Devil May Cry V Review: Demon slaying has never felt so good
Played On: PS4 (Original)
Difficultly: Devil Hunter (Normal)
When the news dropped at Microsoft’s E3 press conference that Capcom was creating Devil May Cry V, I was incredibly excited to see what this new iteration had in store for the series. Considering that fans haven’t seen a canon entry in the franchise since Devil May Cry 4 in 2008 and that the reboot by Ninja Theory only made people want a canon sequel more, DMC V had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, the final product lives up to and creates new standards for the franchise with amazing gameplay, but comes just short in terms of storytelling.
Rather than just focusing on the fan-favorite protagonist Dante, DMC V also catches up with the previous game’s protagonist, Nero, and introduces a mysterious new playable character named V. Together, these three must stop a vicious demon named Urizen from turning Red Grave City, as well as the rest of the world, into a pool of blood to make more powerful than ever.
As a whole, the gameplay is smooth and offers an immensely growing arsenal for players to take down any demons in their way. The movement is great and there’s a lot of variety between ground and aerial attacks between the three characters. Each of their attacks can be improved by visiting Nico’s van and players can improve their stats and purchase new abilities by collecting red orbs. Not to mention, while Nico’s van can be accessed in between missions, it’s incredibly fun to find phone booths throughout the level and seeing Nico drive to you regardless of where you are. The enemies are great, and they work together well to create a varied demon army ready to kill the first demon hunter they see. They also have excellent designs and pose a fair challenge, especially on harder difficulties. The boss fights are absolutely epic with large-scale fights that feel unique with each of the protagonist’s different play-style.
Dante is still as fun as ever to control and it’s refreshing to see him again after such a long hiatus. Throughout the game players, players will obtain different kinds of hand-held and long-range weapons that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of gameplay styles. Dante’s signature sword, Rebellion, makes a valiant return along with a heightened version of King Cerberus from DMC 3. Through his journey, though, he acquires some new weapons, including a set of buzzsaw-like that can combine into a motorcycle called Cavaliere and a pair of armored boots and gauntlets called Blarog in order for players get even more up-close and personal. Dante also brings back his trusty hand-guns, Ebony and Ivory, as well as his trusty shotgun to blast through demons and he even takes Lady’s rocket launcher to take out large groups of enemies. There’s also a newer kind of weapon in Dante’s arsenal, a hat named Dr. Faust that uses player’s red orbs to deal damage through either direct hits or by firing orbs at enemies like a Gatling gun.
The second you start to play as Dante, his vibrant personality and cool quips make you feel like you’re really playing Devil May Cry again. From his high-flying energy that comes with each slash of Rebellion and each time he pulls the trigger to the crazy sequences that come when he gets a new weapon, it feels like a breath of fresh air seeing him like this. Things only get better with how this new iteration allows players to easily switch between different swords and guns easily to make new combinations for Dante to go into battle with. Players can have even more variety with each battle by changing Dante’s style, which allows players to put a stronger focus and enhance one of Dante’s attributes. Maybe players want to shift into the Trickster style for quick evasion from enemy attacks, use the Royal Guard Style to block and counter enemy attacks, or switch on the Swordmaster style just as they start a combo to incredibly enhance it. Personally, the Gunslinger style is my favorite as using the shotgun or the rocket launcher with it and activating Dante’s Devil Trigger, which gives players even more power, to make the ultimate power move.
Nero’s return is also pretty spectacular as while he might have lost an arm due to a mysterious foe, the inclusion of the Devil Breaker leads to some fun combat. While Nero’s Red Queen sword and Blue Queen Revolver make their return, Nero has a new tool up his sleeve in the form of robotic arms that he can collect through different missions and buy from Nico. With each robotic arm comes a new sense of power that players have at their fingertips and a new way to go into battle. Whether players want to use Overture to damage enemies with an electric burst, Ragtime to slow down enemies to unleash a fury of attacks, Punchline to launch a fly fist that devastates enemies, or any of the other Devil Breakers Nero has, there’s no punches to be pulled when playing as Nero. Not to mention, hearing the song “Devil Trigger” play every time he went into battle, just sets the mood perfectly.
The final playable protagonist, V, has an incredibly different play-style and he actually became my favorite to play as because of how unique he his. Rather than just attacking enemies himself, V taps into his dark abilities to summon help from strong creatures. For aerial support, players will have the charming Griffon, who gives enemies damage from a distance and has some funny banter with V in cut-scenes. To get up close and personal, V summons Panther to hack and slash through enemies and when his Devil Trigger is activated he summons the towering Nightmare, a giant Golem-like creature, to decimate groups of enemies. What’s so oddly satisfying about playing as V though has to be how he has to use his cane to deal the final blow to enemies. I’m not sure exactly why, but there’s just something so satisfying about it and I really enjoyed how each final blow was different for each enemy.
Now, while the gameplay more than deserves a “SSS” rank, the story is more of “C” rank because of it’s familiarity and how it’s told. DMC V‘s story isn’t bad or anything like that and it’s about as good as many of the other stories, but it just lacks something to make it special. Don’t get me wrong, the dialogue and relationships are great and certain story moments, like Nero finding out Vergil is his father and Dante running into Cerberus again, are awesome. However, the use of flashbacks and delving into past events really bogs down the pacing of the story and reiterates points that don’t need to be. Honestly, the “surprise” of V being the human part of Vergil and Urizen being his demon part was underwhelming from the start and doesn’t really go anywhere special. Not to mention, this “surprise” is constantly retreaded through unnecessary dialogue and reveals to other characters that feel pointless as the player because it’s so obvious.
Thankfully, though, there’s much more to DMC V than just it’s lackluster story as there’s a variety of game modes and additions that heighten the experience. There’s a bunch of hidden challenges placed throughout certain missions that test player’s skill and will make them search every corner to find them all. There’s a great post-game horde mode, called Bloody Palace, that allows players to destroy hordes of demons and paint the floor with blood. There’s also a variety of difficulties that gives players the ultimate grind and gives them a chance to use their gold orbs for a second chance. There’s even some diverging story paths between the three protagonists that could be worth replaying for and there’s even an attempt to have some kind of multiplayer element to the game. It’s a nice attempt, but it doesn’t really go anywhere as the pace of the game and missions don’t really warrant many times for players to run into one another.
Even with its story faults, Devil May Cry V is an incredible leap for the series with gameplay that’s addictive, stylish, and incredibly fun. There’s an incredible amount of variation between its three protagonists and plenty of content to keep players coming back for more. Hopefully, the future of the franchise can find more to show with series other than just Dante vs. Vergil battle we expect to see, but with what it presents for Lady, Trish, and Nero, I don’t think there’s much to worry about.