Devil May Cry 5 (PS4) Review

It’s hard to imagine that Devil May Cry originated as a Resident Evil game all those years ago. However, instead of Resident Evil taking a more action-packed and arcade approach, they opted to turn it into its own IP, an IP which could be taken in any direction as they create a whole new universe and lore for. Over the years, the franchise has had its ups and downs as it tried out new things and different approaches to the formula, yet Devil May Cry 5 feels like the perfect game in terms of the core mechanics and experience. 

As you take the role of one of three demon hunters, you’ll venture deep into the lair of the beast as you pursue the creature whilst slaughtering its minions who’ll stop at nothing as they try to serve your head on a platter! Operating at 60fps (or thereabouts) on all platforms, as well as looking absolutely fantastic, Devil May Cry 5 is THE action-packed game to pick up this year. Let’s take a look at why…

Devil May Cry 5 1

It appears the sun really does shine out of her arse…

The story of Devil May Cry 5 is full of surprises, twists, comedy, and rather conveniently placed lens flares over naked bodies, so I won’t go into the details too much as I don’t want to ruin any of the “ohhh” moments you’ll have. Also, the game is like ‘Beyond Two Souls’, it seems to play out of order, which is handily shown by a timeline that slots each mission into its chronological order whilst the mission is loading. So, if you get a cutscene which has no exposition about what’s going on, or why, then it’ll most likely come back to it later on with more info. 

The overall story, when placed in order, is set many years after the demons first appeared on the Earth. We’ve already been through Devil May Cry I – IV yet a new, and more sinister, evil has arisen from out of nowhere. Dante, along with Trish and Lady, has been hired by a new mysterious ally, V, in hopes of taking on this new threat and putting an end to it before the world is devoured. V isn’t just going to sit back and watch either, as a worthy companion, he’ll use the magical powers he beholds to aid our hero as much as possible. Well, until things get a little too frantic and he retreats from battle.

So, with the fate of our three hired heroes unknown and a threat still at large, V turns to our other unlikely hero, Nero, and his partner Nico. This is actually where the Devil May Cry 5 story begins (I did say it was out of order right?). Just like before, you’ve been called upon by V in order to help him take down the beast only this time you have a secondary mission, find and recover Dante and the others. 

As I said, the game does offer exposition and story around what has happened and who the various people you encounter are, albeit not in a simple A to B style of storytelling. However, if you want to find out more about the story, you’ll have to play it to find out!

Devil May Cry 5 follows the adventure of three main protagonists, Nero, V, and Dante. Each one has their own mechanics in terms of the weapons they use, the skills they obtain, and the alternative attacks. Let’s take a brief look at each of them…

Devil May Cry 5 2

Erm, is this Dead Rising or is that thing real?!

Nero
Originally introduced to us in Devil May Cry 4, he’s a relative of Dante yet draws his demonic powers from his demonic devil arm. However, in Devil May Cry 5, Nero has had his arm ‘removed’ which allows him to utilise a whole bunch of unlockable arm attachments which range from the insane to the crazy, even a few nostalgic nods to previous Capcom games make an appearance! Just like Eminem, each attachment has ‘one-shot’ per use unless you pick up new attachments in the field or purchase new ones with red orbs via Nico. Nero also utilises a sword, a gun and his fake arm can also be used to pull in demons and grab onto things in the distance, like a hook shot.

I personally really enjoyed playing as Nero. He’s even been slightly redesigned so that he looks a little more like Dante now that his relationship has been established within the previous game. Some of the skills you can unlock and the arm attachments are insane. I don’t want to spoil the surprises of what you’ll find and get to use, but imagine having Mega Man’s arm attachment, or an attachment made out of knives and forks! 

Devil May Cry 5 3

Emo May Cry…

V
V is the gothic newbie to the franchise, having appeared in nothing at all before Devil May Cry 5. As I mentioned before, instead of just sitting on the bench, V will get his hands dirty and help you fight off the demons, even if he hobbles around with a walking stick. This is V’s only physical attack – he smacks things to death with his walking stick!

Other than that, he can call forth support from two of his tattoos, a panther-like creature and a giant eagle. Basically, the eagle shoots and the panther bites, so it’s your standard projectile and melee attacks, only you’re not the one physically attacking as you press the button and they attack – like Pokemon. V can also summon a giant rock-creature to rise up and attack the enemies, but I didn’t think it was that effective.

V was actually my least favourite character in Devil May Cry 5. As you’re not attacking, the animals are, I found myself just standing back and spamming the button, only using my cane for the deathblow. It wasn’t very satisfying and the combat felt very weak compared to our other two protagonists. Just like Nero, you have a new set of skills to learn and upgrades you can buy for your attacks. But, as I’ll explain later, I opted to not buy many upgrades – so V could actually become a badass if you heavily invest into him, I can’t really comment on that though.

Devil May Cry 5 4

New game; who dis?

Dante
Does Dante need an introduction? Not only is he the main protagonist in four previous Devil May Cry games, but he is also the son of the Demon Sparda despite him being an avid demon hunter with super-human powers. This is where the balance begins to shift a little. Nero is an amateur, V is a newcomer to the profession, and Dante is a freaking God! Seriously, as soon as you get control over him, things change from great to outright insane. You’ll be slicing everything up like a hot knife on butter, splitting a motorbike in half to create two deadly wheel-based weapons, destroying giant demons, and saving the girls!

