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Devil May Cry

Lucia Must Die! Why ‘Devil May Cry 2’ Shouldn’t Be Overlooked

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Out of touch, mechanically neutered, and developed without the team responsible for the original, Devil May Cry 2 stands out as one of the worst video game sequels of all time. Combat is devoid of complexity, the difficulty is downright laughable, and bosses range from forgettable to mindless. Along with Dante’s sudden personality death and spacious stages desperately in need of some of the first game’s tight architecture, one would be forgiven for thinking DMC2 was deliberately designed to be as disappointing as possible. Devil May Cry 2’s infamy is so notorious, it’s almost become the poster boy for “what sequel?” Most fans direct newcomers to play the first Devil May Cry and then hop onto the third, ignoring the fact that DMC2 exists, and for good reason. It’s almost a miracle the franchise was able to bounce back after DMC2’s blunder.

For all the damage DMC2 did to Devil May Cry, it can be hard to accept that it actually brought quite a lot to the table. Many of Devil May Cry 3’s more revolutionary features, in truth, either had a basis in concepts introduced in DMC2 or originated there entirely. As strange as it may be, Devil May Cry 3 owes much of what makes it great to Devil May Cry 2. Although this doesn’t somehow redeem DMC2 as a game or warrant some sort of positive skewed reevaluation, it does shine light on the idea that Devil May Cry 2, or any similarly despised video game, may have worth in spite of its many shortcomings. This isn’t to say DMC3 learned from DMC2’s, either. While that certainly is the case, Devil May Cry 3’s success is in large part thanks to what it simply takes from Devil May Cry 2. It improves a broken foundation, but not without acknowledging or respecting what already worked.

Given Devil May Cry 2’s watered down combat and its too big for its own good level design, much of what does work in DMC2 only does so on a conceptual level. While they’re all fairly well implemented into the main game, they’re dragged down by the failings surrounding them. Take perhaps the biggest addition moving forward: Lucia. For Devil May Cry to continue growing as a franchise, it was going to, sooner or later, need to implement playstyles independent of Dante. Vergil’s mode in Devil May Cry 3 is easily the gold standard when it comes to alternate characters within the franchise, if not the genre, but Lucia is the actual trend-setter.

devil may cry 2 review

Unlike in Devil May Cry 3 and Devil May Cry 4’s Special Editions where the alternate characters simply play through the same stages as Dante, Lucia actually has her own set of stages. Granted, they’re mostly all borrowed from Dante and played out of order or in reverse, but there was a legitimate attempt at varying the two campaigns. Lucia’s story is also significantly shorter, making it a far more palatable way to approach DMC2, but that’s less a boon and more a consequence of Devil May Cry 2’s lackluster gameplay. Along with Lucia as an alternative to Dante, Trish from the first game serves as an unlockable character, offering a respectable roster of playable characters to choose from. At least conceptually.

Being able to play as both Lucia and Trish alongside Dante is a fantastic addition, but DMC2 doesn’t encourage added playthroughs the same way the first Devil May Cry does. Completing the story mode is more of a sigh of relief than anything else. The combat is truly mindless at times and neither Lucia’s nor Trish’s movesets can fix the fundamental issues at play with Devil May Cry 2. What’s particularly funny about DMC2’s lack of engaging replayability is the fact that it introduced the mission select feature to the series. Perhaps one of DMC’s only major flaws, the inability to select any mission at any time after beating the game meant it was impossible to go back to earlier stages to try and improve for S ranks. Being forced to move on was certainly part of the game’s charm and added an arcadey element to the experience, but it’s not an aspect that necessarily needed to stay put in order to preserve Devil May Cry’s core identity.

Bland selectable missions aside, DMC2 was absolutely in the right to introduce mission select. Being able to replay missions whenever you want is a fantastic addition and one that encourages replayability on an entirely different level. Replaying the original Devil May Cry is effectively a commitment to replay it in its entirety from start to finish, but that isn’t the case with any other game in the series (with the exception of a fresh DMC2 playthrough.) Simply being able to select one stage on repeat for practice’s sake is a great inclusion that more than makes up for the lack of DMC’s inherent arcade-esque design.

