With definitive editions aside, it’s been a good while since we last saw a new Devil May Cry game hitting consoles. Whilst Ninja Theory’s DmC released to a fairly warm reception among the critics, fan reception, quite understandably, was a mixed bag. DmC had style, but it wasn’t quite the style that the series’ dedicated followers were seeking. Now however, at long last, Capcom’s bringing back the devil you know. Has the fifth mainline entry been worth the rather lengthy wait? Well, I’ll not waste any time here, Devil May Cry 5 is epic.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect is that the core team, including director Hideaku Itsuno, have all reunited to hit the proverbial nail on the head. Running in Capcom’s propriety RE Engine, the game manages to achieve technical greatness across the entire board; from its stunning visuals and its stellar character models, right up to its exceptional lighting and its jaw dropping environmental effects. Make no mistake about it, Devil May Cry has never looked so good. It helps that at the center of all this, rests an engaging and captivating plot.
Following Devil May Cry 4, it’s been a number of years since the legions of hell have invaded the planet. Though, much to be expected, shit always hits the fan eventually. The stirring of a new demonic invasion throws Dante, Nero, and V – a mysterious new character, straight into the fray. The root of this evil is that of the demon king known as Urizen. Urizen is a powerful foe that’s using Red Grave City as a human blood bag to feed the Qliphoth tree, and in doing so, plans to consume its blood-filled fruit and become ruler of the underworld.
The game’s setup is certainly an eye opener, and wastes no time at showing you just how weak the leading characters are against Urizen’s brute force. I don’t really want to spoil much of the story outside of that, because in truth, this is something you simply need to witness firsthand, and, well, you’ve waited long enough for it. Why spoil it now? What I will say is that the plot is through the roof. Devil May Cry 5 instills that iconic over-the-top vibe exceptionally well, with story beats that, although predictable, never fail to satisfy overall.
It helps, of course, that the story is upheld by a stellar cast of characters, all of which are tremendously voiced. Both Dante and Nero need no introduction; their personalities and traits falling very much inline with what we’ve come to love. V, on the other hand, is a newcomer, and he fits into this trio like peas in a pod. Unlike his demon hunter counterparts, V is too frail and weak to fight. Instead, he utilizes the strength of three demonic beings that do his bidding for him, that is, before V delivers the finishing blow.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t sold on the idea at first. It seemed a bit stupid to have this cane-reliant protagonist running around the fields of play whilst his demon buddies kicked demon ass. That said, once I began unlocking and earning new skills, V did gradually become a very likable character as far as his handling is concerned. I’ll say the same about his personality and outlook. V’s a very poetic, calm, and well spoken individual, one that’s shrouded in mystery. He seems out of place next to Dante and Nero, but soon finds a way to your heart.
Collectively, these characters bounce off one another, but it’s V that tends to deliver distinction. This is largely due to the fact that he speaks in riddles, and never really relays his motivations until later on. Furthermore, due to his conditions, he’s never afraid to throw in the towel when the going gets too tough. He’s still a force not to be taken lightly, mind, but it’s his demeanor that remains the most entrancing throughout play. This rather unique character mashup also allows for a fair amount of humor to flow through the experience.
Several times I found myself laughing hysterically at something, simply due to the way that these demon hunters interact with one another throughout the campaign. It’s a dynamic that rarely gets old. With the game’s setup and its vehicular character out of the way, let’s get to the nitty gritty. Devil May Cry 5 is absolutely faithful to its concept’s roots. The game functions in pretty much the same way as the series ever has. Dante, Nero, and V offer unique ways to play, each housing their own stylish combat systems and a suite of unlocks to bolster diversity.
The crux of play sees you moving through a range of varied and quite lengthy levels, laying waste to the hordes of demons that are regularly introduced. The controls across all characters remain almost identical to one another, with a few exceptions depending on who you’re handling; Nero and his arm, V and his beasts, and so forth. Depth is found through how you utilize the many commands and combos that you can work to unlocking. Starting out, you only have but a few tricks up your sleeve, but that all changes later on in the game.
Devil May Cry 5 is quite lenient when it comes to the amount of red orbs that you can earn. They’re dished out for defeating enemies, found in hidden locations, and rewarded for missions that are completed with high rank. You’ll take these red orbs and spend them on a suite of upgrades over in the customization screen. Here, you can learn new skills and obtain new items for all characters, as well as new Devil Breaker’s for Nero. Each character enjoys their own individual skill sets and weapons, lending the game a respectable degree of combat variation.
The rank you earn from each mission is dependent on your performance; how stylish you are during combat – which is determined by the length and variation of your combos, how many red orbs you have accumulated, and more. You’re free to replay missions should you want to master your rank on each level. Secret missions also make a return. When you move through the game’s levels, you’ll occasionally come across a glyph that you’ll need to align through screen manipulation. Once you’ve rightly aligned a glyph, you’ll have the ability to dive on in.
