Devil May Cry is back! Set after the events of DMC4, DMC5 sees Dante and Nero return to team up again with the help of familiar faces Lady and Trish as well as some new friends like Nico, Morrison, who makes his first appearance in the games and the mysterious client, V. With the goal of taking down Urizen, the demon king the DMC crew fights their toughest foe yet.
Being the fifth game in the series, and the big focus on bringing DMC back and the fans there is a lot of fan service in DMC5’s story. Naturally there’s plenty of references to the previous games that comes with that but luckily if you’re a newcomer Capcom has you covered with a ‘History of DMC’ cinematic that gives a basic rundown of the previous games and some of the characters. Despite what some people may say about DMC’s story and that it comes second to gameplay, DMC5 really goes all in with its story, bringing everything together that’s happened in the series’ almost 2 decade long history.
I won’t discuss any of the actual events but the story in DMC5 is at the very least on par with DMC 3, arguably better. It has a lot of character development for the cast, PLENTY of fan service as mentioned before, and that good kind of cheese and great comedy that DMC is known for. I wasn’t really sure what the team would put together to top the Nevan custcene from 3 or the Shakespearean cutscene in 4 but 5 puts together something very special for those that like the ‘stranger’ cutscenes in the series. For the more serious scenes DMC 5 keeps your attention through its narrative that focuses on mystery and the struggles of the three protagonists.
The core gameplay remains what you would expect from a DMC game. For those that haven’t played any before it’s simple: Progress through levels killing demons with various combos with as little damage taken as possible to increase your stylish meter, from D up to SSS rank. With DMC5 there is the great addition of dynamic music that starts to change and really kick in at higher stylish ranks. At the end of most levels you will have to fight a boss. The end result screen will give you an overall rank from D to the coveted S rank. Secrets litter each level for the player to find such as blue orb fragments which increase player health when you collect four of them and secret missions that allow you to earn more orb fragments. You can also find purple orb fragments that increase the Devil Trigger gauge for Dante and V, as well as hidden pathways thanks to DMC5 offering more freedom and being a little less linear than the previous games.
If you’re new to the series there’s a couple of systems put in place to help ease you in. First of all there’s easier difficulty settings that you start out on with harder difficulties unlocked later so you can ease in and go for the harder modes with more upgrades. Secondly, there’s auto-assist mode in which the game gives you a little help with putting your combos together. For the more experienced players you still can look forward to playing modes like Dante Must Die as well as Hell and Hell to challenge your demon hunting skills.
Each of the three protagonists have their own unique play styles and movesets that you’ll have to learn if you want to pull of those stylish combos. Nero plays similar to how he did in DMC4, you have Red Queen, his sword that can be revved power up attacks as well as Blue Rose, his unique revolver. As well as a slightly expanded overall move set he also has his Devil Breakers, arms with unique abilities that allow for plenty of gameplay opportunities. A new customisation screen allows you to choose your loadout for your Devil Breakers for a more tailored experience to what you like. I can confidently say if you enjoyed playing Nero in DMC4 you will love him in 5, he’s only gotten more enjoyable to use.
Dante returns with similar gameplay to his DMC4 iteration as well. He’s got his four styles focused on different gameplay elements. Trickster for mobility, Gunslinger for shooting, Swordmaster for melee, and Royalguard for blocking. Each of these modes can be changed on the fly so mixing them together in fights allows for lots of stylish combos as well as different moves to be pulled off thanks to the expanded moveset each style allows. His Devil Trigger Form also returns, beefing up all of his actions. He also has his different Devil Arms as his disposal, weapons created from demons. Each weapon can also be changed on the fly, allowing you to combine different guns and melee weapons in a single combo. Most Devil Arms are unlocked as you progress and having all of them at once might be a little overwhelming, so you can also edit Dante’s weapon loadout, choosing to take all weapons at once or just a couple.
Finally there’s V. What the developers have done with V is something DMC has never seen before. His gameplay revolves around summoning his familiars: Griffon, Shadow and Nightmare to do his bidding while he must land the final blow to kill demons.
I found him a little finicky to use at first since Griffon and Shadow are each assigned to a button and it was a little disorienting focusing on them both as the same time as well as making sure V was out of harm’s way. V has his own Devil Trigger which can be spent though, allowing Shadow and/or Griffon to enter a powered up state for a short time, acting on their own without player inputs. V’s third summon, Nightmare works this way, spending large amounts of the Devil Trigger to act on his own and decimate anything around him. I had my doubts about how a character like this would transition well into DMC but the slower, methodical approach that V has to take to fights over the in-your-face rush style that Dante and Nero have but he’s very satisfying to play.
Due to the nature of the story each of the characters can cross paths, sometimes you’ll see each other making progress and fighting across the environment and on a couple of occurrences you may fight alongside someone else. This allows other players to directly interact via the Cameo System. As you’re playing the other player will have S, SS, and SSS next to their name when they hit the respective combos to show they’re being stylish. At the end of the level you’ll get a chance to rate them as stylish to give them a free gold orb. I do wish there was more chances to fight directly alongside each other even though DMC is mostly a single player game. Hopefully the upcoming Bloody Palace update will allow a 2 and 3 player variant of the Palace with beefed up enemies.
Speaking of enemies there is plenty of variety in DMC5. Some are slightly different variants of each other but each enemy has something unique about it that it brings as a threat. Some enemies from the original DMC even make an appearance in DMC5, being mostly the same as they was back then. It goes to show just how good some of the enemy design was back then if they translate into a game almost two decades later and are still fun to fight against. Bosses are all unique and challenging, offering some of the most fun fights in the series.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher