I would like to preface this review by saying that I have never played a Devil May Cry game before. I wish that I didn’t even have to mention that, since this is a reboot to the series, but I want to make it clear that I have no preconceived notions of the game. The new look of Dante that has been receiving mixed reactions has no bearing on me, nor does the difficulty of the last games. I only bring this up because I know that they are controversial points among series fans. All that being said: I really like DmC.
DmC introduces Dante in what can only be assumed as a daily routine in his life: getting drunk at a night club and taking some women home to his trailer on an amusement pier. Things quickly take a turn for the strange as he wakes up to a mysterious girl knocking on his door with a demon called a hunter not far behind her. The hunter separates Dante from the real world, trapping him in the parallel world of Limbo. It is apparent that it is not Dante’s first trip to this bizarre world, as he is unphased and gets right down to fighting his way out through an army of demons.
As Dante escapes Limbo, with the help of a new ally named Kat, the story pieces begin to fall into place. Dante is being recruited to help an underground organization fight against the demons that have infected the world. These demons are disguised as politicians, newscasters, bankers, even soda manufacturers. The references to real world corporations are in no way subtle, but very little about DmC is, and it doesn’t try to be. Throughout his roughly 10-15 hour journey, Dante fights hordes of demons and their leaders, learns of his past, and goes to some very interesting locales.
While Dante is the main protagonist of DmC, the real star of the show is Limbo. Every time Dante is dragged into the mirrored version of our world, it turns demonic and hostile towards him. Ninja Theory has used Limbo to their advantage in making seemingly every day places like a carnival, a night club, or even a soda factory unique and memorable. While some environments will stand out much more than others, more often than not is Limbo well-designed and interesting.
No demonic world would be complete without its demons, and Limbo is filled to the brim. The baddies of DmC come in all shapes and sizes. As Dante nears closer to his goal, he runs across more and more types of enemies. Sadly, the latter half of the game mostly just introduces re-skins of old enemies, but even those demons have interesting gameplay hooks instead of just buffed up health. The bosses are interesting and their design is good, but even the final boss is overshadowed by a crazy boss fight that happens right around the middle of the game. It is easily one of the most fun times I had fighting a boss in recent memory, not because of the actual fighting, but because of what was going on around us as we fought.
That is where the struggle of DmC lies, in both story and presentation. There are moments where the game acknowledges its absurdity and embraces it, and that is where it shines. When it is not shining, the game can figuratively and literally take on a dull shade of grey. For every good piece of story and writing, there is double that of just average to follow. There are some people that will end up liking the new Dante and the writing more than others, and I consider myself leaning more towards that camp than I do the other, but ultimately it will be completely case-by-case on how much the player enjoys of the story and its characters. The stylized look of the world in Limbo looks great and the current Unreal Engine still shows that it has something left in it, but in the human world every color is either grey or white, which feels unimaginative when put up against the other three quarters of the game.
Although Dante may not appeal to everyone, the combat does not have the same issue. While it may seem complicated at first, the gameplay is actually quite accessible. By the time you finish the second level, Dante is equipped with his regular sword, pistols, demonic weapon and grappling hook, and angelic weapon and grappling hook, and the arsenal only grows from there. The demonic weapons are accessed by holding down the right trigger while the angelic weapons are assigned to the left trigger. The quick access to different weapons lets Dante string together long combos that make the player feel like they’re a master, even if they’re just mindlessly button mashing. This only falls apart later in the game when certain enemies can only be hurt by angelic or demonic weapons. These enemies are annoying, especially since experimentation grinds to a halt as soon as these enemies appear.
With a hit-or-miss protagonist and some faulty writing, DmC leaves itself room for improvement going forward, and if the ending is any indication, we will be seeing more Dante. The combat is fast, fluid and fun, and something a lot of people can jump into, but there is still enough depth for players looking for more. The world of Limbo shows off much style and gives life to what would otherwise be a drab game. DmC is a reboot in its finest form, showing off great foundations while leaving itself room for improvement, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.