As mediocre as Devil May Cry 2’s core gameplay loop is, it did, surprisingly enough, offer some ideas, both in combat and movement, that would later be inherited by Devil May Cry 3 and 4. The first of which, and the most overt, would be the leveling system. Introduced as a means of adding progression to the weaponry outside of pure upgrades, players could spend red orbs to level up Dante’s and Lucia’s weapons. Devil May Cry 3 would later repurpose the leveling system to play off of Dante’s Style system instead. DMC3 worked off 2’s base to create a more traditional action-RPG leveling system where each of Dante’s four main styles would gradually level up to a max of 3 by fighting enemies. By shifting where the leveling occurred, DMC3 could keep the system intact without cannibalizing upgrade-based progression.

The second, and least obvious, gameplay retention comes in the form of Dante’s acrobatic moveset. In DMC2, Dante can roll, run up walls, and more accurately dodge enemies. DMC3 ends up lifting these mechanics and putting them to use in Dante’s Trickster Style, preserving the new movement additions while keeping them optional. The last major gameplay carryover from Devil May Cry 2 comes in the form of the weapon switcher for guns. In DMC1, Dante could switch between Alastor and Ifrit by pressing R3, but had to go through the menu to swap out guns. DMC2 adds in the ability to cycle between ranged weapons, keeping time spent in the menu to a minimum. While DmC: Devil May Cry would mostly do away with this mechanic in favor of a holding down the shoulder buttons for alternate weapons, both DMC3 and DMC4 would utilize it heavily, especially for Dante’s gameplay in the latter.

devil may cry 2

Right up there with Lucia as the most important addition Devil May Cry 2 made to the series is Bloody Palace. An enemy and boss rush, Bloody Palace is 9,999 floors of pure Devil May Cry combat. It’s the perfect battleground to test one’s skills and has become one of the series’ most iconic staples. Both Devil May Cry 4 and DmC: Devil May Cry do take the 9,999 floor count to a more reasonable 101, but the spirit of Bloody Palace is very much alive in all titles it appears in. Even in Devil May Cry 2, where combat is less than ideal, Bloody Palace stands out as the game’s highest point, making battles slightly engaging by sheer force of will.

For everything Devil May Cry 2 ended up doing for the series, it’s still important to remember that it is far from a good game. It has none of the charm of the original, isn’t nearly as fun to play through, and suffers from problems the first game had already fixed. At the same time, DMC2’s lack of quality doesn’t mean it should simply be disregarded or forgotten. It’s at times humorous to pretend it doesn’t exist and Capcom’s complete dismissal of it in the franchise’s overarching narrative is perhaps for the best, but it nonetheless plays an important role in Devil May Cry’s history. Without Devil May Cry 2 there is no Devil May Cry 3. Newcomers should continue to skip DMC2 when playing the series for the first time and fans should continue to lambast its many faults, but everyone should take care to remember that even the worst games can impact a series’ legacy for the better.

An avid-lover of all things Metal Gear Solid, Devil May Cry, and pretentious French lit, Renan spends most of his time passionately raving about Dragon Ball on the internet and thinking about how to apply Marxist theory to whatever video game he's currently playing.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Ato Walters

    June 16, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Lucia is the best part of the Game, She’s the most skilled fighter in the entire series so far. That and her backstory I would love to find out more about her. I would really like to see more of her moving forward and not get wiped out of existence.

