Let’s get this cleared up right off the bat. Devil May Cry 5 isn’t only challenging for the title of the best game in the series, but for the best game in Capcom’s entire roster. If that’s not ambition, I don’t know what is.
From the crazy opening title scenes all the way through to the end credits, Devil May Cry 5 delivers a thrill ride of neon colours, memorable characters and razor sharp gameplay that’s as entertaining as it is insane.
It’s not all plain sailing mind you, but it’s about as close to it that the series has been in a long time; so let’s dive in.
Devil May Cry 5 kicks off after the events of DMC 4, with a mysterious man known as V approaching Dante to bring down a powerful demon. His search takes him to Red Grave City (which is basically London in all but name) where he bumps into Nero, who’s set up his own on-wheels version of the Devil May Cry agency.
Nero, with his engineer Nico, is out trying to find the reprobate that stole his demon arm, and the unlikely gang team up to take down Urizon, who it turns out is the source of all their woes.
In typical DMC fashion, the story and characters are campy and over the top in a way that if you stop to think about it all too much, you’ll probably go cross-eyed. But that’s what we’ve come to expect from the series, so if you’re willing to roll with the punches, it’s a fun ride from start to end.
The experience clocks in at around 15 hours before you look at replaying levels to attain that coveted Triple S ranking, and honing your new-found skills on the hapless demon enemies.
Over the course of the game you’ll get to play as three main characters; Dante, Nero and our new friend V. All of whom play uniquely, and switching between them every few missions or so really helps break up the combat and keeps gameplay fresh.
Each character has their own special abilities and devil triggers that you can use in tense combat situations so you never feel completely overwhelmed with the tools at your disposal.
V is an interesting new addition to the roster as he uses his demons Shadow, Griffon and Nightmare to attack foes, while he hangs back at a safe distance. This forces you to think more tactically about how you approach a battle, and he’s dropped in at just the right time so you don’t get too comfortable or set in your ways.
Nero and Dante control much more like you’d expect from the classic DMC pairing, but the inclusion of Nero’s “Devil Breaker” arms are an interesting shake up to the tried and tested formula.
Each arm will force you to think strategically about how you’re going to hit an enemy. For example, the Cerebral arm will let you send out a shockwave or powerful beam of energy at enemies, while the Ragtime emits a time-slowing field allowing you to get extra hits in on an enemy. They unlock gradually over the course of the game and it’s well worth trying them all out to find your favourite.
You also have the ability to purchase new moves and items before every mission (and sometimes during missions) from Nico’s van. Stocking up on red orbs throughout the course of a mission and splurging on a new set of combos always gives you something new to try out in the field, but even a novice can string together something resembling a decent attack if you’re not looking to get too heavily involved in the combat.
Outside of the nitty gritty, set piece battles and the general spectacle of the game are absolutely perfect. There are some things so clinically insane that you could only get away with doing them in a Devil May Cry game.
You can tell there’s a huge amount of fan service being paid here, and it really leans into the “well why the hell can’t we do that?” aspect. I really don’t want to spoil some of the wilder moments, but rest assured you’ll be chuckling along at the sheer ludicrous-ness of the whole affair.
If there’s one thing that’s apparent immediately, it’s that this is a gorgeous game. Running in Capcom’s RE Engine (the same one used for the Resident Evil 2 Remake) all the areas are gorgeously well realised and pulsate with a distinctly British energy. Red double-decker busses, Tube trains, even things like the bins are quintessentially recognisable as London.
Having said that, some of the hellish locations do tend to look samey, and the underground areas are a little drab, awash with browns and greys. Also, people with trypophobia are definitely going to have a bad time. You’ve been warned.
Another thing that will grate over time are the overly numerous loading screens. You’ll be hit with them between missions, cutscenes, menus and more leaving you twiddling your thumbsticks while you wait for the action to start.
As an aside, it’s well worth digging through those menus and reading up on the notes that Nico makes on key things like characters, enemies and items etc. You can also check out some of the hilariously wholesome developer made cutscenes. This adds nothing to the game of course, but it’s a very cute touch nonetheless.
When the gameplay does actually start though, it is unquestionably excellent. It’s an absolute joy to weave together a big combo, dancing between enemy attacks and laying down judgement on the poor demons that cross your path. Boss battles also litter the levels allowing you to flex your creative muscles as you figure out the best way to take them down.
Another neat little touch is that as you begin to build a combo, the game’s titular song Devil Trigger will play and ramp up in intensity, mixing in a slow build of adrenaline that keeps you on your toes during fights.
The character design in this game is top notch across the board as well. Demons look suitably hideous and drip feeding them into battle will help keep your head on a swivel as you need to be aware of the new threats they all pose. The DMC cast too, all look exceptional. You can see individual hair follicles on Dante’s face and it’s a true testament to the RE Engine, that nothing ever really hits the dreaded uncanny valley.
Devil May Cry 5 is a true and worthy entry into the series, and will give fans everything they’ve been waiting for. Newcomers may find themselves a little lost at sea in all the shenanigans sometimes, but sticking with it will pay dividends come the closing titles.
Some occasional drab level design and overly lengthy loading screens do little to dull the shining beacon of a game that this is, and the obvious amounts of love and care that have gone into making it are readily apparent.
It draws on the experience of its predecessors to create visually stunning and physically demanding gameplay, especially at the higher difficulties. So whether you’re an old demon hunter or a young whelp fresh on the scene, Devil May Cry 5 is well worth your money.
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