Fans of the Devil May Cry series may want to cover their ears – or more aptly their eyes – for this preview as it might not sit well with some, especially those who have an unfounded hate against the new look Dante. I say this because, although I completely expected Ninja Theory to produce a winner, I was overwhelmingly surprised by just how good DmC feels to play – it’s just fantastic.
Having never produced a blockbuster title, despite the high production values found in every one of their games, I’ve always said that the British developer just needed to get its hands on a killer IP to produce stock shifting gold. Thankfully Capcom realised this and placed their precious Devil May Cry brand into their hands. It’s great to see that instead of attempting to rescue the dying series from the jaws of death that came with Devil May Cry 4, Ninja Theory have instead boiled the series down to its essence and rebooted the series around its core values.
The most obvious change to the series is the visual style. As most fans have noticed already, Dante no longer looks like the high camp Dante of Hideki Kamiya’s games. Pleasingly this means that the game can already head down a much darker and more mature route; and it really does: piling on the weird right from the outset and layering it on thickly. Taking place within the demonic and mysteriously sentient Limbo City, walls break and breathe – revealing fleshy tissue that bellows forth from cracks growing over buildings and blocking pathways. If that wasn’t enough you’ll spend sections running away from the pursuing city that narrows streets in an effort to crush you, or literally takes the ground from beneath your feet so it can swallow you whole.
One section towards the end of the first demo available at Eurogamer Expo sees perspective ever shifting; extending easily jumpable gaps into wide gulfs you’ll have to cross. It’s mind-bending stuff, and genuinely breaths life back into a franchise that had become so focused on displaying its ‘weird’ side through demonic flame beasts and shambling demons. That’s not to say that this isn’t also found in DmC, as enemies are your shambling bloodthirsty demonic beings as well as vengeful fallen-angel-type creatures too.
Pleasingly Ninja Theory haven’t changed combat too much either – as DMC already had a rather tight combat system in place. They have spruced it up and brought in ‘Angel’ and ‘Demon’ modes though, which really change up the games pace nicely. You can also change weapons on the fly, meaning you can really change up your combos and get those ‘Stylish’ ranks. One neat feature about the Angel and Demon moves you can perform is the subtle visual touch they have. Angel moves will always pull you up towards a location or enemy; all Angel moves are also light and fast in combat. Conversely Demon moves will drag enemies down towards you, or pull objects towards you; and in combat they are slower and heavier moves. Although it’s a small touch, it definitely makes an association in your mind meaning you almost instinctively know what to use in a situation.
Slated for a 2013 release means that DmC still has a little way to go before you’ll be sliding it into a disk drive of the console of your choice, but it also means that Ninja Theory can refine what they have to the point of perfection. It’s impossible to see why anybody could dislike this game after they’ve had a chance to have a go with it – even those who have some irrational vehement dislike for the new look. It may not feel as slick as Platinum Games’ Bayonetta but this new badass Dante totally trumps what previous Devil May Cry games could offer.