DmC’s accessibility and stand-out action compensate for disappointing character reinvention
Rebooting a beloved franchise could yield two possible outcomes. One, the entire existing fan base could be alienated despite innovative advances in gameplay and narrative, and two, for some strange reason, the reinvention feels absolutely right, combining accessibility and fan service to a seemingly impossible degree. With DmC: Devil May Cry, Capcom and Ninja Theory seem to have obtained mixed results with the reboot — the character makeovers are sure to not bode well with long time fans (and rightly so), but everything else feels absolutely perfect.
The Dante in DmC: Devil May Cry isn’t the Dante we all know and love from the other Devil May Cry games. This new avatar sees him as a high school kid with a bad attitude — he is possibly the least likeable protagonist in a video game since Nero in Devil May Cry 4. Initially, the reinvention of the character was attributed to Capcom’s effort to reach out to new (Western) demographics, but it looks like they got the message, and later played the “DmC takes place in a parallel universe” card. This not only fits in well with the theme of the rebooted game, but did a good job of averting potential disaster. Even better, the story in DmC: Devil May Cry is well-paced, and despite some occasionally horrendous writing (that crosses over from being camp to plain awful), fits the bill quite nicely (despite the needless use of profanity).
The parallel universe theme carries forward into the core gameplay. All the combat takes place in Limbo, another dimension where demons exist (it is Dante’s job to stop them from existing) in physical form. He can do this with his trusty sword, Rebellion, his pistols Ebony and Ivory, and later, an assortment of wonderfully destructive angelic and demonic weaponry. Dante is a “Nephilim”, created by the union of Sparda, his demon father and Eva, an angel — this grants him the ability to switch between angelic and demonic abilities during combat (or just for fun). Fans of the series will be displeased by this apparent deviation from the series’ lore (Eva is human in all other games), but this does take place in a parallel universe after all. Besides, this was the only way the Nephilim angle could work at all. Anyway, the point being — Dante can seamlessly travel into Limbo (with a little help, of course), annihilate demons and be back in time for the after-party. There are some new platforming mechanics as well, and DmC’s environmental puzzles, for a change, are quite refreshing.
Past Devil May Cry games have been difficult — often unreasonably so. DmC: Devil May Cry, on the other hand, can be easy, or it can be brutal; such is its scalability. On “Devil Hunter” mode (the game’s normal difficulty setting), combat is accessible and only occasionally challenging, giving the player sufficient room to experiment with weapons, combos and rack up style points. For the truly hardcore among you, beating the game on “Nephilim” (the game’s hard mode), will let you unlock additional, higher difficulty levels. But it would have been great if all difficulty levels had been unlocked from the start, not requiring additional play-throughs.
DmC: Devil May Cry is also the best looking Devil May Cry yet, not merely in terms of graphical fidelity, but level design and aesthetics as well. Settings range from subway tunnels to city streets and a bizarre (yet awesome) nightclub, all of which are wonderfully realised, while new fluid character animations and incredibly responsive controls combining to give the player a near-perfect hack-and-slash experience. DmC: Devil May Cry is available on PS3, PC and Xbox 360.