Good job Ninja Theory for not completely ruining the Devil May Cry experience, although I never thought you would. No matter how much hate people threw at the new Dante and his game, I was adamant to try this game out and I wasn’t disappointed, not wholly at least.
The game begins in a peculiar sort of way, being introduced to a dirt poor sex devil we now know as Dante. The game pretty much throws you in at the deep end, the first boss fight coming shortly after wandering around the first level in search of hidden doors, keys and lost souls. Apparently freeing lost souls is the same as killing them, poor guys never caught a break. The first level is supposed to act as an introduction, but as a button mashing game with a few tactical combos here and there, introductions are a thing of the past, I just smashed buttons till I figured out what each of them do.
That’s pretty much where the first fault is, it’s not “easy” but it’s not “hard” either. Here and there there are foes that will test your patience and ability to kill, such as the Japanese demon-samurai looking thing and the patch-work saw-handed giant, those can be tricky, but for the rest of them, including a vast majority of the bosses are easy to figure out and once you figure them out you’ll be on your way to the kill. And after a bit anyone would get tired of getting thrown into the same sort of arena with the same sort of creature line up and only switching up tactics a little bit to welcome the samurai demon or the saw giant. Each time you unlock a new weapon (of which there are 6, not including Rebellion, Ebony and Ivory), you are thrown into a room where you are “supposed” to use these weapons, as a kind of practice, pretty predictable. Counter this by unlocking yourself the final difficulty modes and test yourself, those modes are truly hard, but I can’t help but feel a little bit of “samey-samey”.
But it’s not all bad, the comedy dished out by Dante at every turn never gets old, the sheer amount of puns have me wondering if they designed the game around the puns or the puns around the game. The cinematic value, whilst not the most beautiful game out there, represents a tight bond between actor and character. Since most of the voice actors were on board from the very beginning to help form their characters, a lot of the cinematic parts of DmC feel more real than usual, the acting is more genuine.
The difference between this game and the previous Devil May Cry games by Capcom are foremost, the developers. Having a different view on things, Ninja Theory have modernized the old, cocky, tango-dancing, brash minded Dante we knew to the cocky, caring, pun-making, self-righteous Dante we know now. And of course, with a new developer comes a new story, the main focus of Dante’s new story is the concept of “Limbo”. Limbo being an alteration of the real world, where Demons run the show, well they run the show everywhere apparently, but “Limbo” is a place where they pull Dante and other unwanted personell to deal with them, and it looks fantastic!
The first time you encounter Limbo (first mission, no surprise), isn’t the first time Dante has been to limbo, which leads me to ask why the story decided to pick up at this particular time in Dante’s life (random?). Limbo serves as a cracked up, messed up world, where the surface of the earth is all you stand on and beneath the cobblestones of an English city lies certain death (by falling). It’s supposed to be this huge wasteland created by demons to confuse and kill Dante. In theory, that’s amazing. (by the way, everyone in this “British” city is American, why?)
In practice, the freedom and roaming that “Limbo” would suggest isn’t there at all. While the game does have hidden doors (to be opened with certain keys that you find around the mission areas) and areas you can get to by opening a hole in the wall with a certain angel or demon weapon to collect a lost soul or some extra red orbs, it can’t help but be completely linear. There is absolutely no way to get lost, or to go exploring. Where this DmC game fails, the previous ones have succeeded. When you could traverse between areas (required loading screens though) and explore the DmC world, whilst not huge it was still kind of open world whereas now Dante is on a linear path to demon killing. The game ushers you along a brisk campaign that hurls you from fight to fight to boss to boss.
Not to say that linear is bad, it’s just different and something I think Ninja Theory should have opted out of and followed in Capcom’s shoes. I can think of tons of ways Limbo could be incorporated in the area phases that the original Devil May Cry games had. Apart from being linear (which isn’t entirely bad), you spend most of your time in Limbo looking at unrecognizable structures so theres no real connection with the city, it’s basically a ton of rubble to you. You’ll be going into limbo and then inside your head to your personal limbo so many times, even DiCaprio would be proud. Whilst the game isn’t quite as open-ended as I would have hoped, the concept of Limbo is really cool, with it’s shortcomings it makes up for it by being extremely complex in visuals and maintains stunning variety whilst keeping you engaged in the gameplay throughout.
Combat-wise, Ninja Theory gives you the option (and forces you to use the option later)to switch between Dante’s normal sword and a choice of one out of two weapons for the Angel and Demon side. Meaning that if you hold the right or left trigger, Dante’s weapon changes into a demon or an angel weapon. These different weapons and such are needed for specific things. This is pretty neat and makes for some excellent combo moves combined with everyone’s favorite Devil Trigger. Off-screen enemies don’t really attack you so you can’t be blindsided, and every attack of the enemy has a counter attack and an animation to warn you. The combat is definitely something to be enjoyed, it’s rich and intelligent. With Bloody Palace mode coming out soon, you won’t ever get enough of DmC’s combat.
As you play through the game, you’ll notice hidden places and areas that you can’t get to, and then discover that you obtain the weapon or item to get through that blockade or door later in the game, you can then go back to that mission to open it up and see whats inside. So the linearity isn’t all bad, the game offers compensation by giving you the incentive to go back, open doors with whatever key it needs and compete in the mini-mission behind that door, and find all the hidden collectibles (for all you trophy hoarders). All the scores (side-missions and main missions) are uploaded to Leaderboards so you can also see how you fared agains the rest of the world.
The shadow of a story that hangs over the game feels like it could be so much more bigger and badder, whilst there are characters that were developed superbly for the very purpose of the game, the story itself feels like it falls behind. Why is all this happening now, why did it take so long for Hunter Demons to find Dante now? How did Vergil realize who he was? Why is Vergil such an insensitive dick? A lot of questions to be asked that Ninja Theory doesn’t really answer. With a little more fine tuning and maybe some extension the campaign could have offered a meaty story with rich set of characters, instead we have one of the two.
All in all, the game does live up to expectations and since expectations on the majority were pretty crap, I’d say it has outdone the expectations laid down by the hardcore DmC fans. I loved the original Devil May Cry series, they were fantastic and I played the crap out of them, especially the last one. Ninja Theory’s new Dante isn’t so bad, and the new game, while different and slightly flawed, is still worthy of being part of the button mashing hack and slash game series that Devil May Cry represents.
A bit too linear and sometimes a little repetitive, DmC earns a 3.5, not the best DmC I’ve played, but it’s not bad, not bad at all.