The original Devil May Cry title almost single-handedly launched the modern incarnation of the hack and slash genre of action game. Aside from a slight dip with the second title; the series has only improved and improved. Not only was the combat stylish and frenetic, the characters and events were suitably crazy and over-the-top. Anticipations were high for what the next title in the series would bring, after Devil May Cry 4 in 2008. What was not expected was a complete reboot of setting and characters; and a game created by a different studio. Needless to say, many concerns were raised and expectations were largely mixed for the most part. The question is now, has Ninja Theory added in any meaningful way to the legacy of DMC, or has this been an obvious cash grab?
Devil May Cry: Devil May Cry, to give the full name of the title as it appears unabbreviated, stars Dante, a half demon/half angel living in the metropolis of Limbo City; a town ruled secretly by demons under the command of the Demon King Mundus. Dante lives a carefree life, until agents of Mundus attack him, and he is lead to join with the resistance under the command of his long-lost brother, Virgil.
Thematically, and narratively, DMC shares 4 characters with the original series: Dante, Virgil, their unseen and deceased father Sparda, and Mundus, who was the Demon King in Devil may Cry 1. Dante is hotheaded and has a sharp tongue; Virgil is more intellectual and cool under fire; Sparda is dead and Mundus is evil. In this way, these characters can be linked to the original series. Aside from the combat then, those are the only obvious links between them. In some ways, this game could easily have had different characters re-skinned over the DMC ones, but in some ways it is nice to see the same character acting similarly in a different environment. However, I do realize some fans may be more upset by these similarities than they would be amused by them. Also, Virgil wears a stupid hat.
The plot itself is fairly interesting, with Dante having to shift into a twisted version of the city inhabited by Demons in order to do battle; and the differences between Limbo City and limbo itself are reminiscent of the transitions in Alice: Madness Returns or Silent Hill. While in limbo, the city itself acts as an enemy, moving to defeat Dante and writing messages or threats to Dante as he travels. The ways these messages appear are stylistically very impressive. Sadly though; the plot can be incredibly heavy-handed with its political overtones, and it sounds like a lot of the time its trying to catch onto the latest thing. Plot points involving the “99% vs the 1%” as well as the internet group Anonymous sound more like a first year college activist than any real political message. Also, it is sadly true that many, many aspects of the plot are recycled almost entirely from the cult ‘80’s film “They Live”, with Aliens being replaced by Demons.
Combat is fluid, frenetic and fun, and reminds a person of Ninja Theory’s other title, Heavenly Sword. Dante has a basic, medium sword, and then at any time can switch to using either a Heavy Demon weapon, or a light Angel weapon. This transition between light-medium-heavy, with the addition of several handguns, can keep combat engaging and combos long. Dante also has a whip that can either pull him into people or pull them towards him. Finally, towards the end of the game Dante does acquire his famous Devil Trigger powered form.
Levels themselves involve a great deal more platforming than other titles in the series, with the trade-off of fewer puzzles. There are however still many secret areas that encourage re-playability. I did notice though that overall the difficulty of the game is lower than other titles, so people aiming for a challenge should try to start at a higher difficulty first. Music in these levels alternate between electronic, metal and wubstep, but for the most part the music is very suitable to the setting.
My overall feeling about DMC is that I enjoyed it a lot; but I would still have chosen Devil May Cry 5 over this title. However, for what it is, it still manages to be fun for many hours, and can hopefully introduce new generations to the Devil May Cry franchise.