DmC: Devil May Cry is reduntantly titled character action game made by Ninja Theory and published by Capcom in 2013 for the PS3, 360 and PC. The definitive edition (which is the focus of this review due to its changes) was only released for the PS4 and XONE in 2015 with the PC platform ignored for reasons only known to Capcom. Cheap bastards.
It's a reboot of the series, featuring a new Dante as he takes down the oppressive regime of the demonic banker Mundus with the help of his brother's resistance movement.
I need to Stinger right into the ass of the issue. The aesthetics, theming, presentation and story of DmC is everything I don't want it to be. The game is crude, trashy and generic, with basically no redeeming features to be found outside of gameplay and level design.
Let's start with the main attraction, Dante himself. He owes his existance to the overlords of Capcom wanting to ”appeal more to western audiences” because they wanted a niche series to make Gears of War money. Foolish bastards.
As such, Dante is a petty asshole in a wifebeater with a mouth in dire need of soap and a face only good for feeding AI data on awful Youtube thumbnails. Let it be known that the UK can't produce the same awesome interpretations of American action heroes that Japan can. Kamiya, Mikami and Itsuno be blessed.
You're damn right in assuming that I think the original is better. Let us compare how the two fare when quipping at a female demon boss in order to get in the mood of things.
I could leave things there, seeing as the evidence presented speaks volumes that cannot be ignored by mortal men. But this is only the demented crust. That scene with the Succubus is just a symptom of a greater ailment.
The biggest issue I have with the game is how full of hatred it is. There's just no love present in the story and world at all, which is awful when compared to how heartfelt and fun the main series is. As previously stated, DmC Dante is just an asshole and the writer seems to think he's the coolest thing since shaved ice. Not even Shadow the Hedgehog is this edgy!
Of course, the old one was an asshole too, but there is one significant difference between the two: Presentation. Old Dante never takes normal demons seriously, but instead of swearing at them and being plain rude, he makes fun of them in the dorkiest ways. It's such an engaging trait for a character to have, and it's basically the center of his character, at least conceptually. The games do go into other parts of his personality as needed, hinting at a bit of depth.
DmC Dante does have a bit of a similar journey to his counterpart in DMC3, but it doesn't work as well. I don't really buy the empathy he grows into, mostly because there isn't anything to tie him to humanity, especially since he isn't half human in this version.
The modern witch, Kat, is supposed to fill this role, but she's pretty bland. She's an ok character who serves the plot in decent ways. And it's cool to see DMC lady that isn't as ”babe-ish” as the regular sort, but she's missing something. She isn't a love interest, and she doesn't do much as a proxy for humanity either. She's just an easily forgettable half-measure. But hey, points for trying. She's like the one character who I don't want to slap off a cliff with extreme prejudice.
Impotent rage. If I were to assign the game arc words, those would be it. I mentioned how hateful it is, but I really wanna drive that point home by discussing how pathetic most of the characters feel.
It's like they're terribly insecure and desperate to prove themselves better (and edgier) than eachother. The term ”Toxic Masculinity” might be appropriate, but this is relevant to the one of the female demons you fight as well.
Big bad Mundus is the best example of this, but Dante isn't far behind. You can just see the weakness in his eyes as he tries to prove himself greater than Dante's father Sparda by subjugating humanity.
He achieves this with a demonic soda that makes people dumb and an extensive camera network run by a slanderous head of a demonic news network. It's pretty blunt social commentary, but the part about news being manipulative has remained relevant. Sadly.
These things don't really tie into Dante's story of empathy for the human race, it just sorta acts as set dressing for some cool levels. Which isn't the worst of purposes, but harmony between the game's themes would have been nice.
In spite of being penned as a fresh new take for the series, Ninja Theory backed down on their initial vision after the heavy backlash from basically everyone. As such, the game strayed from its own identity and adopted loads of callbacks to the main series that does nothing but harm it.
I can let attack names and weapons slide (even though giving Vergil a weapon to match his Sherlock outfit in the original release would've been better than his katana, which really stands out in this game), but the wig gag is too much.
It's one thing to piss on the old series, but to then back down and adopt the white hair for Dante's Devil Trigger later is so dumb.
Besides that, there's also the trophy names consisting of quotes from the old series. Having this constant reminder of the old games is quite distracting.
All right, let's list some other stuff that irks me and some quotes from the script.
The music has gone beyond my threshold for screechy metal and is just noise to my ears.
