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DMC Devil May Cry – A Look Back at the Most Grating Game I Have Ever Played

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Devil May Cry V is releasing soon, probably by the time this article is published. But every day I wait for the release of that game, I grow madder and madder. Not angry mad, but crazy mad—I just cannot bear the wait. That moment when I tried the demo in Gamescom is still fresh in my mind, then the demo came up on PlayStation and it just made me want more. So to sate that thirst for the game, I searched for ways to vent. I tried going back into savage raiding in Final Fantasy XIV, I tried Dead or Alive 6, and while there’s another plethora of ways I could find something, there was only a few days left. But luckily I found something, something that I know would satisfy me and take my time until the release of Devil May Cry V, and that is: DMC Devil May Cry.

DMC Devil May Cry (y’know what, that’s a hassle to type so let’s abbreviate it to DMC DMC) is a very divisive game; many praise it, and probably even more condemn it to Purgatory, because to them even Hell doesn’t deserve something that bad. How about me you ask? I’m with the latter camp, and in this piece, I will tell you why. But then you ask again, “Won’t this be just a bashing piece?” Which to that I answer, yes, it most likely will be, but that doesn’t prevent me from actually praising parts of the game where it actually does things good. Now, let’s start, shall we?

Let’s start with the story

The story of DMC DMC…….where do I start with this……it’s kind of a mess. The game seems to want to tell you this amazing story about how the mainstream is evil and stuff but it really fails to hook because at the same time the story has to somehow also tell about how Dante (or Don’te as people like to call him) also grows from an apathetic punk so a somewhat lovable jerk that actually cares about humanity, which if you ask me doesn’t really happen until something like after the A-plot’s final boss is defeated. There’s also a point about how angels and demons have been at war but we really never saw any angels in the story at all, which is egregious because in this reboot Don’te and Vergil are supposed to be Nephilim, demon-angel hybrids. At this point I’m actually confused on what to write anymore because there really isn’t that much more to the story, and the story in here is largely plot-driven, whereas pretty much all of the original Devil May Cry stories are largely character-driven. Speaking of which……


The damned characters. These are most likely the worst part of the game. Devil May Cry has always had stories that are more character-driven, but here the story feels more plot-driven simply because of the lack of good characterization in the first place. Everyone is either such a cookie-cutter concept or an attempt of a re-imagining of a character that goes “fan-fiction” levels of wrong. Let’s go through them one by one, shall we?

Let’s start with the least egregious ones, so first of all let’s start with Kat. If James Bond has the Bond girls that he meets in every installment of the series, then DMC also has DMC girls. These girls usually serve a purpose or another—the first Devil May Cry game had Trish, whose purpose is to manipulate Dante into Mundus’ hands, but in the end she grows to care about Dante; DMC3 has Lady who serves as a deuteragonist to Dante, among others. Kat is intended to serve as a catalyst to change Don’te from his apathetic punk demeanor to the somewhat lovable jerk I mentioned earlier, except that she gets kidnapped somewhere around the third act, and Dante isn’t really changing until near the end, as I also mentioned. She also has a bit of cutscene of her giving exposition about her own backstory—she was in an orphanage managed by demons and got abused—which is most likely meant to make you and Don’te sympathize with her. However, it doesn’t really hit you since she only tells you this and doesn’t seem to really do anything that implies that she hates demons more than the next person does. Looking at this fact, it feels like Kat’s role isn’t really working, especially when compared to Kyrie, who at least manages to motivate Nero and drive the point of “devils may actually cry” even with a minimal presence in the story.

The villain in this game is again Mundus. The original Mundus doesn’t really have anything to his name, being just evil and that’s it. This Mundus, however, is re-imagined in a way that doesn’t seem that evil; in fact, to me it seemed more petty. His plan is to try and control the world from the shadows by making everyone indebted to him. However, this idea doesn’t really makes sense, as he is a high-ranking demon, if not one of the highest, in the DMC universe, including this entry. He can probably get anything he wants from his fellow demons. Even if we set his motivations aside, all we ever see him do is pretty much making the president indebted to him via a phone call—A PHONE CALL—and Mundus isn’t really shown to be a threat at all other than messing with Limbo while Don’te is in it. If we take it further than that, in the end he’s only a villain who’s there just to be a villain. He doesn’t give any reason why the characters want to take him down, other than so they can save the world, a recurring motif that the other entries in the Devil May Cry series have. Even Nero takes down Sanctus in Devil May Cry 4 because they kidnapped Kyrie, and if they didn’t, the two would probably escape untouched and just let Dante clean up the mess. There’s even the bit about how Sparda wasn’t killed but rather imprisoned for treason by Mundus, but by the time we get to fight him, this wasn’t even mentioned.

