It’s been a hot minute since we last saw Dante and the rest of the devil hunters from Capcom in Devil May Cry 4. Unlike the remake from Ninja Theory back in 2013, Devil May Cry 5 continues the original continuity of the series and shows us a story after the events of Devil May Cry 4. We get the return of heroes such as Nero and are introduced to new faces like Nico and the mysterious “V”, but that doesn’t mean our favorite half-devil demon slayer Dante is pushed to the background. More than anything else, Devil May Cry 5 plays like a celebration of the fun and popular aspects in the series that fans love, including some deep references that hardcore fans will be surprised about. The music is great and the visuals are sweet looking through the use of the new Resident Evil engine from Capcom, making for a pretty looking game. Not everything about it is as stylish as one would hope, but it’s very refreshing to see the Devil May Cry series commit once again to its edgy and wild action, without feeling too forced or overly provocative.
The story of Devil May Cry 5 has a lot of shocking moments that will hit fans pretty hard, especially if you loved earlier entries of the series on PlayStation 2. There’s a lot of similarities in the pacing and plot points for this game that heavily nods to Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening. What’s interesting are the references scattered throughout the story that come from places fans won’t expect. Remember that Devil May Cry anime series that happened some time ago? Characters from that story appear here and interact with some of the cast.
Not every reference is that obscure or deep cut, but there are plenty that shows a lot of reverence to the legacy of the franchise. The dialogue is what you’d expect from a DMC game, with a lot of one-liners and goofy nods that sometimes come off as silly. More often than not, however, it doesn’t feel too forced or ridiculous enough to ruin the experience. There are more than a few moments between characters, some edgier than others, that will be outlandish and silly, but the game fully commits to them and is a little self-aware at how crazy they can be.
The biggest issue about the story, however, is how abrupt things end. The climax gets very insane with some revelations and twists that are easy to see coming, but when things end so suddenly shortly after. There will undoubtfully be downloadable content that expands upon the events taking place, but everyone might feel a little disappointed at how quickly things wrap up. Every character we’ve come to know in the series gets their moment, though some obviously are given more than others.
Towards the finale, a number of characters like Trish, Lady, and Nico could be given much more to do in the background as things play out, but they seem to stand idly by as the final battles take place. They definitely get their due in the game’s final moments, but it would’ve been nice to see them given more as the story reaches its apex. The very last battles also have events that seem a bit too overly convenient and rushed, especially after events just prior feeling a lot more epic or crazy.
Devil May Cry has always been a series with stylish gameplay, and the action here definitely lives up to that. Combat feels like a mixture of previous games, like elements of Devil May Cry 3 got meshed together with Devil May Cry 4. There are three playable characters that have their own unique moves and abilities that deviate from each other enough without compromising the core gameplay too much.
Chaining combos together on enemies are still the central focus and will make you feel like a boss as you take out groups of enemies in style. Nero and Dante fight very similarly with their own weapons and abilities, with Nero having his Devil Breaker Arm to pull in enemies towards him, and Dante using his Devil Trigger and various fighting styles (like in Devil May Cry 3) to switch between in combat.
Each gains new abilities and weapons over the course of the game’s 20 missions, with some of the standard fairs you’d expect in the series. There are very little “new” types of moves between the two that wouldn’t otherwise be similar to other games, which may or may not be a good thing for most players. Both Nero and Dante are great to control and can chain attacks together very easily, but the options that open up to you later in the game are much better than what they initially start out with.
The most unique of the three playable characters is V, a new character in Devil May Cry 5 who is very key to the plot. Instead of fighting enemies head-on, V uses minions to fight for him. A shadow panther and bird (based on older designs of enemies from past games) fight demons on V’s behalf and allow him to deal a finishing blow that destroys them after. Physical attacks control the panther while ranged attacks control the bird, with each having their own upgradeable abilities and special attacks. This is very different from the series’ norm but still focuses on combo chaining enough to remain somewhat similar to Dante and Nero’s fighting styles.
V can’t take much damage however, so you constantly have to keep away as your minions attack enemies. V’s devil trigger ability is also different than Dante. Instead of powering himself up, V summons a massive rock titan to enter battle, as well as boosts the attack and defense of his minions fighting for him. The screen can get very chaotic when this happens and it can sometimes be difficult to spot when an enemy is near death so you can finish it off. That being said, however, V is definitely a great character for racking up big combos and orbs when you need to gain new abilities.
Gaining new abilities in-between missions is pretty straight-forward. Every character gets an assortment of moves and attacks you can purchase with red orbs you gain from completing missions and gathering them in stages. The only issue here is that standard abilities, like the double jump, are not shared between characters and required you to purchase them multiple times. Health and your Devil Trigger gauge upgrades are shared among the cast, but you can end up wasting a lot of orbs repurchasing the same abilities for everyone over the course of the game. Nero gets access to the multiple Devil Breaker arms you unlock as you defeat bosses, but Dante and V don’t get as much new stuff as he does.
Dante has some missable weapons in some missions that would otherwise be inaccessible later in the game if you don’t find them at specific points. V also doesn’t get access to any new weapons, all of his abilities need to be purchased from the menu. It would’ve been nice to see all three characters get unique stuff for each of them throughout the missions you complete, but it feels like Nero gains the most overall as you play through the story, while Dante and V are a bit more held back.
Outside of the combat that is the hallmark of the series, Devil May Cry 5 tries to mix things up by adding a light element of co-op named the Cameo System. This isn’t like traditional co-op multiplayer online but instead allows you to see other players fighting in the distance during some missions. It doesn’t really interfere with or affects your game too much, but rather comes off as a neat sighting when you’re playing the game online. Some missions do have you fight with others where multiple characters meet up, but these are very far and few between. The names of players you encounter are displayed as “guest stars” during gameplay, but outside of gaining a few more Gold Orbs for the missions ahead, this doesn’t add much to the rest of the game. This could possibly lead to a true co-op experience for the Devil May Cry series down the line, but as it is now it doesn’t do enough to really become relevant.
Devil May Cry games have always done pretty well with extra content, but Devil May Cry 5 is a little meager at launch. There is a Bloody Palace Mode that comes with a free update for the game, but there’s not much beyond that after finishing the main game. You open up new difficulty settings like Son of Sparda Mode that ups the challenge, as well as unlock new outfits and Gallery items. However, once you end up finishing the game you might not have a lot of reasons to go back through it again. Not much changes between the difficulty settings and there are no other modes beyond what is already here (before the free update).
Despite the few bumps and bruises, Devil May Cry 5 is fun to play. It has many nods to the entire series that long-time fans will enjoy spotting and a great looking presentation and soundtrack to complement its fast-paced wild action. The light co-op injected here could use some more tuning and eventually turn into something different for the series, but that doesn’t take away from the focus on the game’s core combat and outlandish storytelling. While not the jackpot of a game it was aiming to be, Devil May Cry 5 still has plenty of action and style in it that you’ll really enjoy.
This review was based on a digital review code for Devil May Cry 5 on the Xbox One, provided by Capcom.