It’s been a long and mostly uphill road for Ninja Theory’s new reboot of the Devil May Cry franchise aptly named DmC: Devil May Cry. Many fans flat out rejected Dante’s edgy new look which, among other changes, featured him sporting black hair instead of the original Dante’s signature white.
It wasn’t long before labels like “goth” and “emo” were being slung around by close-minded critics who refused to even give either the new game or Dante’s new look a chance. And to them I say “sucks to be you” because they’re missing out on a fun and stylish new adventure that more than accomplishes its goal of ushering Dante and co. into a new era of gaming.
The story behind DmC: Devil May Cry should feel instantly familiar to fans of the original games but it also contains a few fresh spins to keep things interesting. In a world where all of mankind is being secretly enslaved by the demon lord Mundus thanks to a corrupt media network and a popular soft drink that claims to make people more fit and “sexually potent” but instead makes them more lazy and docile, an underground terrorist organization known only as “The Order” seeks to stop Mundus and end his tyrannical reign over humans for good.
The Order enlists the aid of Dante; a fiery and brash young man who seems to have a knack for killing demons and who Mundus apparently wants dead. The Order’s leader reveals himself to be Dante’s twin brother Vergil and he explains to Dante that they are both actually “Nephalim”; children born of a union between angelic and demonic parents. Vergil goes on to explain that, because of their heritage, he and Dante are the only two people who can stop Mundus for good and Dante begrudgingly agrees to help.
Many of the game’s missions take place in “Limbo”; a parallel and nightmarish reflection of the real world in which the true extent of Mundus’s corruption is laid bare and where Dante’s greatest enemy is often the environment itself. As Dante fights his way through legions of Mundus’s minions, the environment will shift, collapse, and even try to crush Dante within itself, forcing the player to stay on their toes even when there are no enemies present. These environmental shifts allow DmC to retain the light platforming the series is known for while also adding a dynamic new twist to the standard level layouts.
Much like the game’s environments, DmC’s combat system manages to feel both fresh and familiar while also being very newbie-friendly. Out of all of Dante’s new tricks, the addition of not one but two different grapple abilities, one that yanks enemies and objects towards him and one that instead launches him towards them, is one of the most welcome. The latter grapple ability can allow for near-infinite juggle combos and can keep Dante zipping around the battlefield like lightning while the former can rob enemies of their shields and keep them close, negating their ranged attacks.
Dante starts out with just his signature Rebellion sword and twin Ebony & Ivory pistols but by the end of the game he’s packing a total of five melee weapons (two angelic, two demonic, and Rebellion) and three different firearms (his pistols, a shotgun, and a bazooka/needle gun hybrid aptly called “Kablooey”). The angelic “Osiris” scythe and “Aquila” spin-blades trade power for speed and the ability to hit multiple foes at once while the demonic “Arbiter” axe and “Eryx” gauntlets sacrifice speed for heavy damage and the ability to smash through enemy shields and barriers.
All of Dante’s weapons can be switched out and interchanged on the fly using the left and right triggers and the d-pad, allowing for some truly stylish and stunning combos. Using the game’s simplified upgrade system, new combos and moves can be purchased for each weapon and since there’s no penalty or limit for refunding spent upgrade points, experimenting to find your preferred combat style is encouraged.
So, Dante’s got some cool new combat moves up his sleeve and some dynamic new environments to traverse, but how does he hold up as a character? Ninja Theory definitely took more inspiration from Devil May Cry 3 than anything else but the new DmC Dante is much more than just a straight-up copy of his previous white-haired incarnation. His dialogue and banter with other characters, while groan-inducing at times, is actually often quite clever and funny. His playful sibling spats with Vergil in particular never failed to elicit a few chuckles from me and even his constant taunts towards the game’s villains had me saying “hell ya!” far more often than “oh brother…”.
If I did have to find fault with the game, it would really only be minor things such as Dante’s seemingly constant habit of falling into bottomless pits or the fact that the game pretty much forces you to backtrack to earlier missions using newly acquired weapons and items if you want to unlock all of the secret collectibles and areas (which I’m sure won’t even be a problem for players who enjoy beating the game on multiple difficulties).
Also the game’s story has a much more mature audience in mind, featuring heavy themes of graphic violence, mature language, and sexual content. Personally I didn’t mind all the scantily-clad angel strippers and f-bombs being thrown around but this is definitely *not* a game I’d recommend playing while young children or your conservative grandparents are around.
Overall I’d say that this reboot is more than worth the time and money of both Devil May Cry fans and anyone looking for a new action-combat platformer to sink their teeth into. Not everyone may be totally sold on Dante’s new direction but, personally, my faith in the series was never really shaken and it’s nice to see my confidence in Ninja Theory paid off.