Eleven years is a hell of a long time to wait for a sequel, and yet, here we are. Times have changed, hardware has evolved and the entire gaming landscape is a far cry from what it once was back in the late 2000s. Devil May Cry 5 is not the product of evolution. It’s a throwback to another era, sometimes archaic and always dialled up to provide maximum action with a devil may care attitude for what anyone thinks of its content.
Or in two more apt words? It’s f***ing glorious.
Let me paint a picture for you: A few years have passed since the incident in Fortuna that saw Nero emerge as the next generation of devil slayer, with the hotheaded rebel leaving his old life behind to start a new career as a lethal exterminator of the paranormal. Entrusted with the power of Yamato that was once wielded by Dante’s twin brother Vergil, Nero is living the good life.
Until everything goes to hell. Literally disarmed in a single moment, under siege from blood-sucking plants that have begun harvesting an entire city’s worth of civilians for nefarious purposes and facing a new demon king whose power is too much for the entire crew of Devil May Cry, it’s the darkest hour possible for Nero and the rest of the gang.
Outgunned and overpowered, it’s up to you to step into the shoes of Capcom’s iconic kickers of supernatural asses, digging deeper into a mystery that provides a definitive conclusion to a saga that began in 2001. Devil May Cry 5 is also incredibly satisfying within its core gameplay loop, with a polish on its combat that can’t just be seen to be believed, it has to be felt as well.
Instantly familiar to anyone who picked up a controller for any of the previous games, Devil May Cry 5’s charm and over the top action feels better than ever. This is a game that is wanted in several states for its flagrant breaking of the laws of gravity, with showdowns regularly leaving the screen drenched in blood and your thumbs sweating after a concerted effort to get a fabled Smokin’ score on the style meter.
There’s a concerted effort to make your attacks matter more than ever, with Devil May Cry 5 focusing on a commit until you quit model of action. Once you’re locked into a combo, you’ll have to follow it through until the end, lending the game an air of elegance where you want to avoid mindlessly bashing away at the face buttons or risk having Dante’s face rearranged on the wrong side of a demon that happens to have its talons aimed at you.
It’s magnificent stuff, made all the better by the option of having three playable characters within Devil May Cry 5. Nero is a technical juggernaut whose various devil arms make him an offensive one-man army who can break away from fights at the cost of his new prosthetic devices, a tactic that makes him more nuanced than ever when combined with his offence-over-defence style of play.
Dante is still a Jack of all Trades master at anything he touches, retaining his familiar quartet of combat styles that were introduced in Devil May Cry 3, and further augmented with the weapons that he acquires throughout his travels. Ever wondered what it would be like to
V is the most intriguing addition to the roster. Frail and not exactly able to decapitate the undead with the style that Nero and Dante possess, V is nevertheless a force to be reckoned with. Able to summon a trio of familiars to his side, V is a refreshing new stab on Devil May Cry’s formula. Instead of throwing himself into the thick of a melee, V sends in his shadowy minions to fight for him.
Griffon is an aerial menace who can lay down suppressing fire on foes, Shadow is a deadly panther who can warp into dangerous vines that impale anything around it and Nightmare is an ace that V keeps up his sleeve. The hulking result of V activating his devil trigger, Nightmare is a titan that players can even ride upon they unlock the right skill. This trio of revenants form V’s sword and shield, a collection of soldiers who can keep the mysterious scholar out of harm’s way while setting foes up for their demise
The trick here, is that Griffon, Shadow and Nightmare can only weaken an opponent, as it’s up to V to warp in and deliver the killing blow. That creates a more tactical game whenever you play as V, as his partners aren’t exactly invulnerable either. If Griffon and Shadow take too much damage, they’ll enter a stalemate that leaves V wide open for attack while they regenerate. It’s a system of quid pro quo, as players have to juggle the arena before them with what they’re capable of unleashing and following up on. Playing as V makes Devil May Cry 5 feel like a fascinating new twist on familiar ideas.
It gets even better, because the unholy trinity of characters are also capable of pumping accrued Red Orbs into the skills that matter most to them. Feel like tricking out Dante to make the most of his Swordmaster skills or happen to have an eye on making V’s pet Griffon a carpet-bombing asset? You’re covered on that front.
Devil May Cry 5’s sublime combat is also heightened by an incredible suite of visuals. Capcom’s RE Engine looks stunning in action, delivering even the silkiest of smooth action on a base PS4 and hardly ever dropping a frame during even the most intense action sequences. The game looks especially amazing when it comes to the acting, thanks to a cast of actors whose various facial ticks and idiosyncrasies are captured and transferred to their onscreen counterparts.
It’s…unreal. While there’s a touch of uncanny valley in the acting, that bridge feels shorter than ever before, with Devil May Cry 5’s cast putting in an effort that deserves to be recognised at the Oscars. Those visuals also extend to the combat itself, which explodes in a flurry of style and attitude every time you swing a sword.
The particle effects, the destruction that is unleashed and the nightmare fuel vomited forth from the depths of hell don’t just have a graphical shine that will leave your retinas seared with demonic action, it’s all combined in a manner that flows organically on the screen and never loses you even in the thick of the action.
It all sounds good, right? So what’s the catch? Well one thing to note, is that Devil May Cry 5 isn’t exactly a lengthy game. Dante’s latest inferno will take anywhere between eight and ten hours to complete, a runtime that is padded by replays on harder difficulty settings and secret missions that players can uncover. Beyond that, the core appeal in mastering the finer points of Devil May Cry 5’s combat will lie in the upcoming Bloody Palace update, wherein would-be devil hunters can gamble away a single life on surviving hordes and hordes of progressively more difficult waves of monsters.
There’s also a surprising lack of puzzles inside of this installment. Outside of the odd blocked path that can easily be solved with some handy dandy pesticide and a single level that tasks Dante with some light grey matter scratching, Devil May Cry 5 spares no time at all on more cerebral challenges.
Devil May Cry 5’s controls also leave something to be desired. Now make no mistake, chaining basic combos and special attacks is easy enough and certain keys can be remapped to provide a more optimal experience, but achieving a SSS rank while hot-swapping between abilities and attacks on the fly? That requires some serious finger gymnastics. Devil May Cry veterans will be in their element here, but when compared to luminaries such as Platinum’s Bayonetta games or even 2010’s Darksiders, there’s a distinct lack of organic control for Dante, Nero and V’s arsenal that can be felt.
This can be rectified somewhat by activating an auto-mode that automatically dials in those combos and special moves for you, although throwing on the Tartarus training wheels can cheapen the feel of Devil May Cry 5.
And yet, even with those gripes, Devil May Cry 5 is a masterpiece in action. It has heart and charm in its epic story that comes full circle on the series. It looks sexier than the sun setting over a billionaire’s collection of cars that are parked on a Santa Monica strip in California. It plays phenomenally well and will leave you drenched in sweat and satisfaction when the end credits
In short, Devil May Cry 5 is a devilishly fun sequel.
Last Updated: March 6, 2019