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A Review: DmC Devil May Cry

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    DmC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition

    Rating: 3.5 – Good

    A Review: DmC Devil May Cry

    Summarized in one word, the Devil May Cry series could only be described as stylish. Capcom’s flavorful superhero Dante is well known for his witty one-liners, iconic white hair, and flippant devil-may-care attitude, but when the development torch was passed to developer Ninja Theory for the series’ reboot, simply titled "DmC: Devil May Cry," long time fans felt wronged in a handful of ways. While westernizing Japanese games in order to broaden market appeal is always a risky decision, my multiple playthroughs of Ninja Theory’s DmC have led me to the conclusion that the reboot is much closer to its source material than angry fans perceive it to be. (In order to avoid confusion, I will be referring to the original series as DMC, and the reboot by Ninja Theory as DmC.)

    DmC follows a young Nephilim named Dante who, after reuniting with his lost brother Vergil, finally puts a purpose to his misguided life by fighting back against the demon lord Mundus. Mundus, a powerful banker who has hands in the pockets of every wealthy politician, businessman, and media outlet, uses his affluence and authority to assert his dominance over the human world. Dante, along with his brother Vergil, a psychic girl named Kat, and a small group of freedom fighters, must dance around Mundus’ political grip on the human world, pierce the veil of the parallel dimension Limbo, and strike back at key targets to Mundus’ totalitarian machine. The game’s status as a reboot means players don’t need prior DMC knowledge to enjoy DmC (though series veterans will see the plot shift coming from a mile away); it’s a completely new game with vague character reprisals and a few cheeky references to the old games sprinkled here and there. Though both the "what if an angel and a demon had a baby" and "what if human society was actually devoid of free will and we’re merely puppets" tropes are arguably overused, DmC’s unique cast of character personalities pulls them off with a rare elegance.

    The reboot’s criminal offense in the eyes of the community is viewed as petty by some, perfectly justified by others, and immediately noticeable by all. DMC Dante is characterized as a tough yet carefree individual, berating or teasing his opponents with witty one-liners or comedic tag lines. DmC Dante, however, acts much more like a tough punk in desperate need of an attitude adjustment, often resorting to foul language to antagonize his opponents. Both like to show off with stylish moves and flashy techniques while demonstrating a lackadaisical or disinterested attitude, but the context and characterization surrounding both characters contribute largely to how audiences view them individually. As YouTube user Chameleonard on the video "Why DmC’s Dante is a Bad Character" (HyperBitHero) puts it, Old Dante "didn’t do cool things for the sake of showing off, he did them for fun." While Old Dante used his quick wit and humor to throw his opponents off, New Dante acts like an angry teen for much of the game. Though it can be argued that his character develops towards the end of the game, this in itself gives rise to another issue. While both the game’s ending and the DLC ending indicate an inciting incident leading to a sequel or continuation of some sort, three years since the game’s original release haven’t led to any word of another installment. Oh, and they changed his hair (those bastards).

    The game plays out in 20 linear missions, and the series’ heavy emphasis on stylized combat is as present as ever. The name of the game is style: techniques are visually appealing, perfect timing is hugely rewarded, and the game features a mission-based grading system revolving around building up the highest possible amount of Style Points. Between Dante’s sword Rebellion, his demonic and angelic weapons, and his arsenal of guns and grappling tools, players have to toggle between driving and maintaining high combo ratings while avoiding taking damage in order to accrue as many Style Points and score well at the end of missions. Attacks are executed using three of the four face buttons (A/X to jump) to perform basic sword and gun attacks, while holding the left or right triggers will give access to angelic and demonic move sets respectively. There are three different guns, two angelic weapons, and two demonic weapons which are swapped between with presses of the D-pad, meaning that upper level combos require input from almost every button of the standard controller. Flat button mashing is passable in that it will take you to the end of the game, but if you want to score well or succeed in higher difficulties, you’ll need to make good use of all of your abilities. Watching high-skill players may seem daunting at first, but with practice advanced combos begin to flow reflexively and players will start to develop designated strategies for the game’s multitude of enemies.