  2. Dante Gonzalez (yes, my name is Dante lmao)

    June 1, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    I am glad to have read this, I myself did notice all of the things you mentioned in this article. It pisses me off how many fans trash this game out (even people who have NOT played it) and make a “blind eye” to its additions, which are what many people love from DMC3 and post games, it just shows them as ignorant and hypocritical to me.
    By the way, a correction, if I recall correctly, the leveling and Bloody Palace were introduced in DMC1, not 2. Another thing, you forgot to mention 2 less obvious things: 1 – Some of Dante’s and Lucia’s special combos later became the Swordman’s Style in DMC3, and 2 – (and the most important), there’s penalty when playing stylish, what do I mean by this? If you are trying to attain As or Ss ranks and you are hit, you have to start from the beginning. DMC1 did NOT have this, if you are hit while attacking demons, your score was intact (unless you were pushed too far away).

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Devil May Cry

Heaven or Hell: ‘Devil May Cry’s Victory Lap

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Dante Must Die has always been, and will always be, the ultimate way Devil May Cry challenges its player base. Regardless of the game, the franchise thrives on the idea that, at the end of it all, players will muster up the courage and skill to take on one final game mode designed around forcing mastery. This is a philosophy the original Devil May Cry very much uses to its advantage, utilizing both Normal and Hard as a means of prepping players for Dante Must Die. Naturally, both Devil May Cry 2 and Devil May Cry 3 brought Dante Must Die back as their grand finale, but something had always been missing from the picture: catharsis.

While the first game was clever enough to reward players with an overpowered costume that had infinite Devil Trigger, appropriately titled Super Dante, there wasn’t much to do after completing Dante Must Die. After all, why would there be? Dante Must Die was the game’s final challenge in every respect. A super costume is a nice reward, but it doesn’t exactly relieve any stress that might have been built up during Dante Must Die’s more intense moments. The super costume, at its core, was just a final push to get players to replay the game one final time.

Along with including Dante Must Die as their last game mode, both Devil May Cry 2 and Devil May Cry 3 follow up a completion with super costumes. Three games in and a rhythm set in, it seemed as though Devil May Cry was content with its approach to an endgame. All things considered, it is a genuinely solid approach on paper. Encourage players to master the game through multiple game modes, offer one final challenge, and reward them with an overpowered goodie. A video game has to end eventually and Dante Must Die makes for as fitting an ending as any. Something fundamentally changed with the release of Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition, however.

Rather than simply unlocking a super costume upon clearing Dante Must Die, the third game’s Special Edition offered players an entirely new game mode: Heaven or Hell. Instead of escalating the difficulty even further or making the game a complete cakewalk, Heaven or Hell created an even playing field where both Dante and enemies would die in a single hit. Although there is a degree of challenge to be gleaned, theoretically, by everything dying in one hit, Dante’s guns make quick use of both enemies and bosses. As a result, one has to question why Heaven or Hell was even included in the first place.

Devil May Cry is a franchise that prides itself on its difficulty, to the point where one could argue that any given game in the series isn’t over until Dante Must Die is cleared in full. While the series has never strayed away from catering to a more casual player base, offering an Easy mode as early as the first game, DMC has never catered to said audience. The escalation of a challenge is the appeal of the series, which Heaven or Hell deliberately flies in the face of. Upon completing the single hardest difficulty in the game, players aren’t rewarded with yet another tier in their gauntlet, but an incredibly easy mode that can be cleared by simply spamming the square button.

Which is actually quite brilliant, all things considered. Rather than closing the curtains with Dante Must Die, Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition crafted a scenario where players were granted a victory lap of sorts. After all, was said and done, players could get an emotional release from burning through missions and bosses that previously gave them a considerable amount of trouble. Defeating a difficult boss with a single bullet is inherently satisfying, even more so when taking into consideration the journey a player has to go through in order to unlock Heaven or Hell.

Dante-and-Vergil

If Heaven or Hell were unlocked any earlier in the game, it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying an unlockable. While the mode would still be charming in its own right, it loses its cathartic nature by sheer virtue of preceding Dante Must Die. Heaven or Hell is the reward, a proof of a player’s mastery. Only upon conquering the hardest challenge is a player allowed a chance to decompress. Even though Very Hard very much lives up to its title, the mere fact it isn’t the pinnacle of Devil May Cry 3’s difficulty means that Heaven or Hell would be out of place coming between it and Dante Must Die.

