My history with DMC is one I don’t really remember aside the very first game. I know I played 2 and 3 but the only one I truly have any memory of is that original game when it came out and loving the hell out of it. It was challenging and took some skill but it also felt incredibly cool at all times and had a great overall attitude about it. 2 and 3…I couldn’t tell you a single thing about beyond “I think one of them has the cute big titty girl and I know I played 3…maybe, even though I only recall the intro”, but 1 I still have so much of it I can directly recall. So, I don’t really know how this follows with the evolution of the series like many others can comment on because I just don’t remember shit and what I do remember is a mix of the 3 games I probably played. Really my understanding of the lore is “PIZZA PARTY”, “JACKPOT”, and the little red panels you had appear when you’d double jump.
However, I can say this feels nothing like the original game. The attitude is there for sure albeit modernized – and really that’s kind of how the whole game feels, like a modern take on the old concept. The pacing is a lot faster, the setting is a much cooler just normal ass modern city rather than the victorian and gothic look of even the “normal” places in the past games, the storytelling actually exists though I think that’s been a thing since 2, and most importantly the gameplay now is a mix of spamming Stinger and button mashing rather than the more skillful stuff I remember from the original which took a lot of time to master and was required to progress. It’s fun and is still cool as hell, but very dumbed down to make it a lot easier to be exciting. I’m sure on the higher difficulties it does start to matter how you play, but one of my biggest complaints about this game is that it doesn’t give you any reason at all to learn to play better. In fact, it punishes you in some ways – if you really just do stinger spam you get through all the combat faster because you are never being hit, the enemy is almost always staggered, and you are closing distance with every attack instead of having to get closer by running over. Doing combos takes time and is typically only hitting one guy and still having spacing issues, it doesn’t HELP you to learn to play it slows you down. Nero also has a similar move that serves the same purpose. You can beat the entire game doing nothing but spamming that move for both of them and spamming every button for V. If you learn the skills and combos and things it actually is a slower game that takes longer and enemy encounters are less efficiently handled. And yes, you can totally get S (and sometimes higher) ranking by doing nothing but Stinger spam.
Is it more fun to learn skills and combos and be better at the game? Yes, but there is no motivation beyond “I want to go out of my way to make this game harder on myself so that I can actually have a reason to learn to play it”. The game should be what provides that motivation by not only giving you situations where those skills would be necessary – but also by making learning that stuff actually benefit the player. It doesn’t, it makes things take longer for no reason. I’m repeating myself but I just feel like this is the absolute biggest problem with the game. It’s not a huge one, but it’s THE problem as far as the gameplay goes. Ironically, everyone seems to hate V’s playstyle but he’s the absolute only character that feels great to get good at playing because there’s a fantastic flow to his combat style and it’s awesome to be putting the final kill move on one enemy while your LIFE OF BLACK TIGER friend and bird attack another, getting it to need your kill move just as you finish this one off and teleporting over into it and continuing this nonstop chain of fast, slick, cool shit. Nobody else has anything like that in this game, not even Dante if you learn him real well.
Back to the issues with the combat though; the skills/combos are just not well set up or explained anyway. “Press Triangle, triangle, and then triangle.” The fuck does that mean? It does NOT mean triangle, triangle, triangle, because if you do that that’s actually a DIFFERENT combo’s explanation and it does a different move. Then you have 5 more things just like that including triangle triangle then spam triangle but you’re kind of already doing that. Don’t forget triangle, triangle, wait then triangle which is not the same as ‘and then triangle’. It’s nonsense and the poor explanation just made me not bother learning shit as well. Then in the case of V some of his skills actually entirely ruin his playstyle, mostly ones with the bird which destroy the quickness of the character and his pet things.
There are two other problems I had with the game. Most notably the load times. I heard that the staff with this really cared about cutting load times out as much as possible but they didn’t really at all – not only are they pretty regular but they last fucking forever. Want to customize/shop? Well wait for 30 seconds for it to load that. Then wait for 30 seconds to close it. Picked up an item? Wait 30 seconds for it to register you pushing X even though you’ve seen this item 20 times already. Finished a level? Well you can’t be sure if you did or if the game crashed because the game basically fucking freezes every single time for almost a minute at times before finally turning into the results screen. Load a story cutscene for a minute, 2 minutes later it’s over…and there’s another load screen for another minute, then you’re on the menu to start a new mission or customize, customize you click for 30 seconds, load that, buy a skill, close the customize menu, wait 30 seconds for it to close and load the menu again, click start mission, load for a minute, cutscene for the start of the mission lasting about a minute, then load the actual level for a minute. It is absolutely unacceptable and fucking obnoxious. This game has no excuse when nothing in it looks good enough or is large enough of an area in 2020 on a modern console to have this fucked up of load times even just for a simple fucking menu.
The other “problem” which isn’t a huge deal is just that it is a typical Japanese game where it never knows when to end. Instead of going on about it, let me quote Dante in the scene that takes place after the final battle, 3 cutscenes, the final-final battle after the final battle, then another long cutscene, then the ending credits which is another battle, and then credits and a cutscene, and then the second ending credits battle, then a cutscene, then the final credits, and then finally in the last cutscene which is actually the last cutscene, “I’m starting to think this is never gonna end.”.
