There’s been a fair amount of controversy about Ninja Theory’s take on the Devil May Cry franchise and some of it is warranted. However, after playing through the demo of DmC at E3, I think we all need to calm down and accept that it is a good game in its own right.
DmC looks fantastic but what you are looking at, in the demo at least, is pretty boring brick walls from that weird brown town area seen in a lot of the trailers. I’d image that the game progresses to more interesting areas later like it has in the past but it is a fairly bland start. The creature designs, however, fit in so well they all look like they could have been in any game in the series. The boss at the end of the demo is especially grotesque and fitting.
The gameplay itself is very smooth and I noticed now frame rate issues in its current beta form. The combat has normal and special attacks as well as gunplay. I never really used the guns though; it’s just not my style. Mixing normal and special attacks was great and you could really feel the enemies getting sliced through. To make it even more interesting, there are angel and demon alterations to the weapons done by holding down L2 and R2 respectively. In the demo, angel moves used a quick scythe while demon moves used a slow but crushingly powerful axe to rip through enemies.
I was told you could combo into the different weapons but couldn’t quite get it to work right in my limited time with the game. Nevertheless, combos were fast, fun, and intuitive to piece together. And yes, that also applies to enemy juggling although there wasn’t much opportunity for that in the demo.
Speaking of combos, the combo meter is back and with an addition I’m glad to see. The letter grade of your combo now fills up as you fight so you can see how close you are to the next rank. It’s a small thing but I appreciate it.
Tied into the angel/demon mechanic is the ability to either pull yourself towards objects/enemies or pull them to you. It works in a similar way to Nero’s Devil Bringer from Devil May Cry 4. Both moves can easily be used in and out of combat and also work well to diversify the platforming.
The problem is that DmC relies too much a couple of those moves that have very similar button combinations. It just felt a bit clunky to constantly press X then L2 + X to jump and then dash through the air. That sounds simple but because of the other common commands (L2 + square, R2 + square) I felt like I had to focus for just a millisecond too long on what I needed to press. This made simple jumps across gaps have much more tension than they needed to have.
After fighting a few waves of enemies the demo moves on to a different section. This is where the stage morphs around you as you go through it, almost attacking you(this will make sense if you’ve seen any of the trailers). Good news is that this part looks and plays amazingly. It is just a fun thing to have happen around Dante. I hope the game isn’t skimpy with these sections because I really liked it.
After that is a boss fight that has you using the angel/demon moves at key moments to progress. It wasn’t super tough like the bosses in Devil May Cry are known for but it also wasn’t a cakewalk. I won’t spoil anything about the fight but it had several stages and used almost all of Dante’s abilities.
After playing the DmC demo, I’m no longer worried about this game at all. It was a lot of fun even if it repeated the use of the angel/demon moves a bit too much. I urge everyone to hold judgement until after you’ve played it. Chances are you will really enjoy it.
DmC is set to be released on January 15th 2013 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.