DmC: Devil May Cry Review (PC)

The re-envisioned demon slayer Dante is in for one hell of a ride. Not only has he got an army of fans that have been with Capcom’s Devil may Cry franchise since the beginning who’re fanatically devoted to his white mop of hair, not only has he found himself in the hands of a western developer, but he’s also had his whole world rewind, and just because he’s a glutton for punishment, he’s also being thrown in the pit of PC gaming.

The franchise has long established certain events in its lore, but Ninja Theory isn’t carrying on that torch. Instead they’ve decided, with Capcom’s backing, that Dante and his world needed something radical to keep him going. What could be more radical that hitting the huge reset button and declaring an ‘origin story’?

Savage scores demand savage timing with a dash of savage thinking.

There’s no doubt that Western influence is driving every facet of DmC: Devil May Cry, ditching the more traditional aspects of the Japanese high-chain-scoring action brawler. It’s here that the problem lies for many of the fans who’ve grown up loving the B-movie style of Dante and all the crazy demonic exposition that goes on. Ninja Theory has taken a more grounded approach, which in itself is a tricky balancing act, and provides a lot more coherent substance to the world.

The stage is set with the world ‘asleep’ to the true nature of what’s going on with sloth, ignorance, gluttony, desire and many other faults being exploited by the Demon King Mundus, who has effectively turned the mortal world into a factory line of souls to be damned. It’s also ripe with little digs at modern society and pop culture references – are we asleep too? Nah, we’re probably fine.

It’s through this process of rebooting the lore that Ninja Theory can introduce their own take on Dante and his arsenal of weapons. His iconic guns Ebony and Ivory are kept, while the studio introduces their combo-heavy approach to melee through the sword Redemption. Eventually as Dante’s past is uncovered in the opening levels, more weapons that are either angelic or demonic are added. These also serve as tools to fully explore those earlier levels unlocking more stuff and not just to help break heavier demon defences or crowd control.

As this is Devil May Cry combos in combat are everything for not only dishing our an awful lot of damage to demons, and keeping yourself out of harm’s way, but also to build that addictive little score counter in the top right corner. String together attacks and then mix them up by swapping weapons or taking the action airborne and your multipliers explode – but getting hit ruins your rating.

There are a number of challenge rooms to be discovered and unlocked.

It’s here that the problem lies for PC as the keyboard and mouse, while completely supported, are vastly inadequate to ever really let you master those combos and crazy high combat scores. All action was designed for console controllers and given the breadth of weapons to flick between and the actual crazy combos needed to execute moves, playing without a controller will be far less satisfying and likely the result of many deaths when things get crowded. You better believe things get crowded with enemy compositions becoming ever more varied later on.

The actual combos are quite difficult at times to pull off although a training room lets you test all of them against an immortal demon. Most moves have to be unlocked by earning points to spend, which can be reallocated so your choices aren’t permanent. You also buy items that can be used during the levels with the most common most likely the small green stars for returning life to Dante. There are also stars to build up his special demon rage ability that flings enemies up into the air, making the extremely vulnerable to all aerial attacks. Careful though as these items cost a form of in-game currency and also count against you at the end when the score is tallied.

Level design is beautifully chaotic as Ninja Theory tears up those everyday environments and splinters them into twisted mockeries which the player eventually must traverse using two very important abilities. The first is demonic and lets you pull an enemy toward you, but also rips objects from their resting place to create ledges and platforms. The second is angelic which pulls Dante towards an enemy or specially marked target. Again a controller is extremely more comfortable as some areas demand a chain of swapping between.

The great news is that there is a lot less travelling backwards and forwards in DmC, as opposed to other Devil May Cry entries. It’s all about pushing forwards but that can mean levels are just a few minutes long. Some are outrageously fun, such as when Dante must enter the dance club lair of Lilith. As the whole place is dragged into Limbo it gives way to a neon lit fight club with the very environment pulsing to the beat of the music.

Advanced Tip! Use a dirty, shameful console controller to enjoy.

The PC version does succeed to visually tantalise providing you’ve got the power in your desktop rig. There are a good number of settings which affect textures, shadows, effects like anti-aliasing etc. The console DmC is limited to 30 frames per second, but the PC has no such restriction and can quite comfortably pump out a silky smooth 60 FPS. Unfortunately there isn’t exactly a huge leap between Xbox 360 and PS3 to PC, with some texture loading evident now and then, but overall when cranked up to the highest settings accompanied by the higher frame rate – the PC delivers superior quality hands down.

Overall if you’ve got the rig and a game controller plugged in then DmC: Devil May Cry is great start to a new direction for the series, and hopefully one that will get to keep exploring this new, grittier Dante.

Top Game Moment: Seriously I loved Lilith’s night club. It’s these really wacky, zany levels that prove Ninja Theory were enjoying their work and took no prisoners. More neon death traps boys!

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By danfreeman (SI Elite) on Jan 29, 2013
Here`s my advanced tip,there is NO need for a controller at all,the pc controls are perfect and that savage score thing? I got a SSS score ONCE in DMC 4,only once,in this game i can get that without even trying,i`m almost done with the game and from what i`ve seen this is very much a watered down version of previous games.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jan 30, 2013
"DMC" was supposed to be a new "RE" title when first developed, but it was so different it ended up with it's own release. Interesting fact, but...ahem.
Mass appealing to Western audiences may work with this "re-invention" but I can't see it furthering the franchise beyond that. It's just getting too close to "RE" again.
I'll give it a go when the price is right, as a good hack'n'slash can be fun in the short term. I just can't see the hardcore "DMC" crowd being too enamoured with this one.
By danfreeman (SI Elite) on Jan 30, 2013
Trust me,any hardcore DMC fan was disappointed by this,the difficulty bar isn`t set lower as much as it`s hamerred six feet under and the game`s difficulty was always a selling point.I finished it and won`t be coming back to this until the Vergil DLC arrives,after that i am done with this game forever.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jan 30, 2013
On that resoundingly positive note I think I shall pass. Too many games, too little time to waste on forgettable titles.
Now, back to "Dragon Age 2"......
By Jasca_Ducato (SI Core) on Feb 03, 2013
I am looking forward to playing Lilith's lair on the PC; that will look fresh.

Also, as a side note, Dante's sword is called 'Rebellion', not "Redemption".