2010: The nerd rage heard around the world.
While Ninja Theory expected a somewhat negative reaction from series fans upon seeing the redesign of Dante for their reboot of Capcom’s Devil May Cry franchise, they were caught a bit unprepared for the amount of venom spewed across the Internet by some of the franchise’s most dedicated fans. Many decried it as yet another botched collaboration between Japanese franchise owners and Western studios that lack the vision for bringing those franchises to life — citing now-defunct European developer GRIN’s failed reimagining of the Bionic Commando franchise. I’ll admit that even I wasn’t expecting much from this title, even a few days prior to its release. Even so, I picked DmC up on a whim courtesy of a few spare Reward Zone points to spend, and I was in for one “hell” of a surprise: this game is surprisingly good. In fact, I consider DmC: Devil May Cry to be a title at the pinnacle of Western-developed entries in Japanese franchises (right up there with Retro Studios’ Metroid Prime franchise), and probably one of my favorite titles that I’ve played over the last few months. Here are some reasons why DmC: Devil May Cry is worth your time.
5) This Game Has Character
Say what you will about Dante’s new look, but once the game begins he’s still the same Dante that fans have come to know and love. This Dante inhabits a much darker, grittier, more twisted world than the anime-inspired locales of previous titles in the franchise – and it’s that darker vision that makes this new title so different, and yet so familiar at the same time. The supporting character of Kat — a witch working with Vergil in his anti-Mundus organization called “The Order” — isn’t nearly as obnoxious as the original trailers made her seem, and Vergil himself retains his cold, calculating personality while developing far more as a character in this reimagining than he ever was in the original series. Demon Lord Mundus also takes on a new persona as the head of the world’s most powerful investment bank, Silver Sacks (see the irony there?) while secretly manipulating the world’s leaders in the shadows via his demon mistress Lilith.
4) Style With Substance
While the world around Dante has changed, Capcom Japan made certain that the stylish combat that is at the core of any game in the Devil May Cry series remains a major focus in this new title. While some of the weapons have changed (many now designed around angelic or demonic polarity), the combo system remains incredibly satisfying. Switching between weapons is a breeze, and it’s never been easier or more satisfying to knock an opponent into the air, follow them up with a leap, pull them forward with a grappling hook, unload a bevy of sword slashes, and then finish with a downward slash with a gigantic scythe – all with a few button presses. DmC shares more in common with Bayonetta than any of the previous entries in the series — and that’s a good thing. The best part of all, though? Absolutely no QTEs! While some of the game’s gigantic bosses need to be toppled in unorthodox ways, QTEs are never utilized — instead, players have to use their surroundings and the tools provided to them in order to best the gigantic beasties.
3) (Un)real Life
Instead of Capcom’s proprietary MT Framework engine, Ninja Theory chose the Unreal Engine to power DmC. The reason for this? The game’s enemies aren’t Dante’s biggest concern in DmC. Instead, the game’s levels themselves are under the influence of Mundus and they’re out to kill you. Walls close in on Dante, and floors collapse into the void beneath him. The game’s environments shift, break, twist, and change in sadistically delightful ways throughout DmC, to the extent that it makes Devil May Cry 4‘s static environments look completely stale by comparison. DmC‘s environments, on the other hand, are anything but static – they’re out for blood.
Without spoiling much, suffice it to say that the game spins a rather interesting yarn, beginning with Dante tossed into a conflict he neither asked for nor wanted, and ending with one of the most epic battles of this gaming generation. Though character development is never one of the reasons anyone plays a stylish action game, it’s rather surprising to see how carefully the characters (both heroes, villains, and everything in between) are handled here. One of my favorite villains is a demon news anchor seemingly designed to lampoon a television personality on Fox News. The game is also one of the most deserving of an M-rating that I’ve played in quite some time. There are some really mature, thought-provoking themes stuffed in here (including those of child abuse, media manipulation, and more), along with the less mature gratuitous swearing and sexual overtones. The presence of all this mature content (including that of the more adolescent variety) fits in well with the game’s darker, grittier direction, and adds to (rather than distracts from) the mood of the game in general.
The most important note about DmC is that while it does a lot of new things, it remains respectful of the source material – something that GRIN’s reboot of Bionic Commando wasn’t able to attain. In addition to respecting the source material, Ninja Theory also respects those playing DmC. The entire storyline – and all of its features – are available without additional DLC purchases, with the Bloody Palace mode and several other tweaks being offered for free.
I couldn’t have been more surprised with just how impressed I was by Ninja Theory’s vision of Dante and his world. Other Japanese companies considering collaborative efforts with Western studios would do well to follow Capcom’s example.
Evil.JP is Games Are Evil’s bi-weekly romp through all things Japanese gaming. Follow this column’s author Michael Migliacio on Twitter here.