Devil May Cry 5 is set 5 years after the events of the fourth game and sees the return of playable characters Dante and Nero, as well as a newcomer by the name of ‘V’. Dante is doing his demon slaying thing alongside Lady and Trish from earlier games and Nero has opened a mobile branch of the Demon busting business. Nero and his weapon-smith Nico, another newcomer, are travelling around in a beat-up RV, killing demons along the way. The story is not told in a linear fashion this time around and takes place over a few weeks, with chapters taking place at different points of the timeline from different characters perspectives. The game opens with the crew fighting a huge demon that has taken over much of the surface world and jumps between Dante, trying to save the day, Nero having his arm ripped off by a mysterious stranger and the mysterious (and cheesy) V, with his own set of unknown motives. The story is pretty much as nonsensical as the prior instalments but still takes itself so seriously that you can’t help but love it! The game takes place over 20 chapters but as with other games in the franchise, is made to be replayed, with some chapters having the choice of playing as different characters.
The gameplay for Devil May Cry 5 is the same as the prior games at its core, but with notable differences, mainly with the gameplay style. The core mechanics are the same as ever, trying to kill every enemy in your path in the most stylish manner possible. The game has a grading system, from D to SSS (where Capcom gets their grading system is anyone’s guess!) and style points are awarded for using a variety of combos, skills and attacks while fighting. Each of the 3 playable characters have a wildly different play-style which means the tactics used have to be varied in order to maximise style points. Nero has had an overhaul for his second outing of the franchise. His demon arm has been replaced with a range of robotic attachments (courtesy of Nico), each with their own attack. The arms can be used to attack but can also break, either through enemy attacks or being blown up for defence, with more scattered through levels or available for purchase. Next comes newcomer V, who has an interesting play-style, in that he doesn’t actually do any fighting himself. V has 3 pets to help him along the way, that do his bidding for him; a demonic and wisecracking bird (ranged attacks), a silent panther like creature (close range melee) and a huge golem (special move). Dante plays similarly to his prior iterations, having a range of guns and swords which this time, can be switched on the fly, allowing for some devastating combos and 2 devil trigger modes this time around. I think it’s also worth pointing out that although the weapons have always been over-the-top and ridiculous in the series, Devil May Cry 5 raises the bar substantially. As an example, one of Dante’s new weapons is a motorbike…. yes….an actual motorbike. He also has a rather odd scarf and hat combo, with the hat being a weapon which comes with its own 30 second, cringe-inducing Michael Jackson dance off when it is received (not great timing from Capcom with the whole ‘Leaving Neverland’ thing….).
As you can tell by the fact it took almost an entire paragraph to describe them, the number of weapons and styles introduced in Devil May Cry is pretty staggering. This would usually be music to the ears of any hack and slash fan, but the problem is that due to the game being relatively short, it never feels like the player is given much of a chance to use the weapons. It feels almost like with every new chapter, comes a new weapon or style to learn, some of which are so different they take a lot of getting used to. It feels a little like quantity over quality at times which is a shame. A few good weapons for each character combined with unlockable skills would have been enough. As the game progressed and I had more weapons that I could count, I found myself just using the base weapons and having no particular desire to upgrade them as there was so much choice, it never felt necessary. It is quite possible to gain an SSS style rank just by using the base weapons and skills which leaves you thinking, what’s the point of the upgrade system? I’m sure there are die-hard fans reading this that wildly disagree, but it just feels a little overwhelming.
Looking past the plethora of weapons, the gameplay itself is a lot of fun, as with all games of the franchise. The combat is as smooth as butter, no matter how many enemies are on-screen and there is a good level of variety in enemy classes, each with a specific strategy to beat them. The platforming is much more forgiving this time around and leads to far less frustrating camera angles, a common complaint of earlier titles. Each of the levels are relatively varied (although the hell type levels can look a bit samey) and contain secrets to be uncovered which does just enough to stop them feeling too linear.
As for the look of Devil May Cry 5, it is gorgeous as expected. The character models are stunning, with hair blowing and flapping as you dive around, and the movement feeling much more realistic. The levels are grand and feel like real locations and the destructible environments are probably the best I have seen in a game thus far. A particularly amazing sequence takes place at the beginning of the game and involves a huge bipedal demon crashing through a building which crumbled so beautifully I had to play it twice in a row. The enemies also look beautiful and the bosses are where the game truly shines. From giant demons, to 3 headed dogs, each boss is amazing to look at as well as providing a decent challenge. The sound is well put together with a banging metal backing as well as comments and chatter from the characters that help with the immersion.
Overall, Devil May Cry 5 is a welcome return to the franchise but doesn’t really do anything particularly innovative. In order to make the game feel different to number 4, it feels like Capcom crammed in more weapons and combat styles but didn’t do much else to shake things up. That being said, it is a lot of fun to play and at the end of the day, isn’t that the point of gaming? Rans of the franchise will slip back into it like a comfortable pair of shoes and the 11 years since the last game will melt away, newcomers however may find it a bit much.
- Great fun to play.
- Looks stunning.
- Varied play-styles are interesting.
- Bags of replay value.
- Too many weapons make some seem pointless.
- Story is a little on the short side.
Devil May Cry 5 is a familiar return to the franchise – the gameplay is as fun as ever but don’t expect anything drastically new.