So…let’s talk Devil May Cry shall we? I um… I don’t really know where to start or what to say about this one. I’m gonna get a couple of things out of the way before we get started though huh?
1) I’ve played every Devil May Cry game out there.
2) I’ve only had the patience to beat Devil May Cry 3, but I’ve seen the rest of DMC1, 2 and 4
3) I’m a Christian, Southern Baptist to be exact.
So, yes, a Christian is about to review your beloved Devil May Cry, and yes, I have spent quite a lot of time with the whole series. Expect the same unbiased look that I give every game, except for where the developers decided to talk religion without doing their homework. If you’re looking for a sermon, you’re not gonna get one, but if you’re looking for me to go “Nothing is off about this”, well, that’s not gonna happen. Hopefully you’ll read anyways.
Aw who am I kiddin’, course you’re gonna read it! Y’all love me! That, and I’m sure some of you can’t wait to get your mad on in the comments 😀
The Disclaimer/History Part!
So, Devil May Cry in it’s original form is a story about the half demon kinda sorta bastard Dante and his quest to kill demons. If you go by the lore of the first game, it’s a revenge and redemption journey with the goal of finding some way or proof that of becoming/that he is still human. Demons killed his dad, possibly killed his sister (they don’t talk about this anymore, and I’ve been informed that him having a sister has been retconned I guess), and killed his mom. Also his twin brother went AWOL. Dante has no idea (in the original) who killed his family, but figures every demon he kills brings him one body closer to the culprit.
The series is known for its stylish gameplay, unforgiving difficulty and hardcore rock soundtrack. As a matter of fact, I’m gonna say this franchise pretty much defined stylish action games and basically put out a copyright on long leather coats with guys with white hair. In his journey, he met (and depending on the source, sorta fell for) a woman who kinda looked like his mom, teamed up with her to kill all manner of demons, explored gothic castles, and dispatched many, many marionettes back to hell. Which, if you ask me is where all marionettes come from.
DMC2 saw a sorta kinda half angel girl teaming with Dante to kill more demons, though…I’m not really sure why anything in the second game happened. No seriously, I’m not being snarky, I made it through 3/4 of that game on three separate occasions and still have no idea what it’s about.
Afterwards we had my personal favorite, the origin story, which was DMC3. Dante was snarkier, younger, oddly more nekkid and had some of his coolest weapons and one-liners. Also there was Vergil, whom I tend to like infinitely better than Dante anyways.
And then there was the fourth game. Not unlike the second one, we don’t really talk about the fourth game.
Many of you are probably chompin’ at the bits to hop on down to the comments and scream “SACRILEGIOUS HYPOCRITE!”, so let me talk a bit about why I enjoyed this franchise so much. Prior to DMC3 and 4, the prevailing point of the story was redemption. Dante was never super pleased about what he was, and always fought to prove if to no one else but himself that he was indeed still human. At it’s core DMC was a story about how your bloodline and lineage doesn’t have to define you. You can’t really do a thing about who helped bring you into this world, but you can certainly control what you do once you’re here.
An example, if a woman is assaulted and is with child, said child doesn’t have to grow up to be a rapist. If a killer conceives, the child doesn’t have to grow up a killer. Make sense?
Biblically speaking, demons are the enemy and always will be. Biblically speaking, demons are fallen angels. In the Bible, the Nephilim were the angels that saw the daughters of man to be “comely”, meaning they were like “Hey girl!” and thus half angels were born. In the traditional Hebrew translation of the Bible, the Nophilim were the fallen angels, or demons, who did the same thing.
So, yes, a half demon can exist, and yes, you could feasibly write a story about one who struggled to purge him/herself of that dark lineage and do something positive with their life. The idea of struggling against this dark lineage and trying to do something good with your life was something that always appealed to me about this story. The idea that someone even from such a bleak background can reach out for salvation.
Of course, the whole demon father trying to be good thing is completely bunk, but, I digress.
Where I began losing interest in the series was with the third game. Despite being my favorite, I was a teensy bit concerned that the usual “Being a demon is bad.” thing wasn’t addressed, but let it slide since it was a prequel. Logically angsty teen Dante wouldn’t necessarily have reached this conclusion yet, and angsty teen Vergil shows us pretty bloody clearly what trying to embrace being a demon will do to you.
Then the fourth game came along and pretty heavily pushed the “Being a demon rocks!” agenda. That coupled with…well, everything to do with Nero really (whiny brat, who liked a woman who the manual went out of its way to say is basically a foster mother/sister) made me lose interest pretty quickly.
“Xeawn, when you gonna talk about DmC huh?”
