despite some woeful Batman movies after the great Tim Burton movies. The same scepticism was shared with the rebooted DMC and it also shares the likeness in respect to how it tells the origin story of Dante.
Dante is young, living life on the edge without a single care in the world, with not a single clue of what destiny has in store for him. After a night out on the town and one too many drinks, Dante awakes in the morning with one hell of a hangover and the last thing that he needs in the morning is a Hunter Demon banging on his door for an early morning wake up call, well guess what? That’s exactly what happens. But before all this could happen, a psychic called Kat beats the Hunter Demon to Dante’s door and begs him to come with her and pleads with him to meet her leader, the leader of an organisation known as ‘The Order’. Recognised by the public as a terrorist group and to the unknown, they are the fight between humans and the demons.
After much persuasion Dante agrees to meet Kat’s leader, after all it did seem to be the safer option at the time. But what was in store for Dante, no amount of demons could ever prepare him for. Kat’s leader and the leader of ‘The Order’ is none other than Vergil, Dante’s identical twin brother! Who before now thought he was an only child that has been dealt life’s toughest cards. But in this worlds current state, there is no time to play happy families as an ancient enemy of the family, simply known as Mundus wants to finish what he started generations ago and wipe-out Dante’s bloodline, from his parents to his twin brother and once more have the demons rule the planet that we call home. Only an angel, a psychic and a demon sexual deviant can stand in Mudus’s way.
With a new style Devil May Cry, comes a new image make-over. It’s no secret of the uproar that was caused due to the decision made by Ninja Theory to change the look of our beloved Dante. For years we were use to our cocky, wise cracking bleached white haired demon slayer. Us gamers are very awkward customers at time, even though we like our games to evolve (well most of us), when something is changed too much and it’s not quite what we’re use to; it can upset the most loyal of fans. I’ll put my hands up and say I was one of those dead set against the new look Dante, not the gameplay mind, but I was never keen on the new punk like Dante. Though as its release date drew nearer, it started to win me over, it wasn’t the new image that won me over, it was all the gameplay footage (but that’s another section). It got to the stage that the loyal DMC fan within, couldn’t contain my excitement no longer, so I took the plunge and made the purchase.
The visuals as a whole have had the make-over treatment, not just Dante or Vergil. Whichever the gaming generation, the Devil May Cry games have always been one of the better looking games in its genre and at the time. Shiny, stylish, erratic visuals were what we become use to from the franchise and they always more then served their purpose. But this was a clean slate for Ninja Theory, a chance for them to not only make a big stamp on the franchise, but to make an even bigger mark on the industry. Devil May Cry is alot more punk, a little more grunge, with a new attitude. This DMC is not full with shiny visuals, its dark, moody and not too cheery for a world plagued with evil demons. You can still become familiar with the visuals and environments if you are a veteran DMC gamer, Ninja Theory has not lost its identity like many had feared, if anything that take what made the franchise so popular and added their own twist on events. Most of your time playing through DMC is not spent in the ‘human’ world; you will spend most of your time in ‘Limbo’. Now don’t get confusing this with the popular XBLA title, this is a new limbo, an alternative reality, set between our world and the true demon world. It’s certainly an interesting place and you can tell that the concept artists and level designers have spent alot of time making this unique world, as you progress further into the game, Limbo becomes more sinister, especially a level in the later stages that involves you bring down a News Anchor man. Yep you’ve read that right, just wait until you get there, trust me when I say, it will be a very unusual encounter. In fact most of the levels reminded me a little of American McGee’s ‘Alice’, throw in the Mad Hatter and at times you would think that you’re in wonderland.
Now we can’t talk about Devil May Cry without talking about those evil Jesters! Oh wait, there are no Jesters in this DMC, instead we have a new breed of demons, that are far less colourful and a whole lot more sinister. In fact many of the enemies look like they’re on vacation from another evil realm, known as Silent Hill. Now in saying that, I just wish the folks that developed the disappointing Silent Hill Downpour had just an ounce of Ninja Theory’s creativity and imagination and we would have at least had a decent Silent Hill game last year, but that’s a different conversation altogether. Speaking of enemies, throughout the years, DMC has always had big boss battles and they still remain within this instalment.
Now with this reboot alot of thought has gone into the design of the characters and for the most part there all very well done. But if I was to have one little criticism, the boss battles are a little less epic and not all that memorable than usual, it’s almost like Ninja Theory had put so much time into making the storyline and environments to the games high standards, they started to run out of creativity juice when it came to some of the boss battles and designs. Don’t get me wrong, there not bad, we’ve just come to expect a little better from DMC games gone by. But don’t let this very minor gripe put you off or hinder your decision on whether you should give this game ago or not, because I know there will be many of you wanting to shoot me down for saying this, but I believe that visually this is the most imaginative Devil May Cry world yet.
