Before we even get into any actual reviewing of the game, let me just flash my Devil May Cry credentials at you.
I’ve completed every game, start to finish, on near enough every difficulty available to me. Only difficulties I don’t feel the need to bother with are the ‘Heaven or Hell’ and ‘Hell and Hell’ difficulties. Being one hit kill modes… they feel like the drain something out of the games. ‘Hell and Hell’ is a little better, if a load more difficult, but it still opens you up to one hit deaths due to environment reasons, and the platforming in these games has been mediocre at best. Oh, and I’ve liked all of the games, to a degree. The first was great, really cemented the series and laid down some firm foundations for the rest. The second was okay. Nothing amazing, but nothing that really smashed the series into dust. The little augmenty runey feature was nice though, letting you change the properties of some things, letting you shoot lightning from your guns when in Devil Trigger and whatnot. The third was probably the best. It expanded on everything that was great about the previous games, amped it up a bit, and brought us the style mechanism to combat, allowing greater variety. The fourth is, in my opinion, the worst. I just didn’t like the tone of it, feeling like it came across as some kind of pilot for a spin-of at best, or a bizarrely well-funded fan game. The introduction of Nero just made the game fall apart, as it necessitated an entirely different set of combos for him, and made the story ridiculously unfocused, making Dante’s appearance feel like nothing more than obligation. It was okay, but felt incredibly rushed. The on-the-go style change they introduced for Dante was a great touch though.
Oh, and I watched the anime. More for Reuben Langdon’s voice than anything else. It was okay, though not really relevant to the games.
And now onto the main part of this, the review of DmC. Now, I’ve felt like I’m in a bit of a bind here. On one hand, I’d like to judge the game based entirely on it’s own merits, but I also feel that there should be comparisons made to the previous entries in the series. I’ve decided that the comparisons will inevitably be drawn anyway, so I may as well preempt any criticism of myself and get it in here, rather than bat off anyone else when the time comes. But where to start? I’m going to start where all the criticism started initially: Dante.
We all know Dante. Before this game was announced I wouldn’t have hesitated to say that we all loved him as well, but fanon discontinuity is bound to rear it’s head, and probably already has within some circles of people, and make sure that some people just pretend that this isn’t Dante. It is. His original design, with his iconic hair and coat, has been thrown out (on Capcom’s orders, mind you) and replaced with our new Dante. And I’ve warmed to him. At first, I’ll admit, I didn’t like him. The change was just wrong to me. Then again, this was a couple years ago, and over those years what I’m tolerant of has changed. Now I’m willing to give things a proper try before throwing them out. Now I’m willing to see more positives in things. There is a line that I’ve crossed. Where I once wouldn’t have bared to even dream of sitting through Twilight, and now I have little animosity towards it, even admiring it for pushing Robert Pattinson (one of my favourite people ever) into the spotlight. Where I was once quite snobbish about music, looking down on everything I didn’t like, I now have a much vaster library of sounds encompassing a much broader spectrum of genres. Where I once hated near enough every iota of the Harry Potter movies, I… Actually, that hasn’t really changed. I probably hate more of it now. But yeah, I was a lot more open to the change in design by the time I got around to playing the demo for this game.
He’s not that bad either. Obviously this is extremely subjective, but I like it. The change is different, quite extremely so, but it works, especially given the rest of the games aesthetics. Even the Classic Dante costume in the upcoming DLC (seriously, Capcom?) has enough of a change to it that makes it reminiscent of the days of old, but still fits into the game’s aesthetic and tone. Old-school Dante just wouldn’t work as well as this new design does within the more realistic style. Because, seriously, people just don’t walk about with a coat on yet still exposing their bare chest. It looks cool, but it doesn’t look real.
As a character, he holds his own as well. Detractors will point out that he’s pretty much uninterested in the goings on at the beginning of the game, being generally uninterested in helping out, but I say that it plays to his strengths. Sure, he doesn’t have the same flare for adventure and whatnot that the old Dante did, but it works. Because he eventually does. He experiences a character arc, in that respect, something that I always felt was missing from the old games. His general disposition for snarkiness is also somewhat intact as well. I say somewhat because, like the game’s tone in general, it’s taken a slight turn for the more realistic and serious. It’s a bit shorter, a bit more direct, and a bit more… colourful. Like his crimson coated predecessor, he definitely has his moments.
