The brilliant Ninja Theory who previously brought us Enslaved, again breathe fresh life into a stagnant and somewhat disregarded genre. DmC Devil May Cry is a story where demons meet angels – a story about the origin of two brothers, now avenging those responsible for their family’s tormented past.
Developer: Ninja Theory
Distributor: Ster Kinekor
For fans of: Hack n Slash, action, platformers
Reviewed on: Playstation 3
Also available on: Xbox 360
If we had to give it a numerical score: 9.0/10
What I loved
- Fluid control mechanics
- Combos, combos, combos
- Dante’s persona
- Extremely dark themed
- Visual and sound quality
Not so much
- Lacks variation in foes
- Lesser foes a little to easy to kill
- Story line could’ve been fleshed out a little more
Gameplay and Features
While DmC’s combat is still absolutely frantic, series’ followers may have noticed it’s not quite as fast-paced as with the previous entries. I actually liked that about this one – it makes it seem like less of a button-masher and I found the combos a little less random to pull-off. Another factor that separates this one from its predecessors for me was that it seemed a little more forgiving than I remember with the previous games in the series, particularly in the first few hours or whilst facing the lesser demons. Still, it’s definitely still plenty frantic and definitely more fulfilling than any other in the series for me.
The combat is what will win players over with this one, despite the marvellous production quality. The combat and Dante’s moves in general have evolved, to dare I say, the next step in the genre. The plethora of attacks and combos fall into ‘ground’ or ‘air’ attacks. Dante has three slashing weapons and his trusty ‘Ebony and Ivory’ guns. You can perform the various attacks and string together combos with each or a combination of the various weapons. That is basically what the combat is all about. The combat and the variation on offer between the weapons really comes together when faced with the more serious demons, and ones of different strengths. In the first few hours, its basic mashing and using which ever weapon you choose. However, as you get into in, you will need to use the different weapons to slay the particular demons. Throw in a few variations of powerful demons in the same battle, and all of a sudden you will find yourself actually needing to think about what you are doing – and in turn you are having the ‘hacking slashing’ time of your life. There are also the niceties that we have come to know in the genre; like being able to pull enemies closer, by slinging your extended Scythe at the foe and pulling them in. You can double-jump and even perform a short boost in the air.
Other than the sword, the two slashing weapons are a Demonic Axe (Arbiter) and the Scythe (Osiris). These two weapons double-up as firstly the more powerful weapons, and secondly the weapons that Dante uses to get across platforms. One weapon can be flung to pull objects closer while the other is used to swing across platforms. The four weapons’ mechanics, their attacks and variations wonderfully use up the entire facia of the controller, and this just keeps evolving as you unlock or purchase more attacks or moves – a worthy design in the genre if I have ever seen one.
The progressive system is as good as you would want – players can upgrade the vast range of moves and weapons. The progressive system delivers in a timely pace, and is as deep as anyone could possibly want. As you upgrade or unlock moves and weapons, Dante becomes ever more powerful, and the visceral; frantic combat becomes ever more elaborate, rewarding and a feast to watch. This has to be the only game where I actually thought guns were almost pointless. They do come into play when you are looking to add variation to your attacks. And you will need to add variation, as being Japanese published, there had to be a points-system.
The points-system, something I often ignore in a game, is actually beneficial to DmC. There is no multiplayer so the only way you compete with others is by competing on the leaderboard. Players are graded throughout the levels in the campaign. Points are awarded in categories like; style, where variation is beneficial; combo sizes; the speed in which you clear the level and so on. Everything adds up to grade and score you higher. Players are then penalised for dying or using items (like health-gain items). So the point-system adds replay value to the game. I can actually appreciate that some trifling multiplayer mode was not thrown into the mix just for the sake of adding replay value. And the leaderboard factor is definitely on the cards for me – my first play-through is hardly ever smooth, so I am looking forward to playing through again, in a more thorough manner, and after I have hopefully mastered the possibilities of the combat. The replay factor is further begged for as there are tons of hidden secrets and driving the story along. I would usually only collect or find a fraction of these secrets or items. Then there are secret or hidden missions which you unlock along the way. The secret missions have you clear a certain section in a given time for example, again adding to the replay value.
Sound and Visuals
Ninja Theory ripped up the art direction of the previous games and boldly introduce us to the wonderfully, debauched and decant new style. Dante was even transformed and while the developers took a lot of flak for the first pictures that were released, his final look is actually well suited to his cocky, self-assured character. Dante is as “cool” and a different to your ‘average Joe’, making for a perfectly suitable, self-righteous protagonist.
The art direction absolutely blew me away, from the abstract Limbo world, to the baroque detailing throughout the game. The art direction is split into two – the alternative yet somewhat realistic city that Dante roams in reality, and then the completely far-out world when Dante goes into Limbo to battle the demons along the adventure, away for the mere humans. The overall art-direction did sort of remind me of the developer’s Enslaved – it’s stylistic and heavily detailed, while not pushing on the realistic side of things. Very attractive, well crafted and a pleasure on the eye.
The only problem I have with the sound quality is that the rest of the game’s soundtrack and scoring did not match up to the first hour. The first hour of DmC was explosive – Metal pumping in the background to the dramatic and intense scoring. The first hour just about took my breath away with how much of an onslaught it was to the senses. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the game’s soundtrack and scoring was pleasing and of the highest quality, but it never quite measured up to that enthralling first hour or so. It is one of the most memorable beginnings of a game for me.
The dialogue and voice-acting, for me, was one of the aspects where the Western (British) developers contributed mostly. There’s none of that typically Japanese one-liners or dialogue in general that still bewilders us Westerners. The thing I adore about Ninja Theory is that they seem to take the best from both worlds – the brilliantly fluid mechanics that I have always loved and respected from the Japanese, and then the storytelling of the Western developers which is more palatable to my kind.
What a way to start the year; DmC Devil May Cry is a modern, stylish and absolutely satisfying entry into a series that I have always been a fan of. The gameplay keeps with the combo-centric theme that acquired its following in the first place, and then gives us a glimpse of what the future should hold at least for the ‘hack n’ slash’ genre. The progressive mechanics are accessible while remaining challenging and an absolute delight to master. Players are given a ludicrous amount of choice in how you go about slashing your enemy. So ultimately DmC keeps you wanting, seeking out battle after battle and delivering on the most important front – the gameplay.