If you’re a Devil May Cry purist, you’ll probably be happy to know that the gameplay within Ninja Theory’s instalment has not had as much of a drastic change as other areas. As soon as you kick start DMC, you will almost instantly become accustom to the Hack and Slash gameplay. DMC has always been a perfect blend of pick up and play action, yet offers just enough balance in gameplay to keep you interested for longer periods of time. It’s all systems go from the offset and it would take the majority of gamers to master most of the moves, but as you progress through the game and Dante begins to level up, you will have new moves and weapons to master. This keeps you going with that ‘just one more level’ urge, the action never really stops and its keeps flowing, I don’t think DMC has felt this fluid since DMC3 back in 2005.
I loved DMC4 and it still to this day has never left my gaming collection, but the one flaw that I had with it, was that the gameplay wasn’t quite as free flowing as other DMC’s. With DMC4 you had four styles of slaying to choose from, for me the Swordmaster was my method of choice, but the other three ‘Trickster’, ‘Gunslinger’ and ‘Royal Guard’ felt a little less natural. It at times felt like Capcom we’re getting a little bit too clever and they couldn’t quite decide how they wanted DMC4 to be played. When it could be helped, I found myself trying to use the one style and I tried avoiding the others whenever I could.
With this Devil May Cry, there are a host a various weapons at your disposal, from your usual Guns and Swords, to Scythe to ‘Hulk Smash’ style fists. Each weapon has their own distinct styles and benefits, and yet all remain equally as important. Ninja Theory manages to find a perfect balance for each weapon, they’ve done it that well in fact, and that I find it very difficult to single out one particular weapon as a favourite. You will have to change you weapons over in order to progress into certain areas and some weapons will work better than others on certain enemies, but changing over your weapon of choice never becomes in hindrance, you will seemingly switch between weapons without a second though.
All the weapons within your arsenal will fall into two different categories, ‘Angel’ and ‘Demon’. As you progress further into the game, you will unlock different weapons, I won’t tell you them all, because I want you to find out most of them for yourself. At the beginning of the game, you will start off with your standard Guns and Sword, but as Dante become more badass, so will his weapons. Two weapons or tools, depending on how you use them at the time, you will be relying on alot during your playthrough. These are the ‘Ophion Demon Pull’, activated by pressing RT+X and the ‘Ophion Angel Lift’, activated by pressing LT+X. The Angel Lift will pull you towards enemies and certain areas’, while the Demon Pull will enemies and certain areas towards you. A couple of weapons that you will be adding to your inventory will be the ‘Arbiter’ and the ‘Aquila’. The ‘Arbiter’ is a big and powerful ‘Demon’ axe, its slower the other weapons, but once it’s in full swing, it will be knocking enemies for six. The ‘Aquila’ on the other had is an ‘Angel’ weapon and can only be described as some oversized and very powerful ninja stars. They may not be too effective against some of the larger enemies, but if you are surround by some of the weaker enemies, it’s an ideal weapon of choice for clearing out the room. There is of course many other weapons you will find along, but I’ll leave those discoveries for you to uncover.
A familiar weapon, if you can call it that, which makes its return, is the ever faithful ‘Devil Trigger’. The Devil Trigger can be activated by kicking some demon ass and this will then contribute towards filling up the Devil Trigger Gauge, once this is full or at least you’ve reached the minimum threshold, hit the Left and Right Analog Sticks simultaneously and you will transform into a more sinister Dante (that has an uncanny resemblance to the old Dante), that truly unleash his demon side. Unleashing the Devil Trigger will fling your enemies into the air, leaving them vulnerable to attacks and not only that, but Dante will become more powerful and will even give you a helping hand for you to achieve that ever so valuable ‘SSS’.
One of the many uproars (like it needed anymore), was the exclusion of the lock-on feature. This element has featured in previous DMC’s and was included in the playable demo that recently made its way to the Xbox 360 Marketplace, but oddly it was removed for when the game become available for general sale. Now when I heard this it did throw me a little off guard, as it seemed like a strange move to be made. But when you get into full swing in DMC, I started to understand why this decision was made. Obviously the lock-on will give you a little helping hand, as Dante would automatically aim towards the nearest enemy and makes it a little more easy. But very soon into my playthrough I had completely forget about the lock-on not being around and if anything it made the gameplay more free flowing and less restricted. So with that in mind, don’t let this put you off, as I believe it was all for the benefit of the gameplay and it makes for a more enjoyable and free flowing experience. Which pretty much sums the gameplay down to a T, it’s one of the more accessible pick up and play Hack and Slash games in a while, stringing up combos almost rolls off the tongue so to speak and it is a perfect gaming for venting your frustrations after a long hard day. Ninja Theory manages to add their own spin onto the gameplay, but yet still manages to remind us of why we first fell for Devil May Cry all those years back.
In my humble opinion, this Devil May Cry is the most story driven game from the franchise and as a result, it needs to have a good method of storytelling. In previous DMC games we first knew of Dante’s father in the very first instalment, then in DMC 3, we got to meet his twin brother for the very first time, but it never went into the same kind of detail as Ninja Theory’s take on the franchise. You can tell that a lot of time and effort has gone into telling this story and as it digs into Dante’s and Vergil’s past, the story has to keep you interested and hooked and Ninja Theory manage to do this and then some.
