Back in 2001, during the development of the newest game in the Resident Evil series, Capcom conceived of an installment which featured more fast-paced and fluid combat. However, it was eventually decided that this was far too radical a departure from the survival horror genre of previous Resident Evil games.
But rather than scrap the entire project, the game in question was spun off into the now popular Devil May Cry series.
Twelve years and four installments later, Japanese publisher Capcom has decided to reboot the series and pass the development reins to English game developing studio, Ninja Theory. The result is the, somewhat predictably named, DmC: Devil May Cry.
Will this new take on the series offer revelation to those who’ve kept the faith, or end up being downright hellish?
You play as Dante, son of the demon, Sparda, and the angel, Eva. Prior to commencing play, Dante had been living a relatively normal life, only peripherally aware of his own supernatural origins. However, when Kat, a representative of a secret organization called The Order shows up at his door to warn him of an impending attack, Dante is forced to face his demons, both figuratively and literally.
The plot is simplistic at best, overly dramatic at worst. The whole game cries out for a bit of recognition of its own absurdity, and takes itself way too seriously. There are moments of tonal levity, but they often feel like comic relief in a world that isn’t as grim as it thinks it should be.
Thematically DmC fares better. It’s interesting, and perhaps a sign of the times, to see what the game considers to be the “demons” of the day. Demons have infested the many facets of the world’s infrastructure, and use modern day conveniences and vices to control the population. Soft drinks are infused with mind-altering drugs, and 24/7 cable news networks are used to control the perception of the masses.
Furthermore, the primary antagonist and “Demon King” Mundus, who was in the first Devil May Cry a grotesque monster, is now portrayed as an imposing CEO with a stranglehold on the world’s banking system.
Other characters show signs of modern interpretation. Kat, a modern day witch, pre-mixes spells in spray paint cans, which allow her to “draw” magical symbols with a stencil at a moment’s notice. Vergil, leader of the Order, and Dante’s brother, broadcasts a message of dissent through YouTube and Twitter, while wearing a mask that might seem familiar to anyone familiar with the Anonymous organization.
Also, character interaction seems more genuine than in past DmC games. Kat has a personality beyond just being “the girl,” and Dante and Vergil interact like you’d expect brothers actually might in real life.
The story itself is ludicrous, but characterization and tone are strong enough to carry the narrative.
DmC: Devil May Cry is mechanically little more than a series of rooms where you fight progressively more difficult enemies and boss battles. Luckily, the game gives you lots of options for variation on that core mechanic.
You’re given a number of weapons, abilities and upgrades to choose from, and can spend experience points you earn from defeating enemies to improve them. You’re graded on how stylishly you fight, earn a score depending on this grade, and are encouraged to replay levels to get a better score. It’s a very arcade-y mentality, but doesn’t do much to affect gameplay overall.
Beyond combat, you’ll do a fair amount of platforming, but it never feels that challenging, and only serves to get you from one combat arena to the other.
There are a number of keys hidden throughout each level which you can use to unlock doors which contain experience orbs and power-ups. However, there’s only one real “puzzle” you’ll have to solve, but its incredibly easy, and its inclusion feels pretty tacked on and out of place.
It’s obvious the name of the game in DmC is combat, so its a good thing it’s deep enough to carry the whole experience.
The “Heaven and Hell” and “Hell and Hell” challenge modes seem to be designed specifically in mind for the masochistic. In the former, enemies will die in one hit, but so will Dante. In the latter, enemies have regular health, but you still die in one hit.
A single run through of DmC will probably take you eight to ten hours to complete, but with the number of difficulty levels and the challenge game modes, this can easily be extended over a number of days or weeks.