A remake of any classic generally always manages to generate quite a mix of emotions amongst critics and fans alike. When the first pictures were released of the new Devil May Cry game, there was outrage at stylistic direction that Ninja Theory had taken for their reboot of the franchise. In my experience the reboot has always provided a pleasant experience, be it XCOM: Enemy Unknown from last year or Castlevania Lords of Shadow from 2011 so naturally I was intrigued to see how DmC would turn out.
Developer: Ninja Theory
Platform: PlayStation 3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360, Windows PC
Players: Single-Player, Multi-Player
Genre: Hack and Slash, Beat ’em Up
Release: (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) January 15th 2013, (PC) January 25th 2013
You control Dante, a young man who doesn’t seem to know anything except how to party. After being attacked by demons, he quickly learns that he and his twin brother, Vergil, are the only Nephilim, half angel half demon, remaining in the world and that humankind has been enslaved by the Demon King Mundus.
The gameplay in DmC is predominantly hack ‘n slash with platforming elements. Similar to previous Devil May Cry titles, the game is split into various missions, with a total of 20 missions lasting between 8-10 hours. One of the problems with splitting games into missions is ensuring that it does not interrupt the pacing/flow of the game. In DmC’s case it seems that they are split almost at random which makes it hard to get into a good rhythm.
After the completion of each mission you are awarded a letter score based on your style points, completion time, collectibles found and number of deaths. Style points are earned by chaining combos, damaging enemies and defensive maneuvers. In my opinion it seems that the game rewards players more for earning style points rather than punishing you too heavily for deaths, so I didn’t feel as satisfied seeing an S knowing that I died during the mission.
As one of the last rays of hope for mankind it only makes sense that Dante has a wide variety of weapons at his disposal to eliminate demons. There are 4 types of weapons that Dante will have at his disposal, a firearm, angelic weapons, demonic weapons and his large sword. The firearm does light damage and is useful for maintaining combinations while closing the distance, the angelic weapons provide crowd control, demonic weapons do maximum damage and the sword is what they would call an “all-rounder”. In addition to the weapons, there is the Angel Lift, which lifts you towards an enemy or platform and Demon Pull, which pulls an enemy towards you or pulls a platform.
While there are games that provide you with a variety of weapons, it does not necessarily translate to a better combat experience as you will find yourself over relying on a particular weapon combo. However, in DmC’s it is impossible to rely too heavily on one particular weapon or ability as the enemy types and levels will throw different obstacles that require you to use different weapons. It is in this aspect that DmC excels as the latter stages of the game will throw so many crazy varieties of demons that you will find yourself playing finger gymnastics making sure you have the correct tool for the situation.
Furthermore, the game encourages you to mix up offense and defense. There are upgrades later in the game which grant you a temporary offensive boost for evading enemy attacks at the last second. Projectiles are also able to be reflected back to enemies dealing significantly higher damage which adds another way for you to play the game. For instance, in the final stages of the game I was managing to slowly whittle away at the boss’ health but by chance I parried one of his attacks and noticed a large chunk of health gone so after dying what seemed like a hundred times I finally began focusing on timing my attacks to parry projectiles and the fight was over in less than 2 minutes. It is these sorts of experiences that really made the game so enjoyable.
As far as collectibles, there are a variety of colour orbs and keys to collect. The red orbs allow you to purchase items in the shop which are predominantly health and devil trigger replenishments while grey/white orbs level up your upgrade meter and grant you options to level up each weapon’s abilities. The keys you will find in the game provide you with access to the “secret missions”, which are basically challenges that require you to kill enemies in a certain time using a certain method. I managed to unlock 5 of these secret missions during my first playthrough and I was thoroughly disappointed at how easy they were to complete, however I hold out hope that the later secret missions provide a greater challenge.
While DmC is an exceptional game, the weakest area is its presentation. The most irritating part of the game was sitting through the cutscenes which were littered with corny one liners and attempted insults by Dante. To me, these sort of lines just felt like the game was trying too hard to be edgy, which may be a result of the developers trying to distinguish this iteration of Dante. The soundtrack only seems to reinforce my view that this version of Dante is meant to be “edgy” as it is comprised solely of nu metal and sub heavy dubstep.
One of the aspects of any hack ‘n slash game that no game has managed to find a solution to, is the camera and DmC is certainly no exception. The game does have a “fixed” camera angle but it also allows you to control the camera freely. The problem with this camera mechanic is sometimes, in confined spaces, the automatic adjustment of the camera wreaks havoc in a battle with multiple enemies but luckily it is not a significant issue and it is something that we will have to live with until someone fixes it!
Although DmC is let down in some areas by its attempts to distinguish itself, it is a visually stunning game. The level design is a feast for the eyes with its original concepts and artistic vision. I would have to say that the dance floor level was probably one of the most visually pleasing levels I have played in a game as well as having one of the most imaginative mission bosses in Bob Barkas, which I was pleasantly surprised with.
All in all, DmC provides a great start to 2013 with its incredibly deep gameplay and even after you have finished the game it is almost impossible to not jump in again on a harder difficulty.
7.5 – Good. Entertaining but is held back by a couple of flaws. It will certainly capture its intended audience but it won’t appeal to everyone.