The script is very well put together and giving you vital pieces of the plot bit by bit, a perfect method to keep the gamer playing for just one more chapter. You can also tell that the voice cast have not just come in for an easy pay cheque and gamers know when a voice actor is giving it their all and that is very apparent in DMC. It’s also worth a mention to the three main cast members of DMC, as they all have done such a superb job in delivering us their characters story. The main man Dante is voiced by ‘Tim Phillips’, Vergil by ‘David de Lautour’ and Kat is voiced by ‘Sage Mears’.
The official soundtrack contributes its own fair share to the storytelling of DMC and despite Dante having a more punk like image, the soundtrack surprisingly is created by a group called ‘Noisia’ who are more into developing ‘Electronic’, ‘Drum and Base’ and ‘Dubstep’ music with a cross of Metal in there too, yet strangely it complements DMC perfectly and without a doubt helps you to grit those teeth and get you hyped for some serious demon ass kicking.
For those of you that may be interested, you can actually download the ‘Mundus’ theme song that is featured in the game for FREE, just by licking the ‘Noisia’ official Facebook page.
By the time you have finished Devil May Cry’s campaign with your first playthrough, you will probably looking at the 10-12 hour mark. Some may consider that to be too short and some just right, but a game shouldn’t really be judged on the amount of time it takes you to finish on your first playthrough. Some games such as Halo 4 can be finished between 6-8 hours, but that was a perfect campaign length to tell its story, at the end of the day its more about the quality, rather than quantity.
Devil May Cry is full of upgradable moves and weapons, obviously making you more powerful as you progress. But for me the most important feature from some of the upgrades is that they will allow you to access certain areas’ that were seemingly unreachable at your first attempt. This of course opens up many doors in terms of replay value; it gives you a purpose to return to each stage as you hunt down those hidden items and acts as a ‘New Game+’ if you will. Though upgrades and hidden items are not the only reason to replay your favourite levels, as earning the bragging rights over your friends with the good old high score and as you find hidden items and score a certain amount of style points, you will also unlock other extras such as ‘Concept Art’ and so forth. At the end of each stage, you are presented with an end of mission rating, this will score you on ‘Style Points’, ‘Completion Time’, ‘Hidden items’ found, ‘items used’ and so on and all the statistics will total up for an end of mission score, which will then of course be uploaded to the online leaderboards.
There is also some extra difficulty settings to test your demon slaying skills a little further, of course you have your generic easy, medium and hard difficulty settings, but Ninja Theory have been a little more imaginative with a couple of the difficulty settings and the word ‘difficult’ doesn’t quite cut it. Firstly you have the ‘Heaven or Hell’ mode, in which the enemies will die with one hit, but on the flip side, so does Dante. Secondly you have the conveniently named ‘Hell and Hell’ mode in which all the enemies have the standard health, but Dante will die with one hit. It’s also worth mentioning that once you finished the campaign, you will unlock some additional skins for Dante to use in further playthroughs.
So even though the campaign may be deemed short by some, for Devil May Cry the campaign is a perfect length. It’s not too short that you feel short changed and it’s not too long for it to drag on. But the true replay value lies within all the upgrades, hidden items, leaderboards and difficulty settings and with the promise of DLC becoming available in the near future, namely the FREE DLC ‘Bloody Palace’ mode, there is plenty of bang for your buck in Devil May Cry.
I was one of the very many that was sceptical of the new look Devil May Cry, but let’s be honest, most of us don’t like too much of a change, especially when it’s something we love. But in this case, I will happily eat an extra long slice of humble pie and the new look is without a doubt the right thing to do as it has freshened up and taken the series in a new direction, yet still managing to maintain the gameplay that we all know and love. It was a bold move by Capcom and Ninja Theory, but one that has most certainly paid off.
Its more than just a new look for Dante, it’s a new style and more edgy attitude, a more twisted universe with the environments reminding me a little of American McGee’s Alice and Silent Hill. It’s focusing on telling us a more in-depth and intriguing story, with origins that have not been dug this deep in any DMC games gone by. When I think of rebooted films such as Christopher Nolan’s Batman Dark Knights trilogy and The Amazing Spiderman, especially with the casting of ‘Andrew Garfield’ as Peter Parker, I like many was in uproar. But after all the dust has settled and you take a step back, you see that the change was needed and in some cases an improvement. The original Devil May Cry games will always hold a special place in my gaming heart and as have I done over the years, I will always return back to them. But now after playing Ninja Theory’s take on the DMC universe, I will struggle to think of just one deserving Dante as both of them bring something different to the table and are special for their own reasons.
If like me, you have always been a fan of DMC, but didn’t want to give this reboot the time of day, let go of your stubbornness and give this game a chance. Whether you take the plunge and make the purchase, rent it or play it at a friend’s house, DMC is not only worth any DMC fans time, but fans of the Hack and Slash genre should all join Dante in some epic demon hunting. With the kind of pedigree that Ninja Theory brings to the table with underrated classics such as ‘Heavenly Sword’ and ‘Enslaved: Odyssey to the West’, this was Ninja Theory’s big opportunity to make a big stamp on the industry and how could we have ever doubted them? Devil May Cry is the first big release of 2013 and there couldn’t be a more fitting game or franchise to kick off this New Year.