We haven't seen a canon Devil May Cry game since 2008. Sure, the reboot held some people over (including me), but a lot of people called out for a return to form. Enter Devil May Cry 5, a sequel that took 11 years to show up. It seems to be almost exactly what fans want. Both Nero and Dante are back, the canon storyline gets to move forward, and there's some crazy action. However, it seems like it'd be easy to mess up such a mechanically complex game after sitting on it for so long. Is Devil May Cry 5 worth returning to the series for, or will it be the fans left crying?
Devil May Cry 5 opens up throwing quite a few plot points at you at once. A mysterious figure assaults Nero, cutting his arm off to give to a demon king. Dante, Lady, and Trish take on the job of killing said king only to promptly gets their asses kicked and go missing. Fast forward a month and Nero, a mysterious new man known as V and Nero's mechanic and weaponsmith Nico go hunting for the trio. Along the way, they hope to stop the demon king themselves. The story falls pretty flatly into "good enough" territory. It's not as interesting as 3 or 4, and most of the twists are super obvious, but it carries the game as long as it needs to and many of the cutscenes are extremely entertaining to watch. It sets up an interesting sequel as well.
However, there is one element of the story that really left me disappointed. In past games in the series, Lady and Trish were both badass demon hunters with combat prowess to spare. In fact, in the special edition of Devil May Cry 4, you got a chance to play as both of them and just see how awesome they can be. Here, they start the game unconscious before demon tentacles immediately strip them naked. Afterward, they become distressed damsels that need saving. Once saved, they don't really participate in the goings-on. They're just standing around in the background (occasionally naked, for some reason?) and commenting on the other characters. It's a shame to see two awesome characters reduced to uselessness.
You'll be taking control of all three demon hunters during the course of Devil May Cry 5's 15-hour campaign. Each character has a gimmick that changes up how they play. Nero stands as the safest bet for newcomers, only packing a single sword and gun. What Nero lacks in weaponry, he makes up for with Devil Breakers. These robotic arms attach to Nero and come with unique attacks while also allowing him to grapple enemies and pull himself towards them. You can charge them up to get something extra powerful, at the cost of losing that arm until you can find a replacement. Unfortunately, this also feels like the weakest gimmick. You can't freely swap between all the Devil Breakers you have with you, meaning if you have one you really want deeper in your inventory then you have to waste the others.
Dante is more about having access to as many different weapons and fighting styles as possible. He quickly swaps between four different melee weapons, four different ranged weapons, four different playstyles, and a pair of demon forms that all radically alter his move set depending on your preferred combination. None of them are as deep as Nero's single sword and gun, but each of them offers enough new options to be viable weapons for many varied situations. Once I acclimated to Dante's style, I could kung-fu kick someone across the arena, hit them with a rocket, parry an oncoming attack, and then fly towards my opponent with a sword thrust before blowing them away with a shotgun. Managing to pull something off like that is extremely satisfying, quickly becoming a highlight moment.
However, of the three playable characters, V is easily the most unique and interesting of the bunch. While he barely fights directly, V summons a trio of demonic characters to his side to attack for him. The panther Shadow handles the melee attacks and dodges, Griffon shoots at enemies from afar and helps V glide, while Nightmare shows up when you just need something dummy thicc to cause tons of damage. The only catch? The demons can't deal the final blow, so V has to risk getting into the thick of things to finish the enemies off. Reminding me of PlayStation 3's oft-forgotten gem Folklore, this unique idea quickly made me love V's style, bumping him up my list of favorite demon slayers. My only hope is that he'll be returning for future entries.
No matter who you play as, you'll be dispatching large groups of enemies in frenzied combat. From flying phantoms wielding pairs of scissors to lizard people that can curl into rolling death traps, to flying birds that spit beams of energies, there's quite a lot of enemy variety here. Each encounter feels unique, and each new enemy has all sorts of quirks and weaknesses for skilled players to discover. For example, one all-consuming monster rushes around the field like a starving komodo dragon. You can lure other enemies into its path and they'll be its next meal. Another is a knight commander that can coordinate with other knights, teaming up for rushing in and slashing.
