Spend some time on the corners of the internet where Devil May Cry fans hang out, and you’d be forgiven for believing that DmC is a crime against humanity. For Capcom has apparently committed a great sin by rebooting the venerable game series with a more Western slant, changing the look of main character Dante from an older white haired dude in a red trenchcoat to a younger black haired dude in a blue trenchcoat.
It is one of those situations where intense fandom seems detached from reality – our memories of Devil May Cry games reviewed in days gone by were titles in which story flitted between nonsensical and irrelevant, where the main focus was on fluid, fast combat rather than caring which demon was doing what to whom.
From the moment you run DmC it becomes clear that, for the vast majority of gamers, this reboot is an incredibly good thing. Not only does it have some of the finest hack and slash combat that we have encountered on the PC, but its protagonist is fleshed out and much more interesting than the white haired tabula rasa that was Dante of old.
Dante 2.0 starts out as the kind of guy you want to reach through the screen and punch, but actually becomes quite interesting as the game progresses, thanks largely to some incredible animation work done during the cutscenes that tie the story together. The story revolves largely around an amnesiac Dante discovering the fact he is the progeny of Demon and Angel, and then using this knowledge to slice, dice and shoot many, many demons into little pieces.
For, while the story is a step above anything that has come before it in the franchise, DmC is still a game heavily rooted in hacking and slashing. What developers Ninja Theory have delivered is an experience that is fast and fluid, with big outlandish combos and the potential for a near ridiculous number of moves. Dante is armed with a variety of weapons, initially just standard swords and his iconic guns Ebony and Ivory, which are soon joined by the angelic Osiris scythe and the demonic Arbiter axe. Each weapon set has specific advantages and disadvantages, and your array of combat moves can be expanded through an unlock system.
This variety of weapons makes for a game best played with a controller rather than keyboard and mouse. To access the fast attacks of Osiris you hold down the left trigger, for the slow, shield-breaking Arbiter you hold down the right. Hold neither and you’ll use your standard swords. This facilitates a hugely varied combat experience, and it doesn’t take long before you are stringing moves together for some truly enjoyable demon killing.
It isn’t perfect, and falls over a bit in the ‘recognise pattern and comply’ boss fights, but for the vast majority of DmC the combat shines, and makes this a very special game indeed.
Complementing this combat are some amazing visuals, which really come into their own on the PC, where options can be cranked well beyond what consoles are capable of. It is one of the few games that has made our PC’s cooling fans spin up to full, as we bathed in the bright, colourful and decidedly trippy world that Ninja Theory has delivered.
Limbo City, where the game is set, is a wonderful creation, a seemingly normal city that hides a demonic secret. Actual combat takes place in Limbo, a twisted shadow version of the city, full of demons and providing for an interesting twist to the story when you return to the real world. It truly is a gorgeous piece of digital art, and the sheer colourful nature of the experience is such a breath of fresh air in a genre that usually ends up delivering 50 shades of brown.
At times it is hard to believe that DmC has Unreal 3 running underneath it all. The PC version has the kind of look we expect from the next gen consoles, and managed to do so with smooth framerates and fast action.
If you aren’t a fan of hack and slash combat, then there isn’t anything in DmC: Devil May Cry to appeal. But for fans of fast, fluid combat and ridiculously elaborate combos then there is no finer game on the PC. Add to that the fantastic visuals and a story that is ludicrous but sensical, and this is one of the more pleasant surprises of recent times. This isn’t the Dante of old, but after playing DmC we can’t help but think that is a very, very good thing indeed.