A lot has been made about developer Ninja Theory’s “radical” reboot of Capcom’s Devil May Cry franchise. Fans immediately cried foul when the redesigned Dante was revealed, and it’s been an uphill battle ever since for both Capcom and Ninja Theory to prove DmC retains the core of what made the Devil May Cry series such a fan favorite to begin with. And this is the part where I officially chime in and say DmC: Devil May Cry is not a radical departure from the series' roots. DmC feels very much like a Devil May Cry game, even if you don’t initially recognize the hero on the game’s box art.
With DmC, Ninja Theory is relaunching the franchise and revisiting the early years of lead progatonist Dante’s demon-hunting career. This is not the Dante you’re used to – he’s brash, cocky, headstrong and kind of a jerk at the onset. But that’s the point. Shortly after waking up from a one night stand with some strippers (yup), Dante gets drafted into a war between Heaven and Hell that leads to the discovery of his true heritage and birth right. It’s quintessential origin story stuff, and it gives Ninja Theory some breathing room to cut loose and provide Dante with an actual narrative arc.
Granted, the story of DmC isn’t really anything to write home about. There are a few twisted and turns, but the narrative remains merely serviceable throughout, simply there to give motivation to jump into the next level. The voice actors who play both Dante (Tim Phillipps) and Vergil (David de Lautour) do an excellent job whenever they share the screen. But it’s a different story for Kat, played by Sage Mears, who drags things down on a frequent basis. It’s a shame her story gets as much spotlight as it does, since it’s by far the weakest aspect of DmC’s plot.
But I imagine most who are interested in picking up DmC won’t care what the actual plot is. Most people just need the simplest of motivations to get to the demon slayin’. And in the demon slayin’ department, DmC delivers in spades. The combat is fast and fluid, much like previous entries in the series, and it looks beautifully choreographed.
Ninja Theory has packed this game to the gills with new weapons, combos and abilities to unlock, making it so you’re constantly opening up new things to keep the game from feeling stale. The inclusion of platforming segments and hidden time trails – kill all the enemies, race to the checkered flag, collect all the markers in an area, etc. - further spice up the gameplay for the better. For a straightforward action adventure title, DmC has enough variety in its gameplay that most players should walk away satiated.
It’s also worth noting from an artistic perspective, DmC is a damn pretty game. Most of the gameplay takes place in “Limbo,” which is a world between worlds that only angels and demons can see and access. The architecture here is astonishing, with devilishly twisted bridges and buildings, and the color palette is thankfully more than just grays and browns, instead resorting to a scheme using a lot of green, bright red and blue. We know Ninja Theory can kick some ass when designing game worlds – look no further than Enslaved: Odyssey to the West – and they prove that’s the case again with DmC. Even if you somehow find yourself bored by the gameplay (really?!), you can’t help but marvel at your surroundings from time to time.
While the story hits some melodramatic lows and doesn’t really succeed in delivering a truly satisfying end to Dante's first adventure, it’s really the gameplay that serves as DmC’s saving grace. It’s truly badass and above all else, fun as hell. I was always open to Ninja Theory taking the reins of the Devil May Cry franchise, and they have proven they know what they’re doing – managing to offer up a franchise refresh that can be picked up and enjoyed by newcomers while retaining the core gameplay that made the series popular way back in 2001. If Ninja Theory can come up with a better story for the (hopeful) sequel, then consider me pumped.
We received one review copy of DmC: Devil May Cry for Xbox 360 from Capcom. Before starting our review we finished the game's campaign on normal difficuly.