Devil May Cry V Review – Devil Trigger Pulled
Devil May Cry VMarch 8th, 2019
The Devil May Cry series, with the release of the original game on PlayStation 2, changed action games forever, setting such a high a bar that to this day only a few titles can compare. With the previous two entries in the series, however, things weren't all that good: Devil May Cry 4 suffered from a campaign that reused stages and locations of the first half for the second, while the reboot wasn't well received by long-time fans of the series, mostly due to how it didn't feel like Devil May Cry at all. A long silence followed, and fans were losing hope of ever seeing Dante, Nero, Vergil and the rest of the gang kick some demon ass again. They didn't surrender, as Devil May Cry 4's main theme suggested, and now they have been rewarded for their patience in the best possible way: Devil May Cry V is, without a doubt, the best entry in the series so far.
Devil May Cry V stars both Nero and Dante, as well as a brand new and mysterious character called V. On a fateful night, Dante's friend Morrison brings V to Devil May Cry, where he asks Dante to take on an extremely powerful demon called Urizen. The demon has attacked Redgrave City, and a giant demonic tree called the Qlipoth is absorbing the blood of humans to power the demon king. Dante heads out to the city together with Trish and Lady to take down Urizen and save not only Redgrave City but the entire world.
Nero, who's been working as a devil hunter since the end of Devil May Cry 4, also gets involved in this battle. Some time before the beginning of the game, he is attacked by a hooded man who manages to take his Devil Bringer arm and reclaim Yamato, Vergil's sword. Nero eventually learns that this has been done to give power to Urizen, so he also sets out to recover his arm and settle the score.
Devil May Cry V's story is the best in the entire series. While it basically boils down to the usual saving the world from a demonic invasion trope, the plot is much more focused on the characters who all have a very good reason for going up against Urizen. There are a lot of cutscenes between and during missions which not only provide additional development for the three main characters but also a few extremely wacky scenes that lighten the atmosphere a little every now and then. The plot also features some very interesting twists and a satisfactory ending to round it all.
While the game's plot is very good for Devil May Cry standards, as expected where the game truly shines is in the gameplay. Devil May Cry V features three playable characters and all three come with their own unique fighting styles. Nero and Dante play a lot as they did in Devil May Cry 4, which is not a surprise, but there are some tweaks that make controlling them better than ever.
Before the game begins Nero loses his Devil Bringer arm, but the issue is quickly remedied by his friend Nico who creates the Devil Breakers, prosthetic arms each coming with some unique attacks, as well as the ability to use Snatch like Nero's original demon arm. Devil Breakers expand Nero's combat possibilities in several ways: one Devil Breaker, Gerbera, allows him to unleash a powerful shockwave that can also be used to quickly dodge attacks, continue air combos and so on. Another Devil Breaker, Punch Line, allows him to launch a missile that can also be ridden. Another, called Tomboy, powers up Nero's sword and gun attacks, essential working as a style switching option. These are just a few of the Devil Breakers available in the game: all have their own uses and none feels worthless. The Devil Breakers also add another interesting layer of depth to using Nero, as it's not possible to switch them on the fly: to change a Devil Breaker, the currently equipped one must be destroyed, which can happen if hit while using its related ability or by detonating it in the middle of battle. Additional Devil Breakers can be easily found during missions, so you will hardly run out of them.
Dante also plays a lot like his Devil May Cry 4 counterpart, with the ability to switch between four different fighting styles on the fly - Trickster, which focuses on evasive maneuvers, Gunslinger, which focuses on firearms, Swordmaster, which focuses on melee weapons, and Royal Guard, which focuses on Defense. All styles can also be powered up to unlock new moves which vastly expand Dante's combat possibilities. While the character does play a lot like his previous iteration, it soon becomes clear how he has become even more complicated to master, mostly due to the new melee weapons. While the basic sword techniques are still the same, the new weapons are extremely creative: Barlog, the new gauntlet weapon, comes with two different attack modes, fists, and kicks, which can be switched on the fly. The same goes for Cerberus, which can be transformed into different weapons on the fly. Devil May Cry V now allows players to bring four different melee weapons as well as four guns, as opposed to the three in Devil May Cry 4 during the first playthrough, providing the ability to perform some incredibly crazy multi-weapon combos.
V is the brand new character introduced in Devil May Cry V, and he is among the most unique characters ever seen in the whole franchise. He is extremely frail and cannot fight demons directly, so he needs the help of his three friendly demons to actually do the fighting for him. Griffon is a flying demon that can unleash a variety of long-range attacks; Shadow is a tiger-like demon that can unleash short range attacks, while Nightmare (which can only be summoned by activating Devil Trigger) is an incredibly powerful demon equipped with excellent crowd-controlling attacks. The three demons, however, cannot finish enemies off so players will still have to get close to them to finish them off with V's cane attack. While the three demons have a lot of different abilities, using V feels limited compared to Nero and Dante: he's meant to be played as a sort of long-range focused character, so the three demons' attacks are not as responsive as the other characters'. Despite this, V is still a very nice addition which brings more variety to the mix.
