Cry now

Review: Devil May Cry 5 (PS4)

9

Amazing

It has been many years since we last joined Dante and Nero for some devil hunting shenanigans, but it all comes rushing back like riding a bicycle. It has been a long time since we first started journeying around with Dante back on the PlayStation 2 in 2001.

Devil May Cry 5 feels like a celebration of the old-school roots and heritage of the series, keeping enough feeling just the same to allow old muscle memory to resurface. That same amazing feeling of pulling off combos, juggling enemies, slamming them back down and managing to time a dodge or parry just right to get the upper hand is still there and shines due to the level of polish that has been applied to this process. While getting used to Nero’s Devil Breakers will take some experimentation to get just right, getting an SSS score with Dante felt amazingly easy, until I realised that this is because I have done this before, many times, in the past. This is because Dante plays so much like he did the last time we saw him, equipped with his four styles (Royal Guard, Trickster, Gunslinger and Swordmaster) and some familiar weapons (Rebellion and Balrog, Ebony & Ivory and Coyote).

Devil breaker, devil speaker, devil slayer

Devil May Cry 5 starts with Nero missing his devilish right arm, but newcomer Nico has built a few artificial limbs for him to use and getting the most out of his combos has a new fun layer of strategy and trickery to get used to. Each Devil Breaker has multiple effects, but they will break if Nero takes damage while using one, or if he charges them up for a powerful attack. Thankfully you head into a fight with a few on your belt, meaning you should learn how to use them to full effect as this is where Nero’s real strength and utility come from. These Devil Breakers offer up everything from a homing rocket punch that attacks the enemy while you slash with a sword, to a fist that shoots off time-slowing bubbles that let you stop projectiles or get some good attacking time on an enemy, while another breaker offers great dodging potential as you blast off in a direction away from danger. They might not seem as impressive as getting a new weapon with Dante, but learning how to use them properly with greatly increase the damage you do and your style rank. Even if the game just let you play as Nero, it would be a great, fun ride as you unlock new Devil Breakers and learn how to get the most out of each one. But Nero isn’t alone.

Devil May Cry V shows that you can have multiple characters that all play very differently but still control them easily by following the same rules for the control schemes and combos. Kylo Ren V, for example, is a much more hands-off character, but you control him and get the best damage output in a very similar way. For example, every character does ranged attacks with Square, Melee with Triangle and a character specific ability on circle, while X jumps and dodges. The big difference with V is that he summons creatures to do the attacking for him, but he lands the killing blow with his cane. These summoned creatures have their own health pools and learning which moves will cause them to move out of the way or return to V’s side is important to keeping them in the fight. Otherwise, they will enter stalemate, a state where they become an orb on the floor that you need to stay near for a while to help them regenerate. It sounds completely alien but it works so well and it was rather easy to come to grips with V’s combos, and his ability to dish out damage while staying out of the fray.

It feels like a small taste or nirvana as you keep the style streak going, switching through your various combos and weapons as you whittle down health bars before landing a big hit.

Tools of the trade

Unlike many other hack and slash games that give RPG elements to the game, besides a health upgrade or a skill unlock, you aren’t making your attacks stronger. This means that every fight requires some quick finger movement, good dodging and working out how to kill things efficiently. It isn’t anywhere near as punishing as a Souls game, but you can’t just jab buttons and hope to come out the winner, especially when fighting bosses. Learning the patterns, how to dodge them, which attacks can be parried and the like all form part of the play experience and when you find yourself fighting a boss with a high style rating, dodging and weaving to avoid attacks while punishing openings, it feels like a small taste or nirvana as you keep the style streak going, switching through your various combos and weapons as you whittle down health bars before landing a big hit.

An early example of this is a ghost-like figure with a massive pair of scissors. Attacking them head on will eventually break both blades, at which point you can dispatch the ghost. But if you get your timing and positioning right, you can kill the ghost by slipping past the scissors during an attack and breaking the ghost’s mask, which kills it outright. Finding the best way to attack and defeat enemies becomes a rewarding challenge as you roam the battlefield.

Puzzling

When you aren’t fighting and being awed by amazing looking levels, you might be a bit disappointed at the lack of freedom to explore and solve puzzles. The puzzle elements of where to go next from previous games is gone, as V, Dante and Nero hurtle towards an enemy who is on the cusp of doing something really big. There isn’t much time for puzzle solving and besides the odd dark end or high balcony hiding a secret mission or some tasty orbs, you won’t find yourself backtracking often. Luckily everything looks so good and the fighting is so great that you won’t really mind the streamlining to get to the good stuff. This streamlining also helps another feature of the game: the co-op aspect. In some situations you will be playing as say, Nero, but you can see V just beyond a barricade, fighting other demons. Later in the level, you meet up for a larger fight. In these situations, there is a chance that the other character is being controlled by another player and you will be taking on a horde of enemies with another human helping out. It is done in a mostly unobtrusive way and it really inspires you to try pull off a SSS rank if you see someone else nearby pull one off.

Devil May Cry 5 feels and looks as good as you remember the previous games being, without going back and realising that over the years the graphics have become outdated. It takes the best elements of the previous games: smooth, fun combat; over the top stories and characters, big boss battles and a rather convoluted story and wraps them all in beautiful graphics. This game will have series fans feeling like they did the first time they saw the previous games, and there is enough satisfaction from the combat that you will finish the story and hop back in to unlock all sorts of extra things, from secret endings to new outfits and hats on demons. Capcom is back and everyone should be taking notes.

Good

  • That opening title sequence
  • Super smooth, fluid combat
  • Beautiful character models

Bad

  • No Devil Breaker hot-swap
  • Trish and Lady feel completely unused

Summary

Devil May Cry 5 feels like playing your favourite PS2 hack and slash, but with amazing current gen graphics. Get ready for a rollercoaster ride of style as you pummel, slash and blast your way through all the devils.
9

Amazing

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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