All that stuff aside, the game is great and I wish I had played it in time for my GOTY posts – I don’t think it would change my top 5 but it certainly would have been worth mentioning at some point. It’s a fantastic action game.
While the combat has its issues it also feels good even when you are just kind of mindlessly mashing as if it were Dynasty Warriors or something and you always look somewhat cool. Spam stinger, mash buttons, don’t think at all and it still is fun and slick – and if you choose to force yourself to learn things that hinder you rather than help you’ll feel (and look) even cooler, sadly that is the only reward for it but maybe it’s worth it to you like it was for me with V. I also appreciate the game not being that difficult (on the difficulties available from the start, at least) because a game like this needs you to be constantly making progress or it kills its own sense of style and pacing. My number one issue with boss fights in games is that they kill the momentum of absolutely everything if they are not balanced properly – you should feel like you are going to lose constantly but never ACTUALLY lose, that’s how a good boss is done, and I felt the ones in this ranged from that to sometimes too easy – rather have too easy than too hard though. A game like this which is all about style and speed is made dramatically worse by continual restarts of a fight/sequence and that helped keep things going.
Another thing I actually really liked, which is actually shit on by a lot of people, is the “multiplayer”. The game has a really interesting take on co-op that I wouldn’t mind seeing in more actually-single-player games like this. This has no real co-op 99% of the time and the few times you meet any other player it lasts like 15 seconds and then it’s over (a few fights which end quickly). However, most of the levels were designed with multiple parts being taken on by the other character(s) at the same point in the story and for all of those parts the other character that you are not controlling is either controlled by the AI ghost of a dev/playtester if you are offline or if online an actual human being who is also playing that same mission and you’ll see stuff happen cuz of them and sometimes even see them in an area you can’t get to fighting and such.
It took me awhile to realize this is how it worked and I had some confusion at moments which looking back on made me appreciate the co-op more – I hadn’t even known it was going on. I did notice it pop up a name sometimes instead of Devil May Cry Team in the “starring” pop up but I’d never see anyone and thought maybe the online was broken or dead or they weren’t loading in – I had no clue how they would either (two Neros or something? I dunno) and then while progressing alone through the level a bridge just exploded behind me that I never even interacted with and I was already past for awhile, so it was a really weird level design choice I thought. Then, playing V, I arrived at that bridge and it crumbled in a cutscene and I realized what was going on (and double checked to see if I was right, which I was). The vast majority of the online on this has no connection to the other player beyond “someone else is playing their part of this level too” – it’s a sense of camaraderie rather than actual co-op at all, and for a game that is fully single player I think that’s a really unique, neat, and fun addition that I’d welcome into basically any single player game out there as a way to add some human element to other things going on in YOUR game at the same time even if they don’t impact you at all in a meaningful way.
The story was alright, kind of corny shounen anime stuff but it kept me interested between bits of beating the shit out of demons. Nothing really worth saying a lot about though; like I said I don’t even remember anything but the first game really so the lore is lost on me and big (yet very obvious, even to me) twists like V being Vergil just didn’t mean shit to me. I just remember him existing at some point as a character and nothing beyond that. Honestly, I thought Nero was Vergil and I just forgot his name was Nero and not Vergil which also meant I thought Nero was Dante’s brother. This is the level of knowledge I was working with. The ending probably got cut off for me so I don’t even know if there was any closure for Vergil and Dante because during their post-post-post credits sequence I had to pause and instead it skipped the last bit of credits. Don’t play this for plot.
As for the characters in terms of writing and gameplay, Dante is of course still the best overall. He’s Dante, he’s what these games exist for and thanks to. His playstyle is pretty fun because he’s got so many options (even if you just spam stinger) and he’s got some great moments when he gets new weapons. Speaking of weapons, one of his is a motorcycle in two halves. Yup. V is pretty retarded on the writing side of things, but as far as gameplay goes he is the best in the game for the reasons I went into earlier. He was by far the absolute most fun and rewarding to play.
Nero as a character is enjoyable but he falls very flat as someone to play as. He’s fine but his whole gimmick is the stupid fucking arm thing which is no fun and is retarded and uninteresting and something you never fucking bother to use because it’s annoying and does nothing helpful. The only thing it was useful for was pulling yourself to enemies or pulling enemies to you, beyond that he’s got nothing going for him just basic sword and shooting attacks that don’t look or feel good at all. I wish Lady was playable as I missed out on the game she’s in (I think?) but she’s always been extremely cute and fun so I would have enjoyed getting some time as her, but she’s nude when you find her and she’s still a fun story character throughout so I guess that makes up for it.
Though honestly she’s far less cute here than in the other game she’s in because, well, everyone in this game looks kind of gross in the face because they tried too hard for realism while doing the same awkward bullshit with it.
I guess there isn’t much else to say really, it’s a simple and straightforward game aside if you’re deep into the lore of Devil May Cry. It feels great, looks cool, and was totally what I was hoping for from the series after not touching it in over a decade.