Devil May Cry - The Reboot
This is the fifth installment of the Devil May Cry series, but it doesn't follow in chronological order from the previous four. It's a re-boot of sorts, taking place in a similar but alternate universe. You play as Dante, a loner who has spent most of his life drinking and sleeping around as he searched in vain for his true calling. As it turns out, that calling is to save all of mankind from demons in the never-ending battle between heaven and hell.
Dante's mother and father were involved in a classic Romeo and Juliet love story, except his father was a demon and his mother an angel. When he was a child, his parents were killed by a demon king named Mundus. In a move that recalls Luke and Leia's hiding from Darth Vader, Dante and his brother, Vergil, were spirited away from the demon king in order to keep them breathing. And just like Star Wars, Dante is not-so-blissfully unaware of the existence of his sibling. The unholy coupling of demon and angel created what the game referred to as "nephilim". Dante and Vergil, as nephilim, are the only ones that can kill Mundus and release mankind from his control.
Dante is aided in his quest of self-discovery by a human girl named Kat. She suffered some sort of trauma in her younger years that's never really discussed, but Dante's brother Vergil has helped her see the world for what it is in much the same way that Morpheus opened Neo's eyes in The Matrix. Kat introduces Dante to his brother and together they all begin the battle for the fate of mankind against Mundus and his demon allies. All of the actual fighting takes place in Limbo, travel to which is a bit of a hazy point in the plot. The story is spotty in several places, but that's not really what this game is all about. It's about oodles and oodles of action!
Rated M for a Reason
This game is rated M because it deserves it. Aside from the prolific cursing and massive amounts of violence, there is also the subject matter to take into account. The game is about the battle between heaven and hell and, suffice it to say, the demons aren't very family-friendly. At one point in the game Vergil kills Mundus' unborn child. At another cut scene we watch Mundus eat Dante's mother's heart. There are plenty of scenes that take place in Hell and it doesn't look like the guests are all that happy to be there. The game has enough fire and brimstone in it to make a Southern Baptist preacher jealous. It is definitely not for children and some non-desensitized adults might even find it a bit nightmare-inducing.
But how was the game?
As I've said before on this blog, I prefer a game with a well-written story to one with massive amounts of action and explosions. The amount of plot holes and corny writing in DmC could fill a tractor trailer. I was never really clear on how the whole "Limbo" thing worked. Somehow Kat would spray paint a design on the floor and that allowed Dante to travel to Hell's waiting room to fight demons. At other times Dante would be "pulled" into Limbo through some demonic interference by Mundus. If you're a gamer that needs to understand exactly what's going on, DmC might bother you quite a bit. You have to be able to suspend your disbelief in order to really enjoy it.
That said, the beautiful design and flawless combat mechanics are hard to top. Of all the games I've played this year, only Arkham City has a comparable fighting system. Skyrim is the only game in the same ballpark in terms of gorgeous environments. The writers may have been handcuffed by the constraints put upon them by the previous Devil May Cry games and the universe they inhabit, but the designers got every last ounce they could out of the graphics and gameplay. It's visually stunning and the fighting makes you feel like you're a well-trained ninja.
The vast array of weapons makes it hard to master them all. I generally used two throughout most of the game, but eventually became fairly proficient with most of them. You gain style points for more creative attacks using multiple weapons on a single enemy. These style points encourage proficiency with all weapon types and moves. The more different attacks you use on an enemy, the more style points you get, which can lead to more weapon and ability upgrades. They designed it so that it's to your advantage to get creative with your attacks. There is no one move that can be used to spam enemies over and over again. You must become at least decently familiar with all of the weapons if you want to beat the game.
While I don't see DmC: Devil May Cry winning many game of the year awards, it was a nice distraction from the host of seemingly never-ending RPGs I've been playing most of the year (Borderlands 2, Skyrim, Mass Effect 3). It is what it is: a hack-and-slash action game. When measured by that bar, it does quite well. While the story left a lot to be desired, the action and game design were second-to-none. If you're looking for a fun game that doesn't make you think too hard and barely gives you time to blink, DmC is for you. If you're a stickler for a deeper gaming experience with literary storytelling and character development, you should probably skip this one. Personally, I found it to be a pleasant diversion from most of the previous year's offerings.
Objective score: 7/10
Bonuses: +1 for the beautiful design and stellar fight mechanics.
Penalties: -1 for the sometimes confusing and swiss cheese hole-filled plot.
Nerd Coefficient: 7/10. An enjoyable experience but not without its flaws.
Read about our scoring system, in which average is a 5/10 here.