It’s no secret that from the get go this reboot and re-imagining of the Devil May Cry franchise has been subject to copious amounts of scrutiny. Die hard fans cried out in frustration as the first images of the games protagonist Dante flooded the net revealing a new take on the gun slinging smart mouthed hero we all came to love in previous iterations. But is approaching a successful formula from a new direction really such a crime. Believe it or not risks can pay off, as you’re about to find out.
Doing away with the intricate storyline fleshed out by previous titles in the franchise, DMC offers a new imaginative take on events. Set in a modern contemporary world controlled by demons, DMC offers a fresh perspective on not only significant characters integral to the franchise but also traditional Devil may Cry environments. The most significant of these changes however is the creation of the games alternate reality known as Limbo. A dark, free form and chaotic dimension in which Dante’s is constantly plunged by the demons in their attempt to thwart his noble endeavours. It is this alternate reality that serves as the catalyst to the delivery of various intricacies throughout the game’s plot.
The games pits a resistance fighting force known as The Order up against the demonic plagues of the Demon Lord Mundus, a mindless brute who has brainwashed and sedated the entire world in his quest for global obedience and supreme power. The game wastes no time in setting the backdrop for Dante’s journey as the opening scenes see Dante recruited by The Order in their struggle against the Demonic Oppression. It is not long before the protagonist has the truth revealed to him by his twin brother Vergil that he is Nephilim (Demon/Angel Hybrid), and it is they that wield the means to free man kind from enslavement and avenge the untimely fate suffered by their parents. It is these revelations that serve as Dante’s propellant on his path to bloodshed and redemption.
Devil May Cry has always been a patented blend of classic freestyle hack and slash action with a heavy dose of platforming and much of the formula’s origin is still evident here, however much has changed. The concept of Dante being both a Demon and Angel hybrid not only serves as a means of inspiration for the games narrative but also its combat direction. Dante gains access to numerous Demonic and Angelic weapons throughout the course of the game, and how this variety is stamped upon the core gameplay is what makes it truly shine. The sheer scale of Dante’s arsenal is nothing short of amazing. The player not only has access to Dante’s standard ass-kicking tools in the form of his trusty blade Rebellion and his loyal ladies Ebony and Ivory, but no less than 4 other weapons ranging from a huge demonic axe to lighting fast throwing blades, not to mention is ranged arsenal which is equally as generous and impressive. All of these weapons can be seamlessly accessed and utilized mid combo allowing for seemingly endless combo possibilities and ultimately results in extremely engaging and addictive gameplay.
What is most interesting however is how Dante’s Devil and Angel arms allow him to traverse the environment. Dante’s weapons incorporate a whip like grappling hook that allow him to not only sling himself through the game’s many tremendously chaotic environments, but also to shorten the distance between him and his foes during combat and does an excellent job of complementing the games amazingly smooth and fluid combat system. Unlike previous instalments however DmC has elected to do away with the traditional targeting system which is barely noticeable with the game’s crisp responsive combat, although it can prove cumbersome when facing enemies later in game that can only be bested by certain weapons, but it is not enough to hinder the experience. This is a somewhat give take relationship however as the game’s evade system for getting Dante out of harm’s way fast is infinitely improved this time around. The franchise has always held a reputation for excellent boss fights and there is no double standard here. Dante will face some truly formidable and equally obnoxious enemies that are defeated using various different methods making for some truly engaging encounters instead of mindlessly beating down that health bar. The formula has been shaken up and reformed and the result is some of the most entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable combat and platforming in the franchise’s history.
One word can sum up every detail of DmC’s presentation, breathtaking. The franchise has always received praise in the past for its slick and sharp presentation but the bar just got a whole lot higher. With excellent use of a vast and vibrant colour palette the game is pure eye candy. Whether you’re slinging and gliding your way through a collapsing apartment block in Limbo or navigating across a dynamically forming news article in which you’re the headline, the game never fails to simply leave the player in shock and awe of what is unfolding before them. Some highlights include hacking and slashing your way through a theme park and competing in a round based arena battle in the middle of a rave party. Although DMC may not have the sharpest textures in the shed, or support all the current high end tech that PC gamers throw down hundred of dollars on videos cards for, it succeeds in being a visual design masterpiece with some of the most creative and unique environments in recent memory and truly immerse the player in the game’s splendour.
I could sit here all day and tell you about how great this game’s soundtrack is and it still wouldn’t be enough. It’s literally that good. A smashing symphony of fast heavy riffs from Noisia and Combichrist perfectly complements the games swift and brutal tone and does an excellent job of engaging the player in the title’s fast paced combo chaining gameplay. Modern games are rarely remembered for their stellar soundtrack but this is definitely one of them.
It goes without saying that Dante is who many would consider the smart mouthed bad-ass of action gaming and believe it or not, his appeal is more potent than ever. Insults and priceless one liners flow through the games dialogue like clockwork and any who had doubts on whether the new Dante on the block could still bring the noise can now put their minds at ease.
The good news for PC gamers is you won’t have to sell any major organs to buy adequate hardware here. From start to finish the game ran flawlessly with not a single frame-rate slowdown or hiccup. In short, gamers with hardware a bit past their prime should have no problems getting the game to run silky smooth on a good variety of systems as a result of some excellent optimization.
All in all DmC truly succeeds in ushering in a new future for the franchise. The games strong and engaging narrative serves as an excellent means to an end and takes players on a journey they will want to revisit. With a tonne of unlockables and secret content to wade through, multiple playthroughs are a must. For those critical of the franchise’s new direction, there is nothing to fear here. At its core the game is true Devil May Cry action that countless fans have fallen in love with time and time again in the past. The added layer of the diversity to the games combat system coupled with the new and improved platforming components make this a must own to any Devil May Cry fan who may have been on the fence, and a definite hit with gamers looking for a stellar action title to kick the year off with a bang.
Reviewed on PC