DmC, Ninja Theory's contentious reboot of Capcom's popular Devil May Cry series, has been a hot topic on gaming forums since Dante's young new look was revealed almost two years ago. The game has received minimal positive responses from fans of the series, who feel Capcom is trying too hard to appease a casual Western audience.
Is the reboot worthy of the Devil May Cry moniker?
The Young Dante
Is that a bad thing? I think in this case, it is. The Dante in DmC is not Dante: it's a contemporary Gen Y take on an iconic character that didn't need changing. This young Dante doesn't appear to be a bad character, he just appears to be a bad Dante.
I was an early adopter of Devil May Cry. Its release on PlayStation 2 over a decade ago came with little fanfare despite its critical acclaim. It was a fantastic gothic action game that was hard as hell and looked fantastic, too.
But what really made it was Dante. It's sad that I connected more with a suave, cool, goofy mid-30s Dante than I do with a young Dante that appears to be closer to my age.
DmC's Dante is, unfortuantely, a mirror image of today's youth: cocky and arrogant. That doesn't make for a good hero. To quote James Bond from Skyfall: "Youth doesn't guarantee innovation". It doesn't guarantee likability either, it seems.
Most importantly, I think, is that DmC Dante thinks he's cool, and in turn tries really, really hard to be cool. The older Dante was just cool. That's it. He didn't need to try. He got the job done and still came out of it looking awesome. This younger Dante is the king of cocky young intern you want to slap around because he thinks he knows how to get the job done when he doesn't: he isn't willing to learn, listen or change, and that actually makes me hate the character.
For the most part, I feel the core DmC combat has remained, albeit with some rather lazy implementations and changes that not only dilute the series' at-times frustrating difficulty, but also make the experience feel less rewarding.
The style meter, for example, is either broken, or has been implemented in such a way that it not only rewards players for using the same combo over and over again, but also continues to tick over even if you take damage. The difference with other Devil May Cry games is that the style meter would decrease if you use the same moves time after time, or took damage from an enemy that broke up your combo.
This style kept the game challenging as you strived for the illusive "SSS" grade during combat and for a final level grade. In DmC it's far, far too easy. In the demo I found myself spamming the same attack over and over again and still earning a SSS grade for the level, even on the high difficulties. It appears that "style" no longer plays an important role in the grading of a player's Devil May Cry skills.
I remember gawking at the Devil May Cry 4 leaderboards and pondering how some players managed to get such high rankings for certain levels. Sometimes it seemed impossible, and that's what kept me playing. The most competitive games on the market do that well. Unfortuantely, I feel no real incentive to return to a demo in which I was getting such a high rank so soon after I began playing it.
That said, I did find the combat to be smooth, and there certainly is room to mix things up and get your combo meter going. However, incentive is diminished when you can just spam the same moves over and over again and get just as high a final rank as you would struggling to pull off stylish combinations.
Is It That Bad?
DmC doesn't appear to be all that bad...but it does seem to be far removed from what fans of the series loved about the originals: challenge and style. Sure, the game looks great, the combat is smooth and Dante is, well, an arse (I'm sure that might appeal to some people, probably those new to the series), but it doesn't feel like Devil May Cry.
Will diehard fans enjoy it? I think they'll blast through it without breaking a sweat, which is disheartening. But those new to the series may find plenty to like about its new take, as well as its social commentary and topical narrative.
What do you think of the DmC demo? Share your thoughts below!
By Gaetano Prestia