Right about now. I just wanted to get the other stuff out of the way, you know, my usual “Let me defuse your argument before you can make it” thing I do.
The Flavor/Review Part!
So, I can’t talk DmC without talking Ninja Theory. Ninja Theory made Heavenly Sword which is one of my favorite games and is in dire need of a sequel, but had…quite a few problems. Which, given that it was more or less a launch game this can be forgiven. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, Heavenly Sword is a game that almost moved me to tears on more than one occasion, and Lord knows I’m a sucker for Chinese Sword Epics (or Wu Xia).
Ninja Theory went on to make Enslaved, which again had a great idea…and a lot of problems. And then pulling a total wild card, Capcom signed Ninja Theory to make Devil May Cry.
A lot of people took to the internet and whined for a really, really long time.
Now, I’m the guy who liked Silent Hill: Book of Memories, both Silent Hill Movies, and the American live action Tekken movie. I don’t mind spin-offs and different takes on storied franchises. As a matter of fact I welcome them! What I don’t welcome however, are design flaws.
So, how does DmC hold up? Better than you’d think in many ways, and worse in others. Overall it’s a good game deserving of at least a 7 or 8, but it’s certainly not my game of the year. That, by the way, is still Sleeping Dogs.
In this new take, Dante is now a half angel and half demon. Ninja Theory couldn’t be bothered to actually read, oh say, six chapters into Genesis since they refer to that odd mixture as being a Nephilim (which plucky readers from the beginning will know is the class of angels that mated with human women, not the title or breed of their offspring). If we really wanted to talk semantics I guess we could debate if an angel/demon hybrid could even exist (it’d be a short debate), but I’m gonna gloss over this one for the sake of actually talking about the game.
So anywho, Clumsy London Dante as I’ve taken to calling him ends up answering his door naked and meeting the obligatory Ninja Theory kinda cute girl with a vaguely provocative outfit who takes him to meet his twin brother who happens to be Bruce Wayne and lives like, down the street from him. Ya know, despite having been searching for him for years. Vergil literally is like, a car drive downtown. I have no idea how they didn’t end up meeting in passing, or even like, going to the same school…
Okay, okay, I’ll be nice. So Bruce Wayne recruits Oliver Queen to go stop Bill O’Reilly from destroying the world with demons. The idea of the story is actually quite clever; demons have invaded and perverted every avenue of life from the media to the food and drink to the banking system. Dante, who as a child has been abused and in and out of the system pretty much his whole life, is labeled a deviant and terrorist by the demonic media (see: the guy who looks suspiciously like O’Reilly), and is constantly under surveillance from their demonic cameras.
The girl sends me on a mission to do…something. It’s not really clear in the demo. Dante has his trademark snark, though it’s a lot more DMC3/Nero than it is DMC1. For the most part it’s cute and endearing, but more on that later.
Before long I was swept into Silent Hill, er, the demon world. This was sort of fun, but everything was…brown. So very brown. The visuals felt awkward coming from Devil May Cry 4, but whatevs, new game, new team.
The game handles well, but is designed needlessly complex. As you’ve no doubt read, combat is 30FPS. Ninja Theory stated that they used tricks to make the game look 60fps, and while I can certainly tell the difference between this and Ninja Gaiden, the visual illusions they use serve their purpose. They basically make use of lots of jerky movements, flashy arcs of light and a shaky camera to give the illusion of speed and brutality. For the most part, you can fool yourself into thinking the game is faster than it really is unless you’re in a chase sequence. But first, combat!
The game can’t seem to decide whether it wants to polarize itself or not. You’re a half angel, and a half demon. They more or less do their job of stating that being a demon is not great and also unpredictable. They basically then take the Castlevania or Infamous route and give you an angel weapon and a demon one. You have your regular sword (mercifully no longer called Woozy), your ebony and ivory (affectionately dubbed “the girls”), an angelic scythe with a name I already forgot, and a demonic ax also with a name I already forgot.
Osiris…the scythe was Osiris.
Anyways, you use your angel weapon more, you unlock moves for that. You use your demon weapon more, ditto. See, the problem is though, I like the ax more than the scythe on account of it hits harder despite being slower, but I’m automatically diometrically opposed to using it. Honestly it wouldn’t have been that hard for them just to say “You have a scythe. Also an ax.” Boom, problem solved.
On top of this, you have said angel weapon and a demon weapon, but you can only use a “devil trigger”, which is a series mainstay but in the realm of Dante being half of both this time around, limiter makes no sense. Also, despite combat wanting you to favor one or the other, traversal requires you to use your “demonic grab” to, ya know, grab stuff, then use your “angelic pull” to, well, pull stuff. Generally in that order.
