Label Culture writer James Davies reviews the much-anticipated reboot of the Devil May Care series by Ninja Theory, after a five-year absence.
Ninja Theory’s reboot of the Devil May Cry series, which takes place in an alternate universe to the previous four games, sees a teenage Dante taking care of a demonic businessman who has his claws sunk into the media (represented by, essentially, Bill O’Reilly with glasses) and the government. There is some controversy over the protagonists new look: Dante is more angsty than his old wisecracking self, though cut-scene action at least is still commanded by the rule of cool. There is the option for a classic Dante skin from the beginning, but the personality is still a departure. It’s polarising: I definitely preferred the original, but I can see it appealing more to some, and he never becomes irritatingly depressing.
Vergil is slightly disappointing in this game too, and the female lead, Kat, feels tacked on at times. The villains, though politically angled (The game is clearly having a dig at Fox media and Republicans), are more interesting and entertaining, though it is debatable in comparison to previous games.
Graphically, the game has improved: The visuals are solid, and the level design is beautiful, though as mentioned later, there are problems. The game handles very well too- almost identically to earlier games, which is a problem for platforming sections which can still feel hit and miss. But one of the main staples of the combat system has been dramatically changed: the ranking system.
The game assigns a score to you once you complete a level, based on a variety of factors such as health items used and time taken. In the original games, a massive factor in deciding your score was variety- combining vastly different moves was essential for those elusive SSS ranks. Here, however, the focus is on dealing damage. Repeating the same move over and over, while avoiding getting hit, boosts your rank up very quickly, and combined with the slightly less claustrophobic arenas, which although visually impressive, are also easier and less tense, means that the game really is far easier: which is a crying shame for a series which is renowned for its intense difficulty. The Devil Trigger special is also disappointing.
There are some nice new features- more variety, such as environmental kills and chase scenes. Bosses are insane to look at, and the soundtrack, though dodgy in places (especially at the beginning), soon regains its rock and metal roots. The villain’s dialogue is still ridiculously cheesy, but that’s what Devil May Cry games are about.
All in all, the game on its own is a very good hack and slash, with a reasonably entertaining story, amazing cutscenes and a tight combat system. For fans of the previous games, I would advise trying the demo’s first: You may enjoy the new Dante, you may not. For those looking for a challenge, you may find it (there are rumours of a Hell and Hell mode), but you may have to look elsewhere.