In 2013, Capcom partnered with Ninja Theory to reboot its hack and slash action franchise Devil May Cry with the polarizing DmC. While many praised DmC for its exciting combat and interesting visuals, others panned the new look for Dante and its abandonment of the franchise’s established lore. Now, over six years later, Capcom has returned to the original Devil May Cry series with Devil May Cry 5, a game that should have no problem winning over any fans still upset about DmC.
Devil May Cry 5 is firmly rooted in the universe established by the first four games in the franchise. It once again features wise-cracking demon hunter Dante in the lead role, as he works to stop the ultra-powerful demon Urizen along with the help of familiar faces like Lady, Trish, Devil May Cry 4‘s Nero, and newcomer V.
In typical Devil May Cry fashion, Devil May Cry 5‘s plot is delightfully absurd, with ridiculous dialogue, bizarre imagery, and head-spinning plot twists. Newcomers may be confused, but luckily there is a history of Devil May Cry they can check out from the main menu. Longtime fans, meanwhile, will find themselves enthralled with the story, on the edge of their seat from start to finish. The game not only fills some gaps left by previous installments, but it also moves the franchise’s plot forward in significant, meaningful ways.
Devil May Cry 5‘s story hits it out of the park, but some may be more concerned about whether or not the gameplay lives up to the hype. We’re happy to report that Devil May Cry 5 features one of the deepest and most satisfying combat systems we’ve encountered in any action game. The three playable characters – Dante, Nero, and V – all have their own unique playstyles and weaponry. Mindlessly hacking and slashing is certainly an option, but those that take the time to master all of the characters and their attacks will find the game infinitely more rewarding.
Having three playable characters goes a long way in keeping the action from getting stale. One level players may be fighting with Dante’s iconic dual pistols and hulking Rebellion sword, and in the next stage, they will be zipping around from enemy to enemy with Nero’s grappling hook. All three characters are loads of fun to play as, though the stages with V and Dante stand out as especially exciting, as their fighting styles have more moving parts than Nero’s.
V, for example, has three different demon pets at his disposal. One is a smart-mouthed bird (whose verbal jousting with Dante is hilarious) that can attack enemies from afar, and another is a shape-shifting panther that can dole out significant melee damage. V can also bring forth a hulking monstrosity called Nightmare that will burst through walls or come hurtling out of the sky like a meteor when summoned.
Dante, meanwhile, has four different fighting styles that he can cycle between on the fly, in addition to a slew of different weapons to choose from. For these reasons, Dante is the most complicated character out of the three. It may take some practicing in The Void, but once players master Dante’s four fighting styles and successfully employ them in the right situations, his battles become the most rewarding. Plus, he can literally dual-wield two halves of a motorcycle and beat demons to death with it, which is just the kind of insane action that Devil May Cry fans have come to love from the series.
Playing as Nero is also great, even if he isn’t quite as fun to play as V and Dante. Nero’s Devil Breakers are easy to use, and since he really only has one fighting style and limited weaponry, he’s a good way to ease players into the game. Playing as Nero in later stages feels a bit lackluster after getting a taste of the more complex fighting styles of V and Dante, though.
By and large, Devil May Cry 5 nails the combat, and it also successfully grapples with the franchise’s history of camera issues. In past Devil May Cry games, the camera often struggled to keep up with the frantic action on screen, but that’s never a problem in Devil May Cry 5. Combine the improved camera with tight, responsive controls and Devil May Cry 5 quickly becomes the least frustrating game in the series by a wide margin.
Devil May Cry 5‘s core gameplay, from the combat system to the controls, is truly something remarkable. This is a good thing, too, because the game is just a sequence of one battle after the next, with little in the way of the exploration and puzzles found in previous games. In fact, we counted exactly one puzzle in the entire story, and even then calling it a puzzle would be a stretch. The game is more or less a hallway of enemy encounters, with the battles broken up by short walks to the next fight, but since the combat is so engaging the puzzles and exploration elements aren’t really missed.
