Devil May Cry is back, and revs up all of the things you love, and more!
This review might have taken quite a while to put together, but that’s because I’ve had such a hard time pulling myself away from Devil May Cry 5 to write this that I’m really spending the time writing this thinking about going back to it and working on my combos, working my rankings, wondering if I can actually beat the prologue boss… There’s so much about this game swirling in my head that I feel I could probably write this review in chunks for months and not say enough about it. While it may seem unorthodox, if you simply are on the fence and want to know if the game is worth your time, here’s my unequivocal answer: Yes, absolutely, go buy it right now or as soon as you can get your hot little hands on the game. With that said, if you’re still on the fence, or want to know why I’m so high on Devil May Cry 5, I’ll be happy to fill you in, so pull up a seat and get comfortable. Please note that this review does not contain spoilers, so there’s no need to worry about that!
When Devil May Cry 5 was first announced, I’ll be honest that I had some apprehension over it. It was so long ago that Devil May Cry 4 came out, and honestly let’s just not talk about DmC (A game that, I will say, had some good ideas about combat and nothing else), that I wondered if there was really anything good that could come of it. But Resident Evil 7's release in 2017 gave me pause. Capcom has done an amazing job revamping one of their other flagship series through the RE Engine, and Resident Evil 7 and the Resident Evil 2 remake were so fantastic that I started thinking about what could be possible (and, historically, these two series are indeed linked; Devil May Cry was what became of an early concept for Resident Evil 4). After playing through Resident Evil 2 recently (both for review and to get that delicious Platinum trophy), I started getting even more excited for Devil May Cry 5’s potential, and suffice to say I was not at all disappointed. Devil May Cry 5 feels like both a relaunch and a sequel, a remake of Devil May Cry 3 and 4 and yet also something entirely new. Whatever magic Capcom has concocted with the RE Engine games, I hope it continues!
The first thing that struck me as I played Devil May Cry 5 was the fact that I just wanted to keep playing. Getting an A (or, even worse, a B!) on a stage sent me into a frenzy to start it over again and get that S rank. I needed to get the best ranks possible, and there was no real reason to do so; I just wanted to keep playing the game and showing it that I was even better at it the second time around. Devil May Cry has always been about stylish combat and extreme combo chains, and Devil May Cry 5 keeps that in mind with all of the new tools at your disposal and crisp, slick combat controls. Even better, every character you play as is so unique that you’ll find yourself conflicted every time the game offers you the choice to select between Nero, V, and Dante, making the option to replay levels with different character choices even more enticing; after all, you really want to see how that boss stacks up against a totally different strategy, right? When the game isn’t putting you in combat arenas, you’re traveling through some frankly gorgeous levels solving puzzles and platforming to find the next secret mission, hidden blue or purple orb, or even just a cache of red orbs to help fund that next upgrade. Stages never feel drawn out, to the point that replaying the same one multiple times because you want a better score or simply just enjoy the level is easy to do, making this game an amazing time sink that you can easily get lost in.
The three heroes available to you are my favorite thing about this game, as the developers seem to have solved the multiple protagonist problem that tends to plague action games: how do you make multiple characters play different, but all be easy to use, learn, and master, while also keeping them equally interesting? I was at first totally expecting Dante to steal the show (and, really, he kind of does, but more on that in a bit), but I actually found myself playing one character, only to be itching to switch to another one and play them again. Nero is perhaps the most basic of the protagonists to play as, and the first one you’ll get to mix things up with. Nero’s kit involves his sword (which he can still rev like a motorcycle), guns, and the new mechanic, Devil Breakers. Nero’s original arm is missing, and beautiful, amazing, star of the show best character Nico (cough) has whipped up something for Nero to use: a selection of wild arms that allow him to grab enemies, slow time, pierce armor, or even ride around on it like a jet powered skateboard! Nero’s Devil Bringers add so much variety to his style of play that you can truly play Nero the way you like; if you want to focus on powerful blows and armor penetration, you can do it. If you want to use the Ragtime to slow down time around enemies for that perfect escape from a cluster of foes, or to help extend your combo, go for it!
My personal favorite is the Punch Line, which is the skateboard one; aside from using it to traverse levels, firing off the Punch Line sends it homing in on enemies to land a series of blows that can help take the heat off while you fight other enemies, or just boost your Style Meter during combos. No matter what, the Devil Breaker will become your new favorite toy in the game, grabbing enemies from almost any position and letting you lay the beatdown on them in style. It’s amazing to send enemies crashing to the ground with a combo ender, only to launch the Devil Breaker at them and snap them right back up into the air for you to do it all over again.
V, on the other hand, plays nothing like the other two characters, to the point that V may actually be the most interesting character in the game and the real breakout star. After all, Devil May Cry was always about getting yourself deep into the action and letting the combos fly, dodging at the last second for extra points and avoiding damage at all costs. V, however, doesn’t really do much on his own, forcing you to keep him away from enemies while his two demon familiars do all of the real work for you. V took some getting used to for me at first, but once the unique, distant style of play clicked, I found V to be one of my favorites in the game. Instead of having a melee and projectile weapon, V’s two familiars fill those roles, with one being assigned as your ‘ranged’ option and the other your ‘melee’ option, with a third one summonable through use of Devil Trigger to wreak havoc on the battlefield.
Having V walk around the battlefield nonchalantly reading poetry while using all 3 of his demons and then sauntering in to finish off the enemies was oddly some of the coolest moments in the entire game for me (and, oddly enough, I usually get Smoking Sexy Style ranks with V more often than anyone else). I was at first the most reluctant to play as V because of the fact that, as the new character, he didn’t have much of a series of mechanics to build off of like the other two did, but I was greatly surprised by how organic V felt, and how fun his style of play really is, not to speak about the fact that his characterization is probably one of the other highlights of the game, with his droll, super serious tone still meshing with Devil May Cry’s usual high-octane silliness.