The Supporting Cast
I’m going to go right ahead and start with Kat. I know a fair amount of people are more interested in Vergil, but I’m saving him for the end of this section. So, we’re starting with Kat. I like her. She looks like a person. She sounds like a person. She acts like a person. She’s not the greatest character ever, not the most complex, or any of that stuff. But I like her in the same way I like Aeris; she’s one of the most inoffensive people you can think of, and makes our heroes paint themselves with their true colours. Where Aeris made Cloud drop the tough introvert facade and show that he really does care about people, at the very least, Kat does the same. She pulls Dante out of his act of indifference and show that he actually does care about getting rid of the demons and helping people. I’ve seen some people say that she’s not realistic in that manner, saying that there’s no reason for Dante to do anything because of her, but let me say this: It’s heavily implied that, before the start of the story, Dante was a loner. He even says as much. Nobody has stuck themselves out for him, and the few women he comes into contact with are his shallow sexual releases, generally indifferent to him, or were demons in disguise. Kat’s the first and only woman, maybe even the first person, who has stuck their neck out for him and helped, without him asking. Sure, she has an agenda, but she doesn’t force him into anything and comes off as a genuinely nice person. While she is something of a thinly veiled love interest (meaning that it’s pretty much only implied, nothing is outright said or shown), it doesn’t make her unrealistic or a generally bad character.
I’m just going to skim over the more minor characters now, which basically means the bosses and maybe one other guy. Because this is a Devil May Cry game. if you don’t want to know who the bosses are, skip over the next couple of paragraphs to where I’ll go over our big bad, Mundus. First, I’m going to superskim over the first couple of bosses. The Hunter Demon (I don’t think there’s a name given, I’m pretty sure it’s just “Hunter”) is our first boss, and generally unremarkable in a character sense. It’s there because the demons have found Dante and it’s been sent to capture him and/or kill him. Clearly, the Hunter has a depth to it that was previously unknown to mankind. Poison is the second boss. She’s a succubus, and is somewhat notorious. She’s got a foul mouth and temperament, but otherwise is unremarkable. The astute players of the demo, or those that have seen/read other stuff about the game, will note that she is the provider of the secret ingredient of the most popular drink in DmC’s universe, Virility (hence the name of the level). Again, some people might have noticed something; the boss and the set-up are heavily reminiscent of the episode of Futurama with the Slurm factory. Not that it takes anything away from the game or anything, but it’s quite noticeable to fans of the show. It’s also a good thing to bring up that this game is quite comfortable giving references to other works. It likes to out it’s inspirations rather than pretend that it’s entirely original, which I can always enjoy.
Of slightly more note is Bob Barbas, anchorman for Raptor News. Bob is not human, but rather a demon in disguise, and spews blatantly biased propaganda in such a way that is easy to draw comparisons to Fox News and Bill O’Reilly. Or so I’m told. I’m British, I don’t really have access to these things. The only thing I know about Bill O’Reilly is that memetic video, which is essentially the only thing that let me know that he was some kind of expy of him because of something he says during his boss fight. Generally the character of Bob Barbas doesn’t have a whole lot of impact on the game, but he does come across effectively. He’s got that somewhat sleazy, holier than thou attitude down to a T, and he definitely has the right looks for it. Once you hit the boss battle though, you are treated to a GIANT FLOATY HEAD OF DEATH. It’s a lot better than it sounds.
Lilith is our resident evil lady. She’s Mundus’ mistress. She exists solely to provide a sounding board for Mundus. And for Mundus’ more… primal needs. There’s a little more to her, but I can’t go into detail without breaking into spoiler territory, but there is more to her. She also provides that… less savoury female appearance in the game. She resembles that lovely old horror adage “I’m going to wear your skin.” She’s baggy. Not old person baggy, but “I’m going to wear your skin” baggy. She’s definitely aspirational though, clearly wanting to be the one to bring Dante’s corpse over to Mundus for some recognition. Or ‘recognition.’
