Review: Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition (PlayStation 4)

Reviewed by Jakub Kowalski, posted Jul 25, 2015, last updated Jul 25, 2015
I've always enjoyed Devil May Cry, I've been with the series since its inception, and although I wouldn't call myself a "fan", I was happy to pick this title up as I've missed out on it when it was originally released. Getting the chance to review the game in its most polished form to date filled me with excitement and anticipation that could only be quenched with buckets of demon blood, so I promptly grasped my controller and dived right into the fray.
Jul 25, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): June 23, 2015
  • Release Date (EU): June 23, 2015
  • Release Date (JP): June 18, 2015
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom/Access Games
  • Genres: Action Adventure/Hack 'n Slash
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
  • Also For: Computer, Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is a remastered version of Devil May Cry 4 out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
Jakub Kowalski


Nero, the Boy that Cried "Devil!"

Devil May Cry is a title dear to many Capcom fans. Originally a Resident Evil sequel gone awry, the game has since spawned a series of excellent Action Adventure Hack 'n Slash blood baths. With the current trend of remastering games for contemporary platforms in mind, Capcom has decided to grace gamers with some re-releases of their own, starting with with DmC: Definitive Edition in march and now also Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition. What does this new release bring to the plate for seasoned demon slayers? Read on and find out! For now, in case you've never played Devil May Cry 4, let's get you up to speed with the plot.

DMC 4: SE opens up with our protagonist, Nero, hastily making his way to the Opera House where the Order of the Sword, the local religious organization, is performing a ritual in the name of Sparda, the legendary dark knight. By the time he breaches through the hordes of not-so-friendly demons and reaches his destination, his love interest, Kyrie, finishes her song, officially opening the ceremony. She takes her seat and discovers a gift Nero has left for her, while the High Priest takes his place on the stage, urging the gathering to pray with him to the almighty Sparda. All of a suddent, the prayer is disrupted by none other but Dante, the son of Sparda himself, bursting through the celling and assassinating the priest in front of the crowd. Panic quickly breaks loose, the congregation disperses and the two heroes pull up their sleeves to duke it out in style. Of course Nero fails in dispatching Dante, despite his best effort. The son of Sparda flees and Nero is charged with capturing him and bringing him to justice, post-haste. What follows is a long chase across the demon-infested land during which you'll switch between the two characters, gradually uncovering the motivation between Dante's attack, the mysterious figures pulling the strings from behind the scenes... and slaughtering hordes of hellspawn, of course.

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That's right, Nero - demons aren't the prettiest bunch

Although when the game was originally released the change of the main protagonist from Dante to the newly-introduced Nero was somewhat controversial, I think his character is well-suited for the role. Nero possesses all qualities necessary for a young demon hunter - his snark, teenage angst and crudeness, as well as his one-liners, can only be matched by Dante himself. Neither character is terribly likable, but you don't pick a Devil May Cry game to enjoy witty dialogue or a complex, deep story - you pick it up for its excellent, action-packed combat, and DMC4:SE has plenty of it to offer.

I Slashed a Demon and I Liked It!

Devil May Cry 4 follows the same tradition of fighting mechanics as the previous games in the series and the Special Edition puts a new breath of fresh air into them by running the game in high resolution at a crisp and steady 60 FPS, making on-screen action smoother than ever before. Combat is fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable, encouraging the player to create uninterrupted combos with its Stylish Rank mechanic - the more elaborate attacks you unleash upon your foes, the more points you gain.

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Despite its age, the game still looks great, especially now, in 1080p @ 60FPS

Unlike in previous games in the series, here Nero is the star the show and he plays slightly differently than Dante - this comes as no surprise for those who have already played the game, but I'll elaborate on it for those who did not. Much like Dante, Nero uses a melee weapon, the Red Queen, his sword, and a long-range one, the Blue Rose, his revolver. Unlike Dante however, he is also equipped with another weapon, the Devil Bringer, a demonic power manifested by his transformed right arm. The Devil Bringer, although initially a source of shame for Nero, proves to be incredibly useful, as it has the capacity to absorb ancient artifacts and grant Nero new abilities, such as the ability to grab enemies or ledges from long distances or find hidden items in his vicinity. As far as his sword is concerned, the Red Queen handles differently than Dante's Rebellion. Using the handle connected to the hilt, Nero can "rev up" his sword, spraying flammable propellant across its length - this causes the sword to land more powerful hits, so learning how to use this Exceed mechanic is a big portion of combat. Later down the line the game puts you in Dante's shoes, allowing you to experience just how differently the two characters control.

