Any lingering concerns you may have about Ninja Theory’s restyled Dante will fade within the first few hours. This, despite involving surely the most controversial haircut in videogame history, is still a Devil May Cry game, and a good one. This Dante may be the brattish, obnoxious sort of cocky, but only at the outset, when he’s the orphan with the sad past who’s gone off the rails, spending his days in a trailer park and his nights in strip clubs. Nothing, though, focuses the wayward mind quite like being dragged into Limbo by a demon the size of a skyscraper or two.
This being the first boss, naturally Dante finds his way out of purgatory and back to the real world, but he’ll spend much of DmC switching between the two dimensions. He’s joined by Kat, a waifish young thing who takes the role of Enslaved’s Trip, often pointing out or opening the way, and also grounding our half-demon, half-angel hero in the real world. He is a more human protagonist than in the past, one who fights to avenge the death of his mother and, later, to save a friend. The Dante of old seemed to be in it for the glory, and because he liked looking good while pissing off demons. If that meant saving the world, then fine.
Kat introduces Dante to Vergil, his long-lost brother, who’s been cast a terrorist by obvious Fox News analogue Raptor News Network, and in particular Bob Barbas, Raptor’s Bill O’Reilly. Barbas’s catchphrase that he’s “just doing God’s work” falls flat when it turns out that he is, in fact, a corrupt and quite colossal demon. His ‘god’ is Mundus, demon king and head of the Silver Sacks investment bank, who spends his introduction proclaiming he is going to “control the world through debt”. Clearly, times have changed: these days, Satan’s most terrifying powers lie in his prohibitive APR and a thorough credit check. The message, then, is that the media is evil, the financial services industry is worse, and sometimes terrorists really are freedom fighters.
Get used to seeing roads, buildings and cities being tornasunder in front of you. Normally this means going round the long way, or some platforming, but sometimes it’s a battle against the clock, demanding speed of thought and movement to escape alive
DmC has a greater emphasis on story than the games that preceded it, then, which is just what you’d expect from the maker of the narrative-heavy Enslaved and Heavenly Sword. But its focus is absolutely where it should be: at the tip of Dante’s sword. Playing true to its forebears’ considerable strengths, DmC is still a game about crowd management and of making best use of its myriad systems to keep a combo going and maximise your style rating.
And so while DMC4’s Devil Bringer grappling hook is absent, the concept remains. Hold the left trigger and hit X for angelic lift, which zips you towards enemies. Hold the right and X to have demonic pull draw foes in close. These are used outside of battle, too, helping you move between the platforms of one crumbling structure to the next, all aided by a midair boost.