Secret missions can be very hard to spot, so it pays off to observe your surroundings and seek out hidden areas; to which there are many, many secret areas to uncover, deviously tucked away. These unique missions offer very particular challenges that will amply reward you for the time and effort put in. Naturally, the challenge across the entirety of play will scale based on your selected difficulty. The game offers a range of difficulties to select from, but these can indeed be changed at any given time. There’s also an auto-assist tool that makes the whole ordeal more accessible for newcomers.
Turning this on allows you to perfect advanced combos with simple commands, rather than relying on memorization of the game’s attack chains. That being said, various skills will also trigger automatically, making for a very fluid affair. There’s an in-depth tutorial system to check out too should you feel a bit out of your depth. General rule of thumb? Take the time to soak up the unique styles that each character brings to the fields of play, and weigh that up with the several enemies that make an appearance. Do that, folks, and you’ll be just fine.
In the event you get a bit stuck, and believe me, that can happen quite easily, the game gives you some aid to lean on. Pressing and holding the left stick will tell you where your next point of the objective is at, allowing you to get back on track in no time at all. It’s clearly one of the most accessible Devil May Cry games out of the lot, and to its credit, it never feels like it’s alienating you. By and large, it’s a game for newbies and veterans alike. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a talented player, but even I’ve pulled off some remarkable feats.
During combat, as alluded to above, you’ll be actively ranked based on your style. This starts at D, and works through to SSS. Successful chains will see you increasing your rank, however, if you take a hit, you’ll be penalized for it. It works the same as ever, really, which isn’t a bad thing. The same can be said about your health. There’s a vitality gauge to the corner of the screen. This will gradually decrease as you take damage, and if it completely depletes and you find that you lack the red orbs needed to revive yourself, it’s game over.
The game’s campaign, for the most part, will have you taking on the role of a specific character per-mission. Red orbs that you earn do indeed carry over from character to character, allowing you to focus your customization however you see fit. Levels play out as they always have done in any given Devil May Cry game. You’ll have your starting point, and will need to kick ass up until you get to level’s end in truly gratifying hack-and-slash style. New enemies are fed to you religiously, and oftentimes you’ll be met with a seal as a result.
These seals gate further progress, and will only fall down once all enemies are dead. You’ll have the ability to access the customization suite from time to time during levels, which can be achieved through interacting with a divinity statue, or by calling in Nico (Nero’s handy weapon artist) via using a stationary telephone. The game’s controls are very easy to adapt to, with a full overlay for each character presented over in the pause menu. It’s business as usual here; providing a combination of melee attacks, shooting, jumping, and dodging.
Combat is constantly fast-paced, very refined, and ultimately satisfying. There’s a lot of variation to be found in the way that each character handles too. Dante is, and always has been, your upfront fighter. Nero follows closely behind. V, however, is the most distinct out of the bunch. He’ll rely on his minions to do his bidding for him, and will only jump in to deliver a final blow when his enemies are on their last legs. It’s a bit jarring at first, but stick with it, because it does open up into being a very exciting and unique way to play the game.
You’ll use his fellow Shadow companion and his Griffon to unleash a bevy of attacks whilst you carefully keep V out of harms way, before tapping B to deliver the killing blow. There’s some tactics to be mindful of depending on which enemy you’re facing, but as you soon unlock skills for V to rely upon, it becomes much more focused. Each character, as stated, enjoys a deep pool of attacks, traits, and special abilities, which once correctly and skillfully utilized and combined, makes for some truly devastating and memorable moments.
The iconic combat system that the series is known for is as dominant as ever, and it always feels rewarding. Tossing your opposition into the air with a well timed sword slice, keeping them there with your gunfire, and then unleashing carnage on them with a barrage of attacks, never gets old. I particularly enjoyed using Nero’s Devil Breaker throughout. Depending on which arm you have equipped (there’s a heap of them to unlock, buy, and pick up during play) Nero will dish out a range of distinct attacks that are, although outlandish, constantly invigorating.
Dante gets a special mention too. His tools of destruction are as plentiful and as ridiculous as ever before, in a good way. Ebony and Ivory make a return, and although weak on their own, do well at keeping foes juggled. Perhaps the Cavaliere is the most standout weapon; a chainsaw bike that can bring even the bulkiest of foes to their knees at the drop of a hat. There’s much more besides, and a plethora of cool additions that you can unlock for each to achieve true carnage. That’s not to mention the varied fighting styles that Dante can utilize through D-Pad functionality.