More than anything this makes the game feel like Ninja Theory pretty much was like “Let’s just flip a coin and add angel and demon to everything willy nilly rather than coming up with a logical naming system or reason for any of this jargon”.
That aside, combat was more or less fluid, but again needlessly complex. You have a sword button, a gun button, two dodge buttons, a button devoted solely to juggling, and then swap buttons. You hold L to use Y for a Scythe and B to spin your scythe a lot, R plus Y for an ax and B to slam the ax hard, then L+X to pull yourself at things (which you’ll need to remember for specific fights, enemies and traversals) and R+X to pull things at you (ditto). Also for no reason you use the Angel Button (L) plus A in mid-air to dash, rather than just using one of the two dodge buttons.
You often have to switch between all of these things (especially during the chase sequences), and the whole experience is needlessly complicated and jarring.
Every so often the city gets pissed and tries to kill you. Literally. To put it another way; Silent Hill is real and it’s had quite enough of your malarkey. The city tries to kill you by crushing you with buildings, make the ground disappear or suddenly lengthening your path in jumps. It also says really mean things to you that make you feel bad about yourself.
These scenes more than anywhere else are what really makes the whole 30fps thing show quite strongly. Sure, the town moves quickly and you fly pretty fast when you grapple hook, but the moment you land and start “running” you’re like “Good gracious you’re slow!”
What should’ve been a really intense chase was really dull since I kept going “Dash jump, saunter. Dash jump, saunter. Grapple, saunter. Grapple, saunter.”
Once I fought a lot of demons and had some chases, ending in a misguided attempt at being “edgy-cool” with what was supposed to be a hip religious joke that was…honestly more dumb than offensive (after escaping a cathedral that had the hallway keep extending, Dante quips “Heh, it just kept going……….Church. Heh.” to his female companion who looks at him like “You’re…really dumb.”), it was time for the boss fight.
What immediately sticks out here is another really misguided attempt at being cool. We’re not even gonna talk about the bizarre title image of Dante surrounded by sorta kinda buxom angels while pointing his hand like a pistol at the head of one crawling up his leg, which was another really misguided and rather dumb attempt at being edgy. No, we’re talking about the dialogue.
This game decided to take the Prince of Persia: Warrior Within route (a lot of other games do this too, but I’m tired and can’t think of them right now) and wants to show you how growed up it is by the rapid use of four letter words. Now now, don’t give me that look. I’m not wagging my finger because I’m a Christian, I’m wagging my finger because this script is really, really poor.
In my spare time, I’m a writer. I do fantasy, sci-fi, romance and horror (www.dragonhousestudios.org). I don’t mind using or reading a four letter word that has a point, place and purpose. In the city stage of the demo, Dante would curse every now and again and it was fitting for the scene. In the boss fight, well, there’s literally a conversation that consists of “F*** YOU!”
Dante: F*** YOU!
Demon slug worm chick: F*** YOU!!!!
Dante: NO, F*** YOUUUUU!!!!
DSWC: F*** YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!
and then she threw up on me.
Yep, eff you and vomit humor. That’s…that’s what we’ve been reduced to. Don’t get me wrong, DMC has never had a stellar script, though it’s Shakespearian by Capcom’s standards, but…eff you and vomit humor. Care for another little gem? Slug chick stated, and I quote, *ahem*, “AAAAGH You disgusting f*** child! I’m going to pull off your head, piss down your neck and s*** on your worthless carcass!”
I then proceeded to win the fight by dropping her in a vat of her own acidic vomit.
I really feel like Ninja Theory has some genuinely inspired moments, but they’re surrounded by weak attempts at being edgy, and odd attempts at going “This is sorta like what the other team would do, right?”
So, let’s wrap this lengthy review up huh? Things that you can rest assured are still here:
1. One liners
2. Stylish combat
3. An endearing protagonist (I find him even more funny since he like, trips and stumbles around trying to use his sword, which is fitting since he’s just starting out as a slayer)
4. An awful camera
5. No lock on
6. Awkward platforming
7. Combat that focuses on dodging (there’s no block button still, but your dodge invincibility window is like, copiously large)
8. Confusing locations with no map or any real direction.
Things that appear to not be here:
1. voice actors that were excited to come to work
2. Simple controls
3. Difficulty (though I did only play on normal)
4. Fisher Spooner, which makes me sad
5. Deep-ish combos
All in all, DmC doesn’t appear to be the greatest thing I’ve ever played, but it’s far from the worst. My verdict? Devil May Cry fans need to take off their whiny pants and give it a shot. And hopefully Ninja Theory doesn’t end up spouting a bunch of poorly researched nonsense that needlessly offends.