DmC Review

  • Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
  • Developer: Ninja Theory
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Release Date: January 15, 2013
  • Price: $59.99
  • Official: Devil May Cry

“SSSensational!!!”

After what must have been a difficult and demoralizing development cycle, filled with fan outrage and a legacy to live up to, Ninja Theory finally delivered their reboot of Devil May Cry in January to mostly positive reviews. However, the fandom behind this long running series was still unbelieving, taking to Metacritic and other sites to grade the game poorly, based on alterations to character appearance, tone of the game, and the more newbie friendly difficulty. After finally getting a chance to play this title to completion myself, only one of those is justified, and even that alteration is a minor gripe in an otherwise stellar package.

Its true from the outset that this game is a little more brash, but I still found its style terrific and its gritty nature much more enjoyable than the series more anime inspired past. From the games hardcore soundtrack to its fast paced combat and psychedelic level design DmC  is a refreshing entry in the action hack and slash genre, a staple in gaming that has sadly been void as of late.

Ninja Theory, developers of Heavenly Sword and Enslaved, seem to be continuing their track record of releasing great titles that are sadly overlooked. With the “hardcore” DmC fans ignoring this latest entry and everyone else holding out for titles such as Gears of War and Bioshock, DmC may become one of 2013’s biggest disappointments. But be sure it will not be for lack of quality. While DmC is a reboot and does tread familiar ground in terms of story, Ninja Theory have injected it with more heart and soul than past entries, and though lead man Dante may start out uncaring and distant, by games end he is much more in tune to become the cocky world saving hero fans know and love.

At the outset Dante will have his trusty sword, Rebellion, in which to do battle with the demons of the world, but it is not long before he also grabs hold of his two pistols, Ebony and Ivory, and his famous jacket, now a much better black. The game eases you into its mechanics nicely, but eventually you will have an impressive arsenal in which to dispatch foes that occasionally you may shoot, grab, or slam, when all you wanted to do was slash. Luckily these control nitpicks will vary from user to user, with some not having any issues at all, but even so, the missteps are only minor and shouldn’t lead to any untimely deaths. The large number of demon slaying options is enjoyable and helps to keep the combat fresh and exciting throughout the games 8-10 hour campaign.

At the heart of any Devil May Cry title is the games combo grading system. By chaining attacks seamlessly without being hit yourself Dante will be given a grade. These scores feed into your experience and allows you to purchase upgrades and new maneuvers in combat. Its not difficult to achieve an S rank but it should take some time for players to be able to reach SSSensational repeatedly. The complaint from hardcore fans I spoke of earlier, of the game being easier for new players, can be seen as a valid one initially, but DmC includes seven difficulty options in total, with most being unlocked by beating the previous one before it. To say the game is too easy through and through is ridiculous, as any true DMC fan should find plenty to like in the later options. Its those that are newer who I feel may have the biggest gripe, as the default “normal” option, Devil Hunter, is far too simple and offers up little challenge. If you are someone interested in this game, start with Nephilim, which should offer just the right amount of pushback to keep you entertained throughout.

The real surprise here is that while fans were carrying pitchforks and screaming about the changes to Dante, he isn’t the real star here. Ninja Theory has taken great strides in making the world of DmC, Limbo City, the real standout piece in the DmC puzzle. Taking place in both the physical realm, as well as that of Limbo, the story of DmC explores Dante and Virgil’s rise to power while taking down the current regime that is controlled by the demon Mundus. During this journey Dante and players will have to not only battle the demons of the world, but also the environment itself, as it tries to stop and destroy them.

Each stage brings with it crushing hallways, collapsing floors, widening walls, and moving platforms. The visual splendor on display here is terrific and truly is the life of DmC. One moment you are battling dozens of demons and the next you are escaping through an ever evolving environment complete with death threats appearing on the buildings surrounding you. While the first half of the game is rather tame, and honestly dragged a little, the second half blazes to life with incredibly diverse environments and exciting boss battles. If the team at Ninja Theory decided to craft an entire game with the same off the wall attitude and style of DmC’s final acts, I would be all for it. As it is, the more you stick with DmC, the more gratifying and unforgettable the experience becomes.

While the combat and level design are top notch, DmC is not without faults. As mentioned, the game itself isn’t all that difficult initially, with myself not dying until the final location. This complaint however, is fixed with additional difficulties and by the game including a New Game +, with half of the collectibles only obtainable a second time. My other issue lies with the blending of the games difficulty with its level design. While the environments can be breathtaking and are always enjoyable, sometimes its just not as fun or exciting to actually traverse them as it should be. If you miss a jump, you only lose a sliver of life and often times there’s just no challenge whatsoever in the platforming sections. With such an interesting and changing surface area, it is bewildering why Ninja Theory didn’t realize it would be more rewarding to feel fear while running along it. The game would have become vastly more enjoyable if you felt peril jumping to that ledge rather then just not thinking about it at all.

With a great mix of combat, story, and platforming, Ninja Theory have managed to bring DmC back to the forefront of the action genre. While this reboot occasionally stumbles, and it still adheres to the room, fight, room, fight mechanic the series is known for, perhaps to a fault, there is no real reason why the hardcore crowd should loath it as much as they do. I rarely play through games multiple times but I was having a blast retreading DmC a second go around on a more challenging and rewarding road. The game ends very strong and it will be a true shame if Ninja Theory isn’t given the chance to make a sequel with such a solid foundation as this. This latest entry in the series is just fun to play and that can be pretty rare these days. Plus, it has one of the coolest boss battles I’ve seen in a long time. If your looking for a fun action romp DmC should fit that bill nicely. –Chuck

The Rundown

  • + Combat is fast and fun
  • + Environments are impressive
  • + Some exciting boss battles
  • – Difficulty could be ratcheted up
  • – Platforming isn’t as exciting as it should be

Final Score

8.5 / 10

“Great”

2 thoughts on “DmC Review

  1. Great review! Yeah, I loved all the platforming, and it was definitely most interesting when the environment was dynamic, like in the cathedral, after the hostage exchange bit, and on the way to Barbas… I actually thought a lot of the platforming was pretty challenging, come to think of it. Anyway, I agree that Limbo was the star of the game in many ways.

    And as for the difficulty, it bothers me too when I hear people complain about it being too easy, because like you said, just crank up the difficulty if you feel that way! I thought it got challenging after the succubus boss, even on Devil Hunter for a first playthrough, and I’ve talked to other people who say it was a hard game… but sooo fun to replay, especially as your skills improve!

    1. I initially played on the hardest difficulty you can on a first playthrough, and I felt it wasn’t challenging until the final tower, but that’s why there’s multiple options for each person. Just hope there is a sequel from Ninja Theory, but with them not making a single financially successful game yet, I’d be surprised if they stay in business 😦

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