Review: DmC: Devil May Cry Does Not Deserve The Hate

DmC: Devil May Cry is the reboot of the Devil May Cry series. It was developed by Ninja Theory, the same people who helmed Heavenly Sword and Enslaved, both of which were under-appreciated, but flawed games. DmC has been getting a lot of attention recently as it has bitterly divided the community.  DmC has been the most recent recipient of the Metabomb. This is where a group of individuals spam extremely low user scores on Metacritic in order to prove some sort of point. In this case, there is a segment of the fanbase that is unhappy with the fact that their beloved series has been rebooted. This is understandable to a point as nobody likes it when the universe they love disappears. However, the level of hatred this game is getting is unacceptable, and I intend to tell you why as part of the review. Before I start, I want to explain my experience with the series. I have owned and beaten every Devil May Cry; although, I couldn’t bring myself to get through Devil May Cry 2 or 4 more than once. I have played and beaten Dante Must Die mode in Devil May Cry 1 and 3, and cleared both games at least a half a dozen times each. I am far from the most fanatical fan, but I know what I’m talking about. So without further ado, here is the review.

Nobody can deny the poor, generic box art.
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First let’s start with the most important part of any Devil May Cry game: combat. Your character will have access to a growing number of weapons, some demonic and some angelic (The type only matters against certain immune enemies). In total, you will end up with five melee weapons and three different guns. All of these weapons can be toggled on and used mid combat. This means that you won’t have to open any inventories to change weapons, and the switch is quick and seamless, only requiring the holding down of the shoulder buttons. Switching weapons in mid combat is not new to the series (Devil May Cry 4 did it as well), but it is handled better here, and you can do some incredible combos when you get good at switching your weapons around. Another combat element taken from the fourth game in the series is Dante’s ability to pull enemies to him, or pull himself towards enemies. This means that you never have to run over to an enemy, which means the combo can keep going. Aerial combat especially benefits from this. The combo system in DmC is excellent. Each weapon has a fairly limited pool of moves, but being able to string together any of them in a single combo opens up a staggering amount of possibilities. One potential downside to combat is the lack of a lock-on, which was featured in previous games. However, this game focuses on group combat a lot more than previous game, and the lack of a lock-on makes it much easier to move around between enemies at will. There are occasional times where you will want to focus on a specific enemy and the game will accidentally target an enemy in front of you, but these instances are rare, and can be avoided by proper positioning.

Choices: Do you keep the aerial combo going or do you switch to the sword and slam the enemies down?
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Difficulty has been a major concern among fans. DmC has been accused of being far too easy and appealing only to the casual market. This is misleading. DmC is considerably easier than previous Devil May Cry games in only two areas. Firstly there are bosses. Bosses in this game are well designed from an artistic standpoint, but are really boring to fight, and not a single one of them should pose a challenge to even the most inexperienced gamer. Secondly, there is the rating system. It is far easy to get an SSS rank in this game. It can be achieved through spamming, which eliminates an incentive to be creative with combos. However, the regular battles in the game are probably harder than any other Devil May Cry game, especially when you move on to the harder modes. There is a significant amount of enemy variation, and enemies can really wreck Dante if they get their hands on him. You aren’t rewarded as much for making incredible combos because of the flawed ranking system, but this doesn’t remove the fact that the combo system is so fun that it’s worth getting a lower rank just to play with it.

Here’s a picture that perfectly encompasses this game’s shortcomings.
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Platforming takes on a gameplay focus in DmC. This is a major red flag and something I was worried about in my demo impressions. Most of the time when an action game attempts platforming, it is a sloppy mess due to the positioning of the camera in action games, as well as the general clunky movement outside of combat. DmC’s platforming largely escapes those problems. Platforming is preformed mostly using an aerial dash and using Dante’s ability to pull things and himself. What makes platforming work in this game is the speed behind it. It is rare to have a slow platforming section, which means that it serves as a nice break from combat instead of frustratingly pulling you away from it. It isn’t perfect, and it relies on the same tricks over and over again, but it gets the job done, and moves you though its world in a way that past Devil May Cry games were unable to do when they attempted any kind of platforming.

You’re going to have to get good at holding the shoulder buttons.
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The story has been under heavy criticism from Devil May Cry fans. I have to remind these fans that the best Devil May Cry storyline was an absolute piece of garbage that even a toddler would be embarrassed to have written. There is more character development and subtext in a Dragon Ball Z episode. Dante himself has not once been a consistent character. Going from whiney in DMC1, nearly mute in DMC2, cheesy and over the top in DMC3, and a man child in DMC4. DmC’s Dante isn’t a great character, but he has considerably more going for him than previous Dante’s, whose major selling point was that they looked cool. DmC doesn’t have a fantastic story. It tries to be politically relevant, but most of the time, they are being so blunt that it’s hard to take it seriously. Most of the characters are one note, and not a huge amount happens in the game. Despite this, it is significantly better than any Devil May Cry storyline that has ever been made. An attempt was made to develop many of the characters. This attempt mostly failed, succeeding only with Dante himself, but an attempt is better than the garbage we had been getting before. There are some good ideas here, mostly the ideas ripped off from They Live, and the game only rarely falls completely flat on its face. I loved the old Devil May Cry games, but the story was not worth anyone’s time.

Yeah, this was a really well told narrative.
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The level design in this game deserves its own paragraph. I was worried after the demo that the game would be stuck in the ugly-looking brown city that was showcased. I’m happy to say that I was wrong and the level design in this game is amazing, blowing away most games in the genre. There is everything from the boring brown city, to a crimson themed amusement park, to a beautiful nightclub level, to the standard castle-like environments of past Devil May Cry games. Part of the beauty of this game comes from the concept of Purgatory. Purgatory is where all of the combat takes place. Dante is dragged into Purgatory when he is noticed by the enemy as part of the Big Brother theme that runs through the game. As part of this, purgatory is always changing and levels reflect this with platforms shifting and whole stages changing mid-level. Ninja Theory uses this idea to its fullest, creating some really memorable levels and set pieces.

There is some great level design here.
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DmC certainly took the series in a new direction, and many have been accusing it of not being a Devil May Cry game. From my personal experience, there was never a single moment where I didn’t feel like I was playing a Devil May Cry game. The combat, while somewhat held back by lacklustre bosses and a poor ranking system, is among, if not the best in the series. It doesn’t reach the heights of Bayonetta, but this is a truly fun game for fans of the original and newcomers. The story isn’t great, but I find it hard to hold it against the game as most action game stories aren’t great, and every Devil May Cry story has been considerably worse. The worst thing I can say about this game is that the rabid fanbase might actually stop some people from being able to enjoy it. Ninja Theory has finally made a game that I wouldn’t considered a flawed game, but instead an excellent one.

Pros

– Addicting gameplay
– Great flow
– Large enemy variety
– Excellent level design

Cons

– Boss battles are weak
– The ranking system is poor

Score 9

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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