Devil May Cry 5 has been hotely antisapated by the series fan-base. The re-imagining from Ninja Theory, DmC: Devil May Cry was divisive and tonely very different from the hit that was Devil May Cry 4. Devil May Cry 5 means to return to that action-packed, up-tempo, and honestly quite ridiculous theme and tone, and with Hideaki Itsuno back in the saddle, that is indeed just what Devil May Cry 5 offers. This is the sequel to Devil May Cry 4 that fans have been waiting for.
Devil May Cry 5 delivers on its special brand of over-the-top action, set pieces, melodrama and characterisation immediately. It’s a lightning fast pacing that feel very appropriate to the series. The story and it’s delivery are utterly mad, yet remarkably, and splendidly intriguing despite it’s complete break from reality. The characters are interesting and provide a terrific balance of play styles to experiment with and learn, and the enemies ramp up in difficulty at a nice steady beat so you have time enough to get to grips with the varied and exhaustive move set available.
Of course this is largely driven by the phenomenal combat. What appears at first glance to be an overwhelming array of button combinations and pose specific moves melts into an intuitive flow when you play. It’s a very well-designed and clever system. For action game aficionados the actions become second nature; juggling foes with firearms is nostalgic due to the series history and a breeze to pull off thanks to the lock-on, then following through with the myriad melee attacks and special attacks is emphasised enough with the short tutorials when new moves and enemies are discovered so to make it a habit to best dispatch your foes. This proved true for all three of the playable characters. Despite their very different styles; Nero’s consumable Devil Breaker items feel just a satisfying and easy to use as V’s demons and Dante’s sword and pistols.
Having three characters to master certainly sounds overwhelming, but the aforementioned flow you find yourself in when in combat quickly becomes present with each of them after only a little practise. You’ll switch characters every few levels, taking control of them frequently enough to prevent you completely losing your way with their move sets, and allowing you to enhance each character through upgrades enough to keep the challenge from stacking against you.
And indeed the challenge is wonderfully well-balanced, even when it comes to the fabled boss encounters. The eight to ten hour story will throw some interesting bosses your way but overcoming them is never a chore. The rules of combat in Devil May Cry and therefore the weaknesses and patterns that enemies and the bosses possess are easy enough to read. Style is what you’re judged against, rather than precision or complexity, making all attacks as effective as each other overall. This makes for a wonderful difficulty balance; challenging veterans to master the move sets and keep the fight interesting and varied, while new comers are welcome to just use what they’re most familiar and comfortable with.
The new character joining the series, V, offers a very interesting combat style. V is physically weak so uses demons to fight his battles for him while he avoids danger and goes in for the kill when his foes are low on health. It’s a great departure from the tough-as-nails duo of Dante and Nero, that mixes up the experience nicely. The demons under his control are also powerful in their own right, so while you’ll need to split your attention between V dodging danger and the demons engaging with it, the fights are just as spectacular and over-the-top as the other character’s battles.
Nero mixes it up a little with a new combat mechanic in the form of Devil Breakers. These consumable items provide a vast variety of strong attacks that can devastate enemies but are ultimately limited. Using them wisely and kitting yourself out with a good selection at the beginning of a mission is an interesting consideration. However, even if your don’t put much thought in this, there’s plenty your can pick up during missions and your standard attacks with blade and gun are strong enough to see your through most encounters.
Dante is similar to Nero with his sword and guns, but with a larger move set, and later in the game entirely different attacks that we won’t be spoiling here. It’s familiar to veterans with enough new in the late game to truly impress.
The highly stylised combat and acrobatics have always been a highlight of the Devil May Cry series but never has it looked this good. The RE Engine shows off it prowess here with hugely detailed textures in the characters and environments, eye-watering particle effects and lighting, and all at a blisteringly fast 60 frames per second on the Xbox One X. It’s gorgous and glorious with every location broght to life and every enenmy grusomely rendered.
Indeed, Devil May Cry 5 is the sequel fans have been waiting for and it’s easily one of the best action games on the market. The over-the-top style of the story certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but behind it is a some of the most varied yet intuitive combat ever devised. Moreover, once the main story has been completed, chasing those S ranks through mastery of the combat can keep you coming back time and time again on the many different difficulties. Furthermore, the Son of Sparda mode mixes the game up so much it’s practically brand new. There’s a huge amount of highly satisfying content here that’s been designed and implemented cleverly and lovingly by a team that recognises what made Devil May Cry 4 so compelling.