DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition review
Devil May Cry: The Next Generation
Damn, Devil May Cry was cool! It's a series that indulged on over the top elements that offer the player a good time while putting them in places with gothic architecture, given that it was originally meant to be a Resident Evil game. But with time comes a need to change things up, and with Capcom thinking that they can't keep the series relevant, they pass off the franchise to Ninja Theory to see if they can do it any justice. Well, one goofy looking Dante design and an overhaul of the battle system later, and DmC: Devil May Cry is actually quite a rousing success. It may not feel like the original games, but by the way Ninja Theory did their spin on it, it felt like a refreshing dip in a freshly cleaned pool.
But kids are going to pee in it and the pee is the story. Look, I understand if you like the idea of a demon corporation secretly controlling the world through advertised product because it's a concept that could work in theory. Adding on a dual world mechanic – in this case, the real world and a demon-infested world called Limbo – seems pretty cool too. I mean, just imagine all the possibilities!! The execution, on the other hand, is competent at best. At no point, did this story grab me by the head and push it onto my TV screen; instead, it tepidly explains stuff in somewhat of a dry manner. It probably didn't help that every single character in this game felt less like three dimensional characters and more like walking tropes. Dante had a crappy past as he was orphaned at a young age and received constant abuse, and although he's thankfully not as bad as Tidus from Final Fantasy X (at least he doesn't whinge every ten minutes), he's certainly not a good or well written character. Vergil and Kat also have tragic pasts that are explored a bit, but when you actually watch them in a cutscene, they just exist. I guess the idea of exploring Vergil's past was to justify why he wants the humans to be under his control under the guise of freedom while Dante's past and involvement with The Order (a vigilante group dedicated to stopping the demons from controlling the world) is meant to explain why he wants true freedom for them, but at the same time, it always feels like they just embody their tropes, personalities and whatnot without actually having much if any life being breathed into them.
I think the writers at Ninja Theory were under the false impression that Devil May Cry was legitimately cool and not just really campy. Devil May Cry worked because it was so over the top that you couldn't take it seriously and, in tandem with its combat engine, it was a lot of fun to play through because of that. Dante's fun one liners served to enhance the experience. But in DmC, Dante is a more serious character, trying as hard as possible to be down with the kids by having his way with multiple women at the beginning of the game and swearing every other word while taking frequent breaks to wrestle with alligators – and that last bit may sound like some cheap hyperbole, but the more you play this game, the more the writers try to paint Dante as this badass mother*bleep*er because we need to keep the 13 year olds playing... and you wonder why I said the characters feel like walking cliches instead of three dimensional characters. Kat and Vergil go through almost the exact same treatment as, while we're being fed exposition and whatnot, there's really no clear cut way to really care about them. They have the right ideas, just not the right execution. It's clear that there was a huge change in writing staff between Enslaved and DmC because while Enslaved has a captivating story with characters to care about, DmC has characters that are walking plot conveniences and a story that, while competently written, is completely devoid of anything remotely interesting. It takes itself far too seriously and tries too hard to be edgy, all to the point where it's hard to take seriously... but in a bad way.
Thankfully, the gameplay is pretty good. Much like Heavenly Sword, DmC has Dante using three different styles of weapons at once, each with their strengths and weaknesses. You start off with Dante's trademark sword, Rebellion, which balances out strength and speed. He eventually gains access to two other weapons – Osiris, the one that's light and thus quick and easy to swing but not very strong; and Arbiter, the one that's strong but slow to swing due to its sheer size. Alongside these two weapons are chains. When you're wielding Osiris, you can pull yourself towards enemies, and when you're wielding Arbiter, you pull enemies towards you, which helps to set up combos on them. You'll also have your twin guns Ebony and Ivory at your disposal, and with them, you can shoot enemies from a distance to hopefully get them to stagger a bit to set up combos on them.
If you haven't quite got it yet, the idea of combat is to let loose with combo attacks, especially as you unlock more special attacks and combos by collecting red orbs, and acquire stronger versions of the weapons you have by progressing through the game. It's made obvious by the fact that you'll reap in more red orbs the longer you can keep up combos and PSN trophies if you get the highest ranking (SSSensational) while beating the level as quickly as possible, virtually without dying or even getting hurt. Believe me, you'll want to adjust yourself to the way that this game is played quickly or you'll not only find yourself reaping jack shit but also find yourself barely escaping with your life more often than not. While the control scheme is a lot like Heavenly Sword's, the actual combat style is a lot like its progenitors. Perhaps it's not as difficult because the enemies seem to be a bit more braindead and the bosses are more formulaic than a boss from the Legend Of Zelda series, but in that sense, it feels more balanced because enemies aren't set up to juggle you and the bosses don't outright molest you when you first fight them. Really, unless you play this on the Human and Devil Hunter difficulty modes (basically the easy and medium difficulty modes), the enemies and bosses do enough to put up a fight and do get to be trickier as the game progresses, while they do enough to allow the ability to let loose with your combo attacks.