Given its context in the Devil May Cry franchise, it can be easy to take Heaven or Hell for granted.

More importantly, Heaven or Hell coming any earlier would break the natural progression of the game. There is a clear, gradual build up from Normal mode to Dante Must Die. From as early as the first game, each difficulty was used as a means of improving one’s skills. In the context of Devil May Cry 3, the journey from Normal, to Hard, to Very Hard, to Dante Must Die is one that ensures each new mode teaches players how to properly utilize the game’s mechanics to their advantage. Dante Must Die will always be difficult, but not nearly as brutal as it would be otherwise if players somehow managed to skip Very Hard altogether.

This same principle applies to a scenario where, after Very Hard, players take a break with a mode intentionally designed to be easier. By the time Dante Must Die occurs, it’s entirely possible that one’s skills would have deteriorated to some extent. Heaven or Hell’s very nature means that it is impossible to practice combos or develop strategies against bosses. Which is perfectly fine after Dante Must Die, but potentially disastrous before it. A particularly skilled player may not see any downside to tackling Heaven or Hell before Dante Must Die, granted, but the fact of the matter is that the game’s progression would nonetheless be broken.

Dante-and-Jester Heaven or Hell

When it comes down to it, what catharsis is there to be gained when the greatest challenge lies in wait? A victory lap should celebrate a player’s skills and Heaven or Hell does just that. It’s more than just a nice, extra mode, however. Heaven or Hell does something that can only be down in the gaming medium. Capcom hands the reigns to the player and says “well done, you’ve earned it.” Heaven or Hell’s very nature is one that elicits an emotional response from the player, if only to just relax them after hours of challenging gameplay. Catharsis can be felt in any medium, all things considered, but only the gaming medium can force catharsis on the player.

Given its context in the Devil May Cry franchise, it can be easy to take Heaven or Hell for granted. As is the case with any mode in DMC, Heaven or Hell is more than just another mode. It is deliberate not just in its design, but in its placement, in the context of the games, it appears in. Heaven or Hell may not be as expertly crafted in terms of enemy placement or pure enemy design, but it isn’t the kind of mode that needs to be. Heaven or Hell seeks to elicit a positive, emotional response from the player, and it pulls it off with that elegant, Devil May Cry touch.  

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Devil May Cry

‘Devil May Cry 5’ – Impressive Lack of Filler

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Devil May Cry 5

The Devil May Cry franchise has always had a bit of an issue with filler. Although the first and third titles managed to balance their non-action gameplay fairly well in regards to pacing, Devil May Cry 4— along with the reboot— placed too much emphasis on “variety.” In the context of Devil May Cry, variety within gameplay tends to amount to light exploration, platforming, or some form of puzzle solving. On a conceptual level, it does make sense to vary gameplay as much as possible. After all, too much of one mechanic can lead to a game coming off derivative. At the same time, straying from core mechanics too often can give an impression of insecurity, that the development team— and thereby the game— lacks the confidence to embrace itself in earnest.

Although the notion that DMC 1 and 3 are insecure of themselves might come off as laughable to fans of the genre and series alike, it is worth noting that there is some truth to said sentiment in regards to the rest of the pre-5 franchise. While the original Devil May Cry managed to pace itself rather well thanks to its arcade-like nature, several missions made use of gimmicks that strayed greatly from the core mechanics with the Ghost Ship being the most notorious outlier.

Devil May Cry 2 might as well be the definition of filler. In a desperate attempt to make itself appear “bigger and better” than its predecessor, DMC2 places an incredible amount of emphasis on space. As a result, missions– which were once carefully built around specific set-pieces that had as little negative space as possible– not taking place on large fields with poor enemy placement. Making matters all the worse, the sequel leans in far too much into the puzzle solving elements, leaving the combat painfully under-cooked.

