Controversy seemed to follow this title ever since it was first announced back in 2010 at the Tokyo Game Show. Capcom relinquished development duties to the underrated Ninja Theory (Enslaved: Journey to the West, Heavenly Sword) to reboot a franchise which many would argue, sorely needed it. Fans were instantly upset with the reimagined Dante now looking more like a troubled teen than the cocky, confident white-haired badass players were used to. With 2 years to sway the masses with their reboot of the franchise, has Ninja Theory captured that stylish combat magic or is the devil really crying?
Full review awaits you after the break…
DmC mixes things up a few details from what franchise players may be used to. Dante’s now in a more modern and realistic setting featuring things like the internet, political news shows, and yes, energy drinks. Don’t let that turn you off though because the core of the game still involves battling hordes of crazy demonic creatures. This time around, the younger Dante is a Nephilim, a half demon, half angel. He’s quickly pulled into a struggle between a group called The Order which includes Dante’s half-brother Vergil and a resourceful human named Kat who stand against Mundus and his control over society.
I won’t go into too much detail here as Ninja Theory has a number of twists and turns included here, but their typical high standards are definitely at work. The character models are wonderfully created, the voice actors deliver their lines with emotion, and the game has a great visual style. I will say though, while I did enjoy the overall story in the game, I don’t think it tops their best work.
Frankly, I had no issues with the reimagined Dante, though to be fair, I don’t have an attachment to the former version. This new Dante comes off as overly confident, sarcastic, and cocky, but one thing I noticed is that he did seem to evolve (even if slightly) as the game progressed. I felt that his character and dialogue fit with the overall style the game was shooting for.
In my opinion, Ninja Theory has nailed the visual style and graphics of the game. It fits the world they’ve created nicely highlighted especially in the alternative world in Limbo. Despite the game being set in a more modern world, most of the time you’ll be fighting in an alternative/parallel reality that humans can’t see, known as Limbo. In here, things are more surreal as cameras become grotesque demonic eyes, gravity can invert, walls try to crush you, streets break apart, and even a boardwalk carnival becomes dangerous. With all of the dynamic elements at play, the platforming in these sections remained brief and without frustration.
DmC is your classic action game as Dante fights to not only destroy the twisted husks of demons but to also look good doing it. Ninja Theory has crafted a very elegant and fluid system making combat a joy. A meter in the top corner fills as you chain together attacks raising your rank from D all the way to SSS. You’re given points for stylish attacks which helps your grade at the end of the level. Get hit and the letter grade drops. The points actually fill a meter that lets you upgrade Dante’s abilities and unlock new weapon moves. By the end of the game, you’ll have quite a list of moves available and with some skill you’ll be able to chain some very impressive moves together even incorporating every item at your disposal.
There’s also very minor platforming included here as well highlighted by the Angelic Lift/Demonic Pull moves I’ve listed above. The highlight of these sections appear during Limbo segments as the world seemingly breaks itself apart in an effort to stop or kill Dante. These segments are great fun and really spice up the gameplay with these unique elements.
Boss battles are also another big part of the game and frankly they don’t have the same appeal unfortunately. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them it’s just that the bosses follow a very telegraphed pattern so after you learn the pattern, the battle becomes more tedious and rote as you dodge then attack. Some battles are better than others but ultimately, they always boil down to learning the pattern and then doing the same move to avoid them. The last…well…almost last battle is also disappointing as this boss character has a very slow and predictable move set that makes the fight more tedious than anything else.
The control scheme at first glance comes off as a bit confusing and perhaps a little complex. I didn’t become fully comfortable with the controls until perhaps the second level. At that point, the controls become second nature and with some practice you can pull off some really great combos (which are also highlighted in the loading screens). At first, Dante comes equipped with only his sword Rebellion and his twin pistols, Ebony and Ivory. As you progress through the game, you’ll also acquire more weapons including Angel and Demon weapons like Osiris and Eryx. You can switch weapons on the fly by using the triggers which also change the attacks you can do. For example, the Angelic scythe, Osiris acts more as a crowd control weapon so you’ll see many long and spinning attacks, while the Demonic Axe, Arbiter, is a slow but powerful damage dealer. Lastly, Dante also has his Angelic Lift and Demonic Pull moves so using these in conjunction with your other attacks can really make some special and stylish attacks.
The one drawback, and I’m hesitant to really consider it a big drawback, is that by the end of the game, you finally have a large tool set to work with but the enemies that you start to face are resistant to a certain type of attack, which cuts your available options in half. It seems to serve only to restrict the player. Granted, it’s not an issue that I took real offense with but it would have nice to see them downplay this a bit more so players could unleash the full potential.
Normally, if listening to the soundtrack performed by the bands Noisia and Combichrist on its own, I wouldn’t give it a second go around as it’s really not my style of music. Interestingly enough, when it’s paired with the high-octane action and combat, it fits perfectly and I feel really elevates the experience. The tone and style of the music pairs well with what’s happening on-screen.
What’s sad here is that there are probably people out there who completely wrote this game off due to Dante’s redesign. If you go in without any expectations on who or what you think Dante should be, I think it’ll only help you’re overall enjoyment. In the end though, gameplay is king and Ninja Theory has outdone themselves with creating a balanced and stylish experience which is highlighted by a deep combat system. Couple that with a real visual flair and you have a great game leading off 2013. I know not everyone is happy with the new direction Ninja Thoery has brough the game, but I hope people are able to give it a try so we can see where they go next. Despite a few missteps, DmC: Devil May Cry comes highly recommended. Check it out.
DmC: Devil May Cry gets 4 white hairs out of 5