Returning from the dead, the crown prince of action is back. Back from the halls of Limbo, or more accurately returning to them, Dante the demon hunter, is ready for another stylish romp of raunchy destruction as he searches for the man who killed his parents.
Referencing popular media like V for Vendetta and Big Brother, Developer Ninja Theory weaves together the understandable bits of Devil May Cry‘s canon into the classic “teens against ‘the man’ ” stereotype that easily compliments the demonic background of the series. Reintroduced to Dante, his aristocratic brother Vergil and their family nemesis, Mundus, the story reestablishes the archetypes of the series as terroristic freedom fighters clashing against a power hungry demon that controls the world through its debts. And though it does end on a cliff hanger, the ending’s invitation to a sequel presents the reblooming of the franchise wonderfully.
Set in the surreal, vibrant, and simple to understand Limbo City, Ninja Theory‘s Devil May Cry reinvigorates the franchise where its always been confusing and convoluted. Since DmC is a fresh start that tosses away the more abrasive content, it’s a perfect introduction for the starting fan.
Sticking firm to its roots, style is still the heart of Devil May Cry. Never dissuaded from expletives or the risqué, DmC is a much vulgar beast than its predecessors, reaching its climax with a classy “f@&$ you” argument. Well wrapped in allegories and metaphors, (like the family home of Paradise Manor, or the deceptively parasitic ‘cure-all’ Virility) DmC‘s universe consists of the human world that’s ripe for parody and the demon infested sister realm, Limbo, thats not afraid to cast its criticisms.
As Dante is deterred from his mission by the autonomic Limbo, the human’s world collaterally reflects the calamity, often leading to disastrous results. It’s an idea that leads to great laughs; I.e. As a demon tosses a Ferris wheel at Dante, in the human realm, the dumbfounded masses watch as a passenger filled Ferris wheel rips itself from its bindings to parade down an amusement park. It’s just never quite utilized, set aside as a small gimmick that has little effect on the greater picture.
Maintaining its status as an contender for the fast paced action crown, DmC has refined its vast repertoire of attacks, selecting the the most prominent of attacks in the series’ fighting styles into one encompassing set, cutting out the expansive unused sets to emphasize the more prominent techniques and eliminate the more cluttered choices.
But that isn’t to say they don’t add anything new, besides his trusty blade Rebellion, Dante is equipped with angelic and demonic weaponry that representing his ancestral heritage. Effecting attacks by holding down dedicated buttons, they are unleashed on the fly, negating the series’ former need to carry select weapons at a time. It’s a simple change that’s efficiently handled, though its still possible to get lost in the buttons in some of the fiercer battles.
To make the nuances of combat easier to understand, Ninja Theory has added UI hints to aid the player. Visual blips make the small pauses in combo’s simple to spot, negating a need to search for a “sweet zone” in the animations. Also, instead of the invisible judge that grades your actions, a score is displayed on the side, showing the effective style points of each move. It’s a welcomed addition that calculates your skill, making it easier to achieve higher scores, while explaining exactly how you lost it, without needing to delve into the combat’s mechanics through trial and error.
DmC is not without its flaws, though. Some lines do fall flat, mostly delivered from Dante’s less than interested tone, though it is a rarity, and on the whole the rest of the voice acting is superb. There are a lot of empty hallways that fill the spaces between fights, and the puzzles add enough lull to highlight the up-beats of combat, but they aren’t the biggest brain busters. It’s a projection, but the lack of a dedicated block or lock-on does leave me wanting in tight knit situations. Defense is handled with an evasive dodge which is efficient, but it can get interrupted easily in the tighter crowds or the occasional bad camera angle. Where the lack of a dedicated lock-on is sorely missed, though the button space is filled to capacity.
If you find the fountain of hell depleting before your satisfied, there is a bevy of post game content to keep you going. Several types of keys and corresponding secret doors, that unlock the various challenges that the series is known for, are of course scattered to the nooks and crannies. Now an extra collectible as well as a source of income, red orbs have been become trapped lost souls scatter limbo, left ripe for the taking. It’s great to see them included in some sort of context instead of just an unmasked gameplay necessity. Another series staple, there’s plenty of difficulties that alter the campaign’s challenges, for those left unsatisfied with the standard challenge, even including a ‘one-hit game over’ mode for the more masochistic.
Fundamentally close to the core to woo the reluctant veteran, and the easiest welcoming point for the series for newcomers, both from a canonical sense as well as gameplay one, and still designed with the competitive leader board climbers and score hunters in mind DmC: Devil May Cry reevaluates, and refocuses the series, stepping the series into a new clearer direction. Proud of its heritage, but not afraid of the changes of time, DmC: Devil May Cry is proof that devils never cry, they just move forward.