No matter what I was up against, it required my full attention. Combat in Devil May Cry 5 seems to perfect elements from each of the last few games. I always had options I had to use in order to even stand a chance against demons. Each battle was like a dance, with both parties constantly changing up attacks in an effort to defeat the other. It's amazing to watch, and actually playing it feels even better. There's a real job in watching that style grade rise, knowing that you're really putting together a master combo to really earn an SSS combo. You can't breeze your way through Devil May Cry 5 mashing buttons. Learning every single combat system feels vital to your success.
There's also a ton of great boss fights. Each one starts simple, be it against a commander riding on top of a time-bending horse or a parasitic demon sucking the blood out of the roots of a tree. As fights progress more elements open up. New attacks, new patterns, more enemies, and more. It gives each boss a unique flair, one that puts all your skills to the test before you advance. It also helps that no boss falls into the problem of feeling like a copy of an earlier boss, or like a normal enemy with a bigger health bar. Even the few times you do repeat a boss it's often with a totally different character. This means that your approach in the fight has to change completely. Each encounter is fantastic, often serving as any given chapter's highlight.
I also found it interesting how Devil May Cry 5 presents its online multiplayer. Fans of Resident Evil 6 should feel right at home here. At certain points, Dante, Nero, and V's paths cross, with you playing one side of the encounter in one level, then the other side in another. If you're online, then the other character will be another player who's at the same point. For example, chapters 14, 15, and 16 all depict the same event, just from a different character's perspective. As you play through, you spot the other characters, each one another player if you're online. There's also a single point where Nero and V team up for a fight, though the fact that there aren't more of those is a bit of a missed opportunity. After seeing other players, you can rate their performance, with high ratings netting rewards.
Sadly, I just wish there was more to do. After you finish the campaign, the only option is to play the 20 missions again on different difficulties. The Bloody Palace, a staple of the series, isn't due to release as free DLC until some time next month. Only two missions allow you to choose a character, so you can't even try different bosses with different styles. Those looking for the challenge of the harder difficulties still have plenty to look forward to here, as do those looking to perfect the combat styles and get the highest style points possible in a single combo.
Devil May Cry 5 is a beautiful game, making full use of Capcom's in-house RE Engine. Extremely well-made character models complement the lovely environments. There's some wonderful monster design, and I enjoyed seeing each new beast appear. Some surprisingly fantastic voice acting manages to absolutely nail the constant tonal shifts in the script. The soundtrack is a bit more hit and miss. Some of the themes, like Devil Trigger and Crimson Cloud, are insanely good to the point where they're now on my playlist. Others are just forgettable, like most of the boss themes. The music becomes more bombastic as you get higher style rankings. In practice, this mostly means that the good themes get better and the forgettable themes remain forgettable.
However, there's no way I'll be forgetting my time with Devil May Cry 5. The gameplay shines, lovingly adjusted and reworked just enough to blow away fans and newcomers alike. Sure, the story may just be okay, the treatment of Lady and Trish is a shame, and the soundtrack can be hit or miss. This is all secondary to one of the most insanely detailed combat systems and ridiculously fun gameplay flows out there. Simply put, Devil May Cry 5 has hit nothing short of the jackpot.
TechRaptor reviewed Devil May Cry 5 on Xbox One with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC and PlayStation 4.
Devil May Cry 5's few minor flaws are blasted away by one of the best combat systems this side of gaming. Each fight is a treat, each boss is a challenge, and I loved every second of it.
- Amazing Combat System
- V's Great Gimmick
- Tons of Interesting Enemies
- Fantastic Boss Fights
- Beautiful Graphics
- Lady and Trish Handled Poorly
- No Bloody Palace
- Hit or Miss Soundtrack