Ghastly Gaming Review: Accessibility and Variation Create An Amazing Experience in Capcom's DEVIL MAY CRY 5
I have previously alluded to this statement in an earlier article, but it really does bear repeating. Capcom is on a HOT streak. For years, Capcom had become synonymous with below average quality. The empire that delivered us Resident Evil and Street Fighter was having a tough go with consumers across all of their major franchises, in particular with the ice cold reception of Resident Evil 6 and the completely bungled launch of Street Fighter V (which involved releasing WITHOUT an arcade or story mode….really?). Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Capcom decided to wake up, get real, and elevate themselves back in the good graces of the gaming community. They decided to bring the Resident Evil series back to its pure horror roots, all while shifting the perspective into 1st person and adding full VR support, with the excellent and terrifying Resident Evil 7. From there, they released Monster Hunter World around a year later, creating an experience that was broke through barriers by bringing in many casual and hardcore gamers alike to a series that has been typically a very niche RPG franchise. Instead of reveling in their success, Capcom pushed the pedal to the ground. They pulled off a reimagining of one of their most iconic horror games in history, Resident Evil 2. It ended up becoming a massive commercial and financial success this past January, paying respect to the feel and vibe of the original while updating the engine, graphics and gameplay to suite the modern player.
Not content with their recent success, Capcom is looking to keep their hot streak alive and well with the latest entry in their demon slaying franchise, simply named Devil May Cry 5. DMC is a revered action series that is best known for its over the top action, tight and layered fighting engine and empowering the player to feel like a total badass. For me, the DMC series has always been a series of frustration, as I have only been able to successfully complete the original DMC due to what I can only attest to as a lack of skill at the time of my play throughs with this series. Now, none of that particularly matters, as the real question is simple. Does Devil May Cry 5 continue the torrid streak that Capcom has been on, or is there where the momentum finally starts to wind down?
The story of Devil May Cry has always been a hodge podge of various ideas and story threads loosely thrown together to form a tenuous narrative to carry the player along, and this entry is no different. This time, the baddie of the game, Urizen, has risen from the depths of hell within his large sprawling demonic tree, called the Qliphoth, as he’s made his dominion on Earth and looks to destroy the world and annihilate all of humanity. It is down to three individuals to save the world. These warriors are Nero, tje protagonist from DMC4, newcomer V, a mysterious stranger who manipulates three shadow creatures to do his bidding, and series favorite Dante, looking grizzled and on his last nerve. Can these weapons of destruction, with their sparring egos and uncontrollable impulses, save the world from utter destruction, or will they prove to be unable to take down the self-proclaimed demon king Urizen, allowing darkness to swallow it all away?
Let’s just get this out of the way. I really enjoyed my time with Devil May Cry 5. DMC5 has a great hold on how to make the player feel like a total action icon, killing demons of various shapes and sizes with aplomb and general style that a mere human just can’t resist feeling awesome and badass, which is par for the course for this series. On top of that, this entry feels like the most accessible DMC yet due to some design choices and helpful aids along the way, making it more accessible for players who got turned away from the mental difficulty damage of the previous games. DMC5 has you take control of three different characters – Nero, Dante and V – across 20 varied missions spanning multiple locations such as a city, sewers, an evil ancient tree and hell itself. It has been a series staple to break up a 10-15 hour or so campaign into bite size 30-45 minute chunks, allowing the player to hop in and out without the need to commit multiple hours in one sitting. This is also done in this franchise because it is literally wall to wall action from beginning to end and for some people – I stress some - it might end up growing exhausting for the player. Breaking it apart allows the player to breathe between epic boss smackdowns and batshit sword fights with hordes of demons.
Capcom did an excellent job of having each character feel and play as different as possible, especially considering Nero and Dante felt rather similar in style during DMC4. Nero, who no longer has his demon arm due to an early transgression that occurs in DMC5’s story, is probably the most versatile of the group, using his sword the Red Queen and his trusty revolver to dispatch pain and misery to his enemies. Nero’s third form of attack, which is in place of his now removed demon hand, are various robotic enhancements called Devil Triggers. These bionic arms can deal damage with their various powers, such electricity, lasers, a drilling mechanic, missiles, etc. They are quite awesome to use and can be an effective mix with Nero’s sword-n-gunplay to create some truly jaw dropping combos. Dante, the original demon slayer who has been around since the original and is starting to show his age with a gray beard and long flowing salt-and-pepper hair, brings his usual arsenal to the demon slaying party. Dante can use his twin handguns (named Ebony and Ivory), a rapid-fire shotgun or a missile launcher. He also comes in possession with multiple different swords throughout his missions, ranging from his starter Rebellion blade to the self-titled and powerful Devil Sword Dante. Each of these weapon choices are great, but nothing really compares to the part where Dante acquires a motorcycle that he can split into two and use as a sort of double handed chainsaw-like device.
The last character, V, is the one that takes the most getting used to and felt the weakest of the three. V is a brooding, poetry-spouting individual who, instead of doing the attacking himself, summons three shadow creatures – named Griffon, Shadow and Nightmare - with his cane to deal the damage instead. Since he has no ability to defend himself in direct combat, this game mechanic is created in an effort to keep V out of harm’s way until the enemy is almost dead. When that moment happens, V is finally able to interact with enemies, which is relegated to simply pressing a button to allow V to bury his cane into the almost deceased creature, essentially performing a finishing move and eradicating the threat.
All three characters do control very well and do a great job of breaking up the action from mission to mission, allowing the game to constantly mix things up to keep the player engaged. As in previous entries, you acquire red orbs when you defeat any enemy in the game, which allows you to upgrade your character’s weaponry, abilities and learn new combos. Each character has their own distinct move set and enhancements, which allows each of them to stand on their own as specific varied playable creations, and this aspect alone makes this a much more appealing entry than any of the previous DMC incarnations. However, I will say that some DMC fans might be turned off by how relatively easy this entry is compared to the previous titles. The highest difficulty level available from the start is rather toned down when matched up with the raging difficulty of DMC3 and DMC4, and even in my play through, I ended my journey with a healthy amount of gold orbs, which are objects that can completely revive you if you fall in battle. These were scarce to say the least in previous DMC’s, but here they are located within almost every level, and you are even rewarded one for simply starting the game up. However, as you unlock harder difficulty modes, the challenge that you have come to expect from this series starts to shine through, putting those reflexes and combo skills from DMC past to the test.
In the end, can I recommend DMC5 to the newcomer and faithful fan alike? After you unlock the added difficulty modes that present a challenge to your itchy trigger finger, I can safely say that DMC5 ticks all the boxes that you want from this series. You control some amazing characters who are capable of thrilling feats of destruction and mayhem, all while allowing players, casual and hardcore alike, to experience the full scope of what a Devil May Cry game can deliver. DMC is a game about feeling like a powerful force of nature with the ability to take on any situation and handle it with so much style and pizazz you almost forget that you are battling some of the most vile creatures that have ever graced a video game. Your utilization of swords, guns and demonic forces across this adventure start to feel like second nature due to the tight controls and ease of which to pull of masterful combos and destructive mayhem. When emotionally epic open world journeys become too much to handle, sometimes you just need to slice some demons upwards and shoot them a million times while they are suspended in the air until they explode into a bounty of red orbs. That feeling is unmatched.