I have played most of the Devil May Cry franchise. I skipped the second one, because all the people who played it said it was bad, but otherwise I’ve loyally followed the series. I also like developer Ninja Theory, based solely off the terrific Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. So to me, them bringing the franchise back always sounded like a great idea. But for a lot of people, specifically hardcore fans of the franchise, this couldn’t seem worse.
Let us begin with that title. Capcom and Ninja Theory could have called this game simply DmC, to show that while this is still the same franchise, things are going to be different. Although that still doesn’t explain the lowercase M. Or they could have called it Devil May Cry, because it is the norm to call reboots by the name of the franchise. But they went with both, which I cannot explain, and is dumb. Especially because the association with previous Devil May Cry games seems to be the thing most hurting this game.
What we have here is a new Dante. He’s young, has black hair (for now), and kind of acts like a dick. He is still the son of Sparda, a demon, and Eva, who is now an angel instead of a human. He still has a brother named Vergil. He still has a sword called Rebellion and a pair of handguns called Ebony and Ivory. But this is not the Dante of old, who was perpetually spouting one-liners and getting impaled all the time. This is most certainly a new character, and if you can’t get passed that, well, you’re screwed. At least the story still begins when a new, human woman comes into Dante’s life.
The story of DmC is a bit of a liberal fantasy as Dante fights to free humanity from the forces of demonkind who keep mankind oppressed. How do they do that? With energy drinks, cable news and big business, of course. Dante spends most of the game in Limbo, where he can see the true nature of the world, such as the energy drink factory being basically like how Slurm was made in that episode of Futurama, except with a giant, gross demon. There are They Live-esque messages hidden everywhere, which are used somewhat humorously, like when they say “Fuck You Dante.” One memorable boss fight is with a character I believe named Shmill O’Shmeilly.
Fighting feels pretty good. Gone are the variable fighting styles of old, but in is the ability to use a lot of weapons at the same time. By pressing the shoulder buttons, you can change Dante’s sword and guns into angel or demon weapons, meaning you always have four weapons equipped at a time. That alone gives you pretty huge combo potential, which grows even bigger when you factor in the ability to change your equipped weapons on-the-fly using the D-Pad. On normal difficulty this is a pretty easy game, but I still thought it did a great job living up to the stylish action combat spirit of its predecessors.
But some people don’t feel that way. They have a particular vision for the franchise and hate that it’s changed. And that’s fair, I get it. Ninja Theory does not make the best case for their version of these characters, as a lot of the writing is borderline cringe-worthy. But the performances are strong, the combat is fun, and the platforming, a usual weak point of the series, is actually pretty good. I had fun with this game, which was more than I expected, and the reality is, there probably wouldn’t be a Devil May Cry series anymore without it.