Capcom have been on quite the winning streak for the past several months. Between their remake of Resident Evil 2 and last year’s Monster Hunter World, the Japanese developer is experiencing a revitalization the likes of which would have seemed completely preposterous post-Street Fighter V.
Now, for the first time since Ninja Theory’s equally lauded and loathed DmC: Devil May Cry, the frenetic action series is back in Capcom’s hands for its fifth entry. Featuring a roster of three playable characters and some of the most satisfying combat mechanics to date, Devil May Cry 5 is a sinfully good time, even when the surrounding environments are a tad lacklustre.
With a demonic force having sprung up in Red Grave City following the events of Devil May Cry 4, it’s up to Dante and company to get to the root of the occult occupation before an entire population is reduced to nothing more than crumbling ash. Rotating between Nero, Dante, and new addition V, players will once more stylishly slash their way to victory using a variety of weapons, power-ups and abilities. As with previous games, collected orbs serve as the currency required for upgrades for vitality, continues and unlockable movesets.
Nero’s “Devil Bringer” arm from DMC4 is now swapped for the “Devil Breaker,” mechanical replacements built by Nico, a new companion that uses her van as a roaming storefront for players to spend orbs and upgrade skills during missions. These include the Ragtime breaker, which allows players to trap enemies in force fields that slow the passage of time, as well as the Gerbera breaker, creating sets of powerful laser blasts that connect for maximum carnage.
As with previous games, Dante has a variety of weapons at his disposal: his Rebellion sword, Balrog gauntlets, or the Cavaliere – a motorcycle he literally tears in two – are swappable on the fly, creating the potential for devastating combinations. With better combo execution comes a higher style ranking, ranging from “D” (Dismal) to “SSS” (Smokin’ Sexy Style!!), all while the game’s orchestral and industrial rock soundtrack reactively swells to suit the level of mayhem on screen.
Interestingly, the new character’s gameplay stands in contrast to the typical hack n’ slash Devil May Cry formula. V’s combat is done entirely from afar, with his three familiars, Shadow, Griffon, and Nightmare wheeling out damage while players keep their distance. Though some may find this too big a change from the series’ sensibilities, racking up style points during V’s missions feels very satisfying, and it’s nice to see a new face used sparingly between Nero and Dante’s stages.
The versatility of Capcom’s RE Engine really shines here, as combat in Devil May Cry 5 is visually arresting and, well, just downright cool. It’s a shame, then, that environmental design gets a bit tiresome toward the end of the journey, with stages often closely resembling what’s already come before. When the bulk of the game takes place within a giant fleshy demonic tree, it’s understandable that meaty walls and floors are going to be the norm, though a bit more texture variety or added colour could have had significant impact.
Still, it’s a relatively minor setback, as the rest of Devil May Cry 5 is a wonderfully dizzying rollercoaster ride that’s guaranteed to have its obsessive players’ hands cramped and sweaty as they chase coveted S-rankings.
Devil May Cry 5 is available now on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.