Wherever you stand on DmC: Devil May Cry, the fact is that Ninja Theory didn’t deliver the game that fans wanted. By rebooting the series and changing a certain character’s hair colour, the Cambridge developer lost most ardent fans overnight; the combat, despite being especially good in the remastered Definitive Edition, wasn’t quite ‘Capcom Good’ – and so it was always going to require the return of famed director Hideaki Itsuno to get things back on track.
Well, here he is promoting Devil May Cry 5, and fortunately we can confirm that the long-awaited sequel is spot on. We got to test out a stage set in a loosely London-inspired environment, complete with double-decker buses, red phone boxes, and lots of demons. We got to play as a slightly older Nero than the one found in Devil May Cry 4, who’s still as witty as ever before. The script is cringey, but in a good way – it doesn’t take itself too seriously at all.
The character models, we have to say, are exceptional – both artistically and from a technical standpoint. The freckled Nico is a particular highlight, and between this and Resident Evil 2, you really get the feeling that Capcom is at the very top of its game right now. Running on the excellent RE Engine, each scene packs a ton of detail, but it runs at a blistering 60 frames-per-second, and we didn’t encounter any hiccups during our hands on.
What of the gameplay, though? Well, it is familiar, we have to say. You have a button assigned to your jump, sword, weapon, and arm (more on that later), and staggering inputs allows you to create combos. One neat trick is that when you work your way up from a lowly combo to an S-Rank one, the game dynamically layers in parts of its Cock Rock™ soundtrack, so you feel the intensity build as your performance improves on the screen.
There are two big shake-ups to the gameplay as far as we could detect: the camera is much closer than in past games, following Nero from behind like a more modern character action game rather than relying on fixed angles – and the Devil Breaker is a new system built around the protagonist’s arm. There’s a greater narrative device around the Devil Bringer which results in the hero being amputated, but he’s able to pick up robotic arms to put in its place.
These are scattered around the rundown environments, and you can toggle between different types to perform unique techniques. One that we jotted down in our notepad is the Overture, which essentially fires out an electric blast. Now you can do a few different things with each Devil Breaker: you can use it as part of combos, you can charge it up for a devastating blast, or you can effectively detonate it entirely as a kind of “panic button” attack.
Each of these Devil Breakers come in limited supplies, so you’re going to have to search the battlefield for more – or make do if you run out. You always have access to a grappling hook, which you can use to pull in smaller enemies and zip towards larger foes, but it’ll be interesting to see how generous Capcom is with spare arm parts; there were a lot in the demo, but of course that could have been just to show the mechanic off effectively.
As part of the demo we got to fight a boss, which fell into the usual pattern-based format you’d expect of a game like this. Dodging his fireballs and getting in close to hit his weak spot was entertaining, but it was hard to get a grasp on the difficulty as clearly Capcom had enabled easy mode for the demo in order to make things a little more accessible; we offed the enormous foe quite comfortably, so we’d be interested to see how more challenging tiers will change the experience.
Overall, though, this seems like the Devil May Cry sequel that everyone wanted. We’re big fans of the visuals, particularly the character models – but it’s the slick gameplay that’s going to keep you hooked, and it seems to be on par with past internally developed entries. We’d need to play more to get a greater mastery of the Devil Breaker, and we’d also like to get a feel for how higher difficulties will be tuned – but with all that said, this is so far so good as far as we’re concerned.
Are you a long-time Devil May Cry fan? Is this the sequel you’ve been waiting for? What were your thoughts on DmC: Devil May Cry? Fire an exploding fist into the comments section below.