In light of the rumors of a DmC HD remake swirling about, I thought it would be a good time to review and compare the last game of the original series, and this reboot. Since this will get out of hand and become a massive wall of text, I’m going to divide it up into three parts. One for each game, and a final part to compare. There will be some spoilers, but nothing you wouldn’t see coming from a mile away.
I’ve done my best to check my biases at the door and entered into DmC expecting the worst, but was pleasantly surprised with how I felt after my first playthrough. I absolutely hated pretty much everything about the game before I played. It’s a reboot though, so I need to allow for some changing of characters.
Character action games are stylish games that are meant to allow you to feel cool by unleashing over the top abilities on enemies. You should want to be these awesome characters. Which brings me to why I hated the new Dante: I didn’t want to be this guy. He was a total douche, lived like a hobo, and I felt no sympathy for him from the outset.
Almost all of the returning characters have been completely altered, to the point that you wouldn’t know it was a Devil May Cry title if not for the names. Change isn’t always a bad thing, but they messed up badly on Vergil. He’s no longer the stronger brother, he doesn’t have the same air of coolness about him, and he has none of the honor typically associated with the character. Vergil has become a weaker character that relies on scheming more than his own power. I know this is a retelling but they completely whiffed on what originally made him so popular.
On the other hand, Dante really grew on me over time. He stayed foul mouthed and I didn’t like the redesign, but over the course of the story he grows a lot. Eventually, he’s almost charming. In the other DMC games, Dante is already pretty well established as an extremely powerful demon hunter that simply grows more powerful as the game continues. Dante in DmC grows as a character and that’s a nice touch.
The setting and story are hit and miss. The heavy handed social commentary was annoying. Oh cute, a Bill O’Reiley clone, money is evil, the man is keeping us down, yada yada yada, demons. The upside to the story is that it allowed for some great areas. I normally want gothic settings when I play DMC, but DmC was damn creative with its more urban environments and Limbo. Unfortunately, they went way overboard with the lighting effects and make your eyes bleed at several places, putting a damper on some of their more creative areas.
These are all relatively small issues when compared to the most important aspect of the genre, combat. It was maligned from the start. 30 fps and no directional inputs!? “It’s garbage!” I yelled as I spat my cereal on the ground. Now that the initial surge of hatred has passed, let’s look at it for real.
Combat is streamlined. It’s very easy to pick up and play compared to the other titles because of its lack of lock-on and directional inputs. Combos, aerial combos in particular, are made simpler because of the angel and demon pulls. Dante feels more floaty too, making air combat far easier. You can also easily change between all of your weapons on the fly, a great feature. The biggest outright improvement was dodging, which is easy and satisfying.
Just because something is made easier though, doesn’t make it better. The absence of lock-on removes the need for lock-on discipline to move better, but it also means there’s no friggin’ lock-on. I can’t count how many times I was in the middle of a great combo, only to literally be pulled away from it because Dante decided to grab an enemy somewhere else on screen.
Games like this need a lock-on. It helps combat the camera, which was better in DmC while still being functionally worse because you couldn’t fight it with lock-on. Directional inputs are awesome and mastering them gives you a feel of accomplishment, lock-on makes that work. Being able to easily single out foes for prioritized destruction is worth admission. The bsence of lock-on is possibly the biggest flaw of this entire game.
The only thing that comes close to the lack of lock-on in the flaws department is color coded enemies. The dumbest, most BS mechanic they could have possibly added. What makes it worse is the way they implemented it. If you aren’t using a weapon with the correct property, your attack bounces off and leaves you open. This. Is. Horrible. It’s a great example of the flaws working in synergistic nature to make a game feel much worse than it is.
Since you can’t properly select your targets, the methods for dispatching groups of enemies shrinks when a single color coded enemy is around. A single stray hit will ruin a good combo. It’s infinitely worse with Demon property enemies because Angel weapons have a strong focus on wide, sweeping attacks that will hit that one enemy you want to avoid. To add insult to injury, there are special stages where enemies can only be damaged or killed with a certain weapon property, but they respond normally to hits from any weapon type instead of staggering you. Why wasn’t this in place for all the color coded enemies? It’s still a terrible feature, but it’s no where near as big a failure.
Then, there was demon trigger. I’m really torn on this one. It’s a nice reprieve to throw enemies into the air and not worry about them while you deal with the more annoying ones or heal in an emergency. The problem is that it’s really just laming it out against defenseless foes. The enemies being thrown into the sky also limits how you can respond. It would have been better to just freeze them where they stood, but that’s just my opinion I suppose.
Finally, there’s the platforming. It’s smooth, way better than the platforming elements in other DMC games. The problem is that it’s too smooth. Why is it even there really? It requires virtually no precision or timing. You hold the corresponding trigger and approach the big shiny spot, then grapple when the giant sign appears. There’s no point other than looking kind of cool and and filling space.
I think you’ll understand my complaint better with an example. During the succubus boss there’s parts where you need to escape one platform for another. To make your way onto the other platform you need to use the angel lifts to pull yourself there. You need to use it twice. Unless you’re playing with your tongue, there’s no reason you should fail either pull. If you did one you aren’t going to fail the second, and the distance isn’t so far that Dante couldn’t whip himself over there in one motion for “immersion” purposes. Why even have the second pull at all? If you understand this complaint, you’ll understand the most basic problem with this game.
-Easy point of entry for the character action genre.
-Setting is fantastic.
-Dante can be seen growing into the hero you know.
-Movement is quick and smooth.
-Color coded enemies.
-Poorly implemented color coded enemies.
75/100. It’s a fine standalone game. This is a decent game that was undone by its name and the creative director not knowing when to keep his mouth shut. I’m not a fan of the sense of humor, there was only one funny moment, and I dislike the reliance on the gross out imagery. It’s an easy game to get you started in the genre if you’re interested and the difficulty of DMC3 or Bayonetta worries you.