If you are seeking the ultimate hack and slash game then there is only one obvious choice. Of course the only series I could be talking about is Devil May Cry! Originally released back in 2008, Capcom have injected some new life into DMC 4, going back to the original series. Does this new remaster deliver some smoking sick style? Read on to find out!
Game: Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 1
Reviewed on: (Review code provided)
DMC is a classic series with millions of fans all over the world and has set the bar for all hack and slash games since. Spanning across 4 games (not including the special editions) DMC has bought us one of gamings most popular characters, Dante *swoon*. Back in 2013 with new developer Ninja Theory came DmC: Devil may cry, reinventing the series for a modern demographic which was a bit of a hit and miss with diehard fans. DMC4 is latest game to be given a HD remaster, but why now? Perhaps it is in preparation for a new title in the series, gauging interest over what style fans prefer? Only time will tell.
For those new to DMC4 the story is as follows. In the castle town of Fortuna resides a religious group known as the Order of the Sword who revere the demon warrior Sparda, a demon who fought against demonkind for the sake of man, worshiping him as a god. The story centres around Nero, the youngest and newest knight in the Order of the Sword who possesses demonic powers and the blood of Sparda. Whilst he seems cynical in the order itself, he remains loyal to his friends Credo, captain of the knights and Kyrie, his love interest, assisting in the eradication of demons. One day a ceremony is disrupted by a mysterious man who murders the leader of the order as more demons appear throughout the city. Nero is tasked with tracking down the mysterious man, Dante, discovering along the way what his motives are and the true intentions behind the Order of the Sword.
As the story begins you are hit with this angelic opera melody which captivated me, leaving me in a serene trance with goosebumps aplenty. This track is called ‘Out of Darkness’ and has stuck with me, taking my breath away. An instrumental version of this track plays at a few other locations and could easily work as a lullaby. (It sure could send me to sleep, in a good way!) Sadly these beautiful moments soon turn into a nightmare. The soundtrack largely consists of energetic beats throughout combat that lend themselves to the high paced action. More eerie tracks accompany temporary moments of exploration and smaller battles, with heavy metal and hard rock influences throughout. There are a few vocal mixes thrown into more intense scenes. Another personal favourite includes ‘Shall Never Surrender’ which starts off with harsh vocals but then blends into a softer melody. (Some great lyrics here to help motivate your demon slaying!) This serves as the overall theme for DMC4 and I simply love the transition.
Now comparing this to current gen titles and even the latest DmC would be unfair considering how much graphics have developed since 2008. The graphics in DMC4: SE of course show remnants of the original, however Capcom has done a fantastic job in upgrading the visuals, providing full 1080p. Whilst there are only a few locations to traverse, I found them quite beautiful, especially the lush forest. Even the dank caves and tunnels had their own gritty charm. DMC4: SE also runs at a slick 60fps, providing quick combo responses and reactive movements. The downside however lies in loading screens which you will be plagued with often. The lack of seamless transitions between locations and scenes, whilst it isn’t the end of the world, could have been improved to cause less of a nuisance. Camera angles also prove to be a hindrance, switching between fixed and free positions. The lack of control in certain locations will make passing obstacles much more difficult and will often result in you plummeting to the bottom of rather tall labyrinths more than you would like.
Out of all the games in the DMC series, 4 may not top everyones list due to one fundamental flaw. This flaw of course remains prominent, after all it is a remaster and not a remake. To give some context for new players, you will progress through a total of 20 missions. The first half of the game has you take control of new protagonist Nero, who’s style bares resemblance to Dante’s mixed with a little Vergil and his own personal ‘handy’ flair. You will battle through various demons and take on a series of precarious bosses that have broken through various hell gates as you chase down the original protagonist, Dante, who you will also clash with twice. Just after halfway through you will reprise the role of Dante, but here wherein lies the flaw, backtracking! Sadly DMC4 does not offer a diverse series of locations and you will spend the rest of the game retracing Nero’s steps. This includes traversing through the same locations, enemies, bosses and puzzles that you will repeat twice, if not multiple times which proves to be be extremely tedious. DMC4 lacks variety and in turn some excitement, and bosses will not pose much of a threat second time round, but for some that could come as a blessing.
