Developer: Ninja Theory
Release Date: March 10th, 2015
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4
Reviewed on Xbox One (review copy provided by Capcom)
Two years ago, Ninja Theory released DmC: Devil May Cry — a reboot of the original series for all intents and purposes — and fans of the series were immensely skeptical of the endeavor. When DmC was released, it garnered mostly positive reviews while managing to offend a great many of its fans with the retooling of the series. To this day, you’ll be hard pressed to read an article about DmC without finding someone in the comments section very unhappy with the direction the game took.
This past year, Ninja Theory went to work on updating and enhancing the game for the next generation of consoles, dubbing it their “definitive edition”. DmC: The Definitive Edition comes bundled with the original DmC, all the DLC, the follow-up campaign “Vergil’s Downfall”, a few mechanical tweaks, and a remastered engine running at 1080p and 60fps. The enhancements are instantly noticeable — the gameplay and cutscenes run silky smooth, and the visuals are gorgeous. For the campaign, there are two new modes you can choose to activate: ‘turbo’ mode and ‘hardcore’ mode. Turbo mode increases the game’s speed by 20%, making everything snappier and harder to time, especially on higher difficulties. Hardcore mode rebalances the Style System, making it much harder to achieve higher grades of style when fighting while also increasing enemy damage against Dante. It also happens to make parrying and evading more difficult to time, which wasn’t an easy feat to begin with.
As in the original, the campaign is quick, stylish and very witty. DmC has a very juvenile sense of humor, but it ends up working well most of the time. Dante is a sarcastic loner with a devil-may-care attitude (pun intended), and his insults and quips at enemies often made me chuckle despite the lack of imagination behind them. It’s refreshing to play something brash and obvious every once in a while. The story is pretty cut and dry, and few people will find themselves lost or confused by it. The writing is consistently good — not bad, not great, just average. DmC realizes where its strengths are and it stands by them.
Dante is a Nephilim — half angel, half demon — and this allows him to see the demons that are subjugating the world. When the demons find Dante, they pull him into “Limbo”, a world on top of our world, but outside normal perception. Limbo is visually gorgeous: collapsing buildings, breaking pavement, crushed cars, imploding buildings, and it’s all frozen in time to give it a decaying and destructive (but simultaneously very cool) environment.
The combat is a beast entirely unto itself. If you haven’t played a hack-and-slash action game before, you may feel way in over your head for a while. If you have, it will take you a couple of levels to adjust, but once you do, you’ll be having a fantastic time cycling through outlandish weapons and fights, destroying ever more absurd amounts and types of demons.
The combat is designed around a style system, encouraging you to mix up your fighting. Instead of using just your sword to dispatch an enemy, for instance, using your sword, guns, and your scythe will net you much higher style points. In traditional Japanese-style scoring, the styles rank from D, C, B, A, S, SS, and SSS. Attaining a SSS is difficult under the best of circumstances for anyone, but a true aficionado with action titles. I frequently found myself averaging Bs at best during the levels and for the overall score.
Eventually, you’re given a power called “Devil Trigger”, and activating it sends Dante into a rage that increases his damage exponentially and regenerates his health bar steadily. It has the added beautiful benefit of turning the game world a stark white and red that makes this flashy game seem even slicker for the few moments it’s active. Devil Trigger is measured by a small bar under Dante’s health bar and you slowly gain more of it by killing enemies or using items to replenish it.
During the stages, there are several items hidden for you to collect: keys, “lost souls” and doors. The doors are locked and require the keys you find to open them. Each door contains a combat or traversal challenge, and once completed, will yield you an upgrade to your health or Devil Trigger bars. Lost souls are people stuck between Limbo and the real world, and Dante attacks them in Limbo to “free” them. The Lost Souls are usually hidden quite well and you’ll almost certainly be retracing your steps to find them all.
The Definitive Edition also includes the “Bloody Palace”, a wave-based fight against enemies to see how long you can last. You can play this as either Dante or Virgil and use everything you have accumulated in the campaign while you play it. It’s an interesting diversion and a great place to practice your combos or style plans. If you’re in the mood to be even more masochistic, you can turn “Must Style” mode where enemies will only take damage if you’re at an S-rank or above while damaging them. I haven’t been brave enough to attempt this myself.
While visually striking and very entertaining, there’s a few missteps I found while playing through DmC. Any level that has you in a tight corridor is prone to screen jitters. At first, I assumed this was a game bug or a problem with my Xbox, but I soon came to realize it’s due to the camera trying to find a consistent angle on Dante. I don’t recall this issue in the original version and I wasn’t able to find many people who had the same issue, so while we can be grateful that it’s not widespread as it was fairly frustrating to play through.
Additionally, several of the challenge missions I accessed through doors spawned me into the level where you could only see Dante’s sword. While this still allowed me to run and jump, I was unable to attack, so any mission that required you to defeat enemies would have to be exited out of and restarted (just selecting ‘restart’ from the menu would result in the same problem time and time again). This happened six times over the course of the campaign — enough times to make me curious enough about why it wasn’t addressed, but not enough to cripple gameplay or be more than a small annoyance (mostly due to DmC’s snappy load times). The only other odd bug I discovered was falling through the world four different times at random.
If you played and enjoyed DmC the first time around, the Definitive Edition is a great add-on for you. All the DLC and new additions remastered for the new consoles is definitely nothing to sneeze at. However, it is just a remaster, so if you weren’t thrilled the first time around, there’s nothing new that will impress you.
If you’re a fan of action games and you somehow missed the first release of DmC, I definitely recommend it! It’s fast-paced, fun, with enough reward and punishment to keep even the skilled slasher coming back. Make sure you’re a practiced combo-user though, DmC is not a game that forgives sloppy combos.
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+ Gorgeous visuals
+ Slick and entertaining gameplay
+ Awesome level design
- Perplexing bugs
- Can be prohibitively difficult
- Average story and writing