When DmC: Devil May Cry was announced, many fans weren’t exactly happy with the new aesthetic direction and reboot. Dante with short, dark hair? Blasphemous. However, it has been proven time and time again that gamers are reluctant to change, but change isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes change is exactly what a franchise needs to revitalize itself.
Style made the Devil May Cry series popular in the first place, and the reboot has been pumped with an extra pound of attitude. The original Dante was cocky and always cool, and Ninja Theory made the new Dante, well…cocky and always cool with short hair. This may sound like a minor change on paper, but in reality the new Dante is very different, which may take fans of the old Dante–including myself–some time to adjust.
The only other returning characters from the original series are Dante’s brother Vergil and Mundus, the returning antagonist. They’re both similar in their original design and personality, but also feature some fresh tweaks to their portrayal.
Weapons still play a large role in DmC games, and the introduction of angel and devil weapons is the most important change to the system. While Dante’s signature sword is balanced in both speed and strength, angel weapons are used for speed and crowd control, while demon weapons are used for slow strong attacks and breaking through shields, creating an enjoyable mix for just about every scenario Dante will face.
Using a grapple hook that pulls demons towards you, evading attacks and shifting between the three different weapon types keep the combat stylish, engaging and fun as hell.
Unlike the original Devil May Cry series, which played out more in the vein of a traditional dark fantasy story, DmC is based on a modern day world where humans are kept “asleep” and hidden from the truth while Mundus secretly rules over them. Of course, Dante has something to say about this, and I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns the story took.
I really can’t emphasize enough how stylish DmC is. Various effects are used throughout the world that give it a unique feel. Demonic infection and destruction of the world around you makes DmC’s art direction truly unique and unlike any other game I’ve played, which is important for a game that places so much emphasis on style.
One area where Devil May Cry fans may be disappointed is with the difficulty. Veterans know how infamously difficult past DmC games have been, and the modern reboot isn’t nearly as challenging. I decided to play on the “Nephilim” difficulty level as the game told me it was recommended “for those who played Devil May Cry before,” but it felt more like a normal or even easy difficulty.
For example, I only died once against the first boss. Once. By contrast, I wasn’t able to defeat the first boss in Devil May Cry 3 until Capcom made the normal difficulty easier. In total, I may have died a dozen of times or so in my first playthrough, which is nothing compared to the past games, and somewhat of a problem because the brutal difficulty is what many fans appreciate.
Difficulties such as “Dante Must Die” and “Hell and Hell” may alleviate these issues, but they require more than a single playthrough to unlock, so I didn’t get to experience them. It’s a shame Ninja Theory opted out of providing a satisfying difficulty from the get-go.
Red orbs return as item currency, but are no longer used to buy skills. White orbs, which in past games were used to refill the Devil Trigger gauge, now function as currency for skill points. The skills system was made with openness in mind, letting players test out skills before buying them along with the ability to swap out one skill with another, which is great for new and old players alike.
Collectibles in DmC come in the shape of keys, doors and lost souls. The keys and doors go together, with four types of keys opening four types of doors. The doors open up secret missions — a series staple since the beginning.
However, I found it odd that the collectibles get factored into your final score. When you get all the collectibles for a level, or for levels that don’t have any at all, you get an automatic ‘SSS’ rating. Since score is a major aspect of DmC gameplay that makes a triumphant return in this new entry, it’s a mistake to score each mission with a constant instead of taking into account all the variables.
I say this as a diehard Devil May Cry fan: DmC: Devil May Cry does no outward harm to the franchise. Although some of the changes can take a little getting used to and the difficulty initially lacks any oomph, DmC is the most stylish and aesthetically pleasing game in the series to date. Some fans may not like the end result and boycott, and that’s their choice. For the rest of us, the changes made to Devil May Cry mark a welcome revitalization of the franchise, despite the different hairdo.