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Devil May Cry 5 Review - Capcom is Officially Back!

VO: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Kurt Hvorup
Devil May Cry 5 looked like it was going to be great, but Capcom hasn't had the best track record this generation. Devil May Cry 5 delivers however, so check out the full MojoPlays Review.

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If one thing can be said for certain of the “Devil May Cry” games, it’s that they never go precisely where you expect. The original 2001 title, after all, was a decidedly odd blend of Gothic-influenced visual design, anime excess and blood-soaked action that spun out of the development of “Resident Evil 4”. Its sequels kept up the unpredictability via being varied in tone, stylistic influences and even overall quality. And of course, no conversation about the series would be complete without addressing the politically-charged and supremely divisive 2013 reboot.

Basically, to engage with anything in this series requires one to come to terms with the reality that “Devil May Cry” is a really freaking weird franchise. Yet that strange energy can sometimes result in some of the medium’s finest moments, with “Devil May Cry 5” acting as a strong testament to that notion.

Picking up after the events of “Devil May Cry 4”, the brash demon hunter-in-training Nero has been following in veteran slayer-for-hire Dante’s footsteps. Unfortunately for the pair, their skills prove insufficient against the arrival of a new demonic despot named Urizen. Enter V, an enigmatic new client of Dante’s who intervenes seemingly to aid Nero in stopping Urizen’s dark machinations... and also to carry out his own agenda.

Beneath the world-in-peril pretence lies an actually quite compelling narrative dealing in themes of familial conflict and dealing with existing legacies, interspersed with some tragic and even surreal interludes. Any more specifics would only serve to spoil a fair number of significant plot turns and character reveals – in short, much of “Devil May Cry 5” is dedicated to paying off lingering threads from past games. Though much of the impact will certainly vary based on how invested one is in “Devil May Cry” lore, it’s rather well conveyed and makes sense on its own terms.

The more serious, high-drama aspects are complemented and balanced out by a healthy embrace of levity and character interplay. Nero and Dante’s dry one-liners and sardonic approach to conversations don’t cease to be amusing, and Nero’s mechanic-slash-artisan partner Nico frequently steals any scene she’s in. Plus, the obvious absurdity of growling monstrosities from hell getting put down by dad jokes and oversized weapons remains a distinct pleasure. It’s just a shame how certain returning characters like Lady and Trish find themselves sidelined for long stretches, coming across as practically tangential to the larger plot concerns.

A “Devil May Cry” game wouldn’t feel quite right if plentiful bloodshed and slick combo-heavy combat were absent. Thank goodness, then, that “DMC5” proves ready and able to deliver per usual, albeit with a few new changes and additions. For starters, the game has players switching between three protagonists this time, each sporting unique move-sets befitting their characters and requiring different approaches to use them efficiently.

Nero, having had his right arm replaced by the Devil Breaker cybernetic prosthetic, uses a mix of magic-infused blasts, sword attacks and revolver blasts to cut through demons. Dante gets a wider array of firearms and melee weapons – including an utterly delightful magic hat – as well as a quartet of combat styles to be swapped on the fly. And of course there’s V, who relies on commanding his demon companions from afar to attack on his behalf. Rest assured that if one style of play doesn’t quite sit well, it won’t be long before you switch to another character. For us, though, the variety and depth of options for each character proved quite enjoyable to dig into.

The three men have separate upgrade trees and weapon loadouts accessible before and during missions, with new skills and improvements gained with the spending of the requisite Red Orbs. There’s a kind of inherently compulsive feeling in striving for higher combos during fights and exploring every corner of levels, in order to locate the most Orbs possible. As of writing, the balance between the amount of Red Orbs available and the cost of specific skills seems just about right.

Speaking of exploration, it’s worth noting just how intricate the levels in “Devil May Cry 5” are, in more ways than one. Each mission has its own range of special Orbs of varying colours – Gold for revivals, Blue for increasing Vitality, the works. Then there’s the increasingly challenging side-missions, only accessible by lining up one’s field of view to locate hidden sigils. Even just wandering slightly off-course can lead to splendid urban vistas or spectacular angles on grotesque structures. Nearly every detour proved worthwhile, be it for material reasons or for aesthetic appreciation.

Not enough can be said about the quality brought to the game by the RE Engine. The series’ blend of varying horror and dark fantasy styles, in its architecture and in its monster designs, truly shine here. Buildings and human-made structures give way to bizarre organic tendrils, bright red pustules crop up in the strangest of places, and the creatures of the underworld are unabashedly warped in nature. Dante, Nero and company also benefit from some damn impressive facial and performance capture, helping to drive home their respective personalities and quirks.

The sound design, too, seems to be of a high caliber. Much has been made of the theme “Devil Trigger”, a truly splendid track that evokes punk and metal in its every line. It’s deployed both as the punctuation to standout sequences and as the backing during particularly successful battles, never failing to set the mood. While not every track in the game quite stands out in the same fashion, the composition of backing music in “Devil May Cry 5” remains consistently engaging.

Truly, this game is beautiful in its embrace of refined yet barely restrained carnage. “Devil May Cry 5” is bizarre, dramatic, gruesome and gleeful in its endeavours. Its willingness to go to odd places – literally and thematically – pairs well with Capcom’s eye for smooth and intense action. Whatever comes next, it’ll be hard-pressed to match what was accomplished here.


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