Guns, swords and a blatant disregard for the laws of physics. There isn’t much about the Devil May Cry series that doesn’t get me as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.
Since the first entry back on the PS2, I’ve been hooked… So you can bet your last few pennies that I was beyond hyped to throw myself at demons once again in the newly released Devil May Cry 5.
After an 11 year hiatus from the mainline series, and with the ludicrously fun but not very successful reboot fading into obscurity, Dante and his similar looking cohort Nero are back at the forefront to battle hellspawns and look damn good doing it. We pick things up seemingly a few years or so after the last game as Nero runs his own branch of Dante’s Devil May Cry demon killing business, working out of a van with the sassy redneck “artisan of arms” Nico. Early on we’re treated to a cut scene of Nero having his famous “Devil Bringer” left arm lopped off by a mysterious individual who leaves immediately after, and isn’t all that clear on who it was, or why they did it – I guess it’s just a cool souvenir? Anywho, this leads us neatly to the games prologue where a one-armed Nero is mooching though a very hellish landscape with the ultra-shifty “V”. A young black-haired man who could be easily mistaken for a goth Kylo Ren – During their walk through this strange world you watch on in the background as series leading man Dante gets his ass handed to him from several angles by our new big bad, The Demon King Urizen. After one of my favourite things in gaming – the “meant to lose” boss fight – all 3 of our heroes are defeated and the story skips ahead a month so we can take another crack at the title!
Now after a month of… Goofing off, I guess? Nero comes back with a few new tricks courtesy of Nico and her crafting of some rad cyber arms. These arms are the gameplay equivalent of his ol’ demon arm Devil Bringer from back in DMC 4, and it’s easily one of this new adventures highlights. Having a myriad of fists for any occasion, experimentation is key here as you find out which works for you and your play style. Every one of them has its ups and downs and the key is, like every game in the series, to mix them in with the longer combos. I found myself gravitating towards the “Rocketman” arm Punch Line, which allows you to launch your fist out on a missile which will repeatedly strike one enemy leaving them out of the fight for a little while. Useful when you’re surrounded and need to take an enemy out of the game for a while – So you’re probably thinking these arms are the best and you can’t wait to link so mental arm combos, but here’s the snag. You can’t change arms on the fly, only using the one you have equipped first and only being able to switch to your next one by either taking damage while using it so it breaks, or intentionally self-destructing it to cause a decent lump of damage to a group of baddies with a unique attack, such as riding the Punch Line fist like a floating rocket-propelled skateboard…! I can see the WHY of this mechanic, since switching arms would lead to game breaking combos that would take out pretty much all challenge, but I won’t say that it doesn’t still sting a little bit.
Obviously Nero isn’t the only protagonist here – With floppy haired Dante coming back once again to kick demon ass; the gameplay for the leading man hasn’t changed much since DMC 4, which makes sense because Capcom seemed to have cracked the formula then anyway. Dante fights using a mixed bag of demonic melee weapons and firearms, and can switch between four “styles”. The melee enhancing Swordmaster, the bullet dancing of Gunslinger, the acrobatic lunacy of Trickster and the defensive wall that is Royal Guard. Each lets you excel in Dante’s core abilities and gives you access to a few special movies, of course mixing this arsenal with our hero’s Devil Trigger ability makes him a force to be reckoned with, and once you’ve mastered a few combos there isn’t much that can stop your stylish ass stomping on demons!
Now I already mentioned him once, but let’s talk about the new boy, V. Not so much a front line fighter, V has brought something new and downright incredible to the series. A lead character in an action adventure game who doesn’t attack. I know right? What the hell? But it’s amazing how well it works. V mooches around the battlefield while you command his pet demons Griffon, Shadow and Nightmare (The very same from DMC 1) to beat down your enemies for you; Griffon takes the place of firearms and launches long-range attacks, Shadow keeps things up close and deals heavy damage to enemies with lengthy transforming combos, and Nightmare takes the role of V’s Devil Trigger, being a goliath who beats down every enemy he sees with reckless abandon and explosive laser beams. V is a unique character that takes time to properly master as his play style is such a massive departure from the main series, however, when you figure him out he can easily be one of the most powerful characters the series has seen, being able to dominate groups of enemies without once taking a hit. Shame all this sick style and crazy gameplay comes wrapped up in a melancholy emo kid with social anxiety…
I can’t tell you much about the story without busting out some massive spoilers, but I will say that what I experienced might have been the most in-depth and well thought out storyline the series has seen, with the stakes higher than ever and an actual sense of dread throughout rather than the sense that Dante and crew will never lose, so why should I worry? I mean the game opens with the heroes losing and continues this trend for quite some time!
A key point I should mention though is the soundtrack, with each character having specific theme that plays during battles and is remixed for bosses – The tunes blare out at all times and it dials up the rad factor to 11 consistently; there’s also an additional effect in play that ties the speed of the music to your actions in-game, so as you dominate and rack up the stylish points the tunes will get louder and faster to make you feel even more like a bona-fide badass!
So you want my conclusion? I’m giving this game a fucking SSS-rank. DMC 5 takes what the series has always done well and piles on even more amazing stuff without diluting the core. V, Nero and Dante’s trip through Red Grave city is never not a wild ride, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a game that give you quite the same sense of satisfaction when you start throwing out the SSS rank Combos and leaving demons in your path as nothing but a pile of red orbs to collect. You want a long time? Maybe go elsewhere, but if you want a few hours of hectic insane fun? Well this is the party for you, and it’s about to get crazy!
I’m giving Devil May Cry 5 a SSStylish: