When this reboot of the well-loved Devil May Cry franchise was announced, fanboys everywhere let off cries and wails of rage, expressing their indignation against such an abomination. The biggest scandal was perhaps the redesigned Dante looking a lot like the game’s producer, sparking even more rage in the Internet. However, it became obvious that the game was to become a reality. It has now been released to the world, waiting for fanboys to stroke their chins and murmur either “not bad” or “screw my life and this game”.
This reboot was developed by Ninja Theory, known for the first Heavenly Sword game. It was also published by Capcom, which may explain why the premise is still basically the same, despite the aesthetic differences. The story of DmC is almost the same as the previous games, with characters retaining a lot of their signature characteristics. The difference though is that Dante and Virgil are no longer half-human, but half-angel half-demon beings known as Nephilim. Virgil recruits Dante to go up against the demon king Mundus and helps him learn more about his past, like how they are brothers and his true nature.
DmC retains most of the fast-paced combo-based hack-and-slash action that the franchise has been known for. Combat against regular enemies make for stylish combo chains for those who get a hang of it, and the controls are just as smooth for it, if not more. The combat system is still based on a wide variety of moves that you can perform in various situations, as well as the arsenal of weapons at your disposal. Each weapon corresponds to a different element, which can be used effectively against enemies’ weaknesses. The trick to playing this game well is being able to string combos while being able to switch weapons to what’s most efficient against the particular enemies on the screen.
This becomes more compelling as players encounter the wide array of enemies throughout the game. In later levels though, difficult boss fights take precedence over regular combat, which breaks up the rhythm of the otherwise smooth gameplay. A lot of the boss fights feature multiple enemies, each with a specific weakness that requires Dante to switch between weapons. This does make gameplay intermittent and prone to fumbles, but it does compel players to learn how to excel in execution. It does lack a lock-on feature though, so you have to manually align yourself to hit your enemies.
The writing is definitely the weak point of the game, which was perhaps predicted from the very beginning. While the Devil May Cry is known for its kind of teenage wet dreams of badassery, to put it bluntly, DmC takes it to a degree that makes it look a bit tongue-in-cheek. It may make many gamers cringe, especially fans who played the previous games as kids and are now adults. While the first Devil May Cry games fit the times when it was released, which was mostly in the early and mid 2000′s, DmC employs roughly the same elements in an era when “Mary Sue” writing is reviled by many.
Most of the characters and voice acting are quite alright though, despite the slightly cheesy dialogue employed. The story itself isn’t that bad at all and actually is an improvement over the narrative of the older games. The environmental design makes for a fun 3D platforming experience and supplements the combat, especially with the camera that tries its best to keep up, or at least way better than in the first three titles. All these factors combined make for a game that actually does defy the rather negative expectations that were expressed during the game’s announcement.
The irritating part though is Dante himself. When his new appearance was first shown online, many detractors criticized his rather emo-ish look. However, now that the game has been released, many say that he would have been better if he was actually emo since he wouldn’t be as verbose as he is in this game. His character may be enough to skip all the cutscenes and ignore the story, which is too bad since the gameplay is pretty good in itself. This game is very likely get lumped in with fanfiction fantasies due to the writing employed in this game, including Dante’s unnecessary potty mouth, cheesy dialogue between characters, and other irritating details.
Despite its narrative gaffes, DmC holds up enough to be a worthy addition to the Devil May Cry franchise in terms of gameplay. If you’re not apprehensive about seeing a near-naked Dante cursing like a 14-year-old, then this game is worth a run. Perhaps such a reimagining keeps things fresh, especially with Devil May Cry 4 having resorted to using a different character as a protagonist being a precedent for things to come. If the cheesiness of the story and characters are too much for you, then you might as well stick to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where both Sons of Sparda are preserved at their most badass state.
As for how it holds up as a worthy reboot of the Devil May Cry franchise, it’s missing quite a bit of the charm that made the first game such a classic. But then again, that’s usually the fate of most reboots. Only time will tell if this game does really hold up for the fans of the series. For now, first impressions are rather mixed at best, going back and forth between the solid gameplay with how writers and designers handled the material.
Tested in Xbox 360. Final Score: 7.5/10