Cryin’ tears of joy.
When Capcom announced that Ninja Theory would be developing the next entry in the beloved Devil May Cry series, the reaction in the gaming community was… mixed, to say the least. Some were excited. A new developer and a new creative direction had the potential to breathe life into the series and bring in a wider audience. Others, however, weren’t so sure. At the time, Ninja Theory did not have the pedigree that suggested that they could design a combat system that would do Devil May Cry justice, and Dante’s new bad boy design, which eschewed the protagonist’s trademarked white hair, love of strawberry sundaes, and overall silliness, didn’t help matters. Then came the reports of the game running on the Unreal Engine at thirty frames per second, and things just got worse from there.
I’ll admit it: I was one of the people who wasn’t so sure, who poked fun at Nu Dante’s expense (yes, the internet really was obnoxious enough to call him Nu Dante, and Donte, and… well, you get the picture), and openly lamented the loss of our white-haired, Shakespeare spouting Devil Hunter (I’m still a little salty about that, actually). As you might imagine, I never played the original release of DmC: Devil May Cry, so the Definitive Edition was a new experience for me and one, I’m happy to say, is worth playing, especially if you’ve never played this installment of Devil May Cry before.
"The biggest change, as you might expect, comes on the technical side. Unlike its last generation console counterparts, the Definitive Edition of DmC runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second.
As a remaster, a lot of what DmC offered the first time around is still on display in the Definitive Edition. This is still the story of Dante, a loudmouthed, hard-partying, demon killing badass, his brother Vergil, their mutual friend Kat, and their guerilla war against the demons that control everything in Limbo City. Without spoiling things, it’s a pretty good yarn that sports entertaining characters, a solid plot, and some pretty good dialogue, especially when you consider that Devil May Cry had never previously been known for its storytelling prowess.
And two years removed from its controversial release, it’s a little easier to appreciate what DmC does. Dante’s character arc is nicely fleshed out, and the game’s setting does a great deal of showing rather than telling. The side characters are equally compelling, especially Kat, Vergil and Mundus, and the game’s ambition, and willingness to rip into organizations like Fox News, people like Bill O’Reilly, and companies like Coca-Cola with unchecked glee are something to be applauded, even if the game’s narrative reach occasionally exceeds its grasp. Yes, I’m talking about the profanity-laden Succubus sequence. That went on way longer then it needed to.
The game’s story hasn’t changed much. It’s more or less the same as it was in 2013. The biggest change, as you might expect, comes on the technical side. Unlike its last generation console counterparts, the Definitive Edition of DmC runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second. Normally, I’m of the opinion that the difference between 30 and 60 frames is fairly marginal for many games (though 60 is definitely nicer), but oh man, what a difference 60 frames makes in a game like this. DmC feels smooth and fluid, and that is essential for a game about hacking and slashing.
"The single biggest additions are the Vergil’s Downfall DLC, and version of the Bloody Palace survival mode though a tower with 60 floors of enemies, just for Vergil."
The improved framerate and resolution really makes the game’s art, which is gorgeously hideous, pop in a way that it otherwise wouldn’t, and believe you me, this is a good thing. Of course, there are obvious gameplay benefits as well, and DmC’s combat system greatly benefits from the increased fluidity on display. If there are any problems with the visual upgrades, it would be these: the game is not locked at 60 frames per second (though it must be said that the dips are relatively small and rather infrequent), and there is a noticeable amount of screen tearing when manually moving the camera, at least on the Xbox One. Still, these problems are still fairly minor when you take the other upgrades the Definitive Edition brings to the table.
There’s Turbo mode, a perennial fan favorite, which increases the game speed by 20% and Hardcore Mode, which can be toggled on and off by level and rebalances the entire game, from Devil Trigger to enemy AI and the style gauge for a more classic DMC experience. For the especially masochistic, there’s a new difficulty, which has all enemies spawn in Devil Trigger mode and deal two and a half times their normal damage and forbids the player from using items, and Must Style Mode, which requires you to achieve a style ranking of S or higher in order to deal damage.
