I could have spent more time devising the perfect opening line, but I’ve been too engrossed in DMC5. All other aspects of my existence, whether it be uni or hanging with friends, have turned into mere intervals between sessions of attaining SSS ranks. The gameplay is satisfying, the visuals are amazing, and even the story is good! This is a game that is hard to fault. No caveat. No buts. DMC5 is crystallised fun distilled through a filter of stylishness that only the sons of Sparda could pull off.
DMC5 follows the trials and tribulations of Nero, Dante and the mysterious V. When the Qliphoth emerges from the underworld like a satanic vineyard experiment gone awry, everyone’s favourite son of Sparda is contracted to cut it down. Our three lads go up, meet a demon king by the name of Urizen, and promptly get their asses handed to them. Dante sacrifices himself to save Nero and V, but is he really dead? Is Nero capable of defeating Urizen himself? And who the hell is V anyway!? Well, no, kind of, and you probably already know, but I don’t want to post any spoilers here. Suffice it to say that the answers didn’t leave me groaning in disappointment, but it’s still Devil May Cry we’re talking about.
If you’re expecting some revolutionary storytelling here, maybe you’ve misunderstood DMC’s raison d’être. There are bountiful quips, cheesy dialogue and chest thumping at every turn, and it’s all so wonderfully over the top that you can’t help but get caught up in it. There’s always time for slo-mo acrobatics, of course we can have a weapon introduced via moonwalking, and hey, let’s chuck in some overacted dramatics for good measure. That said, there are just enough scenes that tug at the heartstrings to keep everything from being too outrageous, so you’ll still be genuinely excited for the next twist. Most importantly, the story doesn’t get too bogged down in sentimentality to overshadow the game itself.
The story is all well and good, but it’s the gameplay that’s the star of the show. All the old trademarks of previous DMC games are here, like style points, unlocking abilities, and seeking out hidden areas. Everything feels like a modern take on the earlier games, and updates to the camera and movement help bring the old formula to a new generation. It’s difficult to talk in general terms, though, as you’ll be switching between the three protagonists as the game progresses, and each one has their own set of mechanics to play with. It’s the other way round for Nero, as his mechanic delivers some killer prosthetics to pulverise demon hides.
After having his arm chopped off by a mysterious figure (ooowweeeooo), Nero’s gameplay revolves around a wide array of mechanical devil bringers. Arms will electrocute enemies, slow down time, shoot out tiny missiles, blend demon faces, and even heal you up if you’re that way inclined. Your arms also have a self-destruct attack built into them in case you get stuck in an awkward situation, which is fine since more arms are scattered wherever you go. Destroying your arms is also the only way to change what’s equipped, which is infuriating but rigidly forces you to think ahead and position yourself accordingly. All his old tricks are here too, including his Red Queen’s EX-attacks, and it’s a helluva lot of fun smashing, grabbing and slashing whatever’s in sight. V, however, is a whole different kettle of zoophilia.
Born under mysterious and questionably obvious circumstances, V’s fragility means he cannot fight directly. Instead, he uses a set of familiars to do the hard work for him before delivering the final blow with his cane-sword. Griffon, a mix between mutated bird and Gilbert Gottfried, uses ranged attacks to take down enemies from afar. Shadow, V’s shapeshifting neon panther, is the close-up attacker, turning into spikes or buzzsaws to inflict pain. Finally, there’s Nightmare, V’s pet golem, who is a nigh-indestructible killing machine that requires gauge buildup to summon via meteorite strike. What’s interesting about V is that while his moves are very familiar, they put a twist on the fundamental gameplay in an interesting way.
While you’ll feel right at home unleashing combos as V, he also feels unquestionably weird. His dodges require Shadow or Griffin to execute, but that means you can pull them out of combat and back to V if they’re taking too much damage. Directional inputs are used to make your pets do certain attacks, but you’ll also walk in that direction, which might be a bad idea. You even have to put the last hit into your enemy to kill them, so your attention might be flying between multiple enemies to make sure they don’t recover. I like V a lot, and he has some interesting combat, but you can’t top Dante.
If you thought you were stylish with Nero, Dante feels like a god damn fashionista. Much like DMC4, you can switch between weapons and fighting styles on the fly, making for highly varied combat that rakes in those style points. However, there are now two devil gauges; one for the good ol’ devil form we know, and another for a super duper crazy OP form that we didn’t know we wanted. Dante’s still the most fun to play thanks to his flexibility in combat (and he gets to beat dudes down with a motorbike), but it can all be a bit of mechanical overload at times.
With three characters to learn and all sorts of mechanics to keep track of, you might feel a bit in over your head. I know that when I started the game, so much was hurled at me that I could barely keep track of everything I could do. It’s not too hard after ten hours, but it can be bamboozling to get all these concepts in your head. It’s all a matter of learning the ins and outs of the system, and there’s plenty to dig into here, but it’s like watching Akagi without learning mahjong beforehand. It’s hardly a fault with the game, but I’m seriously struggling to find much to fault here, especially since it all looks so damn good.
The game is graphically spectacular, but it’s also a joy to watch. Everything is so glorious in motion, and it’s profoundly gratifying to pull off a SSS rank and marvel in your sick moves. Everything – and I mean everything – is glossed in a sheen of style that most games could only dream of. The demon design is rad as all hell, the levels are gorgeous to walk through, and almost everyone is in a coat. Even V. This is art design at the top-tier, and I don’t think I need to say any more to convince you that this is game is a no brainer… If it didn’t keep crashing on me.
The only real problem I’ve had with the game has been the occasional crash, which appears isolated to PC, but I’ve been getting the same fatal error in some places about GPU resources missing? These have been few and far between, but it has led to me having to replay some portions of a mission several times over because it just keeps crashing. With that said, I know I’m going back to play this game some more, without a doubt, and I’m sure you will too.
Everything DMC fans want is right here. Stylish combat returns in full force, complete with three characters to master with unique mechanics and playstyles. The game looks gorgeous and has some of the most dazzling displays of theatrics you could hope for. Even the story is good, but who gives a damn when the gameplay is this fantastic!? I haven’t enjoyed myself this much with a game in years, and you’d be remiss not to check it out. DMC5 is a tour de force of fun, and if you’re looking for some over-the-top goodness, this is the jackpot.