DmC: Devil May Cry Review

Developer: Ninja Theory / Publisher: Capcom / Played on: PlayStation 3 / Price: $59.99 / ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Sexual Content, Drug Reference]

As risky propositions go, a revered Japanese-developed franchise like Devil May Cry at a Western studio sounds like a pretty tough sell. Unlike previous Westernizations like Front Mission, Castlevania, and Silent Hill, Devil May Cry‘s main protagonist is also part of the series’ identity, which adds greater weight to fan expectations.

DmC‘s story and timeline might be separate from the previous installments, but the family tree is mostly unchanged. Dante is the main protagonist while Virgil is his brother, albeit a much friendlier one than past games may have suggested. Sparda and Eva are still Dante’s parents although mom is now angel, not human.

Contemporary themes of corporate brainwashing, information management, and bank manipulation make up much of DmC‘s premise and unsurprisingly, series antagonist Mundus is pulling the strings. Dante is introduced as the clichéd apathetic young adult male partying it up in his boardwalk trailer. He’s not likable at first, but it doesn’t take long for Virgil to give Dante a sense of purpose, namely defeating Mundus.

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This might be a reboot, though if you followed the franchise since its inception, you should be ready to take on DmC at its hardest available setting on your first play through. Along with Dante’s classic Rebellion blade and his Ebony and Ivory guns, his other weapons are just as accessible, toggled through the trigger buttons and the D-pad, an enhanced carryover from the control scheme of Devil May Cry 4. Ninja Theory did not bring over the various selectable combat styles introduced in Devil May Cry 3. This ends up making DmC all the more user friendly to newcomers while the higher difficulties and the expansive skill trees provide more than enough challenges to keep the veterans engaged.

The moves beyond the straightforward attacks are some of the best parts of DmC‘s combat. Holding one of the trigger buttons offers access to a multipurpose whip that can either pull Dante to an enemy or an enemy to Dante. It’s especially helpful in disarming shielded enemies. Being able to troubleshoot, spot weaknesses, and gain confidence against the greater foes are some of the most rewarding parts of DmC.

Of course, knowing as many moves as possible and committing them to muscle memory is recommended, but DmC is quite forgiving in making triple-S ranks attainable for even for those who can only juggle a handful of moves. Changing up attacks is one of the requirements in ranking well, but what’s more important is not getting hit.

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The skill tree might be expansive, but Ninja Theory doesn’t overextend itself with features like the wall running acrobatics from Devil May Cry 2. That said, DmC is not short of engaging platforming challenges to complement the game’s combat. The whip that disarms demons is also the same weapon that can pull you toward otherwise unreachable platforms or pull platforms toward you. It’s stimulating stuff, especially when you’re flying over a chasm and you’re trying to pull a slab of floating pavement toward you so you could actually land on something.

For all of DmC‘s dexterous demands and challenges, it’s surprising how the game’s upgrade system is unusually flexible. I can’t recall the last game that allowed you to toggle new moves on and off, but you have that option in DmC. You’re essentially able to unlearn moves if you were interested in trying out other ones, with no penalty. This kind of low-risk experimentation allows you to find moves that are right for you and get those S, SS, and SSS ranks early in the game.

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Dante’s new character design goes hand-in-hand with the superb execution of the detailed art direction. When I first learned of the alternate “limbo” setting in DmC, I feared it would be that gimmicky kind of design where you would have to go through each area once in a different dimension and then again in the regular world, thereby cheaply extending the playthrough.

Thankfully, that was not the case; the game as a whole is a mix of familiar urbanity and otherworldlyness. Moreover, the dreamlike areas aren’t bloated with overly fantastical set pieces and instead showcase a refined level design sensibility. The most impressive areas could easily be mistaken for locales in Bayonetta. No, DmC does not have the high degree of polish, gloss, and frame rate of Bayonetta, but Ninja Theory did design some of the most imaginative and grittiest levels you’ll likely see this year.

DmC‘s music doesn’t limit itself to a specific genre. It relies on ambient and new age compositions in the otherworldly areas while generic metal is heard during the more intense combat sections. It’s not exactly memorable stuff, though the guitar driven intensity of the first in-game track does help set the tone. More impressive is the sound effects that add a great deal to the intense combat. The finishing blow of any fight ends in a brief slow motion close up, complete with a demon wail to punctuate the moment. The dialogue owes a lot to Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later, Enslaved) and Ninja Theory’s writing team, and the voice acting is a noticeable improvement over the past Devil May Crys. Dante’s initial apathy is very convincing and he’s very well complemented by the confidence of Virgil.

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As another Japanese property handled by a Western studio, DmC: Devil May Cry easily belongs in the positive end of the spectrum, somewhere between Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and the Metroid Prime trilogy. The familiarity of the controls in combat help in welcoming DmC‘s distinctive art direction and new look for Dante. The attention paid to the script and narrative manages to make these intermissions worth watching, and not because of over-the-top gunplay or sword work; that’s for you to control in-game. Whether you’re new to the franchise or a long time fan with reservations, Ninja Theory’s DmC is worth the attention as much as the original game was over ten years ago.

+ Familiar & Dynamic Controls
+ Distinct Art Direction
+ Engaging Narrative
+ Solid Voice Acting

9 / 10

  1. FYI
    The article says:
    Played on: Xbox 360 (also available on Xbox 360 & PC)

    You should probably fix it to:
    Played on: PS3 (also available on Xbox 360 & PC)

  2. The ranking system sounds a bit like Diablo 3′s, the part letting us undo skills we don’t like. I pray more devs implement this type of system. It’s like Halo’s regenerating health all over again.

