Devil May Cry 5 Review: Bang Bang Bang, JACKPOT!

Welcome back, Dante. It’s been an agonizing 11 years since the fourth entry in the series; and while Capcom had a bit of a detour with the misguided but still good DmC : Devil May Cry reboot, every fan was wishing they had made DMC 5 instead.

Enter E3 2018 and Capcom finally gives every fan what they want: A full blown Devil May Cry 5 on new generation consoles running on the gorgeous and efficient RE engine. Now the game is finally out and there’s plenty of action, hilarious cutscenes, and plot to cover.

You begin the game in the middle of battle, as there’s a new king of the underworld in town, and he’s much more than what Nero and Dante can handle. Also, Nero somehow lost his arm, and who the heck is V? There’s plenty of questions in DMC5, and the proper answer is to go build up the style meter and go ham with a triple S rank on demons.

 

Production (4.8 / 5)

In one word, Wow.

Devil May Cry 5 spares little to no graphical sacrifices and the game just looks absolutely gorgeous. Capcom’s RE engine really shows its flexibility in more than just horror games. Character models have stunning detail, the cloth and hair physics are top notch, the dynamic loading stages look amazing, the monsters and bosses are some of the best looking of the current generation, and of course the particle effects and animations just make it come to life.

The game runs silky smooth too on the base PS4 which was used for the review, and it rivals other graphically intensive games such as God of War and Uncharted 4. I am really impressed with what Capcom has done with their engine. Dante, now with a bit more grit and a little stubble on his face looks more of a badass than ever.

As for the audio side of things, the game soundtrack is also very memorable – especially the lyrical battle themes for each of the 3 playable characters. It really gets you amped and in the mood to hack and juggle demons in the air and build your style meter. The final boss fight music is especially memorable and it really gives off the “big fight” feel.

There’s plenty of cutscenes in the game to keep the story moving and to pace the flow of intense battle. They’re well acted (at least on the English dub) and a lot of scenes are memorable. In classic DMC tradition, the cutscenes are a combination of wacky, cheesy and cool until a serious development ups the ante. The new character Nico’s voice performance is especially memorable as she stands out with her Southern accent and her hilarious egging of the other characters.

 

Mechanics (4.7 / 5)

The “Character Action” or “Spectacle Fighter” genre, pioneered by the first Devil May Cry game took its roots from the classic Beat-em-up games such as Final Fight, Streets of Rage (Bare Knuckle) and Double Dragon. Simple button combos, weapon switching and the “High Score” mechanic was adopted as the Stylish Rank Gauge. An addition to the gameplay was juggling, which was inspired by a bug in the beta build of Onimusha. The first DMC game inspired a whole sub-genre of action games such as God of War, the modern Ninja Gaiden games, and of course another brainchild from the same creators – Bayonetta.

As this sub-genre of games has evolved over the years and has taken inspiration from each other in many ways, you would think that you’d have seen everything by now. The guys over at Capcom say otherwise as Devil May Cry 5’s over the top action is more varied and crazier than ever. The 3 characters – Nero, Dante, and V, each play in their unique way and they employ each of their own unique gameplay styles:

The young devil hunter introduced in DMC4, Nero plays pretty straightforward with his combination of Sword, Gun and a powerup called the “Exceed” buff; but what makes him unique is his access to different Devil Breakers – powerful disposable robotic arms that are destructive in each of their own ways, with the downside of breaking in 1 hit. Each of the arms have different features – you can ride the Punch Line like a broomstick, you can boost your attacks with the Tomboy, you can slow down time with the Ragtime, amongst the other choices.

The mysterious V on the other hand, plays like a completely different kind of animal. The edgy looking V relies on his 3 minions – Griffon a talking bird  (think Iago from Aladdin), Shadow the panther, and Nightmare the hulking golem to do his dirty work. All the while, V has to stay back, read his book and dodge attacks, as the only real attack that he does is to finish enemies when they are low. It’s jarring at first to adjust to his playstyle, but it’s quite fun to rack up the style points once you get used to it.

And lastly, the legendary devil hunter Dante is the very definition of variety. He has all of his moves, old and new signature weapons back, as well as his 4 styles of play. He’s pretty much a “greatest hits” of the past DMC games with a combination of multiple ranged and melee weaponry. What makes him unique is his Devil Trigger – a powerful temporary transformation (think Bankai from Bleach) that allows you to turn the tide very quickly. As for Dante’s new weapons, my favorite one is his new motorbike weapon that turns into chainsaws for maximum shredding.

In contrast to the previous games there’s pretty much no puzzles, so there’s no giant Chess Boards this time around. It’s mostly focused on balls to the wall action, a few minor exploration areas to pace the game and of course the cutscenes and the story.

All of this ties into one well paced and focused game and it truly shows why Devil May Cry is still the granddaddy of the genre it started.

Content (4.4 / 5)

The story in Devil May Cry 5 picks up right from where 4 ended. While it’s not a very long campaign at 12 hours or so, it’s absolutely 12 hours well spent. The main characters had an equal time in the spotlight and they all evolved in their own ways when the game ended. The story while not complicated, holds its own and had a very satisfying conclusion.