Don’te, Don’te is just horrible. Redesign aside, just what the hell is this Dante. The main idea of Dante that people are familiar with is a playful, smart-talking demon slayer. He slays demons while basically having fun with them, to the point that you can believe if he finds a demon that can smart-talk like him, the two will probably be best friends. Don’te, on the other hand, is an apathetic, shit-talking punk, and you can see demons getting personally, deeply offended by this guy. I am familiar with the notion of re-imagining a character, but you don’t re-imagine a character to be unlikable. Having a character throw insults left and right even when it’s creative doesn’t always make them likable. Also pay attention that I didn’t say demon-slayer at all, because he’s introduced not slaying demons but laying ladies. Sure, we get to see him whoop demons afterwards, but there’s no sign of him slaying demons before—we’re just supposed to know that this unfamiliar character is a demon slayer like the familiar character we know. It even shows in his animation that he seems inexperienced because he still sways to the weight of the weapons he used. There’s also the matter of fact that Don’te (and Vergil) is a Nephilim, which creates the plot hole of where all the angels are. The original Devil May Cry games always had demons but never really said that there were angels—which makes it make sense that there are demon-slayers like Dante—but here there are explicitly angels but they’re not fighting against the demons. Why?

And lastly Vergil. Vergil is just…..bad. The original Vergil was made to contrast Dante, Dante being the more outgoing and fun-loving out of the two while Vergil is calm and calculated. Vergil here…..surely contrasts Don’te, but that doesn’t means it’s good. Here Vergil is the leader of some anonymous group that tries to fight the mainstream media, unlike Don’te which does things alone which adds into the punk-feel of his character. Which…….why?? This really stands out to players because the original Vergil, while arrogant, has the skills to back it up. Here, not only is he the leader of a group, he just stands around while the group is still around. Even after that very group is outed by the FBI and he has to act by himself, all of the parts where he’s implied to be fighting are put off-screen until some cutscenes before fighting Mundus, as well as when you fight him near the end. There’s also a downloadable expansion about him set after the ending, which puts him in some other dimension where he……goes around trying to kill apparitions of Don’te and pretty much everyone else he thinks has betrayed him because of his fight with Don’te in Don’te’s story. And the expansion ends with a fight against a hollow version of himself?? What kind of emo bullshit is this????

There are other supporting characters, but these are the main ones you spend your time looking at. They’re being written to seem as if they’re deep, but in the end their depth is just fake depth; as a saying I know goes, you can make a shallow puddle seem deep by muddying it, but a clear lake looks shallow until you dive into it. Another thing about the game is that the most horrible thing you can do to a character is make them feel like they’re replaceable, and with the plot-driven story of DMC DMC itself, pretty much—no, definitely—everyone is replaceable. No one really has a reason that cements their place in the story, why it can only be them and just them—the characters here just don’t have that. In fact, the only good thing I can say about the characters we play as is that Capcom managed to make the gameplay tie pretty good with what Dante is in the story. Segue into…..

The Meat of the Game, Gameplay

After going through unbearable characters, you go to the meat of the game which is where you fight and whoop demon ass. The combat compared to classic Devil May Cry games, have been changed, and boy has it been changed a lot. The targeting system is pretty much removed, which also causes various mechanics to the combat to also be changed, such as dodges, as it now has a button dedicated to dodging while previously you lock on and press the jump button while directing yourself to the direction you wish to dodge. Due to the lack of lock-on system, performing moves for a combo is also different now. Launching enemies has its own dedicated button, and you switch the weapon to an angel mode and a devil mode by using the two shoulder buttons. This is quite a far cry from the old system which thanks to the lock on you can do directional inputs similar to fighting games.

The above makes it such that doing combos and trying to be stylish wildly different from the original Devil May Cry games. However it makes it far more easier too. I find myself attaining SSS rank far more often than I normally do in the original games. Is this a bad thing? Yes and no. Why would it be a bad thing? Because Devil May Cry has always emphasized on skills and mastery, and simplifying the system to push up the skill floor doesn’t always also push the skill ceiling up, and from what I’ve seen it didn’t made much of a different. The difficulty of the game itself overall is really easy to the point where I can even beat it on the hardest difficulty that’s available when you start the game from scratch. That is not to say that it’s a bad thing to have an easy game, it would make sense especially since the original was quite difficult especially for newcomers and I would personally welcome newcomers for the game seeing as the character action genre is a niche almost dying breed, but that’s another discussion for a different time.

