It’s been a long time coming but Devil May Cry is finally back! Eleven years after Capcom released Devil May Cry 4 they have finally returned to the mainline series. Yes there was the spin-off DmC game that Ninja Theory created but for long time DMC fans like myself this is the game we have been waiting on. We wanted to know what came next for Dante, Nero, Trish, and many of our other favorite characters. We wanted answers to some questions the franchise has been sitting on. I’m happy to say that Devil May Cry 5 delivers on all fronts and is not one of the best DMC games but one of the finest action games ever made.
I want to point out right away that there won’t be any story spoilers in this review so worry not. I’ll touch on some things seen in the trailers but that’s about it. If you’ve never played a Devil May Cry game before you don’t really need to either in order to enjoy this one. There is a story so far option on the menu that does a pretty good job of catching you up on the events and characters of the previous four games. Longtime fans though will enjoy it more and get more out of the experience much like any franchise. The basic story in this one goes that a powerful new demon has appeared in Red Grave City and it’s up to Dante, Nero, and a mysterious new character named V to stop it. Devil May Cry has always been over the top and this one is no exception. Some of the things that happen in the story are crazy and super cool and there are plenty of fan service moments for longtime fans like myself throughout. Needless to say I had a grin on my face so many times while playing and by the end was very pleased with the story and character development that Capcom delivered.
The game is divided up into 20 main missions with 12 secret missions that I’ll touch on later. You get to play as Nero, Dante, and V but not all at one time. Instead you’ll play some missions as Nero, some as V, and later on some as Dante. Then there are some missions where the game gives you the choice of picking from two of them or from all three of them. The nice thing about it is all three play very differently and take a lot of learning in order to master. Just like all of the past games Devil May Cry 5’s gameplay is all about looking stylish while you play. As you fight demons you want to try to mix up your attacks to build a style meter that goes from D all the way up to SSS. Every character has a physical attack, a ranged attack, and then a special like attack unique to them tied to the circle button.
Nero is the first one you’ll play as and he is armed with his Red Queen sword and Blue Rose gun. The Red Queen can be revved up with the L2 button just like in DMC4 in order to increase the damage you do on your next strike. You can hold the square button to charge up the Blue Rose as well for a stronger ranged attack. Then there is the real depth of Nero and that is his circle attack which is his Devil Breaker. These are now mechanical arms that a new character named Nico has built for him to use. You can carry a few different ones at a time but can only use one at a time and each one has different abilities. One is similar to his arm from DMC4 and lets you scoop up enemies and slam them down. Another is a rocket arm that shoots off and punches an enemy over and over letting you focus on attacking a different enemy at the same time. Something else cool about that one is that if you hold circle when it returns to you you are then able to jump on and ride it like a hoverboard. Now some people don’t like that can’t switch between the Devil Breakers at will but I think it adds more depth to Nero. At any time you can press L1 and that will basically blow your current arm up damaging any enemies around you in the process. You can use that to get out of bad situations or to get the to next arm in your lineup. Also if you are hit while using your arm it will also be destroyed so be careful about that. You can also grab and pull enemies to you or get zoomed to them with Nero’s arm by locking on with R1 and pressing the circle button. Learning to chain all of his various moves together and get SSS ranks was so satisfying but he is just one third of the playable cast.
V is the next one you’ll gain control of in the game and he plays completely different than any character in the franchise yet. V doesn’t fight himself but rather relies on these shadow pets that he has. His ranged attack is a shadow bird named Griffon while his physical attack is a shadow panther named Shadow. His style is a bit more button mashy as you want to move V around and try to stay away from enemies while pressing the Square and Triangle buttons to make his two allies attack. He takes a little getting used to but after a little while I was racking up high style ranks with ease with him. Both the bird and panther each have a health meter you need to keep an eye on as if they take too much damage they will be knocked out of the fight for brief time. V also has a devil trigger meter that when full enough lets you summon his third ally called Nightmare. Nightmare is basically the Hulk and makes his entrance either by crashing through walls or falling from the sky. He’s slow but very powerful and if you buy a certain skill you can even have V jump on and ride him.
Dante is the last character you’ll gain control of and he is by far the deepest which is fitting for the legendary devil hunter. Dante has a range of both swords and guns he can equip and use and unlike Nero’s arm you are free to switch between them during battle. R2 and L2 let you switch between his guns and swords but it doesn’t stop there. Dante also has his four fighting styles from past games that you can switch between on the fly using the direction pad. These are Gunslinger, Swordmaster, Trickster, and Royal Guard all of which change the circle button ability for him. He also has his devil trigger that when activated gives him even stronger attacks. All of that may seem overwhelming to some players and it could be but you can also just focus on one weapon at a time and get comfortable with that. It’s when you start to get comfortable with Dante and able to switch between his weapons and styles in mid-combos that you really feel like a badass. By the way if you ever don’t like a certain action being tied to one button you can go into the options and remap every button to your liking.
The enemies you encounter in the game are varied and are constantly changing as well. You’ll encounter new ones all the time with each one being introduced via a short cutscene. Each enemy has a different combat style and patterns that you’ll have to learn in order to take them out while remaining stylish. They start off pretty easy but some of the later enemies like the Death Scissors start to get more challenging. Then there are the boss battles which are a trademark of any Devil May Cry game and the ones here are some of the best the franchise has ever seen. Just about all of them felt epic and they all almost are introduced with badass cutscenes. One boss fight that happens about halfway through the game while playing as Dante might be my favorite in the whole franchise.