Even Devil May Cry 3, which is often considered not only the greatest game in the franchise but in its genre, is victim to filler. Granted, it’s on a much smaller scale and the general design of the whole game is incredibly tight, but this only makes the filler-esque moments stand out all the worse. There’s nary a good reason why Dante should have to endure a boss rush that’s tied to a puzzle right before the game’s finale. Earlier missions, as well, play up the exploratory elements of the first game a bit too much seemingly to simply prove that DMC3 is the “true” successor to series’ origin point.

While Devil May Cry 4 more or less acts as a natural extension of DMC3 gameplay-wise, it fumbles spectacularly when it comes to level design. Just about every single mission features a stage defining gimmick that tanks potential replayability to an extreme. This is to say nothing of the fact that Dante’s third of the game might as involves him not only backtracking through Nero’s stages, but fighting Nero’s bosses, giving the impression that DMC4’s back-half is little more than literal filler to pad out the game. Going into the reboot, DmC: Devil May Cry, Ninja Theory simply pushed the fourth game’s insistence on non-action elements, shining a spotlight on platforming and pure exploration.

All this is not to say that Devil May Cry as a franchise is lesser than perceived because it often uses filler as a crutch. Far from it– Devil May Cry 1 and 3 remain two of the greatest action games ever made. Rather, it’s to shine a light on just how surprising Devil May Cry 5’s total lack of filler is. While only time will tell where DMC5’s legacy will fall exactly in regards to the first and third game, it’s quite clear from a pure design perspective that the franchise’s fifth mainline entry understands exactly where the series’ fat was and why it needed trimming. It’s one thing to omit filler entirely; it’s another to comprehend why said filler should be omitted.

In many respects, Devil May Cry 5 was more or less Capcom’s chance to prove that the franchise could once again reach the same highs as DMC3. In following both Devil May Cry 4 and DmC, the series’ fifth entry needed to be more than a return to form, although a simple return to form likely would have sufficed considering the series’ fairly rocky road-map from the first game to the fifth. More importantly, Capcom saw an opportunity not to reinvent the Devil May Cry brand, but to refine it.

Devil May Cry, at its best, has always understood the need to look back on itself in order to move forward. This is best evidenced by how Devil May Cry 3 directly lifted several of the second game’s elements in order to bolster its own foundation. Although DMC5 does this as well, it more interestingly does so from a level design perspective, something the series had always been fairly complacent with. If anything, the longer the franchise went on, the more the games seemingly saw fit to include non-action elements to near extreme measures.

Devil May Cry 4 is an excellent game on a purely mechanical level, but it suffers immensely thanks to its abundance of filler. While there are very legitimate reasons behind the backtracking in the campaign’s second half, this doesn’t change the fact that it’s all mainly filler. Well dressed filler, but filler nonetheless. DmC: Devil May Cry which, admittedly, has the benefit of being a finished game over DMC4, puts too much stock in its non-action elements making for playthroughs that often go by far too slow for their own good. What makes the filler damning isn’t so much their presence, but the nature of the franchise. Devil May Cry is a series built on replayability.

Were it not for Bloody Palace, it would be legitimately tiring returning to Devil May Cry 4 with the same fervor some fans return to DMC3 with. Even the first game understood that its foundation was one built on replayability. By the time players would reach Dante Must Die, the puzzles and exploration would no longer be a problem because they would, logically, already understand the solutions. With Devil May Cry 4, however, and by extension DmC: Devil May Cry, this same workaround simply doesn’t work due to the fact that puzzles, platforming, and exploration are just too time-consuming for their own good. The more time a player spends away from the core gameplay, the less the core gameplay gets a chance to leave as much an impact.

Which is ultimately what Devil May Cry 5 excels at over the rest of the series. From the start of the prologue to the very end of mission 20, there is not a single moment that stands out as explicit filler. Though platforming sections still have their place, particularly when playing as Nero, they neither outstay their welcome or ever take away from the core combat. In previous games, platforming sections would genuinely be their own sections. As per the rules of basic level design, they would connect to other areas, but not without taking their own chunk of time. Now, they’re quick, easy to maneuver, and most importantly, optional more often than not.

