The last few years have been lovingly named by fans as ‘the Capcom Redemption Arc’. The development team has been steadily recovering after a number of blunders and started giving its flagship titles the treatment they deserve. 2018’s Monster Hunter World brought peace to a series marred by regional exclusives and finicky online services. Earlier this year the Resident Evil 2 remake was met with critical acclaim after numerous divisive prior entries. Devil May Cry 5 completes the trinity, delivering the first satisfying instalment in the demon-slaying ventures of Dante since 2008. After the disappointing sales of Devil May Cry 4, hope for the series had diminished, and a poorly constructed Western reboot starring a more ‘edgy’ Dante only added salt to the wound. Needless to say the announcement of 5 at E3, under the direction of series veteran Hideaki Itsuno, was a near-miracle celebrated by fans.
Devil May Cry 5 stars a trio of fun and varied characters to play as: from the series’ past comes Dante, demon-killer for hire who’s age hasn’t slowed down his reckless behaviour one bit, and Nero, the straight-laced disciple who isn’t too chuffed about recently having his arm stolen. Joining them is the mysterious newcomer known only as V, a poetry lover who quotes more Blake than an A Level English essay. With each character comes a wholly unique style of gameplay, as well as another thread to the game’s bizarre story. Without wishing to spoil much, I can say that the plot is heavy on demon invasions and characters treating incredibly absurd and horrifying situations like a bus delay, all beautifully rendered in Capcom’s RE Engine.
But Devil May Cry has never been adored for its plot. The focus of the game, like the wardrobes of its cast, is being as stylish as possible. The player will find themselves in battles with hordes of demons in each level, culminating in a boss fight against a powerful behemoth that isn’t averse to verbally beating the player as much as they do physically. Mastery (and enjoyment) of the game comes from wielding the full array of combos each character can perform. Chaining and switching up these combos will not only allow for the swifter defeat of foes but also contribute to your ‘Stylish Rank’ which ranges from D (for ‘Dismal’) to SSS (for ‘Smokin’ Sexy Style!’). The greater your style, the higher your end of level rank.
The Stylish Rank isn’t just for bragging rights though. It accompanies one of the most invigorating aspects of the game in my opinion: the dynamic soundtrack. When you start a battle, you may feel the music that comes with it sounds rather lacking to begin with. As you slowly raise your Stylish rank during the fight more and more layers of the song will be introduced, going from simple bassline, to drums, to the entrance of the full melody and the vocals. Reach an S Rank and the completed song rushes to the exciting chorus, making your skilful playing sound as good as it looks.
Devil May Cry 5 is definitely a complex game, but is by no means a punishing one. You are given ample time to get to learn the playstyles of Dante, Nero and V as well as a list of combos to look over any time you need to refresh your memory. It can be fun to work out what mix of attacks suit you best as you start to develop more and more advanced barrages. If you own a PS4 or Xbox One, I would recommend the free demo to test the game’s functions out for yourself.