The levels themselves in the game are mostly linear and maybe more so than past games. There absolutely are still optional paths to explore and you should venture off on them when possible as they usually always lead to something worthwhile. This can be red orbs which is the currency this franchise has always used to purchase new moves and abilities. Then there are blue and purple fragments to find, which when you gather four of each, will upgrade your health and devil trigger meters. Secret missions are another thing you can stumble upon. To start these you have to stand in a certain spot and turn the camera to fill in a pattern to start the mission. There are 12 in total and each one has a different objective. One has you zipping from point to point as Nero without touching the ground while another has you fighting off enemies as Dante without letting your style meter drop below an S rank. Most of them weren’t too challenging and I only had to retry the ones I failed the first time a couple more times to beat them. Beating them rewards you with a blue orb fragment so they are worth doing if you want to upgrade your health bar all the way.
The other thing I’ll say about the level design is that Capcom did something I think the franchise is better off with and that’s getting rid of all the other things you used to do in these levels. By that I mean there is really no puzzle solving or platforming to do in Devil May Cry 5. I don’t know if any other fans out there enjoyed these bits but in my opinion they were the worst parts of the old games. The platforming never felt good and the puzzles just seemed to be there to drag the game out more. The closest thing you get to a puzzle in DMC5 is having to pick up a bug like thing to use on a wall to clear a path and one other moment in the game where you have to use blood to fill some fountains. Other than that there is no puzzle here as the game focuses more on what it does best and that is the action. Because of that the game feels really well paced and never felt slowed down or got annoying like past entries would. That said a little bit more variety in the environments would’ve been nice as it seemed like there were only a handful of locations throughout the whole game.
So how about that presentation? Well Devil May Cry 5 was built using the RE engine used in both Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil 2 Remake and man does it look good here. This is seriously one of the best looking games available right now in pretty much every technical area of the game. The character models in the in-engine cutscenes simply look unreal. The animation likewise is outstanding as you move about unleashing all of your stylish combos. The game has a Photo mode as well and pausing the game at any time I was just blown away by the faces and how good everything looked. I do wish the Photo mode was a little more in depth with options for filters, and adjusting all kinds of parameters like other games have but this one is pretty much limited to just moving the camera and zooming in and out. The cutscene direction is shot so darn good too and that is evident from the opening credits that have Nero blasting demons in slow motion. Seeing things here like how his jacket realistically wraps around him without clipping through him while moving just further shows how impressive this game is technically. I didn’t even mention that even with everything happening on screen the action holds at a steady 60fps on the PS4 Pro which is even more astounding given how incredible it all looks.
The audio is superb as well whether it be the voice acting or the rocking soundtrack. All of the characters do a great job delivering their lines with Nico being one of my favorites. She’s the new character that builds the arms for Nero and sells you stuff and she always manages to steal the scenes that she is in with funny banter. The sound of your swords slashing through demons and guns blasting them to bits is super satisfying and the I think this is my favorite DMC soundtrack yet. I don’t ever get tired of listening to Devil Trigger and that one boss fight I mentioned where you are playing as Dante? Yeah that has my favorite music in the whole series. The whole thing is just rock and dance music and I am here for that always.
So you may be wondering what I didn’t like? Well as I mentioned I would’ve liked a bit more variety in the environments for one and some better Photo mode options. Also Trish and Lady are in the game but they don’t do much which is a little disappointing given how badass those two have been in past games. Also, there is a thing about the difficulty that while it didn’t bother me might bother others. The game gives you two options at the start to play either Human or Devil Hunter. I played on Devil Hunter and for the most part found it to be quite easy. Now Devil May Cry as a franchise has tons of difficulty modes that you unlock that get harder and harder but in the past the default difficulty has been pretty challenging. That isn’t so this time around and some may be bothered by that. I wasn’t as the game is meant to be played more than once. I also consider keeping your style meter up part of the challenge and anytime I’d get hit by an enemy even on Devil Hunter I felt like I was failing a bit. Trust me you’ll get the challenge you want when you play on Son of Sparda, Dante Must Die, Heaven and Hell, and Hell and Hell difficulties.
Then there are the load screens to deal with. Again these didn’t bother me much but the game could do with a few less of them. Pretty much anytime you start a new mission it goes like this: load screen, cutscene, load screen, set up mission screen, load screen. The load times are short but they still seem a little excessive. If you have the deluxe edition content you get access to some costumes. Those also have a separate screen before every mission that adds another 5 second load screen to the game. Another thing I’ll mention is that while the game does let you buy red orbs with real money I saw no reason to at all. On my first playthrough I racked up plenty of orbs for various skills so I never felt a need to buy any. There are a few skills that are 3 million orbs each which is a lot but you can easily get that much. You can either keep playing the game or there is even an easy spot to farm a ton of orbs very quickly.
There is an online function to the game as well that I found rather curious. Basically certain missions will have one or both of the other characters you aren’t playing as somewhere on screen where you can’t get to. They are basically on an alternate path as you. Those other characters are actual people playing as them. While that is kind of cool I never saw much of a point in it. It could’ve just as well been a CPU since you don’t interact with them in those points at all. There are a couple missions in the game where you do actually get to stand by these other players and have them help you but again I didn’t see much point in it. You can’t invite or match up with people you want it’s all just random. At the end of the mission you can choose to rate their performance as stylish which sends them a gold orb if you do. The same thing will happen to you if you appear in someone else’s game. Gold orbs are used to revive yourself if you die and in my time with the game were plentiful. I still had 15 when I finished the game and you also get one for free every day as a login bonus.
Everything in Devil May Cry 5 is ridiculous in the best way possible. The action and combat system are ridiculously deep. The graphics and music are ridiculously good and the story and fan service is ridiculous as well. I was constantly blown away by new things that the game would bring to the table as I kept playing whether it was new weapons, enemies, boss fights, or story beats. I had to wait eleven long years to see these characters again and it was very much worth it. Devil May Cry 5 is the, as Dante would say, jackpot!
*Devil May Cry 5 is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro on Version 1.04. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.