It’s true that Devil May Cry 5 is a very linear game. But in a sea of dense open world games, that’s not really a bad thing, and it honestly feels like a breath of fresh air. Its linearity also doesn’t mean that there isn’t some extra content for players to discover. There are 12 secret missions hidden throughout the levels for players to find, in addition to hidden items and power-ups, so those that take the time to thoroughly explore the environment will be properly rewarded for their efforts.
When they’re done looking for secrets and battling enemies, Devil May Cry 5 players can advance to the end of the level and face off against an epic-scale boss. On higher difficulties, many of the bosses in Devil May Cry 5 will give players a serious run for their money, capable of dealing devastating attacks and withstanding a ton of punishment. There’s a fine line between rewarding challenge and frustration in video games, but in Devil May Cry 5, the boss battles never feel cheap and their epic scale will leave players breathless.
Some potential frustration with the game’s boss battles is alleviated thanks to Devil May Cry 5‘s revival system. Players can choose to revive themselves with gold orbs that can be found hidden in levels or gained as a daily log-in bonus, or they can spend some of their red orbs (Devil May Cry 5‘s in-game currency) to revive themselves as well. While some fans may feel this robs the boss fights of their challenge, gold orbs are relatively rare, and they can always just ignore the feature. Plus, the real challenge in Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t really come from surviving, but rather mastering all of the characters’ fighting styles to get the most style points possible.
One potential issue with this revival system is Devil May Cry 5‘s microtransactions. Players can purchase red orbs with microtransactions, meaning that they can essentially pay real money to come back to life. Unfortunately, we were unable to test Devil May Cry 5‘s microtransactions before launch, so we can’t say with certainty how they may impact the game. That being said, it’s hard to see how the microtransactions will have an adverse effect, unless Capcom nerfs the rate at which players collect red orbs during normal gameplay. In our time playing the game, we were able to amass enough red orbs that we were never put in a situation where we would even have to consider busting out our wallet. Really the only reason for the microtransactions would be to purchase all the upgrades right away, but that just robs the game of its replayability and progression, making the whole experience far less enjoyable.
In regards to replayability, Devil May Cry 5 is a game that’s meant to be played through multiple times. Each time players beat the story, they unlock a higher difficulty setting with stronger enemies and less resources. Any upgrades or items purchased carry over, so players are never starting from scratch, and this is what makes the game hard to put down. There’s always a new upgrade or attack to save for that has the potential to drastically change up the combat, so even on the third or fourth playthrough, the game still feels fresh and new. And better yet, nothing is so expensive that it feels like a grind to unlock everything through gameplay.
Another way Capcom attempts to add replayability to Devil May Cry 5 is with its multiplayer and social features. While post-launch could be a different story, we found the “multiplayer” in Devil May Cry 5 to be basically pointless. Its implementation is puzzling, with players going through an entire stage without ever seeing another person, and then asked to rate their so-called partner’s performance at the end of the level. One player we were paired with had unlocked a new costume for Nero and appeared in a cut-scene with their fancy getup, which was just confusing, especially since the game didn’t make it clear that we had been matched with someone else.
Pointless multiplayer functionality aside, something must be said about Devil May Cry 5‘s polish. It’s rare that one can play through a game multiple times and not experience a single technical glitch or graphical hiccup, but that’s the case with Devil May Cry 5. The game runs smoothly at 60 frames per second on Xbox One X, with no slowdown or anything that would compromise the fast-paced combat. It’s also a visual stunner, leveraging the Resident Evil 2 remake engine to deliver detailed character models and impressive animations that are some of the best we’ve seen in any game to date.
From its superb visual presentation to its wildly successful combat system, Devil May Cry 5 is the perfect action game. The developers put all their energy into providing a constant string of exciting, over-the-top battles that push players to the limit and test their abilities to pull off the most stylish combos possible, and the result is a game that keeps a breakneck pace and never slows down. There isn’t a single dull moment in Devil May Cry 5, and it’s arguably the best game in the series to date. Devil May Cry 5 is easily a Game of the Year contender and continues Capcom’s hot streak in masterful fashion. Now let’s just hope fans don’t have to wait so long for a followup.
Devil May Cry 5 launches on March 8 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided with an Xbox One code for this review.