However despite being easy and simple it doesn’t feel that far from the tightness of the original game most of the time. In fact the place where I can really feel that the character doesn’t feel right is in the Vergil DLC where his rapid slash doesn’t feel rapid at all. Most moves are still jump and dodge cancellable and you can string up combos from normal to angel or devil mode just fine.

It’s not to say though that there are no issues with the fights. In fact some boss fights are just awful such as the fight with Mundus’ baby. The strong points of a game like Devil May Cry is not just when you’re mowing down mobs of enemy stylishly but also when it provides you with a boss that feels like you’re actually fighting another player, case in point the Vergil fights in DMC3 and the Dante and Credo fights in DMC4. The bosses in DMC DMC are more like puzzle bosses, they normally have certain mechanics you have to do before you can hit them or doing the mechanics transitions into the next phase of the fights. This makes the fights feel like less of a duel and more like something out of a Nintendo game, which again kinda de-emphasizes the skill level that the title is known to encourage.

The game also has platforming segments, to which I say…..why?? Platforming in older Devil May Cry titles has been pretty bad because of how the controls behave, but while DMC DMC has platforming, it’s pretty easy and doesn’t really have interesting mechanics to it which make them just a slog to go through. And there are puzzles as well but the fact that I can’t remember any of them is evidence to how not really good they are.

However, a toy must be wrapped well and also look the part, lest you end up with a hilariously bad bootleg, which is why…..

Presentation Matters

The game is not that bad in terms of visual fidelity, the environment can totally be gorgeous whenever it’s not blasting colors into my eyes or spamming messages IN BOLD ALL CAPS IMPACT FONT like I need to be informed what the enemies are up to. However these gorgeous environment happen only during gameplay when you’re in Limbo, outside of that everything is a gritty edgy drab grey. While I understand that this is done on purpose to visualize how drab the human world is, at least make the main characters stick out. The old Devil May Cry games has always had dark greyish drab environments to it but that’s mostly because of the style of goth architecture the games takes place in, and even then, Dante’s striking red coat always pop up to make you pay attention to him and show that it’s not always so drab after all. This is even a lesson that Marvel apparently has learned as around Civil War the grey filter is there save for the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

Speaking of movies, cutscenes! Man cutscenes in this games are awful. Mostly because of the dialogue but there are also other reasons. As mentioned, the writing is awful and it sounds almost as if it’s written by a 12 year old that has only recently learned how to curse. The camera also most of the time just do basic camera stuff, nothing too stylish but not bad either, the only bad thing I can think the camera ever did is the multiple times it focuses on Don’te’s very punchable smug face. The soundtracks, too, have nothing to really write home about, which is a damn shame because the original Devil May Cry games blare it on you whenever there’s an enemy in the room and is hella lot more catchier. Not only that but they also accompany great moments in the games which makes them more memorable, compared to the soundtrack of DMC DMC which I can’t even remember.

I hate DMC DMC, I hated it before it released, I hate it even more after it’s released, and I loathe every moment I played it. So then why I played it? Because you know what? I may be a fanboy and I might be bashing it right now, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try to find good things about something that I don’t approve of, and hey who knows it might even turned out not bad and just as fun as the originals, I’ve been proven wrong by many people many many times in my life. Is DMC DMC a bad game? No, it’s not quite a bad game in that every moment is agonizingly bad like some unapologetically bad games out there like the notorious Ride to Hell or Shaq Fu.

However, I still hate it, with a passion, and I will never recommend it to anyone for the torture it gives you. Yes the gameplay is pretty good and it offers pretty beautiful environments sometimes, but it’s put in places where you have to slog through gratingly cringey cutscenes full of FUCK YOU thrown left and right like dodgeballs, and that is the highest degree of torture I can imagine a game could do. Imagine eating a very delicious dish but every bite you swallow someone presses on the sides of your neck with their finger, that is how the cringe feels. I would never play DMC DMC again, the only way you can make me is to tie me down to a chair and threaten to hurt my loved ones, but then again I might just find a way to bash your head with my butt still tied to the chair before I even consider playing it.

There is, though, one thing that I’m grateful DMC DMC exists for, and it’s this

This is F, signing out