This philosophy towards filler is put on full display in mission 15, Nero’s last stage before the final boss. A level with multiple branching paths, players can either opt to take on an obstacle course of sorts that features its own rewards, (such as a Gold Orb, Blue Orb, and Trophy,) or simply take on a gauntlet of enemies. In a previous entry, Nero would likely have been forced to endure the obstacle course spliced in with the enemies, but Devil May Cry 5 cleverly, and correctly, chooses to make any perceived filler optional.

Which in itself is something very much worth taking note of. Content that would be seen as filler when mandatory becomes far more appealing when made optional. Aside from a few bonuses, there’s genuinely no harm in avoiding Nero’s obstacle course. If anything, the fact it can be avoided makes the prospect of clearing it all more appealing. Its optional nature also means Capcom can up the difficulty of the course without cannibalizing the mission’s pacing. The closest the series had ever come to this philosophy before was with Devil May Cry 3’s 18th mission where Dante could earn a Blue Orb shard by clearing the boss rush in its entirety. DMC5 sees that approach and takes it to its natural next step.

It isn’t as if this approach makes missions shorter, either. In previous games, removing the filler would trim levels quite a bit, but Devil May Cry 5 simply uses more action scenarios. Where a platforming challenge or puzzle would once rear its ugly end, more enemies take their place. Mission 16 with Dante essentially plays out like one gauntlet after the next with only some light platforming to serve as a pace breaker. Even then, pulling off some of the trickier platforming sections will net the player with bonuses along with extra fights.

Of course, removing the filler doesn’t suddenly make Devil May Cry 5 the Alpha and the Omega of the hack ‘n’ slash genre. Filler or not, DMC5 struggles with its own difficulty balancing on Dante Must Die and never quite manages to find the right pacing when it comes to playing as Nero, V, or Dante (although the emphasis on Dante in the back half is absolutely the right call from a design perspective.) Ultimately, though, those problems aren’t all that major of problems. If anything, they’re far lesser than Devil May Cry 4’s second half; DmC: Devil May Cry’s insistence on dedicated platforming sections; and Devil May Cry 2’s everything.

By simply keeping the focus on the combat, Devil May Cry 5 is perhaps the easiest game to replay in the series. Not because it’s easier than previous entries (a topic for another day,) but because players are never subjected to content they clearly aren’t playing Devil May Cry for. When it comes down to it, no one plays DMC for the platforming or puzzle sections; at least not solely for them. The core appeal has always been the action; the combat; the spectacle of it all. Not every mission in DMC5 is a hit, but the majority are, more so than any other game in the series save for the third. That in itself is a testament to how tightly designed Devil May Cry 5 is. Devil May Cry 5 is not the reinvention of the wheel, but it’s more than just a return to form: it’s a refinement.

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Devil May Cry

‘Devil May Cry 5’ – Hell is much too Serious to be Taken Seriously

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Devil May Cry 5

If you don’t count the spinoff/reboot DmC developed by Ninja Theory, 2019 marks eleven years since we last had a proper entry in the Devil May Cry series. That’s a long time to wait for loyal fans but thankfully Devil May Cry 5 is a return to form and more importantly, almost everything about those original games has been improved.

Developed in-house at Capcom by a team of series veterans, Devil May Cry 5 is sprawling, infectious, inventive, ambitious, and downright thrilling. The momentum never lets up from the second the prologue begins and for roughly 15 hours and exactly 20 missions, Devil May Cry 5 is electrifying. Director Hideaki Itsuno and his team have delivered quite possibly the goriest, craziest, most eye-blowing (there’s a lot of eyeballs), chunk-spewing, head-exploding installment of the series yet. Propelled by non-stop, over-the-top action, geysers of blood and fetishistic metamorphoses, DMC5 must be played seen to be believed. It’s spectacular, irresistible, unapologetically juvenile and totally fucken insane – a mesmerizing piece of art that experimentally pushes the series to daring new heights.

