Published on March 11th, 2019 | by Daniel Coomans
Devil May Cry 5 PS4 Review
Summary: More demon slaying than you can poke a sword at, literally!
Blood, gore and demon slaying. If badass characters dishing out stylish beatings on demonic baddies are your thing, then Devil May Cry is for you. So dive into hell with me and together lets earn some sweet ranks while we finesse some demons back into the underworld.
DMC5 comes into the series as a direct sequel to the original chain, it does not follow the reboot some years ago. Loyal die-hearted fans will adore the addition as it throws in references from every single iteration before it (except the reboot), newcomers need not worry though as the series gives a brief history in the form of a short video explaining the series as a whole. The game starts with returning character Nero, now missing his devil arm he used throughout DMC4, catching up to Dante and co who are in the midst of fighting a new powerful demon attempting to become the next king, by the time he arrives however Dante, Trish and Lady have all but been completely defeated. Nero takes a shot too but is utterly crushed, this demon king Urizen is the demon who took his arm and gained immense power from it. After being defeated, Dante goes for round two, new addition to the franchise V, at Dante’s behest, takes Nero and retreats as a weakened Dante has his trusty sword Rebellion, given to him by his father the legendary demon Sparda and the key to his devil powers, shattered.
A month later, Nero returns with a new mechanical arm forged by Nico, the daughter of the famous gunsmith Nell who forged Dante’s signature guns, Ebony and Ivory. With his new arm, and the many types to follow, the Devil Breakers, as opposed to Devil Bringer from DMC4, he returns to his old playstyle albeit with some unique tricks. He and V fight their way back to Urizen and confront him again, going their separate ways along the way to take out necessary targets and gain strength before the battle. The story and it’s plot thicken once more and continue longer, but as the game is only 4 days old, I’ll not delve into it for spoiler reasons.
The gameplay is good old DMC hack and slash, a fun addictive style of play that should but somehow doesn’t get boring. The games spaces out these encounters well enough that you’re not bogged down with constant enough combat that you get tired of it, some missions can be considered a little short as a result but the game does a good job of including some unique puzzles and secret areas/missions to spice up gameplay, the bosses too, are less in number when compared to DMC4 but they’re all unique and don’t repeat aside from one mission later as V where upon you fight shades that are essentially weaker versions of all the bosses up to that point. The game has three playable characters;
Nero, who plays much like he does in 4 with the addition of Devil Breakers to replace his missing arm, these vary in skills, some emit a powerful electric shock to deal damage, some kinetic energy to damage and knockback foes, others to slice demons into mince meat and a few support arms, like one that slows time in a small area or buffing the strength of your sword or gun and lastly there’s another breaker to replicate his old Devil Bringer from 4, these armaments are consumable items so you carry a set amount into a mission and can find different ones strewn across the mission itself, they’re incredibly fragile however and break during certain defensive stances including dodging, defending, breaking out of an enemies grapple and attempting to use it whilst taking damage so use them with care, I see this being a true test of management and care in the higher difficulties. It’s a great way to freshen up a character like Nero who in 4 might’ve been looked at as a bit lacking in the flexibility department. Without ruining the game per se, he does get eventually get his devil mode back later in the game, it’s a pretty awesome moment as it’s done right after some heavy plot is dished out and is fleshed out really well. His devil mode looks really good this time around except I don’t know how to feel about his long hair, once this mode comes into effect the Devil Bringer mode returns and players can grapple and toss foes much the same as they did in 4 as well as using the Devil Breakers thus improving his flexibility even further.
