A brief, familiar journey
Ninja Theory had a lot to prove with DmC: Devil May Cry. Not only did they have to appease their fans, but they had to live up to an already existing passionate fanbase, who had come to expect a level of quality worth to the Devil May Cry name.
Depending on who you talked to, they either succeed, or they failed. Personally, I felt like it was somewhere in the middle. While DmC wasn't even close to the franchise pedigree, it was still very much a serviceable action game, and Ninja Theory's best offering to date.
Which brings us to the newest downloadable content after Bloody Palace, a brand new story starring Dante's brother Vergil. Vergil's Downfall is more of the same, and your mileage will drastically vary on how much you enjoyed DmC: Devil May Cry in the first place.
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DmC: Devil May Cry: Vergil's Downfall (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
Developer: Ninja Theory
Released: March 6, 2013
MSRP: $8.99 (720 MSP)
Here's the deal. For $8.99, you're buying an all new six mission long campaign (sort of, more on this later), with a brand new playable character that takes place after the core story. Vergil has a completely separate main menu, doesn't interact with the original game in any way, has a limited amount of hidden items to find, his skills level up on their own, and so on.
Similar to his incarnation in Devil May Cry 3, Vergil will wield his Yamato (with the addition of angel and demon attacks), and his projectile spirit sword attacks. At first, Vergil feels extremely dull, in that you're mostly going to mash the attack button and utilize the one or two combos you have in total.
But once you get angel and demon abilities starting in Mission 2, things get more exciting, as they unlock fun moves like dash attacks, area of effect strikes, and more intricate combo opportunities.
Instead of using grappling hooks to get to and fro, Vergil does the same thing with angel or demon sword throws, playing on his emphasis on teleportation. He also has a small store to buy items in, an ability chart, and outside of combat, he functions very similarly to Dante's control scheme.
From a gameplay perspective, he's a bit like Dante but a bit trickier in nature. The big difference is when he dashes, he teleports. Remember in DmC when the game had two redundant dash buttons when one of them could have been used for lock-on?
Well, Vergil's two dash buttons serve a purpose, as the left dash button serves as an upwards dash in the neutral position, and the right dash button is a downward dash if you're in the air. It sets up some pretty neat combo opportunities, and I'm glad to see Ninja Theory actually work this previously useless button into gameplay.
He's also a bit more balanced, as he lacks broken weapons like Dante's Kablooey, and you'll have to use all of his arsenal to complete more challenging difficulties. He also has more than one Devil Trigger ability, and they're not nearly as boring as Dante's "win button" time stop.
There are a couple of new enemy types, but the supporting cast is mostly from DmC vanilla, which is a letdown as I expected this add-on to make a unique mark on the franchise. You're going to want to play Son of Sparda (Very Hard) mode to get more enemy remixes, but not everyone is going to do that, and it should have offered more new content up front.
All six levels are limbo based, which leaves your enjoyment entirely up to how much you enjoyed it from the main game. My issue is that every single stage feels the same, and since Mission 5 is just a boss fight, and Mission 6 is a Mission 1 re-tread, saying the game has "six new Missions" isn't really the whole truth.
There is a very small story, but like the core game, the acting and delivery is still terrible. Thankfully though, it is kept minimal, and the story is told outside of missions through animated cutscenes. I'm just glad it's not integrated heavily into each level like Dante's story, so I don't have to wait constantly for Kat to tell me something redundant before I can keep having fun.
Speaking of the story though, Vergil's Downfall could probably be summed up in two entire sentences. But at the same time, DmC's They Live rip-off got extremely grating at times, and at the end of the day, Devil May Cry is an action oriented series -- so I was fine with the reduction narrative wise.
One of my principle problems with DmC is that I didn't feel like a badass with Dante, because his character is so plain and wooden. By the end of Vergil's Downfall when I obtained the doppelganger ability, the game actually recreated that feeling of old. Vergil, unlike every character ever in DmC, eventually ceases to be melancholy and annoying, and embraces his inner demon. To drive this point home, you unlock a new skin that re-titles Vergil's old look as "weak Vergil." Yes!
It takes until the very end of the DLC to really unlock all of his goodies, but if you opt to replay through every difficulty, you'll reap the benefits of a fully powered Vergil. Personally, using this Vergil on the DLC's higher difficulties was pretty damn fun, I just really wish he was usable in Bloody Palace, as the omission is a huge shame (perhaps a future patch?).
Length wise, as I stated earlier there's six missions, all of which are 30 minutes or less. Overall it took me around two and a half hours, but I quickly ended up replaying it on a higher difficulty right after my first completion. Vergil's Downfall has the same number of extra difficulty levels as the core game (four on top of the original three), so there's a lot of replay value here.
In a way, Vergil's Downfall represents the game DmC might have been -- less fluff, more style. But at the same time, like many areas of DmC, it lacks substance. You'll fight very samey enemies across five areas that also bear a resemblance to stages from the core game, which at the end of the day, just isn't quite enough to justify DLC pricing for everyone.
If you loved DmC, you really can't go wrong here. But if it wasn't everything you had hoped for, Vergil's Downfall will do little than give you a glimpse into the stylish Devil May Cry of old, at least from an aesthetic perspective.
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DmC: Devil May Cry: Vergil's Downfall reviewed by Chris Carter
A solid game that definitely has an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
How we score: The Destructoid Reviews Guide