It has been over 4 years since we last saw Dante in his signature red coat, but the legendary demon hunter has undergone a new style in his new debut reboot DmC: Devil May Cry. Many people lament on the change, voicing their vulgar remarks at the sudden shift without trying the product for themselves. However DmC relies on the same lore and gameplay that made this beloved franchise a success while taking a new path. While the story remains bland throughout the adventure the strong voice-acting and intense gameplay makes this new addition to the notorious franchise a wonderful experience. DmC may look and sound different but it plays just like Devil May Cry.
Dante and Vergil are Nephilim, a being imbued with the abilities of heaven and hell that are born from an angel and demon. These creatures are the only ones capable of killing the demon king Mundus and he wants nothing less but the complete extermination of all the Nephilim. There demonic father, Sparta, was imprisoned for betraying Mundus when he fell in love with an angel named Eva. He took his revenge by killing his beloved wife but failed to kill the twins. Now Mundus controls the world through debt, surveillance, media and a popular soft drink. But Vergil seeks to stop Mundus and recruits Dante to assist him in eliminating the demon king’s hold on humanity. It's a simple tale but that has been present for all DMC games.
Where the game truly distinguishes itself from other DMC titles is in the writing and soundtrack. Dante is still cocky and has an ego to match while Vergil maintains his calm attitude and his desire to be in control of everything. However unlike the other games characters interact more often, using strong language and sharing vital details about their personality, background and objectives. While the voice-acting is stellar the story is simple, don’t expect a complex narrative that will leave you thinking. As for the music you can expect a lot of heavy metal music from Combichrist. While it fits the atmosphere of this new world it won’t have you turning your headset on to deafening volume. These aspects alienate DmC from other Devil May Cry games but it doesn’t go far enough to completely segregate it from the franchise.
Where the game remains true to past games in the franchise is in its gameplay. Dante has access to both angelic and demonic powers, as well as an assortment of guns. In his demon form Dante can access slow but powerful weapons to break shielded enemies defenses and create devastating attacks. In his angel form Dante can use quick and effective crowd controlling weapons that lack offensive capabilities. Switching between each form is quick and easy, simply hold down the trigger for either form to access the weapons. In his standard form, known as “human”, Dante can use his sword Rebellion and a selection of guns. This gives Dante the ability to use any weapon in his arsenal easily, allowing for some sophisticated combos to fill the ever popular stylish meter and your devil trigger gauge. By completing a certain combat objective players earn points that are displayed on the right hand of the screen. Earning more points will raise your rank to earn the desired SSS ranking at the end of the mission, as long as you don’t die or use items to reduce your rating.
Similar to Nero from Devil May Cry 4 Dante can now grapple enemies. Instead of have a specific style, like in DMC 3 or DMC 4, Dante uses both angelic and demonic forms allow him to pull enemies toward him or pull himself to them. This allows for easily combos without the need to properly use and maintain the enemy cancellation technique. Outside of combat these grappling hooks are used to pull platforms, move objects and swing onto ledges. It’s a easy concept to grasp and a vital technique to master in both platforming and combat.
But what is the point of having these abilities to your disposal without challenging enemies to face, fortunately DmC delivers a wide array of opponents to eliminate. Each demon has a specific pattern that is forced to follow. They highlight each attack with a pose before attacking, allowing you to anticipate each attack. This makes large and small fights relatively reasonable, forcing the player to be constantly alert of every enemy on the battlefield. And by killing these demons you are rewarded with red orbs that can be used to upgrade Dante in various ways such as health, devil trigger and moves. However the lack of lock-on mechanic and a shaky camera can cause the player to lose track of a specific target or grab the wrong one, making large fights annoying when trying to handle multiple foes with different fighting conditions. The boss fights, while impressive, rarely allow you to truly test your combat skills and rely solely on how you memorize striking patterns and weaknesses. But creating a bloody mosaic of your opponents is always satisfying regardless of who it is.
The levels are beautifully crafted renditions of a real world dragged into a demonic land called Limbo. In this universe the ordinary world is twisted into a malevolent environment that seeks your death. The walls will attempt to crush you as vulgar words begin to show on the landscape or you’ll suddenly be able to see the silhouettes of tortured humans in the real world. These environments are visually breathtaking but rarely have any affect on the combat, which is a shame. Limbo houses an array of hidden collectables such as keys and damn souls waiting to be freed by your blade. The keys however allow Dante to unlock hidden doors and access challenge areas that hold upgrades if completed. The issue is that these collectables affect your overall ranking, making them mandatory for those seeking to gain a SSS ranking in any mission. Limbo definitely reinforces the presentation of DmC and offers some challenging platforming such as navigating through a television show’s graphics or escape a collapsing landscape.
Those people who were fearful of Ninja Theory’s new take on the Devil May Cry franchise, like I was, can abandon those feelings now. Despite his new look Dante retains the same attitude of the original character and his ability to perform impressive attacks using various weapons. While the story still remains tawdry its fast dynamic combat is more accessible than other Devil May Cry games. Despite the camera issues and the lack of lock-on mechanic the gameplay is thrilling throughout the game. While Dante’s past adventures have provided hours of entertainment DmC: Devil May Cry has illuminated a brand new future for the demon hunter, and it’s going to be a one hell of a party.