Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Review Platform: PlayStation 4 Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Devil May Cry 5 continues the core franchise, ignoring the 2013 reboot and returning to the original running series. Devil May Cry faithful have been waiting over 11 years for a new entry in the original series, with Devil May Cry 4 releasing in January of 2008. After the recent reboot, Devil May Cry fans continued to wait, wondering if they will ever see the return of the Son of Sparda. Hopes and expectations for Devil May Cry 5 have been extremely high due to this wait, and I’m happy to say those hopes and expectations have not only been met, but far exceeded.
Devil May Cry 5 throws players right into the thick of things during the introduction, as players join Dante, Nero, Trish, Lady and mysterious new ally, V, in a battle against the lethal Urizen. Our heroes are swatted down like the proverbial fly without much effort from Urizen, setting the stage for the biggest threat the Devil May Cry series has ever seen. Urizen has capitalised on the absence of the gate blocking the demon world, and planted the tree known as Qliphoth, in the centre of Red Grave City. It is said those who eat the fruit produced from this demonic tree, will be turned into the king of the underworld. As the tree continues to grow, it literally begins to suck the blood out of the population and cause destruction throughout the city.
The story in Devil May Cry 5 is a true love letter to fans, and references many facets from the original four games. While this may seem a little daunting to newcomers, Devil May Cry 5 includes a brilliantly produced ‘History of Devil May Cry’ video that does a satisfying job of running through the key plot points from previous games. Devil May Cry veterans will certainly appreciate the story Devil May Cry 5 aims to tell, as it does a brilliant job of tying off loose ends from previous games.
One of the minor elements of Devil May Cry 5’s story that I particularly enjoyed, was the fact we finally see how humans react to a demon invasion. In Devil May Cry 3 there is a massive tower growing in the middle of the city, but there are no law enforcement trying to stop this unnatural occurrence. While only brief, Devil May Cry 5 showcases humanity fighting back, and it’s actually a minor facet of the narrative I found added a greater sense of tension to the stakes.
Devil May Cry 5’s narrative structure is set within a timeline of events, with some missions/cut scenes taking place prior to the battle with Urizen, and some even concurrently with other missions. It’s a fantastic and natural way to tell the story, which will keep players wanting to continue playing to get the answers they desperately need. Almost all the levels within Devil May Cry 5 are fun and engaging, but there are few during the third act that feel like extended combat sequences that simply exist to prolong the campaign rather than add interesting elements to the narrative.
Devil May Cry 5’s story is made even better due to the range of eccentric and interesting characters. Dante fans will be happy to know he’s still over the top, full of quips and has a few scenes that are particularly memorable. Nero returns from Devil May Cry 4 with his weapons expert/friend Nico, and this particular relationship make for some fantastic dialogue throughout the story. They have a carefree and happy partnership, and the writing and voice acting is done well to truly showcase this relationship. While some of the dialogue in Devil May Cry 5 is purposefully cringe, a majority of the dialogue throughout the story has a lot of emotional weight. The cast of voice actors have an incredible chemistry, no dialogue ever feels forced, and it truly delivers the feeling of an extended family dynamic.
Devil May Cry 5 allows players to control Dante, Nero, and the newcomer V, at different points in the story. Devil May Cry 5 successfully creates a unique playstyle for each character, but never switches your playable character too frequently to make memorising combos confusing. Dante plays mostly the same as previous Devil May Cry games, with his four fighting styles available to be switched on the fly. Nero essentially plays as he did in Devil May Cry 4, but now uses his Devil Breaker arm to bring enemies closer during combat, which is always a fantastic way to keep your combos flowing throughout battle. Nero’s new Devil Breaker arm can come in many different forms and each has a different special ability, which can be selected before each level.
V on the other hand, plays completely differently to what fans of the franchise have come to expect. V isn’t a physically strong individual, but instead controls three demons that do the fighting for him. Due to V’s frailness in battle, players must juggle dealing damage with his demon counterparts while also ensuring V can manoeuvre out of harm’s way. Only V can deal the final blow to enemies, meaning you must stay close enough to the action to kill your foes, whilst still avoiding damage. Playing as V is a tactical ballet and it makes for an exciting new playstyle for players, one I particularly found enjoyable and challenging.
Whether playing as Dante, Nero or V, Devil May Cry 5 is super sleek and responsive. Character animations look fantastic, and no matter how many enemies were on screen, Devil May Cry 5 never stuttered. During my time throughout Devil May Cry 5 I never encountered any technical stutter or glitch that hindered that experience. This buttery smooth gameplay is needed, especially during boss encounters and high difficulty levels where enemies become more aggressive. Those struggling to memorise combos can always enable Auto Assist which will help pull off powerful abilities with simple button inputs, or visit The Void to practice with a range of options.
