Back in 2013, developer Ninja Theory rebooted a franchise with one of the most dedicated fanbases in Devil May Cry. In doing so, they took the story and Dante in a whole new direction that didn’t really sit well with the DmC diehards. Thankfully it’s never really been a series that’s thrived on character development, and the end result was a pretty damn fantastic hack and slash that was well received by most major critics.
With remasters being commonplace here in the current generation of consoles, it was only a matter of time before the reboot made its way to our Xbox One and PS4. As expected, it includes a decent graphical upscale and all of the previous DLC, but is it more than just a new coat of paint? Absolutely!
If you never got around to playing the 2013 release, Devil May Cry is a stylish hack and slash where Dante, one of two brothers born to an angel mother and demon father, is on a revenge mission for the fate of the world. Along with his brother, Vergil, they’re the only ones with the power to slay the demon king, and with the help of the psychic medium Kat, you’ll fight through Limbo in some finely crafted and highly entertaining environments to confront Mundus, save humanity, and avenge the death of your mother, Eva.
“As solid as the upgrade is on current-gen consoles, if you already own the PC version, the resolution and frame rate boost won’t be enough to draw your attention.”
Mundus controls the world through debt, brainwashes its citizens through news, and keeps them docile with a soft drink called Virility. The world as we know it has a parallel dimension called Limbo where demons lurk and things aren’t always as they seem, and while Mundus keeps both worlds separate with a Demon Gate, Dante and Vergil can freely roam Limbo as nephilim, while Kat’s abilities as a medium allow her to see their spirits, guide them along, and assist them in entering/exiting through occult symbols. Think They Live, but with far less Roddy Piper.
The plot is a bit campy, and the mass amount of F-bombs and forced “edginess” could be off-putting to some, but I enjoyed it for the most part. Dante’s reaction to Kat’s inclusion of desiccated squirrel semen in one of her spells had me chuckling, but I could have done without the back and forth “Fuck you!” shouts during one of the boss encounters. The overall story, however, was worth experiencing and culminated in a way that made me want to endure the far inferior Vergil’s Downfall DLC just to see how it all played out.
Combat in DmC was slightly slower than the fourth entry, but definitely feels more fluid with the increased frame rate and the addition of a new Turbo Mode. In addition to his sword, Rebellion, Dante can use both angel and demon weapons, accessed by holding the left and right triggers, respectively. While in human form, Dante wields his sword, while holding down the Angel button gives access to two different weapons that focus on fast, area attacks that don’t deal a lot of damage, but control crowds and build combos extremely well. On the opposing side, holding the Demon button offers two weapons that deal slower, heavier damage to single targets, break shields, and launch enemies in to the air or down to the ground with great force. Each weapon has its own look and feel, and blending them together made for some awesome combos that could be perfected inside of the game’s Training mode.
Along with their respective abilities, Dante can use his angel and demon weapons to grapple on to terrain or enemies and either pull them toward him, or vice versa–think Nero in Devil May Cry 4. This essentially allows you to string together some pretty intricate combos and traverse the amazingly detailed world of Limbo in style. Platforming has never really been a mainstay in the series, but yanking platforms in to place and pulling myself along in mid air was pretty damn awesome; and was improved even more in the Vergil’s Downfall DLC.
As is typical in the series, weapons can be upgraded by spending red orbs dropped by enemies, unlocking additional combos, increased damage, or new abilities altogether. You also can upgrade and unlock additional abilities for Dante and Vergil, like perfect evasions or grapple combos, at checkpoints or between missions. I always appreciate when a game rewards experimentation, so having the ability to undo an upgrade and apply it elsewhere kept things fresh and never deterred me from playing around with a bit of everything. It was like eating at a delicious buffet of carnage, and if there was something I didn’t like, I just brushed it aside and picked up something else.
The 2013 release was eventually given its own DLC campaign, Vergil’s Downfall, that picked up where the reboot left off and instead focused on Dante’s brother. Although Vergil offers his own unique play style, his campaign is extremely repetitive as it all takes place in Limbo, and the terribly drawn storyboard cut-scenes leave a lot to be desired. He’s a lot of fun to play though–seriously, a LOT of fun–and his final encounter with Hollow Vergil, the very essence of his demonic side, is probably my favorite encounter in the entire game. If you’re in to that sort of thing, you can also finally play as Vergil in his own Bloody Palace mode in the Definitive Edition, so you’re no longer forced to replay his campaign if you want to spend a little more time swinging his Yamato.
“While the Definitive Edition doesn’t really do much to improve the game’s campy writing, it does accentuate the positives by enhancing the combat, graphics, and frame rate in such a way that’s obviously noticeable and makes for a drastically superior experience.”
As for the core game, Ninja Theory removed a small amount of sexually suggestive dialogue, which honestly never added much to the story to begin with. Minor changes aside, they also wanted to add in a throwback mode to pay homage to the original releases, while remaining true to their own vision; thus Hardcore Mode was born. This mode can be toggled on and off for each specific mission, and enhances the overall difficulty by increasing the amount of damage dealt by enemies, removing angel/demon weapon requirements against specific enemy types, making it more difficult to improve your style counter, removing the auto-parry function of the Prop/Shredder ability, and much, much more.
The Definitive Edition also includes the addition of a hard lock-on system, making it significantly easier to focus my attacks or keep an eye on a specific problem target without having to deal with common camera issues. This, along with the boost in frame rate–60fps, as opposed to 2013’s 30fps–definitely made this version vastly superior to the original reboot. While combat in the original already felt smooth, playing in 1080p/60fps drastically enhances the experience and made the Definitive Edition worth every bit of the $40 I spent; even as someone who played through the original on three separate occasions.
As solid as the upgrade is on current-gen consoles, if you already own the PC version, the resolution and frame rate boost won’t be enough to draw your attention. However, if you’re looking for a new challenge, the Definitive Edition offers two new ways to break a sweat. Gods Must Die Mode spawns every enemy in Devil Trigger, more than doubles their damage output, and completely removes the ability to use items, while Must Style Mode only counts damage dealt while achieving an S-rank combo or higher. Both of these were a little too hardcore for me, but if you’re a Devil May Cry diehard, they should be right up your alley.
While the Definitive Edition doesn’t really do much to improve the game’s campy writing, it does accentuate the positives by enhancing the combat, graphics, and frame rate in such a way that’s obviously noticeable and makes for a drastically superior game. If you played the 2013 reboot, but it didn’t win you over, there isn’t anything here that’s going to change your mind. There’s enough meat on the bones, however, making this a great starting point for first timers, or a valid excuse to revisit the game two years later. It was already a rock solid hack and slash with an incredible combat system, great level design, and some insanely fun boss encounters, but the enhancements make Ninja Theory’s vision for Devil May Cry even better.
Recommended for fans of: the original 2013 reboot, or stylish action games in general, like Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
*This review is based on the Xbox One version of DmC: Devil May Cry – Definitive Edition, which is also available on PS4. Unless we find significant differences between each version, consider this our definitive review.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s an aspiring video game journalist that one day hopes to make this writing thing a living, and will always miss living in his hometown of Baltimore. If he’s not writing, he’s usually glued to a game or watching low budget horror films with his three cats. Get in touch with him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.