Devil May Cry 5 Bosses

Hell on Earth

For a game that revolves almost entirely around frenetic action, Devil May Cry 5 features a surprisingly engaging story that weaves its fair share of twists and turns while also leaving plenty of room for meaningful character development. That’s not to say these characters are fully fleshed out, but by the time the credits roll, Devil May Cry 5 does an admirable job in at least explaining their motivations, past traumas, and their relation to one another. What starts out simple enough, eventually introduces a tangled mystery that should have most players invested, regardless of their familiarity with the series.

Set five years after the events of Devil May Cry 4, DMC 5 takes a non-linear approach in storytelling and jumps back and forth in time with events viewed from multiple vantage points. Dante and Nero are back, along with the mysterious V with the goal of destroying a demon named Urizen who has planted an enormous demonic tree that is draining the city of Red Grave of all its blood. When the assembled group fail in their attempt to stop Urizen and are forced to retreat, the demon king captures Lady and Trish, turning them into cores for the demons Artemis and Cavaliere Angelo. A month later, Nero returns to Red Grave after being outfitted with deadly prosthetic arms made specifically for him by series newcomer, Nico. Along with V, set out on a quest to stop the demon Goliath, who is seeking Qliphoth for its fruit – a fruit which gives whoever consumes it, the power to rule the Underworld.

It sounds dark and depressing but thankfully Devil May Cry 5 never takes itself too seriously, often shifting toward delicious camp and interjecting playful quips, zippy one-liners and zany interludes like Dante’s impressive Michael Jackson impersonation. It helps, the story is genuinely funny at times and supported by fine performances, impressive motion capture and an overarching tone of jaunty good fun!

Dante Michael Jackson

Over the course of the game’s twenty chapters, the relationship among the three men becomes increasingly complicated. Sibling rivalry, daddy issues, and dark family secrets push the narrative forward and each of the three main characters is given just enough screen time; just enough flashbacks and just enough dialogue to make their motivations clear. For a game as bloody and violent as this, there are plenty of emotional beats and just enough human spirit to sell itself. And even if like me, you don’t recognize the nods to many of the series’ most iconic moments, you’ll at least walk away understanding what makes each of the three main characters tick.

Devil May Cry 5 Story

What drives a story more? A strong plot or good characters?

The Devil May Cry franchise is known for its stylish fighting and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Devil May Cry 5 looks and feels very similar to the original series. This time around, players take control of three characters, each with their own unique and creative playstyles. Devil May Cry’s poster child Dante has four fighting styles in total (Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, and Royalguard) and can even wield a demonic motorcycle that transforms into two chainsaws creating a bloody spectacular setpiece when in battle. But while Dante may be the star of the series, he’s somewhat overshadowed by his two counterparts.

Devil May Cry 5 begins by first putting the player in the shoes of the one-armed, silver-haired demon hunter Nero who wields a giant sword, a pistol, and disposable prosthetic arms called Devil Breakers that give Nero access to an assortment of special abilities depending on which Devil Breaker he is carrying. Of the three men, Nero is arguably the most fun to control thanks to his rebellious nature and grappling hook. In contrast with Dante’s laid-back attitude, Nero leaves you caring about each character because he himself cares.

V’s familiars, Shadow, Griffon, and Nightmare, are direct nods to DMC1 bosses of the same names.

V, on the other hand, is a frail poet shrouded in mystery who commands a demonic condor with the power to control wind and lightning and a panther who can morph into a spear-like form to lunge at enemies. The latter (Shadow) attacks at close range by inflicting melee attacks, while the former (Griffon) fires projectiles from a distance. V is also accompanied by a third familiar named Nightmare, a giant black demon made entirely out of a demonic fluid who can inflict ridiculous damage for short bursts of time. At first glance, V doesn’t seem as fun to control as Nero or Dante given that he must rely on his three companions to inflict damage on his enemies, but it doesn’t take long to realize that controlling V and his three familiars adds a welcome change of pace to the combat, made all the more rewarding by having to teleport V to deliver the final blow.

