The Devil May Cry series has been one of my all-time favorite series of games since the days of the legendary PS2. One could argue that it’s the pinnacle of the hack and slash genre, with only a few other series, like Ninja Gaiden and the older God of War games, coming close to comparing to the intense, high-speed action of Capcom’s demon slaying series. The stories for the DMC games, while never one of the strongest parts of the series, still had very interesting lore behind them with regards to main character Dante’s lineage and the history of his devil knight father, Sparda, and the characters and enemies always had a great badass quality to them. In short, I love this series.
Ever since Devil May Cry 4 released way back in 2008 and ended with a number of unanswered questions and loose ends, I waited for the release of a sequel that would hopefully provide us with some answers at long last, not to mention bring the series to a new level of awesomeness. Instead, Capcom decided to reboot the series (even though no one asked for such a thing) with DmC: Devil May Cry. I did not play this game (though I’m still willing to give it a try) because I wanted a proper sequel for Devil May Cry 4. Years went by, and no sequel came; a fate that has befallen a number of series I’ve followed since I first started my gaming journey. Then finally, a “mere” eleven years after Devil May Cry 4 released, Capcom answered the prayers of their fans and finally gave us Devil May Cry 5, the latest (and possibly last) game in this demon ass-kicking series.
You might be surprised to find out that a full five missions into this game, I wasn’t especially impressed with it. Having beaten the previous DMC games multiple times, I’ve become quite capable at playing this rather challenging series (though I avoid the hard modes, so I’m not THAT good either), and the first five missions in this game, while not outright bad by any means, were nothing all that exceptional. They were nothing that I hadn’t seen before in the older games. Fortunately, it wasn’t long afterwards that the proceedings were kicked into high gear and didn’t let up until the final mission. Devil May Cry 5 lets us play as three distinct main characters that we switch between at certain intervals throughout the campaign: Nero, new character V, and the main half-man/half-demon himself, Dante.
We start out with the more straightforward Nero, who is certainly more user-friendly for beginners given his simpler moveset. Controlling very much like how he did in DMC4, Nero attacks with his Red Queen sword, his Blue Rose revolver, and an assortment of cybernetic arms called Devil Breakers that have replaced his demonic Devil Bringer arm from the previous game, which ended up getting forcibly removed from him by an “unknown entity” in this game (though real fans of the series will know who it is without question). The Devil Breakers provide Nero with a plethora of different attacks to unleash upon his enemies. One lets Nero shoot his fist at enemies from a distance with a “rocket punch” attack, one lets him momentarily slow down enemies with a time warping ability, and one even has similar smashing abilities as his Devil Bringer. The Devil Breakers really add some variety to Nero’s collection of attacks with which he can kick major demon ass; however, there are a couple of downsides to using them. While you can choose which Devil Breakers Nero equips himself with and in what order they’re lined up in, you can’t freely switch between them. Instead, after you’ve used a Devil Breaker’s special ability (executed by holding down the assigned attack button), it will break apart, after which Nero automatically equips the next Devil Breaker in his magazine. The fact that Devil Breakers are destroyed after you’ve used their special abilities is a slightly annoying feature, if I’m perfectly honest, which is why being able to switch between Devil Breakers freely and equip the ones you want to use at any given moment to offset their fragility would have been a nice feature to have. I actually would have preferred the Devil Breakers to become temporarily inactive and have you wait through a cooldown period after using their special abilities rather than them just being completely destroyed.
New character V is the most unusual and interesting playable character in the game. He can’t attack enemies directly, but his demon underlings, Griffon, Shadow, and Nightmare, act as “extensions” of himself, in a manner, and let the player attack enemies from different angles and from a great distance. It’s rather easy though to get really focused on V’s buddies attacking enemies to the point where you might not notice a stray enemy moving in to attack V directly until it’s too late, which you definitely want to avoid. Playing as V is a more strategic affair compared to the more hack and slash approach the other two characters revolve around. Griffon, who uses an array of long-range lightning attacks, and Shadow, who uses all sorts of slicing and stabbing attacks, cannot be killed by enemies, but they can be incapacitated for a certain amount of time, and with them out of commission, V is basically defenseless and will have to focus on avoiding enemies, especially if he currently doesn’t have enough juice in his Devil Trigger gauge and is unable to summon the extremely powerful but slow Nightmare as backup. Also, while Griffon and Shadow are capable of dealing some serious damage to enemies, only V can finish enemies off by getting up close and personal and dispelling them with his staff. All these qualities combine to make V a rather fun character to control, though he does take some getting used to.
