The video game community has been torn down the middle by the announcement of a Devil May Cry reboot. Some have welcomed a new splash of life into the series while others believe the long-running series is going in the wrong direction. A demo for the upcoming DmC: Devil May Cry is available to play now on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The first thing to note about DmC’s demo, which was played on PS3 for this article, is the way everything is laid out. Unlike a demo that walks players through a tutorial that leads to a challenge putting their new skills to the test, the DmC demo separates the two elements into completely separate levels. Under Watch and Secret Ingredient are available in three different difficulty levels, with a fourth level called Son of Sparda being unlockable upon completion of the demo.
The tutorial level begins with Dante being sucked into Limbo, which resembles an alternate dimension of sorts. In Limbo, Dante can still interact with a ghostly reflection of his partner. Shadows of the outside world emerge briefly from time to time but never break the demonic feeling. The level begins with basic movement and combat tutorials, as players face off against grounded and airborne enemies. In addition, gamers are introduced to items such as keys that unlock hidden doors to challenge rooms that award victors with Health Shards to increase their maximum health. Collectibles also litter the game, such as Lost Souls, whic are often found in difficult areas to reach and must be destroyed to obtain. These add to your soul points, which are some form of currency in the game. Dante has three methods of attacking between his signature sword and dual pistols: ranged attacks, melee attacks and lift attacks. Combining these makes for some stylish combos.
Rock with a pinch of dubstep acts as the soundtrack for the demo and really fits the look and feel of the game. The choice of music is a strong selling point that helps players get amped for the gameplay.
DmC allows players to switch between three different modes of combat simply by holding down either the L2 or R2 button in combination with their regular attacks. Holding L2 turns Dante’s sword into a scythe, which acts as a low power area weapon, and his dual guns into a zip line of sorts to reach new heights. Holding R2 turns Dante’s sword into a large axe, which acts as a powerful yet slow weapon good for breaking enemy defenses, and his dual guns into a grappling hook used for interacting with certain pieces of the environment or pulling in distant enemies. These two varying styles are distinguished by their contrasting blue and red tones, possibly representing light and darkness. There is a brief moment during these combat tutorials where the player is introduced to Dante’s rage mode where Dante changes his look and resembles the white-haired demon hunter fans are familiar with for a short time. In this mode, Dante is able to fire rapidly at enemies to deal some serious damage. It is a big element of the game that could easily be missed through a single play-through of the demo.
Under Watch gradually introduces new enemies and obstacles, allowing for a smooth learning curve that neither demands too much nor lacks any real challenge. During the play-through players will notice the environment constantly changing, as if something is trying to keep Dante from leaving. These changes were minor up until the final stretch where Dante is racing for an exit. Walls are closing in around him and the very ground he walks on is breaking apart. The sheer power of these environmental changes is reminiscent of those found in God of War 3.
The first part of DmC’s demo ends with a bang that really shows the changes made to Dante in this reboot. He’s a much more youthful and cocky protagonist than the one players are used to seeing. He is definitely a much more fitting character for modern day audiences.
Now, filled with the knowledge and skills to fight the demonic forces of the world, the Secret Ingredient level throws players onto the front step of a boss battle further into the game. No new skills are learned but there is a fair amount to take in. The environment is completely different than Under Watch. It features a sewer-like setting above a body of molten lava. A grotesque worm-like creature can be seen dangling from the ceiling in the distance.
Upon entering the room, the worm boss will reveal itself as something that is beyond the ability to describe. The fight itself is a bit lackluster, with a routine all too familiar for gamers. The cutscene just before the fight bombards the player with poor dialogue that seems to rely on constant use of the most vulgar language ever heard in a game. At one point, the gruesome boss calls Dante a “fuck child.” It gets much worse, but a fight eventually ensue.
The fight is somewhat short and consists of the player dodging attacks while waiting for a very obvious weak spot to emerge on the bosses head. This, combined with a couple incidents where Dante must move to a different platform using the grappling tool, make for a very rinse and repeat sort of boss battle that is common in this genre. Die during this battle and players are introduced to an item called a Golden Orb that revives your character upon defeat.
As with Under Watch, Secret Ingredient ends with a video that teases players with glances of new enemies, weapons, environments and more. It leaves players wanting more right when it cuts them off.
Stepping back into the world of Devil May Cry, albeit solely in the form of a demo, proved to reveal an eclectic fusion of new elements and old elements that have become staples of the series. Certain superficial aspects of the demo could be enough to drive away newcomers to the series, but a rewarding experience awaits those who are willing to give it a chance.
DmC: Devil May Cry is set to release Jan. 15, 2013 for PS3 and Xbox 360 with a PC version expected to come soon after.