Devil May Cry first burst onto the PS2 in 2001. The game followed the anti-hero called Dante on a somewhat plotless grind through a castle. Dante was armed with a melee weapon, duel pistols, daft white hair, a bad attitude and a seriously barbed tongue. It was this barbed tongue and fluid combination style hack and slash that took an ordinary game into the echelons of PS2 immortality. Nine years and 4 sequels later Devil May Cry earned itself a reboot and then a definitive edition in 2015. Being a fan of the original series I decided to pick up a copy in a certain distributors Christmas sale.
To start with the reboot has a few bits you would expect. A sword, duel pistols, Dante and attitude. After the first cut scene you find yourself attacked by the first wave of low level bad guys which is accompanied with a chugging heavy metal riff as you start to literally melt face with your sword. The music suits the game style perfectly and you find yourself getting lost in the rhythm of the music and button taps to pull off combos and hit sequences. At first DMC seems like a button bashers dream and it can be played like this. However DMC truly shines when you master the combos and the different weapons. The combat becomes fluid and you challenge yourself to juggle an enemy, not take a hit or to use one of each weapon type per enemy pack. As you score combo points you gain a points modifier which is signalled by a voice over as you cut your way through swaths of demons.
The reboot is faithful to the original series in that Dante’s arsenal increases as you progress. This game has decided to focus on Dante’s duel nature as a Nephilim (half angel half demon.) Dante can use a demonic Axe or Gauntlets and an Angelic Scythe or Throwing Blades. Some enemies can only be damaged by demonic or angelic weapons and some walls can only be knocked down with certain weapons. This encourages you to master both sides of Dante’s personality. He also utilises a whip which he can use to manipulate the environment or enemies. Dante can also invoke his inner demon with an ability called the Devil Trigger. When this is active Dante regenerates health rapidly and all enemies are thrown into the air. While the bar ticks down you can continue to attack the stunned enemies.
The gameplay feels very fluid and face paced although the forced camera angle can sometimes let the flow down a little. A couple of times I found the camera angle spinning to be behind Dante when I wanted a wider angle, this caused me to fall off a ledge or get blind sided more times than I care to remember, although irritating it does not seriously hamper the game play.
Previous DMC titles have relied on the fast paced gameplay to win over fans and often neglected the actual story line. I believe the first game tells you that you’re the son of a demon but doesn’t really delve into the protagonists past or back story. This is where the reboot excels. Suffering from a forced amnesia, Dante is ripped from his life of womanising, booze and sarcasm into limbo, the demons parallel universe. With the assistance of a psychic medium called Kat and his twin brother Virgil he hunts a demon overlord (and ironically his deceased fathers boss) called Mundus.
The story is well scripted and set in a believable world where consumerism and social decay is forced on us by demon puppet masters. It is not a surprise to see Alex Garland’s name credited as the story supervisor. If you are unfamiliar with the dystopian post modern authors name you are probably more familiar with some of his work. Films such as 28 Days later, Dredd, Sunshine and Ex Machina are all his and his breakthrough novel was the cult classic The Beach. The story comes together quite nicely with a fairly obvious twist at the end. That said it does play out very nicely and puts the games protagonist in an interesting spot. Any Garland fans will be able to spot his input as he manages to make the story and the climax very human and real. It also finally deals with and explains Dante’s white hair.
In order to power up Dante or his arsenal of weapons DMC remains faithful to previous titles. You have to discover and use power up shrines. These allow you to swap souls for various power ups and skill ups. Skills come in the guise of new combos and abilities for your weapons and power ups come as health boosters or continue credits. Although you can change the difficulty of the game, I went through on a medium setting and found myself not really needing the power ups. I one shot the final boss which was nice if a little disappointing. There is a slim line between stupidly difficult and stupidly easy and DMC does not blur the edges. If I did decide to replay the game, I would possibly up the difficulty level.
DMC also employs side or secret challenge missions. Through the game there are different types of key which you use to open doors hidden in various places. These are usually skill based missions which require you to kill X enemies, complete an obstacle course of sorts or use certain skills or combinations. The reward normally increases your health bar, although as eluded to in this paragraph I didn’t really have the motivation or need to really push and attempt these. If I found a secret door and had a key I would often attempt a challenge mission once or twice before moving on with the main game. You can however go back and attempt these at any time from the main game menu.
The main character in the game, Dante, is a bit of a Marmite (love him or hate him) kinda guy. Cocky, arrogant with cliché one liners he is both funny and stupid in the same motion. DMC has taken this character and filled him with the impetuous and rebellious nature of a late teen early twenty year old. I found Dante quite likeable and amusing but I can see why people have offered up other less than flattering titles when explaining the protagonist. Some of his quips or exchanges with Demons or allies can be fairly amusing. The dynamic between him and his brother Virgil for example is good.
Overall DMC is a solid reboot which is faithful to the original yet picks up the pieces previous games dropped. There is DLC available covering Dante’s brother however I did not delve into Vergil’s past choosing to wait to see if a DMC II is on the horizon. All things internet hasn’t really given us many hints with the studio seeming to be quite tight lipped. Given the evolution from the original to this one I think they would be crazy to not continue the DMC franchise. In short if you’re a fan of over the top hero’s, sarcasm and a good old hack and slash beat em up you can do far worse than grabbing a copy of this game.