Game review: ‘Devil May Cry 5’

Game review: ‘Devil May Cry 5’
Watch our video review of Capcom's latest gem, the stylish, impish 'Devil May Cry 5'

Capcom has cemented its golden age with the much-awaited release of Devil May Cry 5. The latest installment of the 18-year-old series is not just a return to form but a massive upgrade that will satisfy both new and veteran devil hunters.

But does Devil May Cry 5 deserve a Smoking Sick Style rating, or something just a little lower? Before I get into it, just a fair warning, this video will have some minor spoilers of the game. 

If you’re not familiar with the series, here’s a quick explainer for you. For the most part, the game stars legendary devil hunter and half-demon Dante. And in Devil May Cry 4, he unwittingly picks up a young protege named Nero, whose demon powers’ origin remains unknown…’til now. In Devil May Cry 5, the game stars both once more as they fight their way to reach and defeat one of the most formidable opponents they’ve ever faced. Most Devil May Cry games are short, because its appeal lies in the replayability.

Every full round that you complete in this game unlocks a harder difficulty where really, the main goal is to be as skillful with your characters’ abilities as possible. This is a game that’s a tiny bit less about the destination and more about the stylish journey. 

DMC 5 has brought surprising depth and layers that’s shown in the gameplay and story line which isn’t always typical of a Devil May Cry game. Most Devil May Cry games are straightforward, and while there are lessons to be learned, it’s not much of a stretch. 

Gameplay and mechanics

Let’s first talk about the gameplay and mechanics. In this iteration, Dante and Nero’s kits are a mix of old favorites and new go-tos. The entire set-up is a little different from the past Devil May Cry games but the changes provide a smoother and more entertaining experience in general. Let’s start with Dante. Whereas back in Devil May Cry 4 you only got to cycle through a few weapons for Dante, in Devil May Cry 5, Dante gets a good mix of short range and long range weapons with insane and unique abilities.

I say insane because, whoever thought of giving Dante a motorcycle that can turn into chainsaws should be given a raise. These weapons switch on the fly smoothly and naturally, so it’s much easier to chain combos together and rack up those points for an SSS rank. 

The scenarios in the game also allow for more switching between styles. Whereas a pleb like me might stick to Swordmaster and Trickster in the more recent Devil May Cry games and succeed. Devil May Cry 5‘s boss fights for Dante seems set-up to make it that switching is not only essential, but also natural and rewarding.

This is especially obvious with the Cavaliere fight where you’ll need Trickster to close the gap, Royal Guard to parry the heavier attacks, and Gunslinger and Swordmaster to chain things a lot easily.

Nero’s kit requires strategy and resourcefulness. Whereas before, we were only able to grab and slam people with his arm. The introduction of his Devil Breaker allows for a lot more variety of moves, such as slowing down time, lashing out on enemies, grabbing characters and slamming them on the floor etc. All of these moves have a catch. The Devil Breaker allows you to wield different arms with limited use and skills.

You’re going to have to be smart about how you pick them up and use them in order to produce the maximum effect. 

Joining them on this said stylish journey is an odd and mysterious figure, V. V who also has some demonic powers of his own, is a playable character with a very different approach from Dante and Nero. Whereas Dante and Nero are more effective in close-combat challenges, V summons animals and uses them to fight for him.

The addition of V has introduced a lot more variety into the game and will keep you on your toes as you switch from one character to the other. The V sections of this game are short but nonetheless satisfying. In the story, V is meant to be the weaker of the two demons, for reasons you will understand the more you move further into the game, and so despite the power difference it’s great that Capcom was able to give him a fun and entertaining kit to keep you going.

And while some of his dialogue is repetitive in the game, his cutscenes where he interacts with Shadow and Griffon, or as I’d like to call Bagheera and Iago, are amusing in-betweens that are just a Devil May Cry signature. 

DMC signatures

Speaking of Devil May Cry signatures, what a lot of Devil May Cry veterans would love about DMC V is the sheer amount of callbacks and references to former Devil May Cry materials. For example, if you’re familiar with the Devil May Cry animated series, Morrison is indeed the broker, though he gets a bit of a reboot of his own here for unknown reasons.

There’s also a mention of Patty, a child that Dante once took care off in the past. Looking at the games, Devil May Cry 4 is often known as having some of the most over-the-top scenes in the series and there’s an homage to that once Dante picks up the Faust hat. Even the reboot gets a special little callback courtesy of Nero. 

But what veterans will also appreciate is how Devil May Cry 5 ties everything together while building more depth for some of the characters. The mystery surrounding V, and Urizen for example, brings closure to what happened in the original Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 3, and also introduces a deeper and more complex look at a favorite character of the series. You probably know who’s being talked about here but this video promised only minor spoilers.

We also finally get to know where Nero got his demonic powers and what happens to his arm, which the game solves in a clear and direct way leaving no room for theorists. But the revelation of Nero’s past also gives one of the other characters a chance to contribute to the story. Lady gives a small piece of advice based from her past and it might have been enough to tip the scales for Nero. This all leads up to a satisfying ending that just wraps up the saga of Nero and his past while continuing Dante’s fight. 

And you can relive that story and the entire game again and again, as is traditional of Devil May Cry games. This is when I realized you can actually defeat Urizen in the first part of the game and unlock another difficulty mode and a secret ending. I’ll leave you to it. 

If there are a couple bones I have to pick though, it would be the awkward nudity which thankfully isn’t given so much attention in the game, and the online play. Capcom might have other plans for it in the future, but it’s odd being asked to rate someone I barely even see play. There’s no way to connect or communicate with them at all anyways so it’s just a weird thing to see and experience. 

All in all, Hideaki Itsuno did an excellent job in breathing life and taking to a new level, a beloved hack-and-slash title that’s gone through so much in the past 18 years. From its darker and emotional moments to its high-octane and crazy antics, there’s a lot to experience and enjoy with Devil May Cry 5. It’s a Smokin’ Sexy Style title that’s deserving of being given the top rank in one of Capcom’s most popular series.  – Rappler.com

Nadine Pacis is the main writer for gameprogression.com, a site that covers perspectives and experiences in video games and the industries surrounding it.

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