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
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
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.
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
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.