Devil May Cry 5 Review
Developed by Capcom and directed by series veteran Hideaki Itsuno, Devil May Cry 5 is a game we secretly wished for but never expected to come to fruition. Given the lackluster reception to the attempted franchise reboot in DMC: Devil May Cry, it was easy to think the legacy that was built with Dante was behind us. However, Devil May Cry 5 ignores the previous entry and picks up shortly after the events of the fourth game, this time following the previous protagonist and third child of Sparda, Nero. With the fate of the world at stake and once again invaded by demons, Nero and the iconic cast of the DMC series must come together to prevent global catastrophe.
The Devil May Cry franchise has always been one of captivating beauty, often reflecting gothic architecture, modern chaos, and a splash of stylish gore that has helped cement the series’ iconic status. Using current gen consoles to their fullest potential, Nero’s latest mission looks absolutely gorgeous with incredible photorealism. Everything from the characters, the demons, and even the environment itself looks breathtaking as you fill your surroundings with the entrails of your foes. Cutscenes, in particular, are directed and crafted so well I found myself hoping for this to turn into a feature-length movie, with the bond between Nero, Nico, and V, molded with such nuance that it’s easy to believe they are longtime allies, if not still comfortably estranged.
Dante’s Packed on a Few Pounds
With the original DMC team returning to work on the game, anyone who has played a Devil May Cry game will feel mostly at home with the combat and controls of Nero. Mostly. Having played the first three games in the recent remaster trilogy, I was used to the pace and speed that Dante set as opposed to the slower and slightly more methodical Nero. His single gun packs more punch but fires slower, his single jump is effective for dodging but in combat, he has to rely on grappling to move around the battlefield quickly. He feels heavier than Dante yet the game as a whole feels much more forgiving than its predecessors.
The new Devil Breaker mechanic can be fun, but it isn’t explained particularly well in game how all of it works. Nero is missing the demonic part of his right arm and in its place Nico has built a series of replacement arms, each with unique abilities. You can find arms scattered throughout a level, as well as choose your loadout whenever you reach the van. Arms will break down after being used too much and can also be sacrificed and detonated for massive damage, however, I have yet to find an option to cycle through the available arms in my loadout while in the field. It’s a neat mechanic to add and offers more customization to your combat.
The real standout addition to the game is the newcomer, V. With a mysterious background and untold powers, you’ll eventually get the chance to play as V in the story and while it took me a short time to adjust to his unique playstyle and controls, I found myself hoping for V to get his own game down the road. Being physically weaker, V’s combat abilities come from summoning Griffon, a demonic bird, and Shadow, a demonic panther. Each one is controlled with a face button and so you simply need to keep V away from combat and control these familiars from a distance. V must deal the killing blow to end an enemy, and he does so in style with his unique cane sword, often following it up with an articulate quip or quote from his book. If V were to get his own game with these same mechanics I would happily play it.
For those jumping into Devil May Cry for the first time, the game offers a very well written recap of the previous games to catch you up to speed – the series did launch back in 2001 after all – and for those who are familiar with the exploits of Dante, it proves to be a fantastic refresher in case you forgot some of the key points of what the Son of Sparda has done and how Nero came into the picture. I would also be remiss if I neglected to mention just how stellar the soundtrack for DMC 5 is. This has always been a series about pumping some hard music into your face while you slash demons to pieces, but this year feels a cut above. Each riff, each raspy, screamed lyric only adds to the atmosphere and sense of total badassness that Nero exudes.
It’s Bloody Gorgeous
In fact beyond the somewhat complex controls which can take a little while to get used to, the only real downside I came across in the game was minor frame-rate issues during cutscenes, and even then it happened rarely. Whether you loved or hated the attempted reboot, Devil May Cry 5 should put even the most hardcore fans concerns to rest. The action is bloody amazing, the graphics are drop-dead gorgeous, and Nero owns every moment of his screen time with an iron fist.
Devil May Cry 5 excels at bringing back that iconic feeling the franchise is known for and does so with killer style, strategic, fast-paced combat, and a pumping soundtrack. With a cast of both familiar faces in Trish and Lady, as well as newcomers Nico and V, this is a game that gives me confidences for the future of the Devil May Cry series. Every cutscene feels like it belongs in a movie, and every battle feels powerful and intense as each new ability is unlocked. The only fault the game has shown me is a drop in frame rate during a few cutscenes but is definitely nothing to be worried about. Devil May Cry is back with a vengeance.
**Xbox One code provided by the publisher**
- Familiar Combat
- Iconic Nuanced Characters
- Gorgeous Environments
- Killer Soundtrack
- Occasional Frame Rate Issues
- Slightly Complex Controls