…or Dante Might Curse…

Whilst my soul is as hollow as the contents of the minds of the entire Geordie Shore cast combined, it’s surprising that I can feel even deader inside. The uproar made when a new Dante walked onto the scene to drag a reboot into masses of red mist powered fans has been the games’ most powerful marketing march for the past year, but the fact that I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about made me feel even more hollow. I found the previous iterations gothic settings a little bit draining, I didn’t get along with any characters and disconnecting myself with the former series made me feel like I had the soul drained from me by Dante himself. So, I enter the 2013 reboot DmC: Devil May Cry as an impartial observer…although after 5 minutes with Dante I feel like more of a social care worker.

With the reboot button firmly held down, Dante is leaping on the faces of fans edgy buzzcut in tow in a bid to massacre as many demons as he possibly can. Drawn into a life of drunken debauchery, he’s suddenly given purpose through the meeting of his brother Vergil. Lifting the veil from Dante’s eyes to reveal a world run by demons and evil like some sort of combination of The Matrix and bloody pus, Vergil and his booty call Kat convince him to join their tiny ragtag group of freedom fighters to not only rid the city of underworld assailants, but learn more of Dante’s bastardised origins that would make even Jeremy Kyle squirm…and perhaps figure out why he’s grown into such a tit.

It’s a story that seems to attempt a break in some form of social commentary at points, and the heaven and hell mash-up feels like something we’ve all heard before. Considering in such circumstances characters can usually become a games’ saving grace DmC has already burned a few bridges on that front. Dante Noire has a habit of stumbling on each and every cliché convention whenever one shows its head. He inexplicably falls in love, swears so much in a bid to look tough that he would annoy freedom of speech activists and has a very quick change of heart, bouncing from ‘I don’t give a f*** about anything’ to ‘I must act the honourable hero’ once the prospect of romance is on the cards. On the whole, you won’t be hooked to the story as much as you will the combat, and considering Ninja Theory have graced references to the past series with the same tact as a middle finger painted onto a lighthouse, those who were angered by the reboot from the start won’t appreciate such gestures.

Cutscene skip buttons in check, those who are in it for the sheer deadly grace will find pleasant reassurance. While the game may run on a slightly controversial 30 FPS, each illustrious combo can be easily sewn together marvellously. Thankfully Dante’s bite makes up for his bark, proving to demonic masses just how vicious he can be when he shuts up and focuses. Combos are simple to remember, and each can be built upon easily through a series of button mashing and lenient timing. It’s weird how with such a basic set-up the combat doesn’t grate, and is always satisfying when cutting through hoards…much more so than the 50 foot bosses.

Enter the game as a hack and slash beginner and you needn’t be worried. Tutorial messages guide you with each new enemy you meet whilst never feel like they’re intruding and each weapon you attain. You won’t have to remember copious amounts of information and mash buttons severely panicked as each assailant has vulnerabilities that can be exploited through each weapon you have. Once you get over the basics and slaughter the 10 hour campaign, DmC cheekily slides in another difficulty…and another…and another. To the point where the game chucks you an insane one hit kill difficulty. On top of that there are collectables to gather, secret missions to undertake and of course, grades to nap to prove you’re Dante’s greatest pet. If you’re willing to give as good as you can get, DmC is very keen to see it.

The same stylish flair in combat is retained with a slightly grittier edge Whilst melee based combat feels smooth, things can become overly complex through some odd controller focus. Your fingers WILL become a spaghetti junction at times through the controller layout and sometimes it feels like this could have been solved through some more intuitive design. Players must hold down alternating trigger buttons to switch through angelic and demonic weapons and at the same time must use the D-pad to alternate such weapons as well as firearms, all the while committing to combat in the process. It can become something of a muddle should you be trying to make your combos more complex. Dante appears to have pissed of Link in the process of creation as well, with no lock-on capabilities at times where you need it most, forcing Dante to accidentally hit the wrong enemies with firearms and link-chains when he should really be intercepting an attack that could end him. The optimistic would say this is a way of forcing you to earn your grades. The rest will say this is a system that has not been entirely thought through, and in such an instance less really is more.

Devil May Cry’s gothic renditions are still apparent through most of the city’s architecture, and can even extend into some of the most absurd imagery I have seen in a video game. If that doesn’t sit well with you then you need not worry…things don’t stay pleasant for long. The environment soon becomes a living, breathing thing, occasionally spreading black infections with each step Dante takes (potential STD’s out of question), and should otherworldly forces catch the adolescent demon hunter, buildings and ceilings suddenly close in on him in spectacularly destructive fashion. It’s a shame these rarely factor into gameplay, becoming more spectacle than challenge. Nevertheless, it looks awesome, and although these graphical qualities don’t quite extend as well to the characters, Dante will be moving too fast for you to even notice.

Dante’s attitude does seep into gameplay at times, namely through music. The game can’t quite decide whether it wants to use a preliminary metal soundtrack or revel in the occasional dubstep track. Oddly, this is one of the few times I’ve sided with wubbing wibbly wobbly woos in comparison to the stark heavy metal tracks that can accompany murder. The dubstep wurrings fit each fight pretty much perfectly, whilst each rock offering has a habit of trying to drag such aesthetics into more generic fare.

Can I stand by all of DmC’s aesthetic decisions? No. Can I endorse this as a sparkling new take on the genre? No. If you enter this game with anything less that contempt, you will leave frothing at the mouth. However, if you’re looking for severed demon limbs a plenty in a dance of blades and bullets you certainly won’t be disappointed. Delve into DmC asking for a challenge and it will respond with a bitchslap right to the face with a hand filled with what you asked for. Whilst the characters make the original funny and slightly cheesy iterations look graceful, the same stylish flair in combat is retained with a slightly grittier edge. And if you can’t get past the immaturity to unearth a rather enjoyable slaughterfest…well I’m sure Dante will have something to say/swivel on.

The Good: Fun and ferocious combat, TONS of difficulties to battle through, Environments come alive to present some really stark evolutions in the franchiseThe Bad: Tame storyline and poor narrative (90% of which is swearing), Control scheme really isn’t intuitive, Some ambitious ideas aren’t implemented in gameplay

Gameplay: Gameplay - 8 out of 10 8
Graphics:   Graphics - 7 out of 10 7
Sound:      Sound - 7 out of 10 7
Overall:     Overall - 7 out of 10 7

Bronze Y Award

Bronze Y Award