When it comes to hack-and-slash video games, nothing quite touches Devil May Cry. In fact, Devil May Cry is in a league of its own, not just in terms of gameplay, but in terms of its dark humorous theme and likable cast. Capcom announced the Devil May Cry HD Collection at the end of last year, and given their strong focus on remasters this gen, the news hardly came as a surprise. What was surprising, however, was that this collection excluded Devil May Cry 4, the latest game to release before Ninja Theory’s DmC reboot. Nevertheless, Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is also available on Xbox One, as is the aforementioned DmC, but it would have been nice to see Devil May Cry 4: SE included, to roundup the classics in one neat bundle. I wont hold that against this collection, because even without the fourth entry, the content value is still there.
If you’re new to the series and you want to play the story in chronological order, you’ll want to start with Devil May Cry 3, followed by the first game and its immediate sequel. Irrespective of where you start Dante’s adventure, each of them have enjoyed some visual refinement alongside the addition of silky smooth 60fps gameplay. In any case, one thing that does stand out most of all is how dated the games look since initial release, ranging between ten and fifteen years ago. This isn’t so much of a dig at the developers handling the workload, but more so a product of its design. You see, due to its theme and setting, Devil May Cry has always been a dark series that takes place within environments that are equal to that. That means you can expect plenty of gray and brown locations, lacking of any color or oomph.
This isn’t a negativity by any means, but because of the lifeless locales, this doesn’t visually stand out as much as Capcom’s other remastered efforts. The same can indeed be said about the lighting, which has aged about as well as a grape in the Sahara. Still, the Devil May Cry HD Collection looks sharp and concise, but there’s only so much you can do with a game once it hits a certain age, the recent Turok games have shown us that, despite how well they’ve been handled. Those of you that enjoy this genre and never got around to playing these games, may find the combat to be generic and basic, especially if you’re playing this in chronological order. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the genre owes a lot to Dante. Back in the day this gameplay was the staple of hack-and-slash, and even several years later it still proves to be every bit as addictive and fast paced.
Smashing one of the several enemy variants into the air and then unleashing a chain of bullets into them is fun and engaging. These games still manage to make the player feel rewarded and accomplished, serving up some truly challenging encounters in the process. The controls remain exactly how you remember them to be, which is to say that they’re on-point and well set. Some niggling camera issues do pop up from time to time, but once again this is merely a product of its origin, rather than its recent handling. It goes without saying that Devil May Cry 2 is the “Phantom Menace” of this series, and has long been recognized for being exactly that. Not only did this game strip away what made Dante’s first adventure so remarkable, but it ultimately drained the life from the combat, too. Devil May Cry 2’s inclusion in this bundle is only a stark reminder of how the series took a step back, and it resonates just as strongly today as it did in 2003.
It’s great to be able to unlock and play as Trish, who has her own set of unique weapons and moves, but that’s hardly enough to forgive it for its several shortcomings. This title in particular isn’t totally a lost cause, but it’s nowhere near as fun nor as thrilling as its predecessor, and successor. In regards to the story of each game, the overarching plot is as bonkers, as energetic, and yet as delightful as they come – DmC 2 to the side, of course. Each game represents different stages of Dante’s existence, throwing a whole range of dark and dangerous tasks at our much loved Demon Hunter throughout each adventure. The story can at times feel left wing, thanks to some awkward dialogue and hit-and-miss plot pillars, but it’s hard not to appreciate the style within. There’s no denying that the selling point here rests with the gameplay, and mercifully, the performance is top-notch.
Sure, we still have to endure those camera problems, but the game runs magnificently well regardless. Each game sees Dante starting out with his iconic sword and pistols, and the aim of the game is to kill anything that stands in your way from there on out. Dante’s attacks will go towards a combo meter that will be jotted up at the end of each level and ultimately ranked. New weaponry will be made available with the option to upgrade them using in-game currency, further bolstering your pool of capabilities. Enemy variants are plentiful, with screen hogging boss battles in place to break up the pace of the game. This formula constantly encourages you to keep those all important combos ongoing, as well as pushing you to test out new moves and abilities. It’s a format that’s every bit as enticing as it is thrilling, which says a lot when playing in 2018, alongside newer and more refined experiences. That’s not to say that this bundle is going to blow you away.
On the contrary, it serves as means to emphasize just how far technology has come along in the last decade, but it’s still a decent collection of adventures nevertheless. It’s a shame, however, that Capcom didn’t focus much work (if any) at the cutscenes. Devil May Cry has always been a cutscene-rich series, so it’s disheartening to see a lack of effort in this department. Going from sharp and refined gameplay to muddy and blurred cutscenes is slap to the face. This is certainly something I would have expected Capcom to address, seeing as this was one major criticism from the same HD Collection on last gen hardware. One thing that I should point out is that there’s nothing new in this package.
If you owned the Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 version of this collection, you’re not getting any additional treats here. With that being said, the price of this bundle is cheaper today than it was when it released on last gen hardware, so at least the price tag has been accordingly adjusted. Though, however you look at this collection, you’re still getting a lot in return for your investment. The replay value is, and always has been, through the roof. There’s easily north of twenty hours worth of play here, with more thrown on top of that if you plan to perfect your scores at the conclusion of each level. When all is said and done, this is a decent collection to add to your gaming library, but the lack of anything new and the lack of a proper remastered touch, may leave many of you wanting for more.
Despite the dated visuals and camera issues, the gameplay remains as fun, as fast paced, and as addictive as it was over a decade ago. However, the lack of anything new in this collection may leave many of you wanting for more. The content alone is worth the asking price, but time and minimal effort certainly hasn’t done Dante any favors.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.