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Devil May Cry V Review (PS4)

After more than a decade of waiting Devil May Cry V is here. The grandfather of modern hack and slash returns. How does the series stack up in 2019?

Devil May Cry V Review (PS4)

INTRODUCTION

It's been over ten years since Devil May Cry 4 released in 2008. DMC 4 expanded on all of the combat strengths of DMC 3 while adding the character of Nero. However, the game also contained a lot of padding with neither Dante or Nero getting much of a character arc, players forced to replay Nero's levels backwards as Dante and partake in a boss rush section before the final battle all things which scream rushed and unfinished. After that game didn't sell as well as Capcom hoped they partnered with Ninja Theory to create a reboot of the franchise, DmC: Devil May Cry in 2013. Fans largely reacted poorly to this title, believing it dumbed down the gameplay, ruined characters like Dante and Vergil and produced an awful plot that was about as subtle as a Michael Bay movie. Personally, while I think the game is generally worse than other entries in the series it still stands significantly above most Western action games in terms of its combat mechanics. That said there's no doubt fans felt betrayed and the fires were fanned for a return to the original series. So this is the context of Devil May Cry V's release. Fans have been hungry for a true sequel since 2008, myself included.  

Devil May Cry 5: The Dante Dance

rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank”>receiving Dr Faust from Nico.

I can honestly say that DMC 5 Dante is the most mechanically complex, interesting and fun character I've played in an action game. Not only do his attacks feel cathartic and mechanically engaging but actually take significant skill to execute well. Between the array of melee weapons, switching styles mid-combat, firearms, taunts and jump cancelling Dante has an almost infinitely high skill ceiling.

When compared to past games V plays radically different to any character in Devil May Cry's history. V is depicted both in-game and in cutscenes as frail and weak, relying on demonic familiars to do the fighting for him. V commands three demons, there's Shadow a jaguar who performs melee combos. Griffon a bird who mostly focuses on ranged and AoE combat. Finally, there's Nightmare a massive golem who functions somewhat as a screen-nuke but cannot be controlled directly without an upgrade and costs Devil Trigger to have active.

Devil May Cry V Review (PS4). V commands Shadow and Griffon while building DT.
Your familiars, however, cannot finish off enemies, when their health is drained they entered into a petrified state and V must stick his cane into their heads to finish them off. Both Shadow and Griffon have limited health and will enter into a temporary stasis if knocked out, leaving V absolutely defenceless. Instead of using his Devil Trigger to enter into a state of higher damage and added health regeneration V needs his DT to summon Nightmare. Summoning Nightmare, aside from also revives Shadow and Griffin giving him a tactical use beyond simply being a panic weapon. Nightmare can also break down terrain in a level, which can reveal secret missions or upgrades. Since Nightmare is integral to V's combat system he can also read his poetry book in the midst of combat, slowing him to a walking speed but also gradually restoring his DT gauge.  

At, first I found V's gameplay involved a lot of button mashing as you are essentially controlling three characters at one time. In a way it reminded me of when I first played DMC 3 and mashed the inputs just to see what would work. After playing for a few hours and switching up some of the control inputs I found play a lot smoother. You get into a kind of rhythm with V's combat stacking Shadow and Griffon's attacks to effectively stun lock an enemy or group of enemies.  

Devil May Cry V Review (PS4). V summons Nightmare.
At the worst of times V's combat can feel either a bit too easy or hard to manage. At its best it was a frantic rush skillfully coordinating all of my familiars while avoid damaging. Summoning Nightmare is just a bit too easy with V's Devil Trigger functioning almost like an instant win button against weak enemies. I'd say overall I enjoyed V's combat a little less than Dante and Nero. Since you are effectively directing damage rather than dealing it there's significantly less catharsis involved in destroying a group of enemies. I will give Capcom some credit for taking a risk in this area though. V plays unlike anything I've ever experienced in a hack and slash and although perhaps slightly disappointing by DMC standards he's still mechanically excellent when compared to lesser action games. At the end of the day, Itsuno and his team know how to craft amazing action characters.  

Killing enemies and completing levels grants Red Orbs, the game's currency. These can be used to purchase additional abilities, health and DT upgrades and Devil Breakers for Nero. It's very satisfying to purchase and try out new moves. Players can now test out moves in an arena type area called the void, reminiscent of Bayonetta. My only annoyance is the fact that abilities like the double jump and attracting Red Orbs from a greater distance need to be purchased, it feels like pointless busy work.