Mundus dryhumping his concubine in the unsexiest way possible. Way to stay clear of that AO rating (and remind me of Ride To Hell), you cowards. Lewdness should not be a half-measure, dammit! Either you go through with it, or you do not, there is no middleground.
”I have a bigger dick.”
Vergil goes out of his way to kill an unborn demon baby before the mother, just so the camera can focus on her despair.
”The world is at last your bitch, as am I.”
Did we really have to start the game with an angel-themed strip show?
Ok, that's that stuff done with. As you can probably surmise, the cutscenes are best skipped. Onto the gameplay!
Thankfully, it seems like the gameplay designers actually played the old games. The stylish core is intact, with some mechanics the game can call its own. It's very important to consider the changes made in the definitive edition, as the game is pretty much a wet fart in a sandstorm otherwise.
The changelog is quite impressive and shows signs of some really good design sense. Sadly, there are a few core things that even the revision couldn't fix, but we'll get to that.
The framerate has been bumped up to 60 FPS, which is very important to a character action game. The fact that they got away with 30 in the initial release is a crime. The resolution also got bumped up, but who cares?
The biggest thing to differentiate DmC from its peers is that the whole combat system was built without lock-on in mind. No doubt to make it easier to get into, but that means that there's more buttons wasted on the moves usually dictated by the lock-on. So the amount of moves per weapon is a bit lower than it'd be with the old control scheme.
Not to mention that the Stinger (the best move in the history of ever) is triggered with (Forward + Forward + Attack), which is a terrible input if you're not playing a 2D game with a D-pad.
The definitive edition did bring the lock-on back, but it's use is somewhat limited. You can't replicate the old controls except for the Stinger input (Lock-on Forward + Attack, bahbee!). You're still stuck with using Circle for High Time and L1 for dodging. But it does make it easier to target and you can finally see the health of normal enemies, which is nice.
Dante's sword moves are very similar to his old movesets. It's a cinch to get the hang of it and cut up some demons. One nice touch they added is that the controller vibrates to signify the timing of alternate combos.
To completely simplify the aerial game and ease up the combos, there are two types of grapple moves to use. One to pull you to enemies and one to pull enemies to you. The range is silly and it's so fast that staying in the air is very easy.
Besides that, there are 3 guns and 4 elemental weapons to make use of. After getting a heavy buff to damage, the handguns are pretty ok, even if I don't like the feel of the charged attack. The shotgun is awesome, while the sticky bomb launcher is slow and forgettable.
The elemental weapons (angelic and demonic) are related to the gameplay's most controversial feature. In the original release, it was impossible to harm the 4 types of elemental enemies without using the same element on your weapon.
I thought it would be more significant, but the elemental enemies are pretty rare. The critique is that they artificially limit your combat options, which is true. As such, the definitive edition gives you the option to do reduced damage (with no stun) to them with anything.
I don't mind it as is, but it feels like another half-measure. There is one section where you need to swap weapons to avoid enviromental traps whilst still dealing with elemental enemies. Had they worked more on that idea, the game might've gotten a combat system to call its own. Axing the elemental stuff entirely would've worked too.
The weapons themselves are a bit messy. First of all, the first pair are just worse than the second pair. Angelic weapons are for crowds, while demonic ones are for slower and stronger strikes. And frankly, the shurikens are disgusting when compared to the scythe.
Its whole schtick revolves around bringing groups to melée range, dealing with them and stunlocking single targets. It's ridiculous! The fist weapon isn't that much better than the axe, but I very much prefer it due to the charge attacks. The elemental attacks that use the Stinger input are tricky to use though, since your choice lies between the horrible double stick flick or holding L2 or R2 + R1 before attacking.
Even so, combat is engaging (even if the skill ceiling is lower than in the old series) and it's fun to spin through hordes of enemies or launching Drive waves at distant targets. At least if you're playing on Hardcore Mode.
If you don't enable it, then the game's balance becomes a bad joke. Enemies do miniscule damage and it's pathetically easy to earn combos. And the Devil Trigger basically negates combat, since it makes enemies float up into the air.
It's basically the fun-switch of the game, so you can imagine why the original release became so reviled by old fans. The fact that there's no taunt doesn't help matters either.
It's nice that the option is there, but that's what easy mode is for, it shouldn't be an option on top of difficulty modes. Must Style Mode and Turbo Mode however, are nice options to have alongside the various difficulties
So is the fact that the game has a dedicated training mode, which means that you don't have to use cheats to freeze the health of a low-tier enemy to train anymore. The loading screens also show some combos to try. Games like these really gain from letting you play with mechanics freely. It also has a Bloody Palace mode, in case you need some more engaging practice.