  3. This game reminds me of……………………..

    oh i forgot what game it is. >__<

  4. Please stop doing reviews, Machinima, before your entire team gets fired.

    I am just here to help.

    • While getting laid off due to restructuring (which the company has to but doesn’t necessarily want to do) and getting fired (which the company wants to do but doesn’t necessarily have to) may not seem different to you, there is a major difference besides choice of words.

      Look up Danneviik’s channel on youtube (DeejayMattyD): he has a video that explains it.

      There is also a difference between Machinima, Inc. (the whole company, which does advertising, the Inside Gaming stuff, Respawn, Youtube partners, etc.) and Inside Gaming (a subdivision of the company, which only does gaming news and reviews). You are speaking to the latter on this blog. Just in case you weren’t aware of that, as it does help to know who you are really talking to, honkyjesuseternal. (WTF kind of name is that, anyway)

      Also, while you insist that the reviews are stupid, you fail to provide any real reason why the Inside Gaming crew should not express their opinion. Well, besides the whole “getting fired” statement, but if reviews were the problem, then Kovic and Lawrence Sonntag would probably be gone to now. (Also, Danneviik wouldn’t, because he did a total of zero reviews).

      Assuming you are the youtube user honkyjesuseternal, you’ve watched some IGN videos, so you may know that, if you really don’t like Insde Gaming’s reviews, you can go look at someone else’s.

      I personally like the Inside Gaming reviews, which are clearer and more concise than other sources, notably IGN (they also don’t have a give games 8.9s, I fail to see how a measly tenth of a point can be justified in any scenario). Also, I find them to have more of an emphasis on the wording rather than the score (numbers aren’t going to tell me anything about a game).

      Unless you have a better explanation, you just look like a troll to me.

      • Lawrence Sonntag

        Well said!

        Just to be clear, I am not an employee of Machinima or Inside Gaming (though I was). I’m a freelancer, just like Miguel who did this review.

        However, all freelancers are vetted by our Editor in Chief Rob Smith. If you want to impugn our integrity, I suggest you look up his resume.

        I think this is simply a case of a select group that has convinced themselves that this game is awful. If they see evidence contrary to that, their first instinct is to dispute the source rather than maybe… JUST MAYBE… consider that their premature assumption was incorrect in the first place.

        Such is human nature, and I won’t spend more energy than I have to fighting that particular enemy.

      • Thanks for your support, Lawrence. I’ve always enjoyed reading/hearing your opinions/reviews in particular. I’m glad that you’ve got my back in this situation.

        As I said, this Russell Gorall guy is probably a troll, though he may have an issue with the reviews on this site as opposed to (or maybe as well as) the Devil May Cry redesign, as he has posted similar comments before on Kovic’s Halo 4 review and Miguel’s ZOE HD review.

        He probably just hates those three games in particular, but if his comments start showing up on more reviews, I wouldn’t be too surprised.

      • You said it, sister! Mmm-hmm!

        *Snaps fingers all sassy-like*

      • Let me help you with that, bud.

    • That video makes a respectable point about Dante’s character. If only some other people (Russell Gorall, cough cough) could actually post a sensible argument like that.

      However, I think the point of this review is to judge the game on its own merit, an Miguel does a good job of that. He doesn’t compare this Dante to the previous model; in fact, he focuses more on the gameplay.

      Also, that video is based upon previews and pre-release content, as it was made back in September. While much of the content within the game was present, there may still be some aspects that hadn’t been seen yet.

      The video you’ve linked in is flawed, but it does make a very respectable and thought-out case for why Dante 2.0 is not so great. Every argument has flaws, anyway.

      So, I guess I’m trying to say the two following things:

      1. Miguel’s review focuses mostly on the gameplay and mostly judges the game on its own. The experience of the game as a whole is good, regardless of Dante’s character.

      2. Thank you. I found the video to be a reasonable argument.

      PS: About the aspect of the video discussing some dialogue writing problems, the style that Ninja Theory approached was highly influenced by the sci-fi B-movie They Live, which is also where Duke Nukem’s most well known line about bubblegum comes from, so some of the dialogue may be derived from that.

  5. Awesome review Lawrence. And I gotta say, I hope DmC gets enough sells to merit a sequel, because I thought the game was damn amazing. Plus, there was 2 cliffhangers at the end of the story.

  6. I think DMC fail a good review will be like these
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4NaBrFkiDo
    saying the bad with the good this is a remake of a previous game u should take that into account.

    • A reboot or a reimagining (aka different take on a previous idea) and a remake (same exact take on same idea) are two different things. Just to make sure you know what you’re talking about.

      Ninja Theory’s DmC and the previous Devil May Cry series are particularly different takes on a concept. The new one isn’t going to take the old ones away from you.

      Also, thanks for the angry joe review link. It was also interesting.

      OK, I am spending too much time commenting on this review. Time to go do something different.

      • Yes i know Ninja was trying to make a different concept for the game but is still a remake of and old one u can see the reference to the previous Dante in the new game, that was like bad fan service.

        If they wanted to be a different take on the concept don’t put the original Dante look, and like everything this is just an opinion but why change such a great character and make him into someone u will hate new Dante.

      • That was bad fan service?
        That’s why you can unlock 2 white haired dante costumes, and they’re coming out with DLC that has 3 new white haired costumes, including his DMC 3 outfit.
        Bad fan service.
        Riiiiiiiight.

  7. It’s worth a 9, I’ve been playing this game, and I loved it! Even though this was my first ever Devil may Cry game.

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