Devil May Cry 5 review for PC, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PC
Also On: PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-3
Online: Yes

When it comes to the stylish killing of demons, few games can live up to the standard set by the Devil May Cry games. With four core games before this, as well as an offshoot/reboot/alternate universe game in the form of DMC from Ninja Theory, Devil May Cry 5 had a lot to live up to. The series has been around for nearly 20 years at this point, so fans are rooted in pretty firmly, and all had high expectations going into this launch. 2013?s DMC was a bit divisive, with many fans upset because of various creative and story changes, as well as a bit of a simplified playstyle and combo system. Devil May Cry 5 ignores DMC and focuses on following up the four core games, in both story and style. Once again, hunting for the coveted SSS rank takes center stage and trumps all of the other objectives. You can choose to ignore style and brute force your way through the story, but there is much less fun in that.

Devil May Cry 5 brings Dante and Nero together, while also introducing a third playable character, the mysterious stranger known only as ?V?. Each of the three main characters have wildly different playstyles. If you have played the older Devil May Cry titles, you already know how Dante plays. Playing as Dante felt like riding an old bike, I remembered exactly what I was doing and he feels just as satisfying as ever. Nero is a much more mobile fighter, using an ever expanding arsenal of unique arms to traverse the battlespace and following up with Red Queen combos. V is virtually useless on his own, instead using 3 unique summoned familiars to fight for him. There is a demon bird, allowing for long range energy blasts, a shapeshifting panther for close range/melee combat and a giant shadow monster that can be summoned as his Devil Trigger ability that blasts everything in his path with no input from the player.

Unfortunately, even with his neat new abilities, V ends up being by far the weakest of the three. While Nero and Dante both feel like they have a good flow to their combat, and setting combos up is almost an artform to be mastered, V feels slow and clunky at times. Trying to combo between your ranged and melee attacks stutters more often than not, and it feels like the game just credits your style meter for simply landing attacks, not for actually doing it with style. Since the game forces you to play as each character for their designated missions, the V missions can end up frustrating if you do not enjoy his particular playstyle. Transitioning between Nero and Dante feels pretty fluid, with a lot of overlapping properties that the player can use to fight with, but playing as V is always a shock to the system. On top of his less than amazing combat, his character is an obnoxious caricature of the stereotypical goth kid in high school. His wannabe Edgar Allan Poe routine gets old pretty fast, but luckily the story does not focus on him nearly as much as Nero and Dante.

I am sure I am going to upset some folks with this, but for me, the story in Devil May Cry always took a back seat to the gameplay. I went into these games for the hack and slash, combo based brutality. The story is cool and all, and learning more about Dante and Vergil, along with their past is always fun. It just isn?t what keeps me coming back for more, and gets me playing the game over and over trying for harder difficulties and more SSS ranks. The tight combat and breathtaking swordplay and combo system is what keeps me going. That said, Devil May Cry 5 is certainly not lacking in the story department. While the story may be a bit confusing, and jumping between three different main characters across the same timeline at different points can get hard to follow, I enjoyed what was there. There are a lot of cool throwbacks to previous games, and Capcom even included a recap video you can watch at the main menu as a refresher for veterans, or a ?story so far? video for newcomers.

Voice acting and character models are all top notch, with the RE engine really showing how far Capcom has come with their graphics, and Nero and Dante consistently delivering their witty one liners to keep the story moving. On the flip side of that, the environments are notably lacking. While they are detailed and well designed, they are not very varied or unique. Once you play through the first few levels, you have really seen all the game has to offer in terms of environmental diversity. It all starts to look the same by the end.

Another big change for the series in Devil May Cry 5 comes in the form of the environmental puzzles. While the previous four core games had quite a few environmental puzzles to progress, some of which were exceptionally difficult, Devil May Cry 5 favors a much more linear approach. There are a few traversal ?puzzles?, but almost all of those lead to optional areas or an upgrade item. The game itself is much simpler and focuses more on the combat than the puzzle system. This is not a bad thing at all, at least not for me. The puzzles in previous entries always served as an immersion breaker between fights for me, and I do not lament their removal from the path of progression.

Enemies in Devil May Cry 5 got a nice facelift as well, with the familiar cinematic introduction of each new enemy type making a reappearance. Enemy types and styles are varied enough to keep you busy, and make each fight interesting. Learning how to approach each foe without getting hit, while maintaining a constant juggle of attacks for that coveted SSS rank is a fun level of added challenge to the game, which can be just about as hard or as easy as you want it to be. On your first playthrough, only Human and Devil Hunter difficulties are available. After that, you can progress through Son of Sparda, Dante must Die, Heaven and Hell, and finally, Hell and Hell. Each of these difficulties requires completion of the previous difficulty to unlock, and they get HARD. On the opposite end of that spectrum, new players on Human difficulty can choose to use the assist mode, which basically executes sweet combos by just pressing the buttons over and over with no real specific timing or order.

Devil May Cry 5 is probably the strongest entry in the series thus far. With incredibly deep, yet approachable combat and an upgraded progression system, the series has never been more open to newcomers. Veterans of the series can crank up the difficulty and play the way they have been playing for almost 20 years as well, bringing something to the table for everyone. Thanks to the RE engine, Devil May Cry has never looked or felt quite so good either. Dropping the puzzles in favor of a more streamlined, combat focused experience is another good change, and really helps the game have more of a laser focus. With plenty of content to keep you busy, as well as both free and paid DLC in the works, Devil May Cry 5 is well worth your time, and hard earned dollars.

Note: Capcom provided us with a Devil May Cry 5 PC code for review purposes.

Grade: A