The new mechanics for Nero and Dante and new character V aren't the only features that make Devil May Cry V such a great game to play. The variety of enemies is commendable, with new demons getting introduced even pretty late in the game. While the weakest enemies can be taken down with ease, some of the strongest ones require players to learn their attack patterns, break their attacks or stances and so on. The best thing about the enemy design is that almost all of the enemies can be staggered and launched in the air with ease, unlike previous entries in the series where most enemies would force players to use the same attacks over and over without the possibility to style on them. Making things even better is how the camera is handled during combat, zooming out as needed to give players the best possible view of their surroundings, preventing them to get damaged by attacks coming from outside the viewable area. Dodging mechanics are also more fluid than ever, with all three characters performing sidesteps when dodging close to an enemy rather than a full roll like in previous entries in the series.
Bosses are another strong point of Devil May Cry V, as the developers were able to avoid them feeling like a rehash of what has been seen in previous installments. And there are quite a few of them, with most of the missions ending with a big, epic battle against powerful demons.
Level design is quite good as well, but not exactly a true step beyond what we have seen in Devil May Cry 4. The game begins in Red Grave City, but the city itself gets more and more warped with demonic elements as the game proceeds, easing players into the full-blown demonic locations of the final missions. Locations are extremely dynamic, taking a page out of the DmC book with buildings crumbling, paths opening and so on. There are also some very light puzzles that can be completed with ease. All locations sport multiple paths with additional Red Orbs, Fragments, and even Secret Missions, which are cleverly hidden and require players to complete a very easy mini-game to access. Better yet, they can also be replayed from the main menu, which should make completing all of them less frustrating than ever.
Devil May Cry V is still divided into different missions, so game progression is not different from what we have seen in the past. They are much longer than usual, however, so the game does feel longer than previous entries. A few missions also allow players to choose which character to use, so these missions must be replayed multiple times in order to see everything the game has to offer. Sadly, it's not possible to play all missions with all characters, which feels a bit limited, considering there aren't many V missions. At the end of each mission, the player's performance will be evaluated, and the higher it is, the more Red Orbs will be awarded.
Speaking of Red Orbs, which are used to purchase upgrades for all three characters, there have been complaints of them being sold with real money through microtransactions. The in-game economy doesn't suffer from this at all, as the game is extremely generous with them. There are some specific upgrades that need a lot of Red Orbs to unlock, but replaying through the game at higher difficulties is more than enough to get the required amount.
The presentation in Devil May Cry V is just as good as the rest of the game. The game's aesthetics have been clearly influenced by DmC, sporting a more realistic design for characters and locations as well as camera cuts and changing locations which have been lifted straight from the reboot developed by Ninja Theory. It's also very well optimized and runs great on a PC powered by an i7-3770 CPU, GTX 980 Ti GPU and 16 GB RAM; there are no performance drops even with everything set to Ultra during the most hectic battle sequences, at least when running at 1080p resolution.
The soundtrack is also great, especially the battle themes. The way music has been implemented is reminiscent of the approach taken by Platinum Games for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, with the intensity increasing dynamically as the battle goes on. In the case of Devil May Cry V, the chorus of each theme starts playing when an S combat rank is achieved during battle. Nero's Devil Trigger theme is definitely the best among the battle themes, but also V and Dante's theme tend to grow on the listener. Voice acting is well done too, with all returning characters played by their Devil May Cry 3 and 4 voice actors.
Devil May Cry V is, without a doubt, the best entry in the series so far, taking everything that made Devil May Cry 3 and 4 good and bringing everything up a notch. Those who only wish to play the game through once at regular difficulty will "only" see Devil May Cry V as a very good action game that can keep them engaged from beginning to end, but veterans of the series will see it as the deep, fun and engaging game they have been waiting for over ten years.
Reviewed on PC (code provided by the publisher).
Devil May Cry V is the best entry in the series and one of the best character action games ever released. In addition to its excellent combat mechanics and level design, which expand greatly on the elements introduced in past games, the story and characters had never before received such focus in Devil May Cry. The game may be lacking in extra content such as the fan-favorite Bloody Palace mode at launch, but don't let this small flaw prevent you from getting what will surely be one of the 2019 Game of the Year contenders.
- Best story in the series
- Excellent combat mechanics
- Very good level design
- Varied enemies and epic boss battles
- Great presentation for both visuals and audio
- Outside additional difficulties, there's a clear lack of post-game content
- Character selection is limited in most missions due to the story, and there's no way to play all missions with all characters