Finally, both in the game and in this review, we arrive at Dante. Oh, Dante. I was actually totally surprised at how natural it felt to play as Dante after all this time! If you’ve played previous Devil May Cry games, especially 3 and 4, you’re likely going to feel like slipping into Dante is like putting on your favorite pair of jeans: comfortable, but still stylish. Dante is equipped with his four stances, Trickster, Gunslinger, Swordmaster, and Royal Guard, as well as a compliment of melee and ranged weapons (4 each by the end of the game). I almost worried that Dante would be the most boring to play as since he was the most similar to other incarnations, but then the game gave me a motorcycle that turns into 2 giant clubs and a cowboy hat that spends Red Orbs to make enemies drop more Red Orbs, and also makes them wear tiny little cowboy hats themselves.
And that doesn’t even begin to discuss how much fun the nunchuck/pole weapon is; honestly, Dante is probably the most fun character to play as in the entire game, because you’ll probably know exactly what to expect, while also being surprised as the new toys you’ll get to play with. I loved every second of the game I spent as Dante, and while I could probably say that for every character in the game, I really loved Dante, with all of the goofy, cheesy over the top action, one-liners, and other aspects of his character that I had just missed seeing for so long. It felt like an old friend suddenly showed back up and you picked up right where you two left off, even if you both look a bit more grey than you did before. Regardless of which character you play (and you will at some point play all of them anyway), each one controls great, and the game feels incredibly responsive to your inputs, making combat feel as slick as it needs to look on screen for Devil May Cry to really work at its best.
Slick might be the best way to describe the entire game; the graphics are amazing, characters look and sound great, and the music is that mix of cheesy metal and buttrock that you not only expect from Devil May Cry games, but demand; extending combos longer to hear more bars from Devil Trigger play is something I found myself doing every time, and I think you’ll likely feel the same way. The story is well presented as well, and longtime fans of Devil May Cry will enjoy the callbacks and connections to the previous games made throughout the story. If you’re new to the series, don’t worry; a small movie you can play upon launching the game briefly recaps all of the Devil May Cry games, as well as the anime, ensuring that you’re caught up for the main event of Devil May Cry 5. And then, of course, there’s Nico. Nico is the newest character in Devil May Cry 5 aside from V, and she is the inventor responsible for Nero’s new Devil Breakers (amongst other things). Nico’s connection to the rest of the cast is something best left unspoiled, but I will say a few more things about her: she’s absolutely the best new addition to the series, and possibly one of the reasons it succeeds as well as it does. Every time you get a chance to do mid-level upgrades, you summon Nico, who appears in increasingly over the top segments that left me howling after each one. Nico’s an absolute knockout addition to the series, and I hope that whatever comes next for Devil May Cry after 5 makes sure to include her in the game again. Where’s my Nico and her van DLC, Capcom?!
There are some other little additions that help round out Devil May Cry 5’s experience. You have some unlockable files and other goodies to view after completing missions and challenges, some of which add some additional lore to the background of the game. You’ve also got a unique take on Co-Op if you play the game online: in stages where multiple characters would be present, you may actually see a small indicator that says “Co-starring” and someone’s name, which means that you’re playing the stage at the same time as another person is as a different character, and you can get some little bonuses to your score if you get ranked ‘Stylish’ by your partner. It can be really fun if you happen to get a glimpse of what they’re doing, too; the first time I actually noticed it was a person and not a script, the feature kind of blew my mind!
After you beat the game, you’ll be treated to the usual styles of new experiences you might expect from Capcom games. Similar to Resident Evil, beating Devil May Cry 5 lets you gain access to some higher difficulty challenges, and like the previous games lets you keep your unlocks to make these challenges even more fun to experiment with. The devs have talked about the upcoming DLC seeing the return of the Crimson Palace challenge areas, meaning that as you work on perfecting your Devil May Cry skills in harder difficulties, you’ll probably be just in time to really push yourself to the limit with even more places to show off your stylish combat mastery! And, if the DLC schedule and support for Devil May Cry 5 is even half as good as Resident Evil 7 and the Resident Evil 2 remake, you can expect to see a lot of great additional content showing up for you to play around with.
As it is, if you get the premium upgrade (which is something I highly recommend), you’re in for some real treats, most especially being the music add ons and the live action cutscenes. Just, make sure you play the game through first before using the live action stuff! No matter what, if you love Devil May Cry or simply love stylish action combat games, you’ll find something to enjoy in Devil May Cry 5. So what are you waiting for? Go and get your hands on it, and if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Dante Must Die levels to master...
+ RE Engine on full display with amazing graphics, frame rate, and fluid combat.
+ Combat is fun and amazing, giving you that mix of crazy and controlled that you want out of a Devil May Cry game.
+ Newcomers V and Nico are amazing additions, and every character you play as feels wholly unique and amazing to play with.
+ Lots to do in the game as you hunt down secret missions, upgrades, stage rankings, and more; game will have you coming back for more every time.
+/- You might want to invest in some ice packs for your wrist; this game is going to test your ability to use every button on a controller and keep that action going!
Have you gotten your copy of Devil May Cry 5? Let us know what you think of the game in the comments!
Nicole is a features and a social video script writer for Crunchyroll. Known for punching dudes in Yakuza games on her Twitch channel while professing her love for Majima. She also has a blog, Figuratively Speaking. Follow her on Twitter: @ellyberries
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