Devil May Cry is the best game of 2012.
I realize that it’s 2013 now, and that acknowledgement doesn’t really mean anything. But it does. Out of all the games released last year, Capcom’s reimagining of their over-the-top action franchise is better and more enjoyable than all of them.
I know. It’s a lot to take in, especially considering the promotion leading up to the release, where Dante looked different sans his white hair, the art style was completely transformed, and the series fans loved was rebooting entirely. Fans of the series — the morons that they are — signed a petition calling for the removal of DmC from store shelves. Yes, apparently it is possible for people to be that stupid. And it’s a good thing they failed – everything about DmC is masterful, a lesson in good game design and how to properly reboot a franchise which, after a weak fourth entry, was running on fumes.
DmC’s perfection is quite an achievement, especially considering the opening moments have the potential to turn off anyone who was on the fence about the reboot. In the first five minutes, we have ham fisted, silly dialogue by the villain, an obnoxious strip club scene, implied road head in a limousine, and the crust of a slice of pizza covering a naked Dante’s junk. Seriously. But I encourage you to stick with it, because after you get through this segment, the rest of the game takes a 180 for the better.
It’s literally like how Business 101 courses are harder in order to weed out the slacker students. Why you’d want to do that with a videogame that is already controversial to begin with is beyond me, but it exists nonetheless. Until it doesn’t anymore – maybe they fired the guy responsible and decided to get their act together, but from that point on, the silliness takes a backseat to character exploration, a decent plot, engaging level design, and the tightest, fastest, most polished action this side of Bayonetta.
DmC is an epiphany of the action genre. See, the typical action game normally only serves to frustrate me. While I’m fumbling with the controls and trying to memorize unbelievably complex combos, the enemy is tearing me limb from limb and I’m dead before I realize it. I end up finding the most basic, spammy attack and roll with it for as long as possible. Exciting!
Thankfully, the combat in DmC is pure fun, and makes other systems like God of War seem childlike in comparison. Not since the original Ninja Gaiden have I played an action game that is so complex while being so accessible and fluid. Instead of relying on dense combos to devastate your enemies, all of DmC’s moves are simple, rarely involving more than one button within a combo; however, it’s all about chaining these combos together, and that’s where DmC really shines.
Dante has access to his iconic sword, Rebellion, but also two sets of Angel weapons and two sets of Demon weapons, which you can effortless toggle back and forth between by using the left and right trigger modifiers. What this means is that in one fluid combo, you can launch your enemy into the air, follow with a Demon weapon, and then pull him back to you with an Angel weapon. The capabilities and possibilities are endless, limited only by your skill. Within a couple hours, even I looked like a seasoned DmC professional. And that’s saying something.
Furthermore, and especially on harder difficulties, the enemies are perfectly balanced and intelligent. They will block your attacks when you come straight on, and move around you to find an opening. However, thanks to some clever modifications, they are not frustrating; enemy aggressiveness on demons outside of the camera is turned down, which makes getting cheap-shotted by something you can’t even see is kept to a minimum. It turns out the reboot was worth it; the action is refined to the level of near perfection, and rivals DmC 3 for the best gameplay of the series.
While the mechanics are incredibly polished and intuitive, one of my favorite aspects of DmC is the hunt for collectibles. Players are encouraged to explore the world outside of combat for currency and secret keys that unlock secondary missions. These missions all throw a unique twist into the combat – such as defeating all enemies within a time-limit using only Angel weapons – and reward skilled players with increases in health or Devil Trigger gauge.
Devil May Cry is a gorgeous game to look it. It’s one of those rare titles that is legitimately fun for non-players to watch because there is so much eye candy happening on-screen. A flurry of vibrancy and color, the Limbo levels really help DmC stand apart from the generic action game crowd. In the game, “Limbo” is a demon-version world parallel to our own, and these segments are enhanced by the levels actually being alive themselves. Buildings and streets with twist and weave trying to kill Dante, and you’re given tools to move seamlessly through these hazardous environments while you progress and explore the world for hidden keys and secret missions. There’s always something to marvel at, and the attention to detail is staggering.
Here’s the big surprise – the story in DmC is engaging and surprisingly touching. After the bombastic opening, “attitude” takes a backseat to character development, thanks to the ingenious decision to make the second mission story focused and explore Dante’s backstory and relationship with his parents, the inclusion of the game’s female lead, Kat, and the complex dynamic between his brother, Vergil. Through these interactions, we are able to relate to Dante on a fundamental level, and this paves the way for genuine emotional investment that raises the stakes for the events that begin to unfold. The relationship between Kat and Dante develops organically, and is sincere and baw-worthy. Brought to life by great performances and solid writing, their chemistry becomes one of the driving elements in the game’s story. I won’t spoil anything here, but the finale is truly epic and hits on all cylinders. Not ever a franchise known for good story, DmC sets the bar for what this series – and a well-characterized Dante — is capable of.
DmC is everything I love about gaming, the ultimate fusion between gameplay and presentation that will make this title one that I come back to for years to come. Small faults like a sometimes wonky camera and silly opening are completely overshadowed by the other stellar elements. DmC blew my expectations out of the water, and is a must-own game for any fans of the genre. I hope Capcom continues in this direction, so they can hold on to the thrown they’ve retaken as gaming’s best action franchise.
I give DmC: Devil May Cry five genital pizzas out of five