Capcom holds many jewels in its crown from Mega Man to Resident Evil, but none have built up a cult like following as Devil May Cry. The demon hunter Dante is back and for the first time in a while there’s a game in its lineage that deserves to be universally loved, Devil May Cry 5.
DEVIL MAY CRY 5
Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Capcom
Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
(Review code provided by publisher)
Devil May Cry, as a series, is one of the best accidents Capcom ever had. What began years ago as a test for a new Resident Evil title is now the pinnacle of hack-and-slash adventure. Capcom’s latest entry into the franchise is the return of everything familiar with a new twist…story.
Devil May Cry 5 is by its nature…trash. That’s far from a bad thing. Consider what it is, a simple hack-and-slash mechanic wrapped in a narrative that builds upon a self indulged occult lore. Then there’s the –off by a single beat– voice acting and moments like a Michael Jackson inspired dance number. No, Devil May Cry 5 isn’t The Dark Knight of video games but it’s the kind of trash we should appreciate for its brilliance. Like admitting to watching The Bachelor, this game isn’t ashamed of what it is and neither should you be for playing it.
Every Devil May Cry game shares an addictive form of combat that hooks you. The latest game branches that tree in the name of variety. Where most games make choice hokey and ultimatiely really only focused on one way to play, here you’ll play as three legitamately enjoyable to control characters. There’s the bad ass demon hunter Dante, the younger bad ass demon hunter Nero, and the new bad ass demon V. Each of them have a unique fighting mechanics.
Nero uses a figurative clown car of artificial arms to aid in a fight which give him a style of combat similar to Batman in the Arkham games. His arm can latch onto enemies and pull them towards you for multiple hit combination beat downs with his sword you rev like a motorcycle. Seriously who thinks of this stuff, it’s pretty awesome. Series newcomer V seemed a bit odd and under powered at first but once you get the hang of doing combat by proxy, he becomes fun to battle with in his own unique way. V summons a shadow bird and panther whose attacks are each mapped to a button on the controller. It’s a challenge of itself to avoid enemy attacks to your frail being while making sure your demonic commrades are attacking their prey. Then there’s Dante, who after multiple series appearances still manages to get a fresh set of moves. Most of it comes from the return of his various styles such as swordmaster and gunslinger. Using his trusty ebony & ivory handguns in gunslinger mode lets you instantly charge them for killer shots while swordmaster allows for breaking apart groups of attackers barraging down on you. That’s just a slice of combat variety, there’s an encyclopedia volume worth of choice to fighting and you’ll have fun experimenting with it all.
I’ve always appreciated the campy and easily digestible story of the Devil May Cry series. Dante, a half demon and half human, killed his evil twin brother Vergil and the king of the underworld Mundus. Then went on to slay more demons in various sequels. While enjoyable, every tale always felt a bit by the numbers. Devil May Cry 5‘s biggest achievement isn’t the level of junk food fun, or B-movie cheese, or even how gorgeous it makes use of the same RE Engine tech that powers both Resident Evil VII and the absolute champ remaster Resident Evil 2. No, this game’s biggest achievement is how it turns another simple story into a video game version of the film Crash.
The game begins at the climax point of most other stories in any medium. Dante and Nero are hopelessly outmatched in a battle with the powerful demon king Urizen. This isn’t a simple cutscene to explain or tease action to the audience, you’ll be thrust into a fight you can’t win against this big bad. Once Dante appears to make the ultimate sacrifice, the story missions jump around time rotating through perspectives as it tells the present-day story of Dante, Nero, and V, while also explaining the circumstances that led to Urizen’s rise to power.
Every character that’s ever been a part of this series ties into the narrative in some way that manages not to feel shoehorned. Trish the hot demon woman from the first game, the rocket launcher weilding Lady from part two, even one plot twist reveals the re-appearance of another series character. These aren’t easter eggs or appearances to appease fans. This script writes every piece intracatly and is a textbook in how to handle narratives with multiple focus characters.
Is it perfect? No. But it’s imperfections also play into the differences of these games. Bucking the trend of creating big open worlds with tricks to mask loading times, Devil May Cry 5 puts its bookmarks in the pages at the moments it wants. The mission system is something I’ve personally missed from video games. It’s always good to have blatant moments that scream at me to take a break or eat instead of simply giving up on looking for a commercial pause in the flow of an open game. Though it might be a bit too powerful for its own good. Loading screens are not skimped in Devil May Cry 5. Whenever you need to upgrade your moves and gear or uncover a secret mission to tackle, the loading screens which come along with it feel as though they take an eternity.
Overall, Devil May Cry 5 embraces a B-movie universe of characters and hooks players by giving you a fireworks show of combat to enjoy against nightmarishly created creatures in level design that’s the chef kiss pinnacle of the industry. If you’ve always loved these games for their mindless action, you will not be dissapointed. However this time around, you and anyone jumping on for the first time will be treated to one of the most cleverly told stories of the year.
9/10 – Devil May Cry 5 is the Winter Soldier elevator fight scene of video games. (That quote is available for any game of the year editions)