Ninja Theory’s reboot of the popular Devil May Cry series was initially met with disdain by some, partly due to the fact that the game featured a radically different aesthetic and a younger, more arrogant Dante with dark hair. Of course, most of this criticism was conducted without actually witnessing or playing any of the game. Finally, however, we have a playable demo, so that the praise and condemnation can finally have a tangible basis. The verdict? DmC: Devil May Cry is awesome—really awesome, and fans of the series that can look past a trite character revamp will find the game they’ve always loved.
The demo contains two parts: the first is a general gameplay segment that has been shown in the past at conventions. The second is a boss battle that I haven’t seen yet. While I have no idea what the actual story of the game is, it appears to contain elements of cyberterrorism, anarchy, and Anonymous-style rogue groups. What I saw from the cutscenes was highly intriguing, and it looks like this may be the first game of the franchise to have a legitimately fleshed-out plot and world.
The first and most noticeable element of this reboot is the radically altered visual style. The demon world hidden within the real world is an oversaturated, crumbling environment that feels like a Green Day music video directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by Tim Burton. It’s a delectable fusion, and a gamble that absolutely pays off in dividends. The camera always maintains a great view of the action, and will occasionally tilt ever so slightly to drive home a style that is reminiscent of documentary footage.
DmC maintains the core of what makes this type of game so great, namely the focus on experimenting with the wide variety of attacks to dispatch enemies in the most brutal, stylish, and efficient way possible. A score counter in the top right corner of the screen lists each attack used as well as a feed into an escalating letter rank, much like the old games (starting with D and working its way up the longer a combo is maintained).
As if the demons constantly assaulting Dante are not enough, the world itself shifts to impede the hero, crumbling and stretching in a constant attempt to stop Dante in his tracks. These segments are the demo’s best, as Dante charges through ever-thinning passageways as buildings and platforms fall apart or crush together. They don’t really demand anything in the way of pure skill, but it doesn’t stop them from being incredibly exciting.
Most of what Dante does falls into either Angelic or Demonic, whether it be grappling to new areas using an Angel Pull, or ripping demonic cameras out of their perches with a Demonic Pull. In terms of attacks, these tiers translate into Arbiter and Osiris. The former is fast with good reach and low to average damage output, while the latter focuses on slow, devastating maneuvers. Arbiter is great for crowd control, but for enemies that have shields, the powerful swings of the Osiris axe are the most effective. Combat itself feels incredibly tight, responsive, and satisfying, and it’s very easy to jump right in. Like the other games, however, it strongly rewards practice and finesse.
I loved my short time with DmC. It’s confident, thrilling, and incredibly stylish. It knows exactly what a Devil May Cry game should be, and checks all of the boxes with finesse while introducing a new, incredibly appealing aesthetic to the series. If it can carry that same sense of breathless forward momentum throughout an entire game, we will have a major winner.