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Devil May Cry 5

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: March 8, 2019

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Xbox One Review - 'Devil May Cry 5'

by Cody Medellin on March 6, 2019 @ 8:00 a.m. PST

Several years have passed in Devil May Cry 5, and although Dante is missing, the threat of demonic power has returned. A demon tree has taken root in Red Grave City. This attracts the attention of young demon hunter Nero, who lost his demonic arm, which was the source of his power.

Buy Devil May Cry 5

For some, the thought of a real sequel to the original Devil May Cry series was something of a myth. The remastering of the original four games seemed like par for the course for Capcom, who remastered a good chunk of its catalog quite often. DmC: Devil May Cry was a reboot and a solid game, but it was quite divisive among fans and was still remastered. When news broke last year that Devil May Cry 5 was indeed coming, many wondered if the developer could still re-create the series' combo-heavy, stylish action. The simple answer is yes.

If you wanted some proof that this is a true sequel to the main series, look no further than the included "History of DMC" movie, which doesn't mention Ninja Theory's entry in the lore. Instead, the movie focuses on the Capcom-developed titles. A bulk of it focuses on Devil May Cry 3 and Devil May Cry 4. Keep in mind that the movie is mostly text-based with fancy fonts, some illustrations, and no spoken words. It isn't required viewing, but it's a good refresher if you haven't played the series in a while.


The story starts off with an event in progress, as Red Grave City has been invaded by a giant demonic tree and the demons lying in wait within. You encounter Nero and a new character named V as they're inside the tree and trying to catch up to Dante, who's already fighting the head demon, Urizen. By the time they make it to the main chamber room, Dante is winded from an attack. After a failed battle, both Nero and V are forced to retreat while the city remains under siege by demons. One month later, Nero returns to town with his friend and weaponsmith Nico in tow, vowing to rescue Dante and put an end to the invasion.

The plot itself is solid enough for these types of games, and it has some good twists along the way, but the characters and exaggerated incidents really drive the series. Nero's cocky attitude and penchant for quips are immediately apparent in the opening sequence, but he does get into a fair share of cool but ridiculous cut scenes. The title sequence, for example, sees him jump through a moving van's window to dispatch some demons before jumping back into the passenger seat of the van. That same sequence also has Nico driving the van recklessly to hit some demons; her own cocky attitude and Southern accent make her an immediately likeable sidekick. Dante is pretty much the template for Nero, while V's reserved demeanor is a nice change of pace.

If you're unfamiliar with the series or the games that were inspired by it (like Bayonetta), Devil May Cry 5 is a third-person action game with an emphasis on stylish combat. While you encounter small pockets of enemies that roam freely in the environments, most of your enemy encounters and all of your boss encounters tend to take place in wide, closed-off arenas where the only way to get through is to kill everyone who spawns inside. Each battle is graded with a letter system that goes from D to SSS, and the grade is dependent on you not getting hit while landing lots of hit combos in a short amount of time. Combos are lengthened with projectile weapons, but your melee moves are the ones that'll boost the letter grade significantly. Aside from that, you'll mostly collect different gems to boost your health, refill your Devil trigger meter for special abilities, and obtain currency that can be used to buy new combos and abilities to keep the combo cycle going.


DMC5 now gives you three different heroes to play with, and while their core gameplay mechanics are similar, there are some big differences between the characters. Dante is the most familiar of the trio, since he's been the hero for most of the games thus far, and his move set is based on what he had in DMC3. His arsenal of firearms is small, and the same goes for his melee weapons, but he has the ability to switch them out at any time. He also happens to have four different fighting styles that either emphasize gunplay, swordplay, a balance of both, or defense.

Nero is very similar to Dante in that he has a pistol and a sword, but he doesn't have other weapons or a fighting style. His sword can be charged up from a stronger attack. He can grapple enemies from a distance, so he can either pull himself toward them or vice versa to continue combos or have a handy escape path available. He also has the Devil Breaker, which is basically a prosthetic arm. Depending on which arm he has, his capabilities can include releasing an electric shock, rocket-powered punch, and firing up spinning blades. The good news is that he can buy new arms from Nico or find them lying around the environment, and depending on his loadout, he can house multiple arms on his person and switch them out on the fly. The bad news is that the arms are fragile, so repeated use in a short amount of time means that they can be destroyed, forcing you to either pick another arm or go armless for a bit. The explosion can also be done manually to help you escape from an enemy's grasp or deliver additional damage when you know you can pick up a new arm nearby.

V is the final playable character, and at first, he doesn't seem like a good fit for the series. He can't attack directly; he has a bird deliver projectile attacks and a panther perform melee strikes, while a large stone behemoth arrives when V activates his devil trigger. The only attacking that V can do is deliver the final blow to fallen enemies, so you'd believe that all he really needs to do is stand back and warp to an enemy when necessary. However, he still needs to actively dodge foes, and since his familiars can get knocked out for a short period of time, he either needs to become aware of his surroundings so he doesn't get hurt or take a chance and stay near his creatures to ensure they're always regenerating health. Once you get acquainted with him, you'll be busting out S-rank performances with ease, and he's a nice change from the involved hacking, juggling and shooting of both Dante and Nero.


