An East Meets West approach to reincarnating everyone’s favourite Demon Hunter. Reviewing DmC: Devil May Cry

DmC: Devil May Cry (PC/XBOX 360/PS3)

Hours Played: 10-12 hours

Reboots are almost always controversial. Unless a gaming license has universally become stale you will always get to hear the fans complain about some aspect which is “untrue” to the original license. Capcom brought in UK developer Ninja Theory to breathe new life into everyone’s favorite demon hunter, Dante and the Devil May Cry series.

As one of the most memorable characters in gaming, Ninja Theory’s challenge lay in making the character true to his long established reputation ever since the days of the Playstation 2. Sporting the English flag on his left sleeve and a punk rock haircut to match, Dante oozes attitude and confidence in the face of the demon scum. This younger Dante drops more F-bombs than any of his previous incarnations. The game starts with an intro video showing the debaucherous bad boy living up to his reputation. But somehow he still ends up being the clichéd bad boy with a heart of gold out to save the world. He’ll still kick you in the balls if he doesn’t like you although the story doesn’t make use of this image beyond the witty in-game dialogues.

The story as well isn’t something you haven’t heard before. Dante is hunted by Mundus, one of the most evil demons ever known, who controls the world through debt. He is hunting Dante for no apparent reason other than the fact that he is a Nephilim, born through the wedlock between a demon and an angel. Dante is accompanied by his brother Vergil, who leads the rebel group “The Order” against Mundus and Kat, the sidekick psychic who assists Dante during his trips to Limbo. The story linearly takes you through Dante’s origins and the eventual revenge against the demon and save the world clichés but does enough to keep the entire experience relevant. (8/10)

Game Design: Dante’s bad boy look has to be matched with a fighting system which allows players to kick ass and look wickedly good doing it. The demons draw Dante from the real world into Limbo where they face off against him and his tools of trade. One of the critical aspects of a hack and slash game is it’s fighting system and Ninja Theory keeps it as simple and engaging as possible. Armed with his trusty sword, Rebellion and twin handguns, Ebony and Ivory, Dante dishes out damage as stylishly as possible. The higher the style rating the more action points players can earn in order to upgrade their arsenal of moves. As the story progresses, Dante unlocks six new weapons which include two demon weapons, two angel weapons and two guns and a demon chain to grapple objects or enemies to further mix up the fighting style.

There are only two stats players need to be concerned about, the health meter and demon meter. Dante enters Limbo and traverses terrain through jumping, gliding or using his demon chain to grapple objects. The level design throughout the game stays linear, asking players to reach from point A to B killing anything which comes in their way. Players can indulge in some exploration in the areas to unlock secret missions which are time trials with different challenges. Also certain areas of each level are accessible only once Dante has gained his entire arsenal which promotes some level of replayability for the completionists amongst us.

The style rating system is built around mixing up moves while fighting, the time in which a level is completed, a completion rating and if the player died or used any items during completing a level. The puzzles in general are nothing more than jumping, gliding or grappling objects, except for the one puzzle which comes way too late in the game where players may have to use their head a little. The said Tomb Raider-ish puzzle comes at a time where it really shouldn’t matter and feels way out of character too for Dante, who’s all about kicking ass first and talking later. (8.5/10)

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Gameplay: If game design is about a game’s system looking good on paper, Gameplay is about execution. I can’t say much about the default control scheme on a console, but players may have to tweak the control scheme if they are playing on a PC to suit their play style. The control scheme in general allows users to switch moves while fighting without skipping a beat.

The same although can’t be said about the enemy auto-targeting mechanic which works well only if you are fighting a single enemy but with multiple enemies on screen it is quite possible to lock on and grapple an unintended target. This is especially an issue when you have enemies on the ground as well as in the air. The lock-on mechanic can also hinder players from moving away from an enemy to search for health orbs. Although a hindrance, it is minor since players can evade a wrong grapple with relative swiftness and ease. But it may steal a player’s chance to maximize his/her style rating because of landing in the way of an enemy attack unintentionally. (8.5/10)

Production Design: Ninja Theory made sure that DmC is a reboot on every level. A lot of effort has gone into the art design of the characters, enemies and different environments. Except for the end level bosses, which as compared to the slick looking regular enemies look downright ugly and not of the same world as the rest of the game. Another small complaint visually would be that although the developers let users change Dante’s appearance through different skin packs in-game, it doesn’t alter Dante’s look in the in-game CGI, a minor flaw but very noticeable.

Similarly, special attention has been paid to the sound design as well. Combichrist and Noisia’s excellent soundtrack kicks off as soon as it’s time to draw weapons and the wickedly cool announcements at the back egg you on when you surpass a certain style rating level (personal favourites: Anarchic!! and Sadistic!!). The painstaking effort to make the world of DmC look and sound gritty and stylish really showcases the love Ninja Theory put into creating an experience worth remembering. (9.5/10)

Final Verdict: Ninja Theory has gone out of its way to create and breathe new life into the reboot of this beloved franchise. The hue and cry over Dante’s new look would be short sighted and a downright silly reason to ignore this game. The developers have done an outstanding job trying to keep things familiar and at the same time different enough, setting the stage for things to come in future. Ninja Theory has proven their expertise at handling the license and probably (at least in my opinion) outdone the original. There is however, room for innovation especially in adding features to the combat (I’d like to see them implement environmental executions) and changing how boss battles play out. This one aspect of hack and slash games is something which needs a change in general, where players have to follow an approach over and over again to get done with the boss battles.

SCORE: 8.75/10


Listen to the Music:

1. Combichrist – Throat Full of Glass

2. Noisia – Lilith’s Club

Watch the Trailer:


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