Better the devil you know…
As time goes by, info seeps out, and trailers trickle forth, slowly but surely Ninja Theory’s take on Capcom’s beloved Devil May Cry is winning fans back around after its rather controversial debut – you remember, the one where they depicted a much younger and far trendier version of the once-loved Dante. Put aside the audacity of changing someone’s hair colour for just one second, and you might find there’s more similarities between Dante’s old exploits and this new reboot than you might think.
As ever, basic combat controls are fairly elementary but difficult to master. As well as a button to use your firearms, you’ve got a basic and a ‘special’ melee attack to choose from – the latter being responsible for your launchers, plunging attacks and the like – which at present seem to be limited to just your trusty pistols and sword. Whilst new weapons seem likely, the bigger emphasis seems to be on your left and your right triggers, which act as “Angel” and “Devil” modifiers respectively. These alter your weapons and your appearance, opening up some interesting combo opportunities given you can cancel from one to the other instantly and reap the benefits of each when needed. Some foes go further and force your hand, needing to be approach with this in mind given they may only be weak to the Scythe-like “Devil” modified attacks, as an example. These modifiers have environmental implications too; apply either and you can use firearms like a grappling hook – and whilst one brings things to you, the other takes you to them – and given this applies to certain ledges and platforms as well as enemies it puts the right amount of pressure on quick thinking to keep your movement and combat fluid.
Whilst the combat system is one area of the game where there’s some high expectations to be met, one thing that Ninja Theory are trying to do to breathe more creativity into the game is through better and more frequent environmental challenges. As mentioned before you’ve the ability to grapple to certain areas of the game, and along with this Dante also has the ability to tack a ‘glide’ move onto a jump, giving the game plenty scope for platforming challenges. This was especially catered for in the end of the first section of the game we played, where the world itself was being manipulated and closing in on Dante as he tried to escape through a variety of environments; starting off with simple running and jumping, but later turning into a series of grappling points that needed to be swung on to make it through. There’s already a clear and present danger that these could become tantamount to little above a glorified QTE-fest, but one would hope that this is just as an intro to the mechanics as opposed to a scene that’s set for the game’s duration.
A boss section was available to try out too, and further highlighted the importance of knowing when and how to use each of Dante’s skills. A giant slug-like creature was being held aloft by some chains, and after some rather heated discussion (giving Dante plenty of room to remind us that he’s a cocky little brat), a range of attacks were being used that at first caught us off guard. Looking closer, these were each clearly signposted, and provided you were paying attention there was ample opportunity to dodge or counter these and then follow up with some attacks of your own. Whilst not quite as satisfying as tearing into a huge crowd of enemies and racking up an SSS combo, this section still had us gliding, dodging, jumping and grappling all over the stage, and proved great fun even if at a slightly less frenzied pace.
It’s been a long time since Devil May Cry 4, and many would argue that since then Dante’s been beaten at his own game by Bayonetta. The jury’s still out as to whether this will be a return to form for the son of Sparda, but there’s plenty that’s fresh about DmC, whilst still keeping (some of the) fans happy with a lot of the core appeal of the series still intact. We’re looking forwards to seeing just how it all pans out, and you should be too.