All three protagonists contribute to the game's reputation of fast action, with an emphasis on combos and melee. Once you fully power them up, you'll also realize that the controls tend to punish button-mashers, as almost every big move and combo either requires precise button presses of the same attack, a combination of using the shoulder buttons in concert with both analog directional tilts and button presses, or a mix of the two. There's real mastery needed to pull off something stylish with the default controls, and things don't get any easier when you realize that enemies can block your moves and you can sometimes parry attacks. For those who lack finger dexterity, there is an option to have the game simplify the controls for combos and moves. This is a much easier way to get S ranks and above, but you get penalized by having your final score cut by 20%. Also, the simplification harms Dante, as the game automatically changes weapons for you during combat, often leaving you bewildered.

No matter which control style you use, the level design makes good use of all combat mechanics. Each of the arenas is enough space for you to bust out every move without feeling too crowded or having the camera get stuck in awkward places. The pacing between fighting portions and exploration portions is consistent, and it never feels like you're lingering on one part for too long. The levels are linear in nature, but they uphold the tradition of the older titles by having tons of little places where you'll be richly rewarded with orbs if you can find a way to reach them. Those bits, along with the excellent boss fights, are important since the game is quite lengthy, clocking in close to double-digit playthrough hours spread over 20 levels.


Interestingly, DMC5 comes with some built-in online functionality that you wouldn't expect from the series. Each day you log into the game, you'll get a free gold orb that can be used to continue with full health if you die. While in the game, you'll encounter ghost recordings and live performances of players as other characters in the story. Voting them as being stylish at the end of the level gives them a gold orb, and you get the same reward if your recording is chosen and voted. They seem like small things, but the rewards benefit slower players, since they can take the game at a more gradual pace and have an easier time thanks to the free continues.

Aside from the campaign, there's more to DMC5 beyond the standard art galleries and extra bits of lore. Due to the game's branching paths, there's an opportunity to replay some stages as different characters to see their enemy path. Beating the game the first time gives you access to a higher difficulty level that'll challenge those who thought the game was too easy on normal difficulty, but your character progress carries over, so the challenge isn't too tough. There's no way to fully power up all abilities for all three protagonists in one run, so grinding via replaying the campaign or certain levels is necessary if you want to see everyone maxed out.


Beating the game also means that you can replay the campaign at any difficulty level and have your first kill of any enemy type recorded as pictures for the in-game bestiary. The secret challenge levels in the campaign can also be replayed to improve times and unlock extra orb pieces, while The Void allows you to practice any move and combo you purchase, something you could also do before you purchase the upgrade in the first place. Finally, if you're willing to wait for the patch in April, you'll have access to the Bloody Palace survival mode for free.

DMC5 is the first time that Capcom's new RE Engine is being used outside of the Resident Evil series, and for what it's worth, it'll be tough to imagine any of its other realistic-looking games going with anything else. The human characters, both minor and major, look absolutely gorgeous with their animations. Skin and hair textures match up to create people who look realistic without delving into the uncanny valley. The monsters look equally as good, but they're very grotesque — in a good way.

The backdrops are the typical ruins you'd see in postapocalyptic games, minus the greenery, while the inside of the tree looks like a demonic labyrinth, complete with shiny semi-organic floors and windows. The outdoor scenes benefit from the brightness that comes from mostly being set during the day, but they aren't scenes you'd want to ogle for long periods of time. The game is rife with particle effects floating all the time, so scenes look rich. For the most part, the game held with 60fps during gameplay on an Xbox One X set to 1080p, but we didn't have a 4K set to properly test. Only the cut scenes took a drop to 30fps, but that wasn't consistent, as there were times when it would jump to 60fps, albeit without the scene looking erratic as that jump occurred.


Audio-wise, the series has always been excellent, and that tradition continues here. The voice acting is excellent all around, as many of the original voice actors have come back to reprise their roles, while the new ones mesh in rather well with the original cast. There's also a Japanese language option available via a patch for those who prefer it. The soundtrack is also very nice, with the interesting twist of having each character's own battle themes play whenever they fight. The transition between battle theme and level music is well done; it doesn't feel jarring no matter how many times you move in and out of combat.

Devil May Cry 5 is a must-play title for action fans. The action is fast and fluid, and its accommodations for both skilled and new players make it easier for everyone to enjoy the gameplay. The title is packed with a healthy amount of levels and several different hooks to keep you playing after you finish the campaign. The presentation is stunning, and while the game does contain microtransactions, they can easily be ignored. Capcom has another winner on its hands, and DMC5 is an early contender for game of the year.

Score: 9.0/10



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