Republished on Wednesday, 11th January, 2023: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of January 2023's PS Plus line up. The original text follows.
If you're the kind of player who spent hours upon hours coming up with absurdly cool combos in Devil May Cry 5, then this expanded re-release is for you. Likewise, if you're totally new to Capcom's bombastic action title, then this is the best version of an already exceptional game (you can read our original Devil May Cry 5 PS4 review here). In short, Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition is bloody brilliant.
Let's start with what's new. Vergil, Dante's katana-wielding twin brother, has been added as a fourth playable character, and he's yet another masterclass in terms of gameplay design. Vergil is ridiculously good fun, and quite possibly the most stylish fighter on the roster. He's got teleportation, lightning fast sword slashes, and a 'concentration' meter that fills up when you role-play as the supremely cocky bastard that Vergil is.
Casually strutting straight towards an enemy? That's some meter. Dodging an attack at the last possible second and then taunting your inept opponent? That's a lot of meter. However, you'll lose concentration if you start running about or swinging your weapons at nothing but air. It's a mechanic that encapsulates Vergil as a character. To get the absolute most out of him, you need to perform with all of the effortless flair and rage-inducing smugness that we've come to expect of the series' antagonist.
It's a shame that Vergil doesn't get his own story, though. If you opt to play as him, you'll slice and smash your way through the usual Devil May Cry 5 campaign, but with no cutscenes or narrative to string you along. It's not a huge issue since Vergil's gameplay is quite clearly the star of the show, but it still feels a bit cheap. Even just a couple of new cutscenes to help contextualise things would have made a real difference.
Fortunately, Special Edition comes equipped with a true game-changer: Legendary Dark Knight mode. A whole new difficulty level available right from the beginning, this mode tests your skills by throwing hordes of demons at you. Instead of fighting just a few foes in each area, you'll be met with a whole crowd of creatures. It's a brutal but brilliant addition, and while we wouldn't necessarily recommend it to newcomers, it provides the perfect reason to blast through the campaign all over again.
Impressively, even when you're surrounded by countless monsters and your screen's completely covered in all manner of visual effects, Special Edition barely drops a frame. Performance on PS5 is rock solid, and barring some slightly rough looking environments, the title still looks phenomenal overall. There are a few graphics options to play around with — including a 30 frames-per-second mode that maximises resolution and ray tracing — but we found ourselves sticking with a tried and true 60 frames-per-second, dynamic 4K setting.
Truth be told, the ray tracing in Special Edition isn't anything to write home about — and it's certainly not worth cutting the frame-rate in half for. There's also an option that allows for 120 frames-per-second if you have a display that supports it, but it's nowhere near locked, leading to noticeable drops when things get busy. The bottom line is that while it's nice to have all these options, Devil May Cry 5 is best played smooth and sharp.
But hey, what about those load times? In Special Edition, they're basically non-existent. The game still has load screens that feature written gameplay tips, but they're gone in seconds. Sometimes they don't even get that. Even entering The Void — a practice mode that can be accessed from the character customisation menu — takes but a moment. It all equates to a seamless experience, where you can immediately dive into the action whenever you're ready. Truly next-gen.
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition is the definitive version of an already outstanding action title. In terms of gameplay, we'd go as far to say that Vergil is one of the best designed characters that the genre has ever seen, and his inclusion alone is enough to have us grinning from ear to ear. Devil May Cry 5 is still an utter joy to play, and remains one of the greatest action games to ever grace PlayStation.