Diehard fans should not despair just yet. Along with the opportunity to experience the adventure again in high definition, Capcom has included brand new content worth coming back for. There are 3 new characters available to play, each offering their own unique combat styles. Back by popular demand, Vergil returns as a playable character as a mix of his DMC3: SE and DmC counterparts to create his definitive character. Vergil is Dante’s brother, though no reference is made to him in this game. His signature iaijutsu swordplay is enhanced with a new concentration mechanic where precise timings and no wasted movements are rewarded with powerful attacks. Vergil provides a more calm and tactical style for veterans whilst making use of his speed and strength is a great option for new players. Trish, a demon reminiscent of Dante’s mother, does away with multiple weapons and instead wields the Sword of Sparda, a blade that can be used in a plethora of combos with relatively less button mashing whilst still packing a punch in close combat. However performing the exact combo you want can be a little tricky. DMC4: SE debuts Lady as a playable character, offering a unique experience to never before seen in the DMC series. Rather than using swords and guns like Nero and Dante, Lady utilises various firearms and grenades to provide long range attacks and devastating explosions. This makes her perfect for those less comfortable with close range combat. Vergil, Trish and Lady have also been given their own unique opening and closing cutscenes, but with no story of their own as you will still play through Nero and Dante’s story. Vergil offers a strong solo experience whilst Lady walks in Nero’s steps and Trish in Dante’s. This special edition also offers a new game mode for the most veteran and thrill seeking demon hunters. There are two starting modes, Human, which is the easiest for news players to the DMC universe and Devil Hunter, which is what you would call a normal mode. The new Legendary Dark Knight mode is where the fun’s at, which sees you face off against vast hordes of demons and is not for the feint hearted. This could certainly stand against Bloodborne in terms of difficulty. Other hard modes can be unlocked once you have completed the game, including the Dante Must Die mode and Bloody Palace where bosses are not the pushovers they used to be, with more HP and aggressive attacks.
DMC4: SE is a hack and slash, shoot em’ up action adventure full of va va voom! Whilst the game is open to button bashers, the heart of the combat system lies in the Stylish Rank Gauge and taking down those demons in smokin’ sick style! As you perform combos you will be ranked on your actions, the more varied and exciting your combinations are, the more style you gain. If you repeatedly use the same moves your score decrease, and you know what they say, variety is the spice of life! Nero boasts similar moves to Dante but with some twists. His Red Queen sword possesses an exceed system, revving it up much like an engine for an extra kick. Unique to Nero is his Devil Bringer arm, the source of his demonic strength. This arm can deliver a mighty wallop and be used to grapple across obstacles. This strapping arm also allows some enemies to be held up as shields, or fling them all around and over your shoulders like a regimental soldier! As you progress, Nero will gain new powers for his arm which will allow you to pass obstacles and utilise surrounding objects. Devil Trigger mode activates the demon in Nero which can be combined with the Yamato blade to unleash devastating moves. Dante retains his four original styles, Swordmaster which is melee based, Gunslinger which makes use of ranged attacks, Royalguard has a focus on defence and lastly Trickster, which relies on evasion. Dante also has a Devil Trigger mode which also allows him to use the Yamato blade and gains more devastating demonic form.
Characters specs can be upgraded and new skills can be acquired via the mission menu or divinity statues scattered throughout missions. These will require various orbs and items that can be collected by defeating demons and bosses, smashing up the environment and by completing secret missions which are hidden throughout the game. Red orbs will allow you to purchase items such as vitality stars to restore health and gold orbs to revive after a defeat. A word of caution however, as the more you buy the more the cost rises and these are a valuable commodity, so use wisely. Proud souls are used to gain new abilities and skills and are rewarded at the end of each mission, with your Stylish Rank determining the amount you receive. Your total rank is determined by your mission complete time, along with stylish points and total orbs found. Bonuses can be gained by taking no damage and using no items, whilst penalties can be given for reviving after defeat. Proud souls can be returned, allowing you to respec your character at any point. If you find yourself low on orbs, missions can be replayed, allowing you to grind for more. As well as replaying missions at any point, characters can be changed back and forth between missions if you want to mix things up and any items you acquire will transfer over across all characters. That is of course if you can stand the repetition.
DMC4: SE and the DMC universe delivers one of gamings best hack and slash experiences, providing galvanising action and rewarding players for perfectly executed combos and creative flair. The updated visuals give DMC4 a new lease of life and new playable characters offer a unique experience for veteran and new players alike. Unfortunately a leopard can’t change his spots and the fundamental flaws that plagued the original haunts DMC4: SE, with excruciating backtracking that spoils the second half of the game. That aside, the combat is energetic and intoxicating and the desire to beat your personal best, complete the secret missions and clear all the game modes with every character will keep you coming back for some time. At £19.99 it’s a steal and worth adding to your collection!