    Artistically, DmC is a visual masterpiece. Limbo, the parallel dimension where most of the gameplay takes place, incorporates a lot of themes from Judeo-Christian tradition and combines them with common symbols of modern apocryphalness. Limbo is portrayed as a very chaotic place, yet it exposes the inherent nature of the human world beyond the veil of human perception. Themes of greed, freedom, and trust in society are all portrayed fantastically, and the vibrant colors and twisted landscapes of the reflected human world come together magnificently. DmC’s soundtrack trades its traditional choral ecclesiastical sound in favor of a more high octane mixture of electro-metal. The album "No Redemption" by American metal band Combichrist comprises almost half of the game’s soundtrack, and provides an intense accompaniment to even basic fights. Electronic metal is a niche sound that some players just simply might not be into and the harsh screaming feels a little out of place in the early game, but it provides a nice intensity to some of the more fanatical engagements.

    DmC’s epilogue DLC episode, Vergil’s Downfall, follows Dante’s brother immediately after the events of the main game. It offers 6 additional missions with Vergil as the playable character. Vergil has a completely different moveset, and although he plays similarly to Dante in that he rotates between basic, demonic, and angelic weapons with trigger alternations and button presses, his play style is heavily focused on precision timing and smart resource allocation. His attacks are generally faster but do less damage and his unique attacks are themed around blisteringly fast assaults, as opposed Dante’s to raw damage output. Playing through the DLC is simple enough, but unlocking Vergil’s full potential as a fighter takes a completely different approach than it does for Dante.

    After completing the main game, there’s plenty of alternate difficulties, secret missions, and gameplay modifiers to unlock that keep the game fresh and provide fun challenges for skilled players. Hardcore Mode drastically alters enemy spawn patterns and behaviors, Turbo Mode increases game speed by 20 percent, and Must Style Mode makes enemies invincible unless you have at least an S rank combo going at all times. Collectables can be found throughout the game’s missions in the form of Lost Souls trapped in Limbo, Doors that lead to Secret Missions, and Keys to unlock said doors. The series staple Bloody Palace also returns, pitting Dante or Vergil against 100 consecutive waves of enemies. The early floors provide a great place to practice or farm Souls (currency), but the difficulty cranks up the higher you go. Every game mode, difficulty, and modifier is also attached to global leaderboards, meaning you can compete for high scores with friends and players around the world.

    The Definitive Edition remasters the original game in the current gen console standard of 1080p and 60FPS and includes all of the game’s DLC content. A lot of the bugs in the original game like annoying frame shudders and haphazard kill walls are remedied as well. The Key and door collectable process was also streamlined considerably. Formerly, there were four different types of keys- gold, copper, argent, and ivory- which could be used to unlock corresponding doors. With the Definitive Edition, there is only one type of key and one type of door. Aside from the entire Vergil’s Downfall DLC, I feel as if the remaster does little to warrant its own existence; a few skins and fixed bugs that should have been in the vanilla version of the game don’t really necessitate a full rerelease upgrade. That said, you can probably get it for relatively cheap and it runs like a dream in 60FPS, so if you want a cheap yet quality hack and slash buy for next gen consoles, consider this.

    Devil May Cry has always put a strong emphasis on style, and with the DmC reboot, none of that’s changed. The gameplay is just as sharp as ever, placing less emphasis on advanced mechanics and more on combat awareness and field strategy. Advanced combos are built piece by piece, and as battle conditions change, so too must player strategy. Culturally, New Dante was created to appeal more towards the series’ Western audiences, which many long time fans felt compromised the integrity of the character as a whole. DmC: Devil May Cry offers plenty to experience for both series newcomers and veterans alike, and regardless of whether it can be or should be compared to the original series, it’s hard to deny that it’s a load of fun to play.

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