Devil May Cry 5 is pure button-mashed bliss, meant in the best possible way.
The Capcom hack-and-slasher offers intense combat strategy for hardcore players and longtime fans of the franchise, while giving others a far more forgiving, yet as aesthetically-pleasing alternative to the Soulsborne games. While combat is first and foremost the wipe-your-brow-and-shout highlight of DMC5 — nearly everything else about the Capcom sequel is outstanding.
Like any good action game you’re thrown into battle right away and Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t hold back. Through a series of flashbacks, you begin as Nero (or to the wrestling community, Cody Rhodes; damn if that likeness isn’t frightening) and immediately lose your first fight. Damn. This is gonna be another F’N FromSoftware thing, isn’t it? Well, expect a few more ruses like this in a game that surely gets the heart pumpin’ and the mind jumpin’. The devil will, indeed, play a few tricks on you. Most of the boss battles will be difficult for those lacking in muscle memory, but thankfully don’t require a whole lot of patience. If you can see through a whole blitz of colorful motion blurs and keep up with the the rattling camera pans, you’ll be fine. Fine, but satisfied–extremely satisfied.
Capcom was nice enough to let us nerds play with three characters for extended durations. Using Nero right from the jump is a great get, since his arsenal and attack methods are arguably the most comfortable to slide right into. And once you get grappling, gun-charging, and growing that line of Devil Breakers, Nero becomes a far more complex yet rewarding character the longer you use him. Hoverboarding around with the Punchline breaker and stuntin’ on those demon fools is strange and takes some patience, yet oh-so worth it. Maybe my favorite Devil Breaker is Ragtime, one that locks enemies into a mechanical clock hologram for some easy shots.
Then there’s V — a spiritual, tatooed-up Kylo Ren lookin’ dude who has, like, no chill. V doesn’t have much in the way of combat at all, either; but his friends do. You summon and possess O.G. DMC creatures Griffon (a bird with the lightning powers of Storm), Shadow (a literal Black Panther who transforms to Blades), and Nightmare (a Hulk-smashing freak you can summon with your devil trigger and ride on the back of for further Havok). While V by no means is a preferred character choice, his missions serve as a nice breather between all the jump-and-slash madness of the others. It was shocking how many SSS (Smokin’ Sexy Style!!) combos I got with a guy who can only use his trusty cane when a demon’s life is hangin’ by a thread.
That said, Dante is king. He’s the Kenny Omega to Nero’s Cody. He’s the Best Bout Machine of this DMC shit. Despite playing not all that different than previous incarnations, Dante is incredibly fun to use and still has the highest learning curve — an overall lethal, pleasing combination. While I stuck mainly to his Swordmaster style, players have the option of four fight techniques (Royal Guard, Gunslinger, Trickster). He has four different ranged and melee weapons too, but I don’t want to spoil them. Dante’s weapon choices are where a good brunt of the game’s excellent dark humor kicks in. Just know that D’ has electric nunchucks that can modify into a blizzard-wizzing staff, and he can twirl a damn motorcycle around like a fucking sword.
At roughly 15-hour completion for the 20 Missions, the campaign is a swift venture yet meaty enough; the story is full of surprises, hidden challenges, and.. heelturns. It’s clear the game was meant to be played a numerous amount of times. Of the two initial difficulty settings, definitely don’t pick Normal. After running through the first 3 chapters without even being touched, I immediately restarted the game to Devil Hunter; it served as a solid real “Normal” challenge but never once urged me to toss a gamepad at my flatscreen. If there are any complaints about DMC5, Devil Hunter is almost too easy; that coming from a guy who gives a fuck about “Gittin’ Gud” and hardly ever plays any game on “Hard”.
That said, there’s definitely enough on the tougher of the two default difficulties to satisfy; high swarms of enemies are a blast to slice/dice, cancel jump, dodge and shoot, and bosses from Mission 8 (Urizen, the guy that slaughters you in the Epilogue) and Mission 16 (King Cerberus, the three lion-headed elemental guardian from DMC3) are certainly no walks in the park, either. While boss battles are top-notch, getting there is nearly as neat. You won’t have to worry about traversing through levels and missions too long, although if you’re a curious george, you might find hidden combat challenges and loot (Blue Orbs = extra durability, Purple Orbs = Devil Breaker power, Gold Orbs = extra lives). Although it’s worth meandering around at times to take in all the demon cities’, tombs’ and lairs’ bright blues, blood-soaked reds, and purty pinks and purples, too much of the level design is the same.
TO HELL & BACK
Despite only ever beating DmC: Devil May Cry by Ninja Theory (it’s great– don’t give me that!), I instantly fell in love with DMC5‘s colorful hellish set pieces, staggering nonlinear narrative, bombastic script and spunky characters. How much of a tootin’ good time is Nico?!? Let’s also not forget the intese, yet groovy death grunge/goth electro-scapes that’ll likely go down as one of the year’s most underrated soundtracks (but maybe not underrated, since a concert tour dubbed “The Devil Awakens” is happening in Boston for PAX next weekend and I’ve got my tickets already!).
I also love games with great combat, and DMC5‘s extravagant fight game is endlessly great. When the credits hit I still had a surplus of character upgrades I need to try on a new game+ Son of Sparda playthrough. Point blank, Devil May Cry 5 is a game that reaches and even surpasses all of my expectations. Only the initial breezy challege, repetitive stages, and occasional lame b-movie cracks make my Game of the Quarter-Year a less than 10; DMC5 is an otherwise superior button-mashing arcade thriller. 4.25/5 Crying Cody Roads.