Now let’s give Mundus a good kicking until we can crack the surface, peer inside and see what complexities lie within the fleshy mound that we deem to be his organs. Or something a little more normal sounding. Well, those of us that have played previous games, or heard of what goes on in them, will likely be familiar with Mundus, to a degree. Rather than the super-evil murder killer demon of the world, here he is… A corrupt banker. AND IT WORKS. He is still a super demon, but he’s not overt about it. Fitting in with the setting and story, he’s more covert about his demonic roots and more realistic in his operations, controlling the world through economic means rather than just trying to blow it up. Or whatever. But he also seems like a villain that wouldn’t be out of place in any other realistic work, supernatural powers excluded. While, yes, he does explicitly want the control of the world, he never seems to want to drive the world into the ground and destroy everything. He claims he brought order with him when he took a grip of the worlds economics, and that’s what should always be present in any work that is in any kind of realistic setting. Because villains are not evil in their eyes. If they want to take over the world, they need a reason for doing what they do, and they gave Mundus a reason. And he doesn’t look bad either. The sharp suited bald guy look is an amazing one for a villain, and SWEET MERCY his voice is pure beauty. He’s sure of himself, in every way, and it’s so good.
Finally, we come to Vergil. He’s always a bundle of joy, isn’t he? Honestly, I’ve not been a great fan of the character previously. Ignoring the stint he had in the first game because, seriously, that wasn’t substantial in any way. In DMC3, however, he only had a level of coolness to him. He was the calm collected twin, the smarter one. But that was it. He didn’t seem to have a reason for bringing up that tower to gain UNLIMITED POWAH(!) but, then again, Devil May Cry has never been one for great story or villains, generally just revolving around something taking over the world. Even so, he was, quite frankly, barely above being one dimensional. Here, though, he at least has a bit more depth to him. He’s the leader of The Order. Not the one from the fourth game (another thing I disliked about that game), but rather a resistance movement. Against the demons. They’re apparently well versed within the knowledge that they need to know to fight back against Mundus, knowing what people and placed they’d need to hit to weaken Mundus’ grip. Vergil, being at the head of all of this, is clearly a smart guy. In fact, he’s such a smart guy that he’s made a lot of money out of computer programs or something, which is a nice way to handwave the mass of tech that his hideout is packing.
As far as his personality goes, he’s a lot more amiable, though that often comes hand-in-hand with being a protagonist to the story. He’s a lot friendlier with Dante and they have the occasional bit of banter between them. The fact that he’s the leader of The Order also means that he’s the designated exposition speaker, and, because of equal parts writing and voice acting, you get a great sense of pride coming off of him, and it works so well.
Visually, it’s going to be the same fare as Dante. New game, new design. Again, I’m a fan. There’s a small, teeny tiny problem I have though… He looks too perfect. He has that chiseled jawline, perfectly styled hair, he’s got the cheekbones that aren’t too shallow or too gaunt. He’s so damn pretty. His outfit is freaking awesome as well. He’s got style. He’s sharply dressed. Those trousers look like the finest damn trousers I’ve ever seen in my life, and those shoes scream ‘class.’ Obviously, however, the main piece is that longcoat. That work of art. If this isn’t the most awesome longcoat in existence, I have not seen what is. That floral pattern puts Adam Jensen’s coat to shame, and that coattail. Honestly, I know I’m gushing over this, but damn this is one of the greatest character designs ever, in my opinion. It’s not too extravagant or flamboyant, but it’s not dull enough for it to be boring. It looks sensational without straying from realism. This is the kind of thing that you could just wear. And that is so appealing to me.
This won’t really take long. It’s a flaw in the general hack ‘n’ slash formula, as story tends to be neglected. Devil May Cry really isn’t much of an exception. This game does do something for that, however. Now, as I’ve said, this game has a more realistic setting and tone than the previous games. Which is fine. If you stripped it down, you could argue that it follows the same standard formula (“Holy corporate demons, Dante! Go hit the bad things!”) this one at least weaves more of a narrative throughout the story. The story is one of those with something of a political undertone to it. The demons are controlling everything from behind the scenes, and The Order wants to stop their reign. Unfortunately, with Mundus being some kind of demonic god, legend dictates that only a nephilim (someone born from angel and demon parents) can defeat them. Dante and Vergil are the only known nephilim and, while Vergil could try to fight Mundus, he’d rather not. He’s kept his existence secret from Mundus, whereas Dante is known. The fact that Vergil would much rather not reveal himself so that he can orchestrate things from the background means the Dante needs to be brought in. Dante is located at the beginning of our story, and Vergil has decided it’s time to put plans into motion.