There are a couple of issues though – one is that there are enemies that are immune to certain weapons. One of the biggest strengths of combat in this game is utilizing the different styles to *bleep* them up, and yet they arbitrarily restrict you to only two – one, in some cases. That's just not cool, man. A combo centric game that has you utilizing the styles just isn't as exciting when you're restricted. The other is that there aren't enough bosses. There's about a handful of them and I liked what I saw. They forced you to employ different tactics in order to fight them, like unleashing some combos and then jumping out of the way of their attack or using the chains to pull yourself off of a platform. That kind of shit makes for memorable fights, but there just isn't enough of it, which is pretty disappointing, but I won't hold it too much against the game.
Now, one thing the old games sucked at was platforming. Old Dante's jumping was terrible as while he could jump high, there's no horizontal momentum... like at all, even if you were running. Add on the pre-rendered camera angles, and you got yourself some irritating platforming segments. So here comes DmC with a controllable camera, a sort of air dash thing and two chains that help you scale platforms horizontally. Course, you can only air dash so far and you can only use certain chains on certain highlighted surfaces (red for the Arbiter chain; blue for the Osiris chain), but that puts it head and shoulders above the original games, and on its own terms, the platforming isn't too bad. It serves as a break between combat and given that you're mostly going forward, it gives you a sense of progression while going through the twisted world of Limbo. It also serves as a means of checking out this world – like the Half Life series, you go through sets of linear hallways, but it never really feels linear because of how you progress. Where in those games you run through and check out stuff on the side while making your way to Point B, here, you're running, jumping and pulling yourself towards the next bit that gets you closer to Point B, admiring the visuals and experiencing Limbo itself trying to kill you via shifting itself around while on the way there.
Speaking of admiring the visuals, DmC looks pretty cool. From a technical standpoint, it works well enough as characters animate ever so swimmingly (which works great for a combo centric game such as this), the textures are detailed enough and you can tell what everything ought to be. The only issue may be the framerate as it gets a bit jumpy every now and again, but that's about it. Where DmC gets it right is in its style – being an MA rated game that's really colorful is something different, but where this game grabs me by the testes is in its use of overly vibrant colors to emphasise the trippiness of Limbo. Given that you're mostly in a void surrounded by buildings, anything can happen. Parts of buildings or pavement can obstruct and even try to kill you, but the best part is when you're outside of the side, getting a view of the void with parts of buildings floating around. It gives you the feeling that Limbo, being the trippy counterpart to the real world, isn't all sunshine and lollipops, despite what the government would have the populace within the world think. With many twists and distorted objects, exploring Limbo is quite a joy. Then there are the monsters, which look very twisted. They're quite befitting of the world they live in. Oh and there's Dante's design... yeah, he looks goofy, but he doesn't look too bad otherwise.
The soundtrack consists of music from two electronic groups – Combichrist and Noisia. Noisia provides the player with dubstep music while Combichrist provides rock music with shouty vocals. The latter sound a bit more like that one song from Final Fantasy X... Otherworld, I believe it was called. Well, thankfully, the stuff Combichrist provides here is enjoyable to listen to while managing to pump you up for combat when they're played, not having a single shitty song that gets stuck in your head. Noisia's blend of dubstep also serves to pump you up for combat. There's a multitude of songs that play throughout the game from these two bands so you won't grow tired of hearing the same song over and over again either (unlike Devil May Cry 4 which played literally the same song over and over again during enemy encounters). But then there are songs that play during other moments, which manage to give off a weird, sinister feeling that blends together with the strange visuals to draw you into the game. As for the voice acting, it's actually pretty good, managing to convey the right emotions to suit the dialogue. Each of the characters have their moments where they go all emotional and the voice actors and actresses do an impressive job of breathing life into these moments, and into the characters in general during the less emotional moments.
But when the chips are down, game feel is what determines quality. The combat is fast, fluid and intuitive. Each facet is designed to let you build combos off of not only enemies but also your own attacks, and when put in conjunction with the smooth animation, it makes for a hypnotically satisfying experience. The boss fights are quite formulaic, but they also offer some interesting scenarios that make their fights memorable and quite a lot of fun. The world of Limbo is fun to explore as it twists itself to try and kill you while you do some platforming. Really, it's the story that stops this game from being perfect. It takes itself too seriously by touching on themes we've all experience before and everybody else did a better job of anyway and it all feels like a bunch of walking tropes and exposition as opposed to fully three dimensional characters. It's a disappointing effort in that regard given that Ninja Theory's other two games – Heavenly Sword and Enslaved – have fantastic stories, but the style that this game presents with its gameplay and presentation more than makes up for it.
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