devil may cry

DmC Demo Impressions: You’re Headed in the Right Direction, Capcom

The announcement that Devil May Cry was getting a reboot was met with some pretty heavy criticism this year, particularly from diehard fans who weren’t ready to see the game get a fundamental makeover the way Capcom was prepared to give it.

But after sitting down and playing through the demo itself, I’m feeling pretty confident about the direction the reboot is headed. In fact, I find myself more excited about the game than I thought I’d ever be.

The demo gives you access to two sections of the game; a story mission and a boss fight. The story mission is fairly brief, the main objective being for Dante to go and dismantle three demon cameras watching him throughout the city.

Don’t look for any hard-hitting storytelling a la Heavy Rain from DmC. It’s pretty much business as usual; Dante is working to help a mysterious group called the Order, led by a mysterious masked man who looks a little bit like V from V for Vendetta. Dante’s a Nephilim; the offspring of Angels and Demons, and therefore is the only person capable (alongside his twin brother Virgil) of killing the Demon King.

While the story’s a bit cliche, it works just fine alongside some mostly campy, yet forgivable, dialogue. Really, though, it stays true to the one convention it needed to; Dante’s an over-the-top action badass who all but laughs in the face of danger and isn’t afraid to get in a shouting match with old demon lords. Nothing’s changed there since the PS2 era, and that’s fantastic.

Of course, it’s a known fact that a poor story is easily remedied by great gameplay. And DmC is no exception to that.

Combat in DmC is based on button combos and weapons. You’ve got a wide number ofweapons to choose from, from your traditional guns and sword to the demon battleaxe angelic scythe. More powerful weapons are noticeably slower, while your sword serves as a nice middle-of-the-road weapon alongside guns so weak they might as well have been shooting air soft BBs. Weapons often feel mismatched by themselves, but using them all together in a string of combos makes for a supremely satisfying combat experience with a lot of weight and fluidity to it. There’s something to be said for how powerful I felt juggling enemies with a sword, blasting them with the guns, and finishing them with a crushing blow of the battle axe, all while moving quickly and seamlessly between weapons.

While it was only a short demo, I was pleased to find a nice variety of enemy types. Some are evenly balanced and fight on the ground, some fly, some have the heavy quality of extra armor and shields, and a few even cut into me with demonic chainsaws.

The demo’s boss fight wasn’t anything super impressive; sure, the enemy was interesting, and Dante’s explicit-laced exchange with it made me laugh, but it ended up being a standard boss fight that saw me jumping from platform to platform in order to whittle away at its multiple bars of health. I’m hopeful the other bosses in the game are a bit more varied and offer more by the way of challenge and ingenuity.

Score multipliers are awarded for creative combo mixtures and encourage experimenting with the different weapons and their abilities, and you’ll be awarded with a score card at the end of each mission that presents your stats and an overall grade of A, B, C, D, or F.

While combat is supremely fun and satisfying, I found the game’s visuals to be the real star of the show. It looks fantastic, with art direction and visual effects unlike any I’ve seen in a game before. DmC relies heavily on the use of vibrant color to illustrate when Dante has crossed to the demon realm. But even beyond the colors, the world itself is in constant motion, ever changing and evolving as Dante moves through it. The ground breaks as you run across it, walls close in, tentacles race around the screen, and objects in the background are constantly moving and growing, giving the game a uniquely organic and living feel. The demo’s soundtrack isn’t necessarily anything great, made up mostly of heavy guitar riffs and music you’d expect to see from UFC highlight videos, but it doesn’t necessarily detract from the experience in any way.

Say what you will about DmC, but if the demo is any indicator of the eventual game, I’m confident that Capcom is taking the series in a fantastic direction. Sure, Dante looks a bit like the kids who always got arrested for setting fire to garbage cans at my high school, but with amazingly intuitive and fun combat and fantastic visuals, I find myself anticipating the game’s release on January 15th.