It feels extremely substantial in comparison to the older games, especially with the extra character moments inserted into and between levels, as it gives a sense of depth to the world that the older games lacked.
This game is worth it only for the visuals. I’m going to throw it right out there. It nails the normal world, making it seem just like a city would. Our stone buildings and everything they encompass, and are encompassed by, have that dreary grey stone colour to them that lends amazingly to the realistic setting. But that’s not where the majority of the game takes place, though I wouldn’t have been all the bothered if it had. Instead of the real world, the game mostly takes place in Limbo. While you get to see areas of the real world in some small gameplay parts, and a handful of cutscenes, you are going to spend most of your time in Limbo and you will love it. The dreary grey is gone and instead you’re assaulted by colour and life as you transition into the demon infested reality. Buildings will shift awkwardly, the ground will tear itself from existence, and black ooze that looks like it’s leaking from the cracks in reality will find it’s way over everything and even block your path at times. Being essentially an alternate reality, this isn’t some kind of shift to another world either. You will often see places that were real warp in front of you when the transition to Limbo is made. The Virility factory that you visit is an area that you travel through in the real world and have to find your way back to a certain room in Limbo. You see the changes that have been made and it is splendid.
The enemies aren’t anything to ignore either. There’s a nice handful of different designs that the game has. We’ve got the Stygians, our basic mook that comes in three different flavour, and each one gets progressively more powerful and varied, and each time their look gets more vicious. The Stygians, Ravagers and Knights, all being the more basic ground enemies, have this somewhat off-putting stance. It looks somewhat feral, they have this kind of backwards lean to them, and it makes them somewhat grotesque. You’ll find that black ooze over a few enemies, and the game generally has more of a horror tone when it comes to it’s enemies, and it doesn’t work to it’s detriment.
Where the game absolutely shines in a visual respect is when it the game gets bombastic with what it does with Limbo. The boss fight with Bob Barbas is probably one of the best examples of great boss visuals, ever. It takes a similar aesthetic to TRON. You fight him in one of the trippiest segments ever, everything’s all technicolour, and it is such a simple concept and it’s pulled off fantastically.
Here it is. The big one. Regardless of what anyone says, the gameplay will always be the biggest aspect of any of these kinds of game. And it’s okay people. You can calm down. DmC is good. You’ve probably all heard the naysayers scream betrayal at 30 frames per second, but you won’t notice it. The game flows smoothly even at the “broken” 30fps, and you’ll never feel that a speed-up is necessary. The fighting flows well and hits lead to more hits, and you can dodge oh so well. But you want more detail? Okay.
We’ve got the Angel/Demon weapon stances. Holding down a button (L2/LT and R2/RT by default) will cause your weapon to change to the respective stance and with a weapon change, so does your fighting. Angel weapons are the speedy ones, and Demon weapons are what you’re going to use to cause heavy damage. I’ve heard naysayers say that this drastically reduces combo variations and makes the game slow down but, in all honesty, I don’t see that. Admittedly, there is a slight drop in combo possibilities than in DMC4, but the drop is not enough for it to be a problem. Every weapon has it’s uses. Even with the Red/Blue colour coded enemies, which can only be injured by a Demon/Angel weapon respectively, aren’t as much of an annoyance as people seem to make it out to be. Admittedly, it does strip your moveset by a fair chunk, but they are at least few and far between and, once you find extra weapons, there is a bit more variation you can throw out.
Now, I need to get this out of the way. This game has flaws. Minor flaws, but flaws nonetheless. One of them being the lack of a lock-on button. Generally, this isn’t all that bad as the game runs on some kind of auto lock-on, but at times, generally when there’s a load of enemies, as well as flying ones for good measure. Those times are the ones where you’ll want to get rid of the flyers first, but the lack of selective lock-on will occasionally mean that there’s a bit of difficulty there, especially when they’re flying around a few other enemies. The other flaw, and probably my most painful one, is the change to the Style Counter thing or whatever it’s called. You might know the thing I’m talking about. When you get into the flow of things, you’d get given style points and as you made it more varied and kept in the flow, it would get higher and you’d be given a higher ranks. That much happens in this game. But, where in the older games it would rapidly drop when you weren’t hitting things, now it barely drops at all. Even when it drops, you will not drop in rank unless you are hit. This aggravates me somewhat. While I wasn’t a great fan of the speed that you were penalised in the older games because I thought it seemed to encourage more berserk style attacking whereas I’m a fan of doing what looks cool, even if it is hanging back for a moment. But the new system advocates playing it safe too much which does kill the flow of things. I’d like more control over the flow of combat. I can see some good thing to this as it’s a lot more welcoming to new players, but there should still be some detriment for hanging back for more than a second or two.