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Often times your progress will be blocked by environmental obstacles which have to be
overcome with grappling hooks, ancient machinery like the Gyro Blades and more

The levels in Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition allow for free exploration, however the core concept of the game remains the same as always - you make your way through the map until you reach points which block your path you defeat a horde of demons or solve a puzzle. Once you do, the pathway opens and you carry on merrily. At the end of each level a boss awaits, and they're all worthy of the title - most of them massive in size, imposing in nature and spectacular in combat - be prepared to fight for your life! Naturally aside from the main progression path there's other things to find - the maps are littered with stores allowing you to purchase helpful items or new abilities as well as secret missions that test your skill, often pushing your thumbs to the limits of their dexterity.

What Else is New?

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Rather than swords, Lady prefers to fight fire with fire - she uses her
rocket launcher, shotgun and pistols to extend the range of encounters

In addition to the main campaign, the game offers a refreshing introduction of three new playable characters available via two alternative campaigns - the Lady/Trish campaign and the Vergil campaign, both with their own introduction and ending scenes. The new characters are not mere reskins as it's often the case in such add-ons - they differ greatly from the dynamic duo of Dante and Nero in terms of gameplay. For instance, instead of using swords, Lady wields exclusively firearms of all-sorts, extending the encounters. Meanwhile, Vergil's fighting style is precise and calculated, in stark contrast with the brutal yet frantic styles of Nero and Dante. Those differences do wonders in terms of replayability as they allow you to replay the game and enjoy a distinctly different experience each time. Unfortunately, these campaigns suffer from a lack of cutscenes which are normally present at major turning points of the story, which is a big shame - the Special Edition was a chance to show the game's storyline from a few different perspectives. Even mixing levels up a little would've been nice, but in this case it's the same levels and boss fights as in the Nero/Dante campaign. It's also worth to mention that all the characters received alternative skins, too.

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Playing as Vergil requires precision - running around aimlessly or idling depletes your concentration gauge,
so you have to consistently link attacks together, utilizing your assortment of swords efficiently and swiftly

Of course new characters and skins are not all the Special Edition has in stock. The game brings console players a mode that only PC gamers enjoyed before - the Legendary Dark Knight mode. What it basically translates to is a total mayhem - enemies spawn more often and in massive hordes, making even seasoned demon hunters break a sweat. If you've played Devil May Cry 4 before and consider yourself a master, this mode just might be a perfect challenge for you.

The Devil is in the Details

So, is DMC4: SE a tasty snack for you?

So does Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition deserve your attention? It's been 7 years since the game was originally released, and to be honest, I think it still holds up perfectly fine. If anything, this is the perfect version to pick up, especially for those who have never played the game before - the game looks great in 1080p, the framerate consistently sticks to 60FPS and, what can I say? It's good old Devil May Cry, just the way you remember it from the good old days. The additions made to the game and its excellent performance are enough to warrant the purchase - it's a solid action game for fans of hacking and slashing and the remake allowed it to age with dignity and grace.

+ The game performs well at smooth and steady 1080p/60 FPS, making it thoroughly enjoyable and giving it a fluid and sharp feel, even during fast-paced combat
+ The game features both English and Japanese dubbing, so fans of audio tracks from the land of the cherry blossom as well as those who prefer playing the game in English should be equally pleased
+ Three new playable characters allow gamers to experience the game in three unique gameplay styles, distinct from that of Dante and Nero
- The lack of cutscenes in the additional campaigns is a bit of a downer - this re-release was the perfect chance to show the story from the perspective of different characters, so it's a shame that their campaigns weren't wrapped into storylines of their own
- At times the camera can be quite unruly and disorienting, especially when switching between segments using fixed and free camera angles
7 Presentation
The remastered presentation of the Special Edition leaves very little to complain about - the game looks great in 1080p and plays at a consistently high framerate with no perceptible dips in performance. If I were to be nitpicky, I'd say that more could've been done to make the game look modern, however that would probably imply a complete remake, and that was not the intention of the developers.
9 Gameplay
Devil May Cry 4 is for many the height of the series as far as gameplay is concerned, and the same holds true for the remastered Special Edition. The game is fast-paced, combat is very enjoyable and interspliced with environmental puzzles to give you a breather between the numerous battles that await you. The only gripe I have with the game is the fact that the levels can be quite maze-like and disorienting at times, but I can't impune the remastered version for it - it simply holds true to the original design.
8 Lasting Appeal
Devil May Cry games have always had substantial replayability - the whole point of the games is to finish levels with the highest scores possible. Now with two additional campaigns and the console debut of the Legendary Knight Mode, Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is guaranteed to provide hours of fun for fans of the series.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is a great game for fans of the series that has a lot to offer, both to those who have already played the title and those who are yet to pick it up. If you enjoy hacking away at never-ending hordes of enemies, this game is exactly what you're looking for.