Devil May Cry V Review (PS4). The upgrade shop.
Enemy and boss design was mostly great overall. There's everything from cannon fodder enemies to large armoured demons that take significant amounts of punishment. There felt like no enemies designed to simply frustrate the player like Blitz in DMC 4. I think the normal difficulty was a tad too easy for veterans of the series. This is only compounded by the fact that Gold Orbs used to revive the player are no plentiful. There's plenty that are easy to find throughout each level while the player gets a Gold Orb everything day they boot the game up again. I think this could have been remedied by having Son of Sparda difficulty playable from the start but that's a small issue overall.

There was some worry about the microtransactions that have launched with the game. Players can more or less input their credit cards and get Red Orbs for a few dollars. I can safely say that Capcom doesn't throttle Red Orb acquisition and by the end of the game I had more than enough to purchase all the moves I wanted. It seems like a stupid feature to me more than anything. The only real utility is for long-time fans who want to unlock moves from the start or people who are really, really bad at the game and want to buy health upgrades.

GRAPHICS

Graphically Devil May Cry V both looks fantastic and runs well. The game runs off the RE Engine which was also used by Capcom in Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil 2 Remake. Animations are excellent from characters faces to the physics on their clothes to the swaying of Dante's hair, it all looks great and flows well. The cutscenes are especially great and are some of the most beautiful I've seen in a game. Aside from the occasional poorly rendered texture the game is graphically incredible.

DMC 5 is targeted to run at 60 fps which is absolutely necessary given the fast pace of the combat. Monitoring the frame rate, DMC 5 occasionally dipped on a standard PS4 but maintained 60 fps about 90% of the time. Given how many games these days look good in their trailers and either dial back their visuals or run like garbage it was pleasing to play a game that achieved good performance and great visuals.  

Devil May Cry V Review (PS4). Dante and Nero looking visually excellent.
Level design somewhat varies in its quality. The early cityscapes at the start of the game are an absolute feast for the eyes and feel like a real, living, breathing place. However, as the game rolls on the designers tend to fall back more and more on washed out city streets and the fairly monotonous looking organic hallways of the Qliphoth. DMC's levels are structured mostly to provide good places for fights but it's a little disappointing that the level design falters by the end.  

AUDIO

Sound design in DMC 5 is touch notch and probably the best the series has ever seen. The sound of a large demon's roar to a sword cutting through an enemy, it's all wonderful. I was initially apprehensive about the more electronic soundtrack but how it's implemented was excellent. DMC 5's combat features dynamic music with the songs becoming more intense and going into their choruses when players hit an S-rank in style. I'm still a bigger fan of the more rock and metal based soundtrack of DMC 3 but syncing the music to with the combat system is a stroke of genius that significantly elevates the soundtrack.

Devil May Cry V Review (PS4). Dante acquires Dr Faust.

CONCLUSION

Although it might not seem fair my biggest criticism of this game as a Devil May Cry fan is how totally safe it is. The gameplay feels exactly like it brings the excellent mechanics of DMC 3 and 4 to modern graphics and controls. The antics of Dante, Vergil's role in the story and the character arc of Nero feel designed to appeal to long-time fans and largely avoids taking risks. Gameplay wise this is the best we've seen yet out of Devil May Cry. In terms of narrative I'd say this game falls slightly short of DMC 3 which benefitted from a simple but engaging character-driven story. DMC 5 easily deserves to stand equal first at the top of the series pantheon.

This is a product designed to appeal to me and I'd say it overwhelmingly succeeded, I enjoyed my time with DMC 5 and will no doubt get hundreds of hours of enjoyment out of it in the future. The combat system typifies easy to learn but exceptionally hard to master all while being extremely cathartic and rewarding skilfull play. After Resident Evil 2 Remake Capcom have knocked it out of the park again. This game is a love letter to DMC fans but also fans of action games in general. It's absolutely a must buy for action fans.

PROSCONS
+ Fun and engaging combat. – Safe story that requires DMC knowledge to fully enjoy. 
+ High replay value.– Occasional weak level design. 
+ Mechanically complex. Easy to learn, hard to master. – Short initial play time. (10-15 hours)
+ Satisfying character development.
+ Excellent visuals and good performance. 
+ A love letter to long-time fans.
9
Amazing

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