Unfortunately, the three ladies in Devil May Cry 5 don’t have much to say or do, most notably Trish and Lady who make an appearance as the damsels in distress, only to be quickly captured, later saved and in one case, stripped completely nude for no reason whatsoever. Luckily, the chain-smoking gunsmith, Nico helps lighten the mood with her sense of humour as she drives around town selling our heroes weaponry. Nico may not get as much screen time as the men at the center of the story but when she does, she comes across as a headstrong, intelligent businesswoman with a positive outlook on life, no matter how many bad cards she was dealt.

Urizen Devil May Cry 5

Of course, every great story has a great villain and Devil May Cry 5 is no exception. One of the best things about the game is Urizen, a colossal humanoid demon who appears multiple times in the game, each time, reinventing himself. Devil May Cry 5 has plenty of other nightmarish creatures to fight as well, and there are few games out there that can match the intensity of these boss fights. A special mention must be made for the final boss (no spoilers here), who doesn’t just provide the story’s final twist but also represents the toughest challenge.

Devil May Cry Nico

The Devil is in the Detail

Like past installments, Devil May Cry 5 focuses intensely on combat making it a nonstop visual assault, but for a game blood-drunk on its own artful excess, Devil May Cry 5 is also a character-driven game, and without these characters, I’d argue it would be just another hack-n-slash outing that leans towards monotony. It’s not just that you have three very different warriors to control. It’s not just that one of these three characters comes with three additional characters to also control. It’s not just that Dante, Nero, and V all look so incredibly stylish and each has a unique fighting style – but I’d argue that each cutscene brings with it a much needed momentary break from the chaos unraveling onscreen. For a game in which the camera struggles to keep up with the action, these characters are the heart, soul, and center of it all. Personality goes a long way and despite some poorly written dialogue, Devil May Cry 5’s characters are a blast to watch.

A story certainly needs a plot but what makes a story even more interesting is who it’s happening to. Devil May Cry 5 will never win a Pulitzer but the developers went out of their way to create some of the most impressive cinematic cutscenes in order to spotlight their cast. And it’s in these cutscenes that the skills of the artists truly shine. The amount of detail in the character work is truly remarkable and at times, Devil May Cry 5 gives Hollywood a run for its money. The opening slow-motion credits sequence alone is worth applauding as Nero and co. move about the frame as the titles artfully blend into the environments.

Of course, it helps that Devil May Cry 5 is indeed a gorgeous game. It represents a huge leap in visual complexity for this series and is another brilliant outing for Capcom’s RE engine. They say the devil is in the details and every detail, from the motion capture performances right down to the facial expressions – to the blood-soaked apocalyptic ruins of the gloomy Gothic European city landscape to the intestinal corridors that transport our heroes deeper into the pits of Hell – is nothing short of spectacular! I especially love the cinematic lighting, the subtle shadowing, the reflections off wet surfaces and the urban graffiti covering the city’s walls.

Devil May Cry 5 Review

Perhaps I’m still in that honeymoon phase, mainly because I just finished the game and mostly because Devil May Cry 5 is about as exciting as video games get, but as it stands, Devil May Cry 5 is one of the best games of the year so far, second only to Resident Evil 2 (another brilliant outing by Capcom). I’ll be curious to see what is written about this game long-term as I surely expect some pushback from longtime fans. Regardless, despite being one of the most hyped action games of the year, Devil May Cry 5 does not disappoint in the slightest even with the ridiculous amount of high expectations going in. One thing’s for sure, Capcom is back and I can’t wait to see what other surprises they have in store for fans in the near future.

  • Ricky D
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