As I’ve mentioned previously, Devil May Cry hasn’t been a gaming staple for me.  That’s not to say it’s a bad franchise or anything like that, I just haven’t gotten around to putting much time into it.  This is probably why when this reboot/alternate reality version was announced, I didn’t pay much attention.  Slowly but surely, the trailers, gameplay, and general positivity around the game has caught my attention.  With the demo finally hitting consoles last week, I was able to satisfy my curiosity.  What I found was a very fun and well made action game.

One complaint I’ve heard from people about Ninja Theory is that their combat isn’t that complex or sophisticated, which is something that Devil may Cry fans expect from the games.  I can’t speak for hardcore fans here, but I feel that DmC really pushes the combat to the front.  Dante has 3 sets of attacks which can be switched to at any time during combat creating some really interesting combos.  His default attacks are with his sword and twin handguns, Ebony and Ivory.  You have a basic slash, ranged attack, and a lift move for hitting enemies into the air.  By pressing the left trigger, Dante gains access to the Arbiter, which is an angelic weapon suited more for crowd control.  Pressing the right trigger switches to the powerful demonic axe, Osiris, which is far more slow but powerful.

It took me some time to get comfortable with all of the possibilities especially in tense, high action segments against enemies.  After the first playthrough, I didn’t do as well as I could have struggling to remember the specific button presses and getting into a good flow.  Still, the more I played, the more comfortable I got with the controls to the point where it felt natural and seamless.  In fact, I even managed to really push the combo meter from the starting point of “D” rank all the way to “SS”.  Yeah, you’re probably better than me at this but hey, I got excited about the improvement.  The main thing with the combat is that it’s tight, responsive, fluid, and rewards patience.  Fans of the franchise should find a lot to love here.

One thing that really surprised me was how poorly I did after completing the first demo level. Here, let me explain, it’s not what you’re thinking.  After completing a level, the game grades you based on how you did including things like combos, finding hidden items and other secrets.  Ninja Theory did a great job using the camera to hide alternative passages and other doors.  After my first playthrough, I finished with a “D” rank due to missing most everything the level had to offer.  I was surprised to see so much hidden content and items that I had missed.  When I played through the first level again, I took my time and came across a wealth of things that I had missed the first time through.  You can really see the effort Ninja Theory had put into making hidden areas and things for the player to find which bodes well for replayability.

From a technical standpoint, the game looks great and plays very smoothly.  It’s got a really interesting visual style especially when Dante is pulled into limbo.  Combat sections are mixed in with light platforming sections and hidden doors and items are scattered around for you to find.  In addition, it’s almost like the world is trying to kill you as sections break apart, walls shift, the world stretches and tries to stop you at all costs.  It’s in these moments that creates unique, exciting and fun moments.  I also really enjoyed words being projected on walls and floors in a way similar to what Splinter Cell Conviction did.

I know a lot of people are still really pissed or turned off over Dante’s younger and more edgy look but most people will agree that gameplay is king and in my opinion, Ninja Theory has nailed it.  The game is a hell of a lot of fun and seems to keep the combo-centric action in the forefront.  If you’re a fan of the franchise or someone who loves action games, you really do owe it to yourself to check out the demo.  The game is stylish, fun, and seems to represent the Devil May Cry franchise really well.

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