Then there’s Dante. As expected, Dante is awesome. He has by far the biggest collection of weapons and abilities of all the characters, ranging from his swords, fire gauntlets and greaves, a freakin’ demonic motorcycle that can double as dual buzzsaws, his Ebony and Ivory twin handguns, missile launchers, and other crazy shit that I’d rather not spoil. And let’s not forget Dante’s Devil Trigger ability and his four distinct Styles that return from the previous games (Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, and Royalguard). One could say that Dante has too many weapons and abilities, or at least it kind of feels that way since we spend half the game playing as other characters and don’t get as much time as we’d like getting used to Dante’s sizeable list of attacks. But damn, it is super fun and satisfying killing enemies with Dante. Without spoiling anything with specifics, Dante becomes a real powerhouse after the campaign’s halfway point, yet he doesn’t really become overpowered either since enemies can still kill him if you’re too careless, plus some super powerful enemies are introduced after that point to provide players with an extra challenge. Speaking of enemies, they’re as tough as you would expect them to be. Veterans of the Devil May Cry series likely won’t be challenged to an especially high degree with most of the regular enemies (at least in the normal difficulty), but it won’t be a cakewalk either. The bosses are also mostly rather tough but far from impossible, though there were a select few that gave me some real trouble. But this is Devil May Cry after all, so if you’re expecting to breeze through the enemies that challenge you, then you might be playing the wrong game.
One feature new to the Devil May Cry series that actually makes this game a bit more challenging is the complete removal of Vital Stars, Devil Stars, and Holy Water, which were used in the previous games to recover health, recover Devil Trigger power, and greatly damage surrounding enemies, respectively. The removal of Vital Stars is certainly more significant since it means that during battles, especially against bosses, you have to be extra careful and focus more on not getting hit too often; otherwise, you’ll find yourself looking at the continue screen before you know it. To help balance things out somewhat, green orbs for recovering health and white orbs for recovering Devil Trigger power are more readily available in the environments compared to how few of them there were to go around in the previous games, and defeated enemies tend to drop them more often in this game to boot. Plus, gold orbs for instantly reviving the characters are easier to come by (and you can even get them as login bonuses every once in a while).
As for Devil May Cry 5’s story, well, it’s standard DMC fare: a lot of flash with a few moments of genuine drama and humor thrown in there, and it manages to keep you entertained and interested between battles. Fans of the series will appreciate learning a bit more about Dante and Nero’s pasts, and there are some real surprises thrown in there towards the end. Personally, I still think more could have been done with the story since I was hoping for a more detailed exploration of Dante’s past, as well as more info on Sparda, but given how this game ends, I’m not entirely convinced the series is truly over. Maybe a DLC is in the works? Or perhaps we’ll get a sixth installment when the next generation of consoles comes around? Only time will tell.
The graphics are the best they’ve ever been in this series, with pretty much all the characters, both human and demon, looking photorealistic. The lighting in particular lends the game a dark and dilapidated atmosphere that still manages to make everything look good and vibrant, a stark contrast to the almost overly bright and shiny quality in DMC4, which looked more like a Final Fantasy game in many ways. As for the music, there are a number of catchy tunes ranging from techno to metal, but compared to the more memorable tracks in the previous games (especially DMC3), there are less in this game that truly stood out.
I must also touch upon one other brand new feature in this game that has never been included in this series before: microtransactions. If you so wish, you can buy gold and red orbs (used to buy new abilities and other orbs) with real currency, and probably blue and purple orbs for increasing overall health and Devil Trigger power, but I honestly don’t know for sure since I ignored the microtransactions completely. They’re not thrown in your face, and they are in no way necessary since you can earn all those orbs in-game very easily simply by killing enemies and playing missions. I see no need for these microtransactions to have been included at all, but they’re there, and fortunately they’re easily ignored.
One other new feature added into this game that could have been left out with no detrimental effects whatsoever is the co-op feature. Now, I use the term “co-op” in the loosest sense because, at least from what I can tell, you can’t actually battle demons side-by-side with other players. There are moments in certain missions where you’ll see one of the other playable characters fighting enemies off in the distance or in areas that are unreachable, and if you’re connected to the internet and specify the game’s settings to allow for other players to enter your gaming session, then other players could be in control of those other characters. For example, if you’re playing as Nero and then see V way off in the distance fighting enemies, then there’s a chance another player could be controlling V at that moment. If not, then the AI will control the other character you’re watching. Whatever. So yeah, much like the microtransactions, this “co-op” feature could have easily been left out of this game, but the fact it is in the game doesn’t hurt it either.
Is Devil May Cry 5 the game us fans of the series have been waiting for? Yes! There is some room for improvement, for sure, but for the most part, this game is a hell of a blast and shoots the kickass meter up to eleven and almost never lets up. It’s basically what fans of the series should expect from a current generation Devil May Cry game in terms of mechanics, presentation, challenge level, and fast-paced action. While I certainly wouldn’t mind another sequel at some point down the road, I can live with it if Devil May Cry 5 ends up being the last game in the series since it ends on a pretty good note…a DLC that provides a tad bit more closure (and action) would still be cool though.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 8th March 2019