All of this is, of course, supplemented by all of the DLC from the original game, including costumes, weapon skins, and pre-order bonus items, as well as some new costumes celebrating DMC’s legacy. The single biggest additions are the Vergil’s Downfall DLC, and version of the Bloody Palace survival mode though a tower with 60 floors of enemies, just for Vergil.
"The boss fights are, with two exceptions, rote encounters that exemplify the worst aspects of Western boss design, requiring you to stick to pre-determined patterns of avoidance and attack to claim the day.If DmC’s gameplay has a weak point, it’s the bosses and the platforming sections. The former are, with two exceptions, rote encounters that exemplify the worst aspects of Western boss design, requiring you to stick to pre-determined patterns of avoidance and attack to claim the day."
By far the best enhancements, however, are the ones that Ninja Theory has made to the gameplay, which has been rebalanced to mitigate the bugs, problems with the style meter, color-coded enemies, and issues with enemy behavior that plagued the original game. The most important change is the addition of a manual lock-on, which can be toggled on and off or held down, which does wonders for DmC’s particular brand of gameplay.
What you have in the end, then, is a game that plays fluidly, and very, very well, while striking the right balance of being easy to pick up and play and difficult to master. You’ll have to learn the combos and spend some time in practice mode before everything clicks, but when it does, combos will by flying off your fingertips with incredible ease, and there’s an impressive level of depth to be mined here for the dedicated few. The sheer excellence in combat is augmented by the designs for the standard enemies, who will require you to parry, use heavy attacks to break shields, and execute high speed dodges if you hope to win the day. And what’s more, they look good doing it.
If DmC’s gameplay has a weak point, it’s the bosses and the platforming sections. The former are, with two exceptions, rote encounters that exemplify the worst aspects of Western boss design, requiring you to stick to pre-determined patterns of avoidance and attack to claim the day. This kind of fight takes away what has always been Devil May Cry’s biggest strengths – the combo system – and forces you to land a few simple hits before dodging again. Worse, many of them are simply boring to fight, and you’ll often wish you could just go back to fighting the normal enemies.
"DmC: Devil May Cry is still a very good game despite all of these flaws, and the Definitive Edition’s gameplay enhancements make it the best version of the game available. Fans of the older games who avoided the original release will be happy to know that this version of the game is the most like the earlier titles in the series, and those who love the original DmC will find a lot of new content to enjoy here."
The platforming is less problematic, but comes with the added issue that most of it isn’t actually platforming. Instead, it’s you pressing a button and Dante whipping himself from place to place. This isn’t terrible in small doses, but it gets annoying during long stretches, and is exacerbated by the fact that what you need to do in some sections isn’t always clear. You’ll find yourself leaping over cliffs more than a few times, simply because it looks like you should be able to do something that you can’t, or because you haven’t yet figured out the precise series of movements that the game wants you to perform.
DmC: Devil May Cry is still a very good game despite all of these flaws, and the Definitive Edition’s gameplay enhancements make it the best version of the game available. Fans of the older games who avoided the original release will be happy to know that this version of the game is the most like the earlier titles in the series, and those who love the original DmC will find a lot of new content to enjoy here.
At $40, it’s not a bad value, especially if you’ve never played the game before. It may not be an instant classic like Devil May Cry 3, Bayonetta or Ninja Gaiden Black, but it is a very good game, and longtime holdouts should definitely give it a shot. If nothing else, it just might convince you that Ninja Theory’s ideas had some merit. It certainly changed my mind. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to Limbo City. I’ve got some demons to kill.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.
Great combat system that lets you make your own combos. Interesting and well-realized setting, story, and characters. A number of new additions and changes make this the best version of the game. Lock-on makes its glorious return to Devil May Cry. All of the DLC from the previous game is included. Enemies are fun to fight. Dynamic and impressive visual design.
Platforming gets old fast. Underwhelming boss fights. Occasional frame rate drops and screen tearing.
A few minor issues persist, but a number of new additions, combined with enhance visuals, balance changes and repackaged DLC, make this the best version of DmC: Devil May Cry available. Fans of the original game will find a lot of new content to sink their teeth into here, but new players are the one who will benefit most from Ninja Theory’s latest.