Review: Devil May Cry 5 (Computer)
- Release Date (NA): March 8, 2019
- Release Date (EU): March 8, 2019
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Genres: Action-adventure, hack and slash
- Also For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
If you are new to the DMC franchise, fear not as this title packs a handy feature that recaps the story of the previous entries in the series by means of a short video. Once your memory has been refreshed, you can make 'em devils cry, baby!
Devil May Cry 5 starts in a rather apocalyptic way; we are put in control of Nero who has lost an arm, meet briefly with an aging Dante (who somehow still sports a 20-something voice) and the cryptic emo newcomer V, all gathered in a doomy-gloomy setting. To top it all, within the first few minutes of playing the game you face off with the boss Urizen in a battle you are bound to lose...
But don’t lose hope as this is only the beginning and the game will oscillate between past and present events to help you piece the what, when, who and how leading up to this point and beyond. In brief, some guy named V seeks the help of the DMC crew to beat the socks out of some demon king called Urizen and off they go to this new enemy’s lair to save the day. In the meantime Nero makes his way there as well as he lost his Devil Bringer arm and his search brings him to Urizen. But Urizen is way stronger than anyone challenging him could have thought and it is he who kicks the socks out of everyone else, sealing Dante away while Nero and V manage to get out of his lair in the neck of time. Obviously Urizen and his minions seek to control the world and annihilate humanity, and his plans are already underway with his evil tree called Qliphoth feeding off people’s blood. To prevent this from happening, our heroes will need all the help they can get while fending off demons after demons of Biblical measure and literally get to the root of all the problems in order to save the day.
Plot-wise this title didn’t feel particularly striking to me but it felt more like an adequate placeholder for the meat of the game: the gameplay. Indeed, DMC has always had its focus on its gameplay, in particular its combat system and this hasn’t been as polished as in DMC 5. The battles are a technical and visual treat; they reward you with orbs depending on how stylishly you effectuate combat moves and combos, and based on those you get a score from D (Dismal) to SSS (Smokin' Sexy Style!!). Those orbs can subsequently be used for upgrades and to learn new moves so that you can kick more ass in style! It also does not hurt that this title uses the fantastic RE Engine which was used to develop the equally fantastic Resident Evil VII, seamlessly switching between cutscenes and gameplay. Cutscenes are also a visual treat with stylish action sequences and an art direction à la Matrix, pumping adrenaline through your vascular system from battles to cutscenes perpetually. Also adrenaline-inducing are the fluid, fast-paced combat scenes fueled with the numerous combos along with the pumped-up tunes while having the playable characters drenched in their enemies blood. Bang! Bang! *Gapple* Slash! Slash! The combats never bore me, with its myriad of ways to combine moves from playing it safe with long-range attacks to cooler combos mixing swords and bullet attacks, DMC 5 will keep you wanting for more. It's one of the rare games where I have actually been impatiently waiting for cutscenes to end in order to get back in action. And as a person who loves to indulge in narrative-driven games, this says a lot.
Now it’s not just one character who you’ll be controlling to make some stylish finishers but three! Indeed, Devil May Cry 5 switches between Nero, V and Dante as the plot follows their individual stories in this narrative. And since it’s three different characters you'll be dealing with, it’s three different fighting styles that you’ll be handling. But worry not as the game offers an easier to master mode for beginners with simpler inputs for combos and an auto-assist feature but for returning players the other mode present is more challenging to perform combos but also more satisfying. However, its true that there is a learning curve to the gameplay but it is so fun that one can overcome it without much trouble.
Having lost his demon arm to an unknown assailant, Nero is aided by newcomer gunsmith Nico who builds bionic arms which, of course, are engineered to extirpate demon guts. As the game progresses, more bionic arms will be available with varying effects and attack types, with each new addition always seeming to be Nico’s most prized invention. Nero can use his new arms to activate the Devil Breaker, a powerful special attack but vulnerable to damage. The bionic arm can also be used to grapple to enemies and deal them melee damage with the Red Queen sword or long-ranged ones with Nero's pistol.
The frail V is more vulnerable to attacks, cannot fight on his own and controlling him will have you constantly avoiding hits but he has at his disposal his demon pets which he can control from a distance. The latter can deal devastating blows to enemies, especially his special ally Nightmare which is a giant colossus that appears for a short time but inflicts substantial damage to foes. His two other companions are also very effective on the offensive; the demon chicken Griffon is best at aerial attacks while the feline Shadow handles melee ones, and best of all V can control both at the same time. I found playing with his character most fun, having 3 different demonic pets handling the offense with three different styles felt very satisfying, more so when I could execute gratifying SSS combos by mixing and matching blows from each of V's companions!
As for Dante, the icon of the series, he has a lot at his disposal; guns, swords, gauntlets and a freaking motorcycle which, yes, can be used as a weapon. He can switch weapons and fighting styles on the fly, adapting him for short, long range combats or defense. While the armada at his disposal from the get-go might seem to make him overpowered, it is not the case as the opponents are tuned to match Dante in battle but his range of weapons do help to spicy things up. I found his to be the most versatile of the fighting styles but also the most challenging to master.
Most attacks are just at the reach of a button, or the combination of a few, making controlling characters and their battles quickly intuitive. All of these combos, equipment and varying fighting styles that characterize each protagonist are present to make combats more stylish one after the other. In true DMC fashion, being stylishly cool is the raison d'être of this title. Battles are not ranked by how many hits you inflict but on how stylishly you perform them, the cinematics scream Sick Style! and Cool! at every occasion with a photography direction that makes for several poster-worthy shots in every single cutscene and even the characters themselves try to embody a cool and laid-back presence with their often goofy and hip lines despite having the fate of humanity in their hands.
This impression and focus on style is mostly limited to the gameplay at the expense of other features of the game like a slow paced plot that only really unwinds around the final arc, recurring assisting cast like Lady and Trish who are put in the sideline and some generic environments used here and there. Most levels also seem to follow the same blueprint of cutscene-explore-battle minions-explore some more-boss fight interspersed with large clearings that predictably shout “Boss Fight” or “AMBUSH!”. DMC 5 also wants you to know that it is not a linear game and tries hard convey the message by scattering hidden items and secret levels for the keen-eyed but these are mostly nice-to-haves than revolutionary additions.
However these downsides are largely compensated and overshadowed by the fantastic, thrilling, adrenaline-gushing and fast-paced combats which is really what DMC 5 is all about. It really is an experience to behold; watch the trailer below to have an idea about how it feels every time I play the game.
Devil May Cry 5 - Something Greater
+ Smokin' aesthetics
+ Sexy variety of weapons and combat styles
+ Stylish gameplay with different characters and varying fighting styles
- Lukewarm, slow-paced plot
- Some repetitive and generic environments and sequences
Built on the RE engine, the aesthetics are worthy of a current-gen DMC title with an art direction that emanates the cool and hip vibe that DMC embodies, however some aspects of the plot could have been improved upon.
Fast-paced, intuitive and satisfying fights make for great gameplay that nevertheless has a learning curve.
DMC 5 takes an average of 15 hours to complete and its addictively fun gameplay got me wanting for more and more every time I booted the game.
out of 10
(not an average)
A blast to play.