You may remember me making some comments about Dante’s appearance in the Devil May Cry reboot by Capcom and Ninja Theory. I think I did it in both written and spoken word and quite often. Back at NYCC2012 I was impressed with how the demo turned out and admitted that the new reboot would be worth a shot (despite my overall distaste for reboots). Besides, I’ve always been a strong supporter of Ninja Theory. So is the new DmC a worthy reason to return to the depth of hell or should it be banned to the nine circles for eternal damnation?
You play as Dante (surprise, surprise) a “nephilim” or in colloquial English – an offspring of the unholy union between an angel and a demon (I may be using slightly more descriptive language here than the game). If you played the previous four titles in the series you will notice that Dante’s mother, Eva, is no longer a mere human, she was a full blown angel, but other than that the origin remains.
The story holds together well. It could have been stronger. It could have had less explicit language in parts where it was totally unnecessary, but that has always been the tone of DmC so this will do. Through 20 or so missions you will guide Dante on a quest of revenge on a powerful demon Mundus. Mundus killed your angel mother Eva and imprisoned your demon father Sparda (which you find out thanks to your brother Virgil). Being a nephilim you also wield power capable of dispatching Mundus, so he wants to you do.
It’s no Oscar screenplay, but the dialogue is written well enough for you to not want to skip every single cutscene that you come across. Story wise, it’s a good reboot and it does a lot of small changes to distinguish itself from the predecessors while keeping the soul of DmC where it should be.
The voice acting is terrific, and the dialogue is delivered with a measure of authenticity. Unfortunately, it does fall apart in places where explicit language overpowers the story. It wouldn’t be as noticeable if the script really called for these moments, but as it is, they’re there “just because.” Soundtrack is memorable and really fits well in the DmC universe, the music picks up and drops at all the appropriate moments and at the end, it actually had me looking up the soundtrack to add a few more tunes to my iPod.
Visually, there is a lot of creativity in both level and character design. Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. Yes, Dante’s new look will be hit or miss with a lot of people. I wasn’t a fan, but in the end I embraced it. Level design is especially breathtaking. There is a high level of detail to the environments and some of the platforming sections are eye popping. There are two or three missions you spend in a world that is meant to be upside down and the whole time it’s hard keeping your attention away of how carefully the environment was crafted.
One drawback however is the camera angle and a lack of the lock on button, which should be a given for hack’n'slash games such as this. When enemies swarm the screen you will sometimes get blindsided since you never see the attack coming. Same comes for some of the environmental platforming. I found myself confused a few times as to where I had to go due to the camera.
When it comes to the gameplay this is about as fun as I remember Devil May Cry series being. Difficulty wise, it will not hold up next to some of the more “excruciating” games in the series, but the challenge is there, with multiple unlockable difficulty levels everyone should have the right level of challenges. The controls are intuitive and stringing combos together is fun. As you progress Dante will unlock both new abilities and weapons. Having a cumbersome arsenal could have weighted heavily on the player, but instead, all of the transitions and controls are so intuitive you will find yourself stringing together eye-popping combos 5 minutes into the game.
The game still poses a challenge, you will have to master dodging, rolling, jumping and all attacks in order to get through rooms full of enemies, especially when some enemies call for specific attacks and prompts. The boss battles are a low light While the actual encounters are well designed and once again aesthetically striking, in the end it comes down to pattern recognition and rinse repeat. Most of them will also have three stages where you basically have to do the same thing on varying levels of unfairness.
Platforming sections serve as breather in between bigger battles, but they will not challenge you in the slightest. The highest difficulty will definitely come from bad camera angles rather than the level design. Even so, traversing various areas does look particularly beautiful. In part that is due to some exceptional level design and in part due to very well planned out control scheme.
For completionists there is plenty to go back to as well. Each level hides keys that unlock different challenge rooms and areas as well as hidden secrets. Sometimes you will have to go back to those levels because you won’t have the abilities to unlock all secrets from the get go. A number of challenge rooms, leader boards and a constant completion rating will inspire some to replay DmC over and over again. That, and unlockable difficulty levels.
Verdict: Despite previous skepticism from the author, I will be the first to admit that the DmC reboot is the first great game of 2013. Ninja Theory finally got the budget that they deserved from a large developer such as Capcom and did they ever deliver. Yeah, the story is not necessarily the best and there is some bad camera work, but behind it is a jewel of an early release. The deeper you get into this game and the more familiar you become with Dante’s abilities the more fun the experience becomes. It’s a bloody ballet that is equal parts breathtaking and challenging. A reboot truly worthy of the first three games in the Devil May Cry series.