There’s no shortage of interesting ways that you can overcome your opposition per-character, typically by serving up a dizzying amount of varied combos, and this only bulks up as you dive deeper in. Despite being wide open in this department, the game’s difficulty remains consistent and comes with a fair but gradually climbing curve. Even on its easiest setting, I found that whenever I got too comfortable, the game had a tendency of putting me in my place and forced me to constantly consider my strategies and the move-sets that I had at my disposal. Don’t ever let it make you feel too cozy, because more often than not, it’s a false sense of security.
If I’ve not already made it clear, the combat here is plentiful, robust, and on point, right across the board. You’re given a shed load of tools per-character, and then given the freedom to use said tools however you like. It’s a good thing then, that the feedback is precise. The game responds to your every prompt magnificently, never at all delaying the execution of your commands. What ensues is a hack-and-slash game that very rarely feels tired, despite the bucket-load of energy that’s present throughout each and every passing second within.
The game’s pool of enemies largely borrow from previous games, but there’s some brand spanking new additions that will have you shitting yourself at the drop of a hat. Enemies tend to house their own movement and attack patterns, and come with their own weaknesses and strengths. Because of this, each encounter feels fresh, especially when the game starts throwing everything at you at once. It’s a case of knowing your enemy, and knowing where to apply pressure. That’s what will ultimately lead you to success.
When you’re not hacking and slashing your way to these bosses, you’ll be taking in the gorgeously designed surroundings that each level encompasses. Naturally, there’s some light puzzle elements to be mindful of throughout, as well as a bit of traditional platforming from time to time too. Whether that be seeking out Nidhogg Hatchlings to clear a path elsewhere, or hopping across tight and narrow structures to reach new heights, there’s always some varied play to soak up, ensuring that repetition is firmly kept at bay.
I can say the same about the game’s boss encounters. These screen-filling battles are easily one of the game’s high points, and all bosses mean business. It takes some time and perseverance to understand how to bring them down with ease, but even so, they’ll never make things simple for you, and make a habit of making you work strenuously for your hard earned victory. Most of these towering encounters are usually situated at the end of a level, with each level lasting roughly thirty minutes per-whack on a fairly straightforward run.
Along the way you’ll obtain a range of colored orbs and pick-ups for your trouble, most of which will bolster your efforts in one form or another. On the topic of orbs, you can indeed buy red orbs in bulk via microtransactions, but in honesty, there’s very little reason to do this unless you want to be an unstoppable tank from the get-go. That, ladies and gents, is the sum of Devil May Cry 5. It’s an intoxicating ride that doesn’t lose grip, and stays faithful to the series’ energetic gameplay foundation at the same time as introducing a host of new mechanics.
In regards to the game’s audio and visual design, Devil May Cry 5 gets two thumbs up from me. The game’s world, whilst desperate and broken, is excellently detailed and well designed. I’ll extend the same level of appreciation to the game’s character and enemy models, all of which are sharp, stunning, and enthralling. My only gripe is that there’s a minor bit of delayed rendering during cutscenes, but this seems to be isolated to the Xbox One, rather than that of the Xbox One X, and in honesty, even then, it’s easy to overlook.
Each new level brings with it a good degree of diversity in comparison to the last, and although there are levels that feel a bit samey samey, the game does a good job at spicing things up. The audio presentation is equally as commendable. The sound of combat, especially, is just as captivating as it looks, which is the highest compliment I can pay the game on this front. The voice talent within is top notch, with each actor relaying a solid effort to capture the vibes of their character’s personality. It helps that the writing is decent too.
Devil May Cry 5 sports something that’s known as the Cameo System. Now, whilst the game is primarily a single player experience, the aforementioned online component mixes things up a bit. When the function is enabled, and depending on the mission, you’ll see another player’s character in the background, either in real-time or via an uploaded ghost, going about their own business. It’s a nice touch, if not groundbreaking. It will be interesting to see if the developer builds upon this system through post launch support, such as that of its Bloody Palace mode.
Moving onto the Bloody Palace mode. Bloody Palace is a fan-favorite mode that pits players against hordes of deadly foes in a fast-paced elimination setting. Bloody Palace is not yet present in the game, though the developers plan on adding this via a free update in April. On a more technical basis, Devil May Cry 5 runs as smoothly as you can imagine, even when the screen is chock-full of action and effects. It manages to maintain its 60 FPS, and looks incredible with the use of 4K and HDR. Safe to say, the devil you know never looked so grand.
The devil you know is back, and it’s more diverse, more energetic, and more stylish than ever before. Devil May Cry 5 is quite simply enthralling across all aspects of its fast-paced and varied gameplay, and comes with a story that’s not only interesting, but well written and superbly voiced. Despite some minor issues with delayed rendering, the Sons of Sparda saga couldn’t have concluded in a better way.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.