When it comes to games from Japanese developers, much like their anime, there’s a good deal of weirdness sprinkled in. Nowhere is this more evident than Capcom’s latest offering, Devil May Cry 5 (DMC 5), with it serving up some of the most insane characters and absurd dialogue we’ve experienced in a game to date.
But peel past all that, and at its core DMC 5 is as slick and polished a hack-and-slash fighting game you’ll find.
I recently tried the game on PS4, and this is the impression it left.
Surprising for the uninitiated
A disclaimer first, however, as I must admit that I’m not the biggest DMC gamer around. My last notable memory of the franchise was completing Devil May Cry 3 over a decade ago. As such I was heading into DMC 5 with relatively fresh eyes, and boy, was I surprised with what greeted me.
One of the first things that strikes you about the game is the dialogue. It’s quite cringey and so terrible that it becomes funny at times, and there are so much of it in the opening few chapters of the story mode.
Our main hero of the piece, Nero (instead of franchise regular Dante) comes off a bit too arrogant, and that makes it quite difficult to root for him. It’s also clear that he wants to walk and talk like Deadpool, but he often fails miserably.
Following the prologue, I even found myself tempted to skip all the cut scenes, but for the purposes of exposition, as well as any potentially crucial plot points, I had to grin and bear it.
Needless to say, it’s perhaps the one thing I did not like about this game.
Actually strike that, there’s two things. The second is the numerous load screens that litter the game. Much like the cut scenes, instead of being something to enjoy and use to take breaks from the action, they simply prolong your desire to get stuck into demon slaying.
Take my strong hand
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s talk about the best part of Devil May Cry 5 – the gameplay.
The reason for Nero being the focus in this game, apart from Dante being imprisoned by a demon king during the prologue, is mainly the introduction of new weapons in the form of the devil breakers. These are the names that Nico (your in-game tech support) gives to the powerful prosthetic arms you’re able to use while fighting.
There are eight different ones you can unlock and then purchase with the orbs you earn while killing demons. Each of the devil breakers have a special feature, with some packing more firepower, others good for multiple foes, and a few that are general purpose.
The devil breakers can also get damaged during fights, which means you’ll need to buy a few at a time, along with being able to hot swap them during fights to tackle different types of foes if needed.
This is one aspect of the gameplay I never felt prompted to fully explore, as the Overture devil breaker you receive early on in the game got the job done most of the time. The only instances that I swapped it out was after a boss battle forced me to change tactics.
Overall the addition of devil breakers is a nice gameplay device, but does not revolutionise the franchise.
Sticking with gameplay, what Capcom has served up with Devil May Cry 5 is super slick. Stringing together combos, especially with the auto-assist mode toggled on, is extremely easy. When you turn it off though, the challenge then becomes to see whether you can do the same sort of combos without the help of the game.
As such when you do get a Savage rating (the highest possible) for a chain of moves, it can prove quite satisfying.
I do need to point out though, that as you move through the world that has been created to different checkpoints, the difficulty as far as generic demon enemies goes, is less about their power and more about the number that attack you at once. To that end, I did feel like the more generic enemies were a little under-powered, and after a while didn’t provide the challenge I was hankering for.
That certainly changed with the boss fights, as they are quite varied, and if you’re not paying attention, you can quickly be defeated. I was wailing on bosses early on, stringing together great combos and not taking much damage, but then he powered up for a super move that connected and depleted half of my life.
At times there is so much happening on-screen, that you get can lost in trying to beat an enemy as quickly as possible, that you don’t realise how much damage you’re taking.
Having admitted to not being a Devil May Cry veteran, I must say that DMC 5 won me over. Yes, there is some very cringey dialogue and banter between characters that makes no sense. The loading screens can feel like they suck the life out of you, but if you can push past that, and persevere for a couple of hours, you’ll be rewarded with truly slick hack-and-slash gameplay.
As such the highly stylised world of DMC 5 is simply a veneer for the superb button mashing at the heart of this game.
If you’ve been looking for a good hack-and-slash game to pour weeks of time into, Devil May Cry 5 is the ticket.