Fill Your Dark Soul With Light: DMC Review

Gah.  Well, there's five hundred words down the toilet.

I originally spent the first two paragraphs tearing shreds out of the overt sexism in Ninja Theory's video games, talking about them being a company who thought all gamers were pedophiles who can't function unless they're looking at thirteen year old girls who would be in wheelchairs by the time they turned fifteen, because their spine simply couldn't support the weight of their planet-crushing breasts.  This was all for naught, when I watched this week's Zero Punctuation and realized that I had made a huge mistake - apart from the horrific run-on sentences featured above.  I was thinking of Team Ninja!  So, I apologise to Ninja Theory for the mistake, but in my defense, your names are way too bloody similar.  They both have "Ninja."

Having this image displayed behind the main menu doesn't exactly scream "gender equality," or even "sensibility."

With that pesky annoyance sorted, we can actually review the game.  However, we cannot review Devil May Cry without first addressing the main character.  There was a lot of concern when this game came out that the fans' beloved Dante would turn into an "emo jerk."  Every single trailer that came out was met with the same reaction: “oh, this game is going to be terrible because Dante's hair is different,” which makes about the same amount of sense as saying “oh, Barack Obama is going to be terrible because his skin is different.”  Oh wait.  

Anyway — tragic human flaws aside — is the new Dante any good?  Yes.  I would even go as far as to say he is better than the original Dante.  Why?  Because he is actually a character that is realized beyond a one-dimensional power fantasy. The new Dante is flawed, he learns, he adapts, and he becomes a better person over the course of the game.  He also manages to kick ass and wisecrack.  Whether you like the way he looks or not is entirely down to personal taste, but one thing is certain:  the new Dante is awesome.  Also, the claims about him being emo are a bit silly, especially since new Dante looks like Dean from Supernatural.  Hell, they even have similar character traits. Ridiculous haircut aside, Dante is not, under any circumstances, emo.

Come on, you can't tell me those two don't look at least a little similar.

Now that that's out of the way, we can talk about the game.  I'll get the details of the PC port out of the way first, so you console kiddies — not derogatory; I call everybody kiddies — don't have to worry about it.  This is a surprisingly good port, with all the graphical options you would expect.  Plus, it supports both gamepads and keyboards, adjusting the keys on-screen to support whichever input method you'd like to use. Personally, I'd recommend a gamepad for these types of games, but the keyboard and mouse options work just fine.  The game is also really well-optimized.  I run a mid-range PC, and I ran this at ultra quality at above 60 fps.  This does annoy me a bit however, as if it was a terrible port, I could have used this wonderful joke:  "it's tricky to run DmC."

Ok, normal people, you can come back now!  There's no more boring PC talk, I promise! The first thing you'll notice when you start this game is that is looks gorgeous.  The art style really shines in this game, despite not being as technologically advanced as Battlefield 3 or The Witcher 2.  In fact, the entire game oozes with style, and every inch of this game seems to have been designed with the simple goal of charming your pants off.  

The level design is utterly amazing, with parts of the architecture flying off in every direction as you traverse it, revealing beautiful sky-boxes and constantly leaving you in awe.  I died twice in this game simply because I had to stop and take in the artwork.  On top of this, there are a lot of interesting level layouts.  Some of the early levels look a little too much like certain areas in Bayonetta, but that can be forgiven when you see some of the insane stuff that happens later.  There's a level that takes place in reflection portrayed by water, so everything is upside down.  There's another level that takes place within a nightclub, where the colour palette turns neon and assaults you with dubstep.  The music literally attacks you.  Plus, one whole level takes place inside a news broadcast.

This level makes dubstep your enemy, much like every game trailer in 2012!

 All of this would be meaningless if the gameplay wasn't up to scratch.  Let me assure you:  it most certainly is.  The combat is nowhere near as technical as Bayonetta, or even Devil May Cry 3, but that doesn't stop it from having a surprising amount of depth. The two triggers are designated to your angel and demon weapons.  Demon weapons are strong but slow, and your angel weapons are agile and good for taking on a crowd.  You get two of each of these weapons, plus your sword, and three types of guns.  If you play on normal, you can get away with button mashing for the most part, but if you play on a higher difficulty — especially the unlockable difficulties — you will need to use every skill at your disposal to succeed.

The platforming has also changed in this game, though definitely for the better.  There are often multiple paths you can take, and you have two different types of grappling hooks, as well as a glide mechanic that mixes up the platforming and ensures that it never becomes tedious.

Looks like someone's been playing a bit too much Dishonored.

There is one more aspect where this Devil May Cry entry stands head and shoulders above its predecessors, and that's in the story.  Dante, Kat, and Virgil are all fleshed out characters.  You get to see what drives them, what motivates them, and you get a glimpse into the past events that made them.  The main villain does some very dastardly things, but he honestly believes what he is doing the right thing.  Some of the methods Dante adopts in order to succeed could be construed as quite morally ambiguous, and the game doesn't say outright whether what happened is right or wrong.

This is all backed up by a rather surprising amount of satire.  This game takes the piss out of corporate America, having demons control the media, and lull them into submission with consumerism.  You have to physically fight a fictionalized version of Fox news — here called Raptor News — and the way they twist information to turn the public against Dante is rather chilling.

All in all, this is a great reboot for the series.  It isn't better or worse than the originals, just slightly different.  And if you go in with that in mindset, you definitely won't be disappointed.