“DMC: Devil May Cry” is so much more than just another gritty reboot of a beloved franchise. It’s a dirty boot to the head; a shot of good whiskey; a graffiti-filled alley; and the oversaturated, fevered dreams of a hard rock addict. It’s one of the best action games of all time, and perhaps more importantly, it’s the only game where defeating a thinly veiled Bill O’Reilly analogue in his demonic newsroom wins you a pair of sweet ninja stars.
Yeah, it’s that kind of game.
Forget everything you know (or don’t know) about the white-haired, trench coat-wearing, demon-slaying Dante from the previous games. The Dante of “DMC” sports a scraggly punk ‘do, frequents strip clubs and lives in a trailer in Limbo City, where the immortal demon overlord/banker/energy drink mogul known as Mundus reigns supreme.
Dante is convinced to join a group of rebels known as The Order, led by Dante’s twin brother, Vergil, when he discovers his hidden past. Turns out that he and Vergil are half-demon, half-angel, which makes them the only beings powerful enough to knock Mundus off of his pedestal and into a grave. It also turns out that Mundus murdered their mother and banished their father, so Dante’s freedom-fighting comes with a side of revenge.
Aiding them is Kat, a hoodie-sporting witch who uses spray cans to create portals that allow Dante to travel between Limbo, which is topsy-turvy and filled with demons, and the real world. The story benefits from fantastic acting and an intriguing hell-meets-Orwelian-dystopia-meets-acid-trip setting, which explains real-world problems like unhealthy energy drinks and biased news networks as products of demonic manipulation.
Dante’s mixed parentage is more than just narrative fodder. In addition to the trusty sword-and-pistols combo that have seen him through four games so far, he also sports two long-ranged and speedy angelic weapons and two demonic ones, which are slow but powerful. He can also pull himself toward ledges or enemies or yank them over to him with a pair of grappling hooks. Each weapon carves its own niche, and as the demonic hordes become more powerful and varied the player will have to switch between them mid-combat, resulting in combat that is free-form, visceral and addictively complex. For instance, one of the game’s many demon-puppet-cupid enemies might shoot an explosive arrow at Dante.
At this point, the player could bat the projectile right back at them, use a grappling hook to pull the cupid into its own explosion, shoot them down with one of Dante’s several guns or leap into the air to finish them off sword-to-face.
Now add in a teleporting devil samurai, a giant metal baby doll and some feral feline ghosts and the sheer depth of “DMC’s” combat becomes apparent. Throw in a few memorable boss fights, like a pus-spewing slug who provides the “secret ingredient” for the world’s favorite energy drink and the aforementioned evil newscaster and you’ve got a nonstop mosh pit of action gaming excellence.
It’s not all hacking and slashing though. Dante’s pair of grappling hooks make traversing the warped environs of Limbo a pleasure, even when the seemingly-sentient city’s insults and attempts to kill you by collapsing alleys and destroying bridges are decidedly unpleasant. The world of “DMC” feels real enough to taste, not that you’d want to, unless “grimy” and “graffiti” are flavors you enjoy.
Whether Dante is fighting his way through a floor of possessed accountants or surviving the gauntlet at a nightclub for demons, the game’s world never ceases to disturb and impress.
Dante would agree that it’s better to burn out than to fade away, and “DMC” makes sure not to outlive its welcome. The main game can be completed in ten hours, so for gamers not interested in boosting their score or unlocking the many secret missions and concept art galleries, “DMC” might be better as a rental. That said, it’s easily one of the best rental games of all time.
True action gamers, however, forged in the fire of bizarre boss fights and seeking a worthy opponent with whom to get scrappy, should buy “DMC: Devil May Cry” immediately and let the high-flying, hard-rockin’ action begin.
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