After playing the DmC demo that hit Xbox 360 and PS3 a few weeks ago, I had the desire to return to the series’ roots and blast through the first game in the series. It was refreshing, because those PS2 classics, namely Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 3, are about as good as you’re going to find in the hack-and-slash genre. The closest we’ve gotten since are underrated gems like Bayonetta and Vanquish, but they’re not quite as fresh and revealing as the original Dante adventures were. Does the latest DmC offer a fresh take on the series and genre? It does, but not always for the best.
As I’m sure you’ve gathered already, DmC is quite different to other Devil May Cry games. Yeah, there are still a lot of demons to hack your way through, and the gameplay works in very much the same way, but the tone is completely different. The demo does a modest job of filling us in as to the game’s setting and story, but it also made me hate the new Dante.
Thankfully, after playing quite a bit more of the game, the character has actually grown on me. He’s young, cocky and arrogant, but this is a prequel afterall, and Dante’s youth in DmC can be surprisingly refreshing.
Certain moments show a curious young adult, while others display leadership and stability, traits series diehards should recognise from other Devil May Cry games. While I’m still not completely open to the idea of a younger version of such an iconic character, it does seem like Ninja Theory has at the very least created a character befitting of its older self, which is encouraging.
However, I finished playing the preview after a few hours still feeling that sometimes the character tries too hard to be cool, whereas Dante’s older self was cool and collected without even trying. The challenge for a game like this is convincing the player that Dante is supposed to be a younger version of the original hero, not necessarily a complete reimagining. To be honest, I’m still not convinced.
The game’s story appears to be its weakest aspect. Devil May Cry is and always has been about gothic fantastical narrative, not social commentary. I’m not sure what Ninja Theory is trying to achieve with the game’s plot, but it confuses me into thinking that Dante is more a freedom fighter battling the evils of capitalism than he is a demon warrior saving the human race from ultimate destruction.
Within the first 10 minutes I’m hearing characters talking about taking down “bankers” and media personalities. That’s not directly the issue I have with the story, but there’s a pretty clear tone in shaping the elites as the ones that have brought evil to the world. It’s a great story in theory, but it’s not Devil May Cry, and it ticks me off. I’m just unsure about replacing the fantastical worlds we know from the other games, with an alternate reality that is quite clearly a mockery of contemporary society.
There’s a pretty clear tone in shaping the elites as the ones that have brought evil to the world. It’s a great story in theory, but it’s not Devil May Cry, and it ticks me off.
The gameplay feels a little more refined than in the demo, but that might be because I knew I had combos to unlock. You start off with basics and a few easy-to-do combos, but the unlock system seems to work well, rewarding you with a token to use as currency to access new moves. There’s quite a bit to move through, and some are clearly a little tougher to pull off than others, but there’s enough variety here to keep the combat engaging.
However, certain problems from the demo still persist. Firstly, it still seems a little too easy to achieve an “S” rating for a combo (the max in triple-S). Secondly, the lack of auto-aim on enemies can make keeping your powerful combos alive frustratingly difficult. In previous games, using an upper swipe on an enemy to get them in the air would allow you to work up a devastating mid-air combo, because Dante would stay focused on that enemy. That doesn’t happen in DmC, and I often found myself hacking and slashing at nothing as I miss the damaged enemy. It didn’t feel like I was messing up a combo because I couldn’t keep it going; rather, it genuinely felt like there was something missing. That something is auto-aim.
However, I did find the combat to be smooth and fun. An early boss battle was perhaps a little too easy but still lengthy enough to keep me entertained, and I found pleasure in working up multiple combos while dodging the boss’s attacks (rather epically, the boss jumps up on a ferris wheel and tries to drag Dante towards him with a grappling gun the size of Buckingham Palace).
DmC is one game I’ve had a tough time critiquing, because I’m someone that absolutely loved the original games. I remember getting a demo of the first game with a gaming magazine back in the day, and being completely blown away by the visuals and gameplay. However, I don’t quite feel the same way with DmC. It’s fun, no doubt, and Dante isn’t quite as bad a character as so many of us expected him to be, but it’s still a game that perhaps removes itself from the original games too much, which makes me, as a fan, feel somewhat alienated from the character and series mythology. I’m still looking forward to saving the world with Dante, but I remain as cautiously optimistic as I was when the game was first revealed.
By Gaetano Prestia
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