The game is paced very well. It knows its strengths and builds on it, and is laser focused on letting you experience the action, with a little bit of item collection and skill upgrade shopping on the side. The story chronology is all over the place before it pieces everything together, but thankfully the loading screen shows you where you are in the current mission with a summary; so you’re never really lost on what’s happening in the story.

Each stage faces you off with a boss, and they’re all quite memorable in their own ways. I will won’t spoil the boss fights but I will say they are an ample challenge if you are not ready. Each of these giant monstrosities has 2 or 3 phases and just when you think you got their attacks down, they throw you off your momentum with a surprise. Outside of the final few boss fights, I never really felt like the game was being unfair; but even then, I could feel that it only takes some practice to work around their attacks. The game is quite challenging on the default difficulty, but nothing that will make you throw your controller once you get used to the mechanics. It’s a little bit easier than DMC 3 and 4, but it still packs enough of a punch for people who enjoy the default Devil Hunter difficulty.

If you’re having a hard time with the boss fights, there’s ways to continue at the cost of red orbs or precious gold orbs that are limited in quantity – which will also cost a deduction to your Mission Style Ranking. So save them for when the challenge absolutely needs it.

As is tradition with Devil May Cry games, the replayability is what keeps you coming back for more. Other than wanting to improve on your style rank/high score, you unlock more difficulty levels every time you finish the game. Eventually you unlock Heaven or Hell (you die in 1 hit, so do the enemies) and Hell and Hell (You die in 1 hit but enemies don’t) which are fun and more challenging ways to play the game. And unlike most other games, a series staple in Devil May Cry games is that the enemies are actually designed for higher difficulties – with new attack patterns and better AI. So it’s worth replaying if you really enjoyed the game.

You also unlock new Costumes with special properties in the higher difficulties – another series tradition, and there are special side quests or challenges called “Secret Missions” which are short and rewarding diversions if you can find the hidden symbols within the missions.

In addition, Capcom also announced that the game will be getting free content updates, and the Bloody Palace challenge tower will be the first one launching in April.

Features (4 / 5)

One of the main additions in DMC5 is “online multiplayer”. I say that in quotes as it’s not full-blown multiplayer. In this system that Capcom calls the Cameo System, other online players can show up in the background fighting enemies in a different part of the stage if they’re playing in the same area, or on the rare occasion, real time co-op if you happen to be in an area where the characters interact and meet each other. This is done either by real-time online players or by recorded ghost data.

There are a few settings in the game that can tweak this feature – such as turning the feature on or off, or prioritizing friends, and even a spoiler filter. There’s no straightforward way to co-op with your friend right now; but technically, this does count as a multiplayer component which they will build upon further.

A signature feature in the of DMC series is taunting, and it’s back in DMC5 as a way to keep the style meter building, and to of course, look cool in the middle of killing a horde of demons. You can also buy an “EX provocation” worth 3 million red orbs in the game, and while that will take a while to earn, they feature some of the most entertaining dances from Dante, Nero and V that will put Fortnite to shame, and increase your combat rank to S or SS.

The Auto Assist also returns from the previous DMC games, but this time you have the advantage of a quick toggle by hold-clicking on the right analog stick. This makes it easier for newcomers to do flashy combos and is another way to make the game more accessible, but at the cost of reducing your style rank after the mission.

Other features in the game include photo mode, which I really enjoyed (as seen in this review) as it showcased how gorgeous the game is whether you’re in action or just standing around trying different moves. There’s also The Void which lets you try out and practice your arsenal, and a Gallery mode with concept art and all of the cutscenes you’ve unlocked.

The game also includes microtransactions for orbs to make your progress faster. Fortunately, you won’t really notice these as they’re not in your face, and are absolutely unnecessary in completing the game.

One bonus that Deluxe edition owners get outside of the bonus costumes and Mega Man’s buster gun, are the live action cutscenes. They are acted by Capcom’s internal production team with low budget costumes and special effects to visualize how the camera angles and the acting will look in-game. They are a absolutely hilarious and is one of the best parts of the Deluxe edition.

Conclusion

Devil May Cry, according to Game Director Hideaki Itsuno, is all about fresh and new action while you’re looking cool doing it – and DMC5 has this in spades. This is the Devil May Cry that long time fans know and love. And from my time with the game, it looked like Capcom had a lot of fun making it as well. It seems that the mixed reaction to the “new” Dante in the previous DmC reboot will now be a thing of the past.

Devil May Cry has risen from the ashes and has set another high bar for the genre it started. The game just looks absolutely top notch, the action is fast and frenetic, and the difficulty is a bit more welcoming to newcomers this time around – which is a good thing for growing the DMC fanbase. To series veterans and for those on the fence, Devil May Cry 5 is an easy recommendation and will definitely end up being one of the best games of 2019.

I would personally say it’s the best or second best Devil May Cry game in the series, and it was really just an enjoyable and memorable ride.

Devil May Cry 5 gets a final score of 4.5 / 5 and will be teeming with new updates soon.

 

The game is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

 

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