Back on the good parts again, the difficulty is tweaked. I’ve seen people say it’s too easy based on the demo, but the demo is actually wrong. While, yes, Nephilim downwards is about the same in the actual game, Son of Sparda is quite different. It’s got the varied enemy waves, but the waves are different from in the demo. You will fight enemies from every part of the game in Son of Sparda whereas the demo has pretty much half of the enemies cut from it. Now, those of you used to the difficulty of older DMC games, you’ll probably want to go for Nephilim. The game basically admits that it’s for the veteran player. The other difficulties are good to introduce players though, and it’s fair play considering that Nephilim is available straight off the bat.
The platforming in the games is actually pretty satisfying as well. With the setting of Limbo and the new whip-grapple things, there’s a lot of variation in movement and it flows really well. They never go to the lengths that makes it so you require frame perfect action to carry on so it’s never too hard, but there’s a clear curve in difficulty that makes it so that it still stays as some kind of challenge. My only gripes with it is that they could have tried a bit more with the platforming, but that’s mostly because I’m a platforming nut. But, while I’m on the subject of P related gaming things… I remember another gripe I have with the game. A lack of puzzles. There is a shocking lack of puzzles for this game, and puzzles are something I really enjoy in a DMC game. But, whatever, it’s minor. Kind of…
You remember a few paragraphs ago where I said that boss fights are some of the greatest visual pieces in the game? Well, they’re also where the gameplay shines as well. They always form a brilliant climax for each section of the game. They’re challenging, and they have a gimmick to them that never feels too grating. They’re never obscure, but never as clean cut as simply hitting the damn thing. Again, I have to bring up the Bob Barbas fight again. It’s so much fun in that it stays varied, and it’s obvious what you have to do without it being blatantly signposted.
Something I’ve always enjoyed out of the series is it’s music. The metal soundtracks always conveyed that amazing frantic action so well that I was really looking forward to hearing the music. I was actually quite surprised when I found out that the music for this game was being done by Noisia and Combichrist. Admittedly, I hadn’t known Combichrist before this game, and shame on me for that, but I’m something of a fan of Noisia’s work and wanted to see what they could do. I was not disappointed. When Noisia comes in, it just works. They get the incidental stuff down and, when Combichrist isn’t doing it, they get the fighting stuff down. The fact that they had Noisia working on this game is so evident once you hit the night club level. This is the level where they just let Noisia have fun with it, and IT IS AWESOME.
Combichrist does brilliantly as well. Their song “Never Surrender” serves as the theme for the game, and there’s also a few other licensed songs of theirs in the game and they are very good as well. The original songs they did for the game, however, are freaking brilliant. Seriously, if you’re a fan of that industrial metal sound of Devil May Cry, you owe it to yourself to buy No Redemption once it’s available for purchase. They all do a splendid job and it sounds like Devil May Cry all the way. I’m honestly torn over whether or not I want a new set of people doing the soundtrack for any further games in the series. These named artists came in and proved that it doesn’t have to be an in-house production, but I don’t want that quality of this game at risk.
We’ve finally come to the end of this review and there’s not all that much to say other than score it. Well, actually, there is something. You know that swearing in the game? I did a count, because I love you guys so much. There are sixty cases where somebody swears within this game. That’s really not that much. I had an eight-ish hour play time at the end of my first playthrough and let’s be generous and say that an hour of that is cutscenes where most dialogue takes place. That’s a swear a minute. That’s really not a lot. Anyone seen Eddie Murphy’s stand-up stuff? WAAAAAAAAAAAY bypasses that. But whatever, that’s the swearing gone over.
Final score? Well… I recommend this. Wholeheartedly. To me, it’s been deserving of every one of those high ratings it’s been given. The few and far between faults in the game are more minor nitpicks in nature rather than anything that impedes the game or the occasional fault that comes along with the Unreal Engine. If I had to give it a rating… It’d be a 9/10. While yes, there are minor faults, they really are minor. It is a brilliant game and deserves the praise it gets.