Devil May Cry has always prided itself on its fast, brutal, and stylish combat, with other elements often falling by the wayside in favour of those slick mechanics. Devil May Cry 5 manages to pull all the other aesthetic bits and pieces up to speed with its already-stellar combat to deliver one of the sharpest action games in recent years.
The game’s new-and-returning protagonists and mysterious enemies strewn across DMC 5‘s marketing material may have you scratching your head and thinking “who’s that now!?”, but don’t worry – the franchise has always had a knack of delivering curveballs, only to bring everything together in the final chapters. Nothing has changed.
The game picks up a few years after the events of Devil May Cry 4, and throws players right into the middle of a battle between Dante, Nero, a mysterious ally named ‘V’, and a demon-king known as Urizen. Things aren’t going so well in the fight, which sparks some flashbacks, letting players take control of the three leading characters through present and past events from a few days prior to the big opening battle. The narrative structure is admittedly bizarre, but it does work, managing to keep some mystery around certain characters and big-reveals hidden until the right moments in the story.
With being able to play as three characters this time around, DMC 5 allows you to experiment with three (very) different play-styles. Dante is his usual fast and acrobatic self, Nero is a combination of speed and power, and ‘V’ doesn’t even engage in battle himself, rather utilising his dark powers to summon creatures to fight for you. Yeah, it sounds weird, and it is, but it makes sense in the context of his character and unleashing the right attacks on the right enemies, while you have to protect V by placing an emphasis on dodging and evasion tactics mixes up the pacing well.
Of course, there are upgrades and tricks available to each character – one of the standout additions is the Devil Breaker arm enhancements that Nero can don. These are limited special attacks, which can range from a powerful beam to riding on the arm in the form of a rocket-propelled projectile – it’s as bonkers as it sounds. After each mission, you can stock up on different Devil Breaker add-ons (picking a few from numerous options), while also buying new moves, combos, and abilities for each of the characters. The stock combos and moves from the outset are great as is, so you really get a sense of variety with your ever-increasing combat repertoire as you progress through the game.
It’s been over 10 years since the release of Devil May Cry 4, but even with that gap, Capcom has made a massive leap in terms of visuals and presentation. Running on the RE Engine which we saw a great showcase of with Resident Evil 2 remake and Resident Evil 7), the game looks incredibly fluid, facial animations are superb, and lighting and particle effects add a eye-pleasing firework display of sparks, electricity, and flames as you fight your way through demon hordes. Story-wise, the cheese of past games has been replaced with an overdose of style and attitude, but it comes off as effective and intentional, as Devil May Cry 5 embraces its tongue-in-cheek yet badass-to-death milieu perfectly.
There are some minor annoyances, such as the default control and button layout feeling rather unintuitive (although it’s easily changeable), and some ‘locked-door’ scenario loops that do break up the pacing, but both are comfortably overlooked due to all the good that’s on offer with DMC 5.
While ‘style over substance’ is often a route many games take, Devil May Cry 5 manages to deliver both in heaps, bringing one of the smoothest and reactive combat systems around, along with stunning visuals and a surprisingly interesting story that’ll catch fans and newcomers off-guard. Devil May Cry is back in business.
Devil May Cry 5 is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.