I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong to give Ninja Theory an unfair slamming after the first reveal trailer for their Devil May Cry reboot, DmC. But then I began to wonder, why was I really so upset in the first place? It’s been ten years since the first Devil May Cry rocked my teenage world, and each installment has slowly pushed the series further and further into obscurity. Was I really ever a big enough fan to get upset in the first place?
Don’t get the wrong idea, though. I am commending them for not taking things too far, but there are still plenty of problems with this game’s presentation. No, this new Dante is not as cool as the older Dante, and that’s not going to go away any time soon. Ninja Theory claimed that the old Dante wasn’t cool anymore and needed the face lift, but I disagree. Dante was the breath of fresh-air which made Devil May Cry 4 a barely legitimate game, the saving grace from the smelly pile of teenage angst found in his puny doppelganger, Nero. Dante hadn’t dated or aged one bit, he was simply misused and misplaced in the hands of people who didn’t understand him.
This new Dante is okay, I guess, but while watching him give blank stares or awkwardly delivering lines, I can’t shake the feeling of one of the most infamous fictional characters in history, Anakin Skywalker. The opening cutscene in this demo has Dante running into his long lost twin brother and realizing who he is, and his flat, dull display of shock is no different than the countless confused glares poor Hayden Christensen was forced to give at the baffling plot Lucas puked out for him. They even kind of look similar in a way.
I’ll need to play the full game to cast a full opinion on this new cat, but I think I’m ready to give him a better shot at least. He’s not half as offensive as he came off in the first trailer, toned down a lot and ringing closer to the original Dante than I thought he would.
I’m also not too certain about this cyber girl he’s got following him around, either. Do they have a stock room for women with this mechanical acting voice, because I’m quite certain that if a game’s protagonist does not take orders from a sexy officer from the rear of a battlefield, they have their own personal Cortana who is somehow able to follow them around. People complain about masked space marines, but these distant females always in your ear are by far the most overused character type in games.
I will give Ninja Theory the props they deserve for this incredible world they’ve created. While a little blocky, everything oozes with a consistent urban style without taking it too far from its demonic roots. Spirits wisp in and out as Dante runs through the city, and the sickening cameras and other uses of hellish imagery add a nice touch. Plus, the city does feel alive, like an ever changing being in itself, never more apparent than when buildings begin to compress upon Dante and get in his path.
My knowledge of Devil May Cry‘s world doesn’t extend too far beyond the castle in the first game, but I do remember some cityscape action pieces from Devil May Cry 3, AKA the only other good one. I know this is set in a modern world, not some hellish fantasy land.
I also love the ridiculous boss character Dante fights and his wonderful liberal used of the “f-word.” At first I rolled my eyes at the immature wit of his delivery, but then I remember Dante getting into cussing matches with other monsters twice his size in the earlier games, and it made me smile. Good stuff.
All my small quips with the presentation vanished once I got around to finally controlling Dante. The action has always been the centerpiece of Devil May Cry, duking out as much stylish action as possible with only a small amount of input. With the right timing and finesse, Dante is able to pull off the same beautiful acrobatic combos he’s always been famous for. His new seamless weapon swapping system adds another intuitive layer, the scythe and the axe each with their own uses and qualities.
Do yourself a favor and don’t stick with the default controls. I don’t know what game Ninja Theory thought we were playing, but they do not work. Take a few minutes to change them up when getting started. Circle is shoot, triangle is heavy attack, and square is light attack, the same as its always been for games of this type. No need to rewrite the book here.
Level layout is a bit basic, but that’s to be expected from the genre. Besides at scripted points, Dante has very little interaction with the world around him, a far cry from the perfect design of the castle from the first game. Maybe it’s just this level, but always remember to look up for secrets.
Color me impressed, so far. I didn’t think Ninja Theory would be able to win me over, but they’ve piqued my interest now at least. DmC isn’t going to reignite excitement in the genre the same way Bayonetta did a few years ago, but Capcom has a solid action game on their hands here. Now all that remains is to see how many more of the naysayers they can win over to their side.