Dante, who retains all of his previous play styles, Gunslinger, focusing on gunplay, Swordmaster, on swordplay, Trickster, about speed and maneuverability and Royal Guard, a defensive stance that tanks and stockpiles damage from enemies to use against them, once again Dante also collects weapons from fallen foes, or out in the world, Beowulf returns as Balrog, a set of gauntlets and grieves boasting fire damage and close quarter melee combos, styled after Street Fighter characters, Cerberus returns in the form of Lightning, Fire and Ice King Cerberus a weapon that will initially remind fans of it’s previous iteration as a three pronged ice nunchacku, but now can shift into a fire staff and also charge lightning into both modes as well as it’s own lightning chain mode, a pretty sweet upgrade I might add, a motorcycle called the Cavaliere, which I didn’t use often, but I can see it working well for hard hitting combos and lastly after his sword Rebellion is destroyed he uses the Devil Sword Sparda as a temporary replacement until a sweet new upgrade is forged later in the game, these three swords play very much the same back to back. Dante’s guns Ebony and Ivory are the same as always, backed up my his trusty shotgun, followed by rediscovering Kalina Ann, Lady’s rocket launcher, it’s own upgrade later in the game and a sweet western style Akubra, (I’m going with Akubra here, but I could be wrong) called Dr. Faust, a risk/reward ranged weapon that costs red orbs, the in game currency, to use its various move sets, it also earns red orbs through other measures too, so use at your own risk, but it has a pretty sweet slight costume change when equipped too. All in all, Dante is as familiar, hard hitting and flexible as he was in DMC4, however his upgraded own weapon later in the game far outshines the rest of his melee armada and thus once past a certain point in missions where Dante is playable, his other melee weapons become a little lackluster, and considering King Cerberus is fought and earned after this upgrade, it’s already very much on the back foot. I’d potentially like to see a patch that addresses this issue and buffs the other melee weapons to make them a little more viable as choices in combat.
The newest addition to the series family is the mysterious and secretive V, he’s a very interesting character because he plays completely different to the other two. Instead of direct attacks he fights by summoning familiars to fight on his behalf; Griffon a sharp tongued, wise cracking bird named after and plays similarly to the boss of the same name in the original Devil May Cry, who if you’re not familiar with the game uses lightning attacks to damage V’s foes from range, Shadow, a cat like shade demon also referencing an enemy type of the same likeness from the original game, that can shapeshift into other forms, mostly bladed, spiked or piercing weapons, for direct assaults, and lastly Nightmare, once more, referencing a boss of the same likeness that is also featured in DMC1. Nightmare in this iteration however is essentially V’s devil mode and can be summoned in a number of manners, occasionally spawning as a meteor that crashes down in open space to damage foes, or seeps in from cracks in the ground and forms into a solid mass in the form of a colossus, Nightmare has a mind of it’s own however and is not player controlled, instead roams around the field attacking at will but usually concentrating on groups to dish out the most damage, both of V’s normal demons (except Nightmare) however cannot kill foes, they can only deal damage, V himself must make the final blow in order to seal their fates. At first, I liked the change of pace with V’s move sets, it was an fresh and interesting take on combat in the franchise, forcing you to play a little more on the defensive as opposed to the full aggressiveness of Dante and Nero, later in the game however it began to wear on me as it became difficult to micro manage both demons at once to use their move sets and positionals and steadily made hard work of utilising combos effectively to max out style ranks, this also made combat more difficult as enemies and bosses became stronger and in greater numbers, even playing on Devil Hunter mode like I was, which is essentially “normal” difficulty.
The graphics, are amazing, utilising the RE engine was probably the perfect fit for this iteration. With photo realistic character design and landscape art, everything is near perfect in every way. From the crumbing bridge at the border or Red Grave, to the abandoned streets lined with corpses frozen in the positions they died in, becoming part of the demon tree, damage is rife within this demolished city and it is portrayed amazingly. There’s almost no difference from cutscenes to in game quality, it literally feels like you’re playing an interactive movie, that’s the level of detail they’ve gone to, it even goes right down to the menu screens inside Nico’s van, magazines strewn everywhere, an antique couch, an oldschool jukebox, everything looks immaculate, character interaction in the menu screens is a nice touch too. I’ll say again the level of detail in this game is crazy, few games can boast such close graphical similarities between cutscenes and gameplay and it really speaks to the RE engine and the talent of their designers that they managed to pull this off, it’s no wonder why they developed the engine for the recent Resident Evil 2 reboot.
Audio too is top notch, the soundtrack is great, unique battle tracks for each playable character, smooth menu music in the gallery, some chill rock for the main menu and some sweet boss music for main encounters. The deluxe edition contains music from all previous cannon titles in the series and you can swap around the battle music for each character, it’s another nice touch with a hint of nostalgia from the previous titles and spices up the combat as well, it doesn’t affect boss music and specific cutscenes so you get to get the feel of originality in those instances. The ambient sound effects are simply superb, metal clangs with an accuracy only the real thing itself can beat and you’d be forgiven if you couldn’t tell the difference on the first couple of hits because the difference is just that minor, all the gore effects are sickeningly great, from exploding flesh, to the gurgling in blood sacs, to the cleaving of limbs, the sound of buzzing wings, demonic groans, the swish of dodging a blade narrowly avoiding a lethal haircut. The game is practically a work of art, I give the dev team top marks all around for quality.