The best part of DmC is the craftmanship of the levels. During gameplay, the world switches from the normal world to the demonic Limbo. This is signified by the world contorting and twisting in a beautiful fashion. Props to the animators.
Even when in Limbo, the world keeps on changing in some pretty engaging ways, resulting in a few action sequences where you have to jump out of the way of buildings wanting to crush you.
The platforming controls are a joy when compared to the old ones. Of course, they have to be, since platforming is more of a focus. You start with a double jump and soon gain an air dash and the two type of grapples.
Most of the platforming is pretty simple, since positioning is barely a factor. But the timing on certain air dashes and grapples reminds me parts of the Prince of Persia games, which is nice. But again, they could've gone further and at least added moving platforms to traverse.
The upgrade system isn't anything weird. You have exp (White Orbs) and money (Red Orbs), which are earned through regular play. Red Orbs get you items to use and upgrades to health and DT, while enough White Orbs earns you an upgrade point.
These points are spent on moves and can even be reclaimed, which is awesome, since it let's you respec should the need arise. You can even try the moves in training mode!
I was a bit unsure on the strength upgrades for moves, but they're not bad. Basically, you buy a move and then you can make it stronger once. It's a pretty hefty boost, so it's important that you choose your favorite moves.
With half of the elemental weapons being so lame, I did run out of things to buy however.
I love it when a game gives me header titles.
Vergil has been hit pretty hard by the reboot boot. Instead of his amazing display in DMC3, he's more or less been split into two characters.
For most of the game, he acts like a mentor described by Joseph Campbell in his book about faces. He finds Dante, recruits him, helps him recover his memories and directs him to demons to kill. He even helps you in a boss fight, which is rad, even if it already happened in DMC3.
On that front, he's ok, just like Kat. But to justify his existance (and his sword's), he's the surprise final boss. It comes almost out of nowhere, since he has been much more approachable up to that point, unlike his counterpart in the old games.
And it's here where his arc actually starts. He falls into hell (in a gaudy comic book cutscene, because DLC budgets be tight, yo) after being wounded by Dante, where he runs around recycled geometry chasing ghosts.
They try to mirror his lust for power from DMC3, but with so little screentime (only 6 missions) and the narrative of DmC behind it, it falls flat.
His moveset is an interesting take when compared to his counterpart in DMC3. He only has his Yamato and summoned swords. The main thing to differentiate him from Dante is that he grapples via his summoned swords, so you have free movement when hitting the grapple button (until the sword hits and you teleport).
He also has abilities similar to the Dark Slayer style from DMC3, meaning that he can teleport to enemies (and teleport up or down), but can't double jump normally. Sadly, Dante's grapple already let you move to enemies easily, so it's not that different to use Vergil. But one cool thing you can do is lodge swords in enemies, so you can teleport to them later.
The Yamato has a demon and angel mode, giving you close to 3 weapons' worth of moves. The demon form is a bit slow, but the angel form is a fun enough time. There being charge attacks that require perfect timing for bonus damage is a nice touch.
Instead of a transformation, you spend his DT gauge to use his more fun abilites. But the kinesthetics of the special summoned sword moves feel wrong, but that might just be me. You can also burn DT on summoning a doppelganger, which has a few more options than the style in DMC3. I didn't play around with them much, since you get it so late, but I bet you can do some fun stuff by delaying when it copies your input.
Overall, he starts really bad (slow summoned swords and only the standard Yamato) and is ok to play once you're a bit upgraded. I'll admit to not giving him much time, but that's on the game for making his campaign so short. I prefer Dante, but that might just be because he has more missions to his name.
Collectibles in DmC come in 3 flavours: Lost Souls, Keys and Secret Missions.
They all contribute to rank and you only have to collect them once, which is nice, as I never cared for the Red Orb requirement in the other games. The awesome thing is that they tell you what collectibles can be found in a mission now. That's awesome!
Lost Souls only get you some Red Orbs, whilst keys unlock the doors to secret mission. One of the greatest changes done in the definitive edition is that there's only one type of key now. In the old version, it was a very common occurence to find a door without the relevant key.
Now, it's just a matter of finding a key and a door. And with some planning, you can even cut down on a bit of the backtracking. The secret missions are astounding. They don't teach you anything and are extremely easy. I was so surprised whenever I cleared one on the first try. That'd be ridiculous in the old series.
It would be better if they were more diverse (there's 3 platforming challenges) and a tad harder. Something between this sorts of missions and the ones in the old games.