Boss encounters in Devil May Cry 5 are where the true test of your skill occurs. Each boss battle features some truly grotesque and creative enemies, and each will deliver new abilities as you continue to whittle away their health bar. Some enemies will rain massive blasts from the sky, while others will rush you with fierce intent, constantly testing your skills to pull off precision dodging and counter attacks.
While Devil May Cry 5’s camera mostly keeps up with the chaotic action, there were times during close quarter’s combat that it struggled to consistently produce a great view of the action. There are a numbers of battles that take place in tight corridors, which is where the camera usually struggled.
Devil May Cry 5 does offer more help than previous games, with Gold Orbs (used to revive the player) appearing more frequently, and the ability to use some of your Red Orbs (currency) to revive yourself with a fraction of your health. These methods are welcome changes to those who found previous games overwhelmingly difficult, but Devil May Cry purists can simply ignore using these changes if they wish.
Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t focus on backtracking like previous Devil May Cry games; instead levels are built similar to the Uncharted series. The levels are mostly linear in nature, but do have a few branching paths and hidden areas to find if you go looking. Exploring levels also doesn’t feel like a hindrance unlike previous games, as the time you take to complete each level is not counted towards your final Style Ranking. Level exploration in Devil May Cry 5 is made more accessible due to a Dead Space style mission marker feature, where players can hold down the left analog stick to focus on where you need to go next to progress the mission. This allows for players to explore in opposite locations to hunt down hidden items, as well as Secret Missions.
Devil May Cry 5 is a simply gorgeous game, which takes the Devil May Cry series to new visual heights. The facial features of each character during gameplay and cut scenes are phenomenal, and really emphasise the emotional impact of events when they occur. Devil May Cry 5 also has some of the most realistic hair I have seen, with each strand moving naturally and looking insanely realistic. The same beauty carries over to the lighting system that makes some of the earlier outdoor levels look incredible. Seeing beams of light shining through a window to showcase dust and mist swirling around in the air is gorgeous, and really adds to the level of immersion. Even the Devil May Cry demon designs have never looked this grossly beautiful, from scaly skinned demons, to Silent Hill-esque scissor wielding enemies; Devil May Cry 5 adds a gruesome visual benchmark to the series.
Devil May Cry 5’s biggest visual flaw comes from the repetitive and bland environmental locations, which all tend to blend into one another. The earlier levels showcase outdoor locations, but a massive slice of the game has players experiencing underworld locales that don’t differentiate from one another. While the 2013 reboot of Devil May Cry produced some of the best level design the series has seen, Devil May Cry 5 drops the ball in this aspect.
Battles are where the visual brilliance of Devil May Cry 5 is showcased. This is especially present during battles with V, as his demonic partners will form and dematerialise during battles. The particle effects, explosions and symbiote-esque demonic visuals create an amazing display. The fact Devil May Cry 5 can deliver such a smooth gameplay system, while so much concurrent brutality is taking place, is a true testament to the final product.
As previously mentioned all three playable characters play differently, but that unique style also carries over to the music played during each characters combat. Dante is accompanied by the typical heavy metal influence of previous games, V has a screamo-esque battle track, but my favourite piece of music is Nero’s battle theme. This is the headline track from Devil May Cry 5 and is first showcased during one of the initial cut scenes. The song is an electronic dance track that I have been humming ever since I started my Devil May Cry 5 journey, and will be continuing to do so for weeks to come.
Devil May Cry 5 also features an online system called Cameo, which is essentially Ghost online mode to compare your score. This mode doesn’t ruin the experience, but it doesn’t really add anything to the game either.
Aside from the main campaign, players can also visit the Extras area for a jukebox feature, and to read up on characters, weapons, items and enemies encountered throughout the Devil May Cry 5 story. There are also some additional reading materials, which do include pieces of backstory for those interested enough to read them.
As a veteran fan of the series, I consider Devil May Cry 5 to now be the pinnacle of the franchise. It is a true love letter to Devil May Cry that does an incredible job of incorporating stories from previous games, into a truly epic narrative that kept me invested throughout the 15 hour adventure. Combat is incredibly fluid and enjoyable, with amazing visuals and a kickass soundtrack to back it all up.
While Devil May Cry 5 may struggle at offering memorable locations, and a few missions feel like they’ve been added simply to increase the length of play time, Devil May Cry 5 does expand the series is a number of ways that fans and newcomers alike will appreciate.
Was the wait for Devil May Cry 5 truly worth it? It most certainly was, and Devil May Cry 5 is an absolute Jackpot!
The Score: 9.5
PlayStation 4 review disc was provided by publisher.