There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding this reboot of the classic Devil May Cry series of video games, particularly because of the complete redesign of the iconic main character of the series; Dante.
When the title was first announced, there was a lot of rejoicing, until people realised that for some reason, Dante was no longer anything like his original counterpart. This new version was younger, more serious, smoked cigarettes and most definitely did not want to party with some pizza. This Dante was the “cool” Dante, because fun-loving action isn’t “cool” anymore.
Frankly, I don’t see the problem. Our red-coated, half-demon hero has been replaced with this guy:
His coat is black and red.
I should probably go out on the record and say that whilst I’m not a fan of the edgy, angsty, wannabe-bad-guy, tragic hero kindof stereotype; I wasn’t the biggest fan of the zany Dante either. I liked Devil May Cry 4, with the more grounded Nero and Dante, rather than the constant quips of Devil May Cry 3 Dante.
I’m fine with the redesign though, partially because this is a reboot and if I complain about all the changes they make to the series then I might as well not play it at all. It’s a reboot; It doesn’t have to be anything like the original.
It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t be constantly compared to the originals in a way that a sequel might be, since it should be a separate game altogether rather than just an entry in a series.
Moving away from rants about characters and their coats, there is a game to preview here.
So I got to play around with the demo that Ninja Theory and Capcom provided at Eurogamer Expo, and I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that it was a demo I’d already seen elsewhere. Never having had a chance to get hands-on with the game though, I had to give it a shot.
Frankly, after playing it I can’t see what any of the fuss is about. DmC stays true to the gameplay of the original series and has put together a world that feels unique whilst still paying homage to titles like Devil May Cry 4 and not really having to sacrifice anything.
Just running through the streets of Limbo City is an experience in itself, as the very city reacts to your presence with ominous messages pasting themselves across the walls and streets reactively restructuring themselves as you make your way along. When people say “The city feels alive”, they mean it. Whilst it might normally mean a bustling or active town, in this case it is a bit more literate.
Everywhere you go, it feels like the gameworld is holding something back from you, guiding and controlling you as it see’s fit like it’s some huge creature with a dark intelligence. As you venture deeper into the city, it feels like some vile creature is luring you closer to it in anticipation of a feeding frenzy, rather than you running headlong into danger to slay some creature.
As sinister words flash across the walls, you begin to feel less like the hero of the story and more like you’re in the belly of the beast. It might not inspire hopelessness, but it certainly invokes the kinds of emotions that you need to enjoy this game. You’re a smaller part of a greater problem, and only you can cure it, and Ninja Theory have really made it seem like there is a bigger problem just in the environment itself.
The environment is a much more metropolitan setting, especially when compared to the grim, gothic architecture that made up many of the worlds and dungeons comprising the original games.
Your adventure will take you throughout Limbo City into a variety of contemporary settings such as a dance club with a more psychedelic feel to it, complete with ever-shifting architecture.
That’s not to say that the charm of the old titles has been lost though; the big boss fight from the demo takes place in a very church-y atmosphere. Best of both worlds, I guess.
This is how Dante gets down with his bad self.
The actual gameplay is what sells it though, and any fan of the Devil May Cry series will find exactly what they’re looking for here, and so much more.
DmC retains the original slashy, hacky gameplay along with the ranking system that scored how well you were comboing and simply improved upon it without taking anything away.
The biggest new feature is combat is definitely switching drives. Your combat is pretty much exactly as it was before, with a sword for slashing, twin pistols for juggling/extending combos, a launch button for putting enemies in the air and a jump button for joining them in the air, but drives add something into the mix.
You can activate either your devil drive or your angel drive by holding down the right or left triggers respectively.
The devil drive switches things up by replacing your sword with a large, demonic axe with a higher damage output at the cost of reduced swing time, making it harder to string combos together. This also switches out your shooting mechanic for a grappling hook style attack that will drag enemies closer to you so you can get up close and personal.
The angel drive is your alternative though, and it gives you a low damage scythe that slowly increases in strength the longer you manage to go without taking damage. It also affects your combos more than the devil drive, replacing your aerial attacks with high speed strikes that let you string together crazy combos hitting a multitude of enemies.
Furthermore, converse to the devil drives grapple hook attack, the angel drive has it’s own version; the difference being that it drags Dante to the enemy rather than the other way around. This grappling hook can be used to explore the environment as well, allowing you to get access to ledges and platforms that would normally be out of your reach.
There’s a fourth mode as well, called Devil Trigger (Invoking the name makes Devil May Cry fans cry with tears of simultaneous joy and fear). By filling a bar to a certain point, you can gain access to a more powerful form called your Devil Trigger.
In this mode Dante’s hair turns white and his coat turns red. Gee, Ninja Theory, where have I seen that before? It’s temporary anyway, much like the original Devil Trigger. You get pull off some crazy-ass moves in this more powerful form though.
Smashing enemies has never felt so contemporary.
So, let’s break it down somewhat.
Personally, the demo sold me pretty well. I’m probably going to pre-order a copy in the near future based on this experience with it. The combat was fluid, fun and challenging whilst the gameworld was completely immersive, resulting in an experience that’s utterly addictive. Devil May Cry veterans might be up in arms over the redesign, but that’s what a reboot does. Things change, I can deal with that.
The game difficult scales appropriately to your level of skill, as well, meaning that you’re not going to be left out just because you’ve not played a million other hack-n-slash titles. If your combat ranks are high, then the enemies are going to react better, whilst low scores might mean the enemies present more windows of opportunity to turn things around on them.
If I’ve got a complaint, it’s probably some of the humour and dialogue. It seems forced and out-of-tone at times, like it’s been hastily written. I can forgive that though for the visually gorgeous world of Limbo City, which has something to shock and amaze you around every corner.
Fans new and old should be able to appreciate DmC for all it’s worth, as Ninja Theory have crafted an iconic experience for gamers of all calibers to enjoy.
DmC: Devil May Cry is due out January 15 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PCs.