Die-Hard Fans May Have Cried – I Didn’t
I can absolutely understand why many/some fans of the original Devil May Cry games were apprehensive of a reboot of this series; more importantly, I get where the dismay came from when protagonist Dante was redesigned as younger, edgier, un-blonder than before. It’s the same way I imagine I’d feel if Square Enix went ahead and made good on its threat to reimagine some games that I consider quintessential classics (Final Fantasy VI & VII , Chrono Trigger) – and I’m talking full reimaginings here, not just the overhauled DS releases. I’d probably have a fit, and you couldn’t pay me enough money to touch them with even a ten-foot pole. So, yes, I understand the initial trepidation. But let’s put that behind us for now, and focus on what I felt was a pretty damn good game!
In the interest of full disclosure: I don’t feel as strongly about Devil May Cry as I do about the games mentioned above. I own the original, last-gen trilogy, though the only one I have actual fond memories of was the first game in the series, and the third installment is still on my Damn That Game Is Hard But I’ll Beat It Someday list. I never even bothered with the fourth game on current-gen (well, what is now quickly becoming the new last-gen) systems at all. So the news of this redesigned, youthful Dante with an attitude that flies in the face of “respecting your elders” left me fairly cold and indifferent. I simply did not have a dog in this fight.
Perhaps that is why I can really appreciate the new DmC for what it is: a kick-ass action game with flair and style to spare. At first, I chuckled a bit at the ridiculous opening scenes – Kat becoming speechless as naked Dante stands in his trailer’s doorway, the same naked Dante then proceeding to trash-talk a demon Hunter that’s heading towards the pier his home is currently parked on, the baseball bat and pizza slice that humorously cover up his little bits as he literally flies into his shirt and pants in slow-motion. It’s incredibly hammy, and I’m glad the game didn’t stick to this over-the-top approach for long. Fast forward a level or two, and the picture that this is a visually harsh, nightclub-blacklight-lit world starts coming into focus.
Later moments actually saw me stunned, mouth agape at the revolting or callously perverted things I was seeing and hearing. The most visceral example of this is the boss fight with the succubus, fairly early on in the game. For starters, I should mention that the design of the succubus herself is certainly different from anything I’ve ever imagined one of these creatures to look like. The fight basically kicks off with Dante calling her a “sack of shit”, to which she responds with a vile litany of vulgarities, like “little turd”, “wrinkly scrotum”, and – by far my favorite – calling him a “disgusting fuck child”. Oh, and she also sticks her fingers down her throat to spew corrosive bile onto Dante. As sick as the showdown itself is, the ending is one for the books – I won’t spoil it if you haven’t played it (I’ll leave that to the YouTube clip below), but suffice it to say that it seared itself into my memory instantly!
At this point, I feel a disclaimer is in order. I don’t think that adding gore or swearing to a game just for the sake of “making it edgy” is the right move in general. However, certain genres – and certain series of games, certainly – can afford to do just that. I think DmC is one of those games where it works, and the developers make it clear from the very beginning that this will be “that type of game”. So all the complaints about the degree of intensity or calling the foul language “bad writing”, to me, go right out of the window.
The succubus fight is memorable for being very gritty and visceral, but it benefits from something else this game does very well: I was literally delighted at the character designs the developers came up with! And “delighted” is not a word that I get to use to describe every game, mind you. The bosses were creative (a boss late in the game is a news program – that’s literally the best way I can describe it…not the anchor, not the camera, but the newscast itself, somehow!) and each of the cast of characters has some memorable quality that makes them stand out. I felt equal parts disgust and wonder at Mundus’ concubine Lilith, was fascinated by the demon Phineas, and thought Vergil cut a great figure wearing his new Homburg hat.
A great compliment to the look of the game was the techno/metal soundtrack, which feels so at home in this type of genre and environment. I love when playing a game makes me want to go online and listen to more music from artists I’ve not heard of before! It happened with Poets of the Fall after playing Alan Wake, Jonathan Coulton after Portal, Spanish composer Óscar Araujo while playing Lords of Shadow. Add to that list now Noisia and Combichrist, who are two groups equally responsible for the aural mayhem in DmC. It put the combat sections, especially the boss battles, over the proverbial edge, and I would love to grab the not-for-retail soundtrack (only given out as a preorder bonus) someday!
I realize I haven’t even touched on one of the key components that put Devil May Cry on the map: the combat. And, honestly, I won’t spend a lot of time on this, since it ultimately wasn’t what made the biggest impressions on me. I will say that, as far as my memory serves, the developers stayed true to the combat that made the original so appealing – it’s fast-paced, and works both for button-mashers as well as combo perfectionists. It seemed to be well-balanced, challenging enough to provide some blazing intensity, and, by the time you’ve unlocked your full arsenal, offers a lot of flexibility to your preferred combat style.
In short, any of the reasons a die-hard fan could have to skip this one and stay true to its predecessors have been more than sufficiently addressed by the developers. This is the kind of gaming experience that you can easily go in to without second thoughts…just let your guard down and be pleasantly surprised!