After completing the game and restarting on the third highest difficulty “Son of Sparda” mode, I finally found the method to V’s madness, an Auto feature exists for newer players or players who prefer not to have to work each move into the fight, instead of inputting the correct sequence of buttons in the correct manner to finely and skillfully pump out each of the unlockable moves for each character, the auto feature allows for one to simply button mash at ones own leisure and combos will start pouring forth. Now normally I enjoy working in combos where I can on my own as it’s incredibly satisfying doing them correctly and dealing out high damage, but for V’s moveset and even dare I say Nero’s and Dante’s too, it does make short work of most encounters and with especially high style rankings to boot, it does subtract a little pride from executing these moves though, so while I won’t recommend it per se as I like to adapt and feel like I’ve earned these moves and the ranks that follow, I will say that it is a useful tool for those tough encounters or if one is not confident in their own abilities, just try not to rely on it too much as it does effect your mission end scores.
After you complete the story harder difficulties will unlock, daring you to challenge yourself by taking them on, the void is a training area which is great to flesh out the finer details of combat and chaining combos, lore lovers won’t be able to keep themselves out of the gallery, which is jam packed full of info about characters, weapons, a bestiary, concept art, random slivers of info, including details on out of game characters, and miscellaneous texts, including an old man’s diary, the legend of Sparda and some info about Fortuna, the location in which DMC4 took place. The deluxe edition comes with an added jukebox to listen to the games’ soundtrack, the ability to change the music that plays during certain character’s combat, altnerate announcers for the title screens and rank announcements, behind the scenes pre-viz live action cutscenes to replace some of the in game scenes, four alternate Devil Breakers for Nero including a comically sized Mega Man launcher which packs quite the punch in early gameplay but fizzles out a little as later more powerful breakers become available, it does look quite hilarious watching Nero to acrobatic stunts while this breaker is equipped though, and the Cavalier R, a custom skin for Dante’s Cavalier weapon.
Oh and if you’re wondering why I didn’t touch on multiplayer is because it’s not really that, it’s co-op and barely even noticeable at that, when characters take different routes in game the “co-op” player, plays them, it’s actually better if you play those routes yourself, they’re much the same but vary slightly and offer different insight into the missions they feature in, it also adds replay value too so better to run those solo, you have the option to turn it off though which is good, as the games’ AI is good enough to play the role anyway, I don’t believe co-op really belongs in the DMC franchise, it was an interesting trial but, I’d hope to never see it again. Microtransactions are a new feature that has many up in arms, I’m a little more on the for and I’ll say why; for new players being able to get the most out of gameplay is what will keep them playing for longer, the microtransactions for now, are limited to red orbs, are actually well priced at 100k orbs for $2.95 AUD, which in my opinion is actually fairly cheap. These are best purchased early on when a lot of the early skills are incredibly cheap, later in the game when things become more pricey, I recommend earning those in game, you get a decent income of orbs through natural play anyway, so the games’ value is not diminished either way.
All in all, I had some reservations about returning to the series after 4 was felt a little lacking to me and the reboot was terrible when looked at canonically. But they have definitely been squashed underfoot. It’s a fresh take that has revitalised my interest in the franchise, I’ll even overlook Dante’s new somewhat overly gruff and aging appearance, Nico’s oddly eccentric personality and the missing from initial release to be added next week Bloody Palace mode, series veterans know this as an expansive challenge of 100 floors with a boss every 10 levels and increasing in difficulty the higher you go for all the orbs your could wish for. The game looks impeccable on the RE engine too, crisp, clean, bloody and gorified to the maximum. I’m not sure it’s worth the price tags however with standard at $99 and deluxe at $109 at EB Games, I would definitely say grab the standard edition for the more respectable $79 at JB HiFi, the Deulxe editions add ons definitely will not subtract from overall game experience and isn’t worth that hefty price tag. If JB offered one for $89 I would definitely advise you to grab it, a $10 dollar increase is more than worth it for what you get but not exceeding $90 bucks. It’s definitely a quality triumphant return in my books though, if you haven’t got it yet then what the devil are you waiting for?
*All footage used is from my own playthrough of the game*
Game Genre – Action/Adventure, Hack and Slash
Label – Capcom
Rating – MA15+
Year of Release – 2019
Engine– RE Engine
Platforms – PS4, Xbox One, PC
Mode(s) of Play – Single, Online Co-op