As you’d expect, Dante comes with a sword and his trusty guns, yet you can swap to a shotgun and your fists at any time with L2 and R2. Not only that, Dante has four separate ‘styles’ which can be chosen for the Circle button attacks – these reminded me of Kiryu in the Yakuza Series where you can also pick various styles and adapt accordingly. You also gain some new abilities later on into the game, which I’ll keep a secret, one of which has a nice homage to the King of Pop himself (it’s also hilarious). 

All three characters look and play differently, with Dante clearly being my favourite of the bunch.

Devil May Cry 5 5

These creatures don’t seem to like fire!

All in the day of a Demon Hunter…
If you’ve never played a Devil May Cry game before, think Bayonetta, it’s basically the same thing. The game is comprised of a series of missions which are levels with small enclosed areas. When you enter these, the exits are all blocked off, and you need to participate in a few waves of eliminating enemies before moving on. It’s your modern-day beat’em up. However, Devil May Cry 5, and others in the series, thrives on its non-linear exploration approach. Sure, a lot of the game is linear and it just wants you to get from A to B, but a few of the areas you enter will encourage looking around in order to find health upgrades or more red orbs for you to spend in the shop. 

It’s been a while since I’ve played a Devil May Cry game, so I can’t remember this that vividly, but did they always have so many bosses in them? Each chapter contains around three bosses, with one being the main boss of the area. The great thing is that the vast majority of these are unique in both their visuals and mechanics, so you’ll have to learn their movements and adapt, rather than just slash and pray to win. Some even come back as smaller enemies mid-chapter later on in the game. 

The general enemies are all well detailed, but they are more like cannon fodder. They shouldn’t be an issue to anyone and the variety is quite low per chapter. Don’t take that the wrong way – there’s a great variety of enemies, it’s just you may only see five or six enemy types per chapter (depending on the locale).

Again, I’m not sure if this was in the previous games, but there’s one thing I really didn’t like about Devil May Cry 5 at first (but I don’t really care about it now) and that’s the microtransactions which allow you to…

Devil May Cry 5 6

Uh Oh…

Pay real money to continue?!?
That’s right, you can pop in your credit card details and pay real money if you wish to continue upon your death… Now, hear me out, as I imagine you’re as annoyed as I was when this first happened to me. Once you die, and you will against a boss, you can pay a single gold orb or a number of red orbs to come back to life. The more red orbs you pay, the more health you get on revive. Now, each time you revive in a chapter, the next revive is a lot more. For example, 3000 orbs for a full restore jumps to 15000 on the next one. The gold orbs you can find in levels, buy in the shop (up to a certain amount) or get one free if you boot up the game each day – like a mobile phone game…

However, if you run out of red or gold orbs and you die again, your choices are to quit, load a checkpoint, or buy more red orbs with real money (the price of which we can’t see yet). If you chose to quit or go to the checkpoint, all those red and gold orbs you just used in that fight… gone. No manual saves either, only the autosave – so manual backups are required if you wish to cheat this mechanic. This happened to me twice. My only option was to quit to the main menu and farm red orbs by replaying a few previous missions – that way I could pay to revive myself.

Also, no – changing the date on your PS4 then booting up the game won’t trick it into giving you another gold orb – I tried that!

However, once you’ve upgraded your health bar, which carries over between all characters, you’ll rarely reach a game over screen outside of a few bosses. This is why I haven’t got around to upgrading V though, I save all my red orbs and don’t spend them until I’m back at the menu once I complete the level, just in case I need them. Regardless though, I would love to hear your thoughts on this mechanic/feature below. Having the option to buy reb orbs for both upgrading and reviving seems a bit iffy, but I do recall the PS4 version of Devil May Cry 4 also having them as microtransactions as well. 

More?
There is a number of ‘secret levels’ to find which are hidden away within certain levels. Unlocking these is very similar to the QR code mini-game in Watch_Dogs 2, you stand on a spot and line up a shape with your vision. Once unlocked, you can replay any of these from the main menu once you’ve beaten the level. The first one was really easy, but I’ve had trouble with the others as they contain things like killing enemies without any escaping and collecting all the red orbs in time. These will certainly test you.

Outside of the actual game, there are a few other extra features. First up there’s the Void. This is a place where you can go at any time and practice your moves with either of the characters. Then we have the Gallery, a place where all creature, weapon, and item info is stored along with music, cutscenes and other bonus videos.  Finally, there’s the Bloody Palace Mode which is being added in April. This is a fast-paced horde-mode which you’ll be tasked with eliminating everything which is thrown at you before they slaughter you.

Buy the deluxe edition…
We were given the Digital Deluxe edition of the game, for review purposes, and I have to state that this is the version you should pick up – mainly because I’m not sure what you can and can’t buy as DLC separately. I say this for one aspect, in particular, the live-action cutscenes. I can’t take images or a video, due to it blocking me, so I’ll put the trailer for the feature above. Basically, every cutscene in Devil May Cry 5 has been acted out by actors in a studio with a bunch of props and random items. I’m not sure if this was just for a laugh or if this is really how they plan out the cutscenes, by filming segments in real life then turning it into a CGI masterpiece?

Just to make it clear, these aren’t motion-capture clips, they are freaking hilarious reenactments which look like an amateur drama studio have been tasked with using anything they can find to recreate them. 

For example, when they’re in the van driving around, the live-action is a car made out of a few boxes which are being pushed around on the ground, V’s eagle is a guy in a suit flapping his arms, when a giant beast is attacking, the protagonist actor is stood in the distance so he appears smaller, and action sequences are played out with action figures, like a child is playing with them. 

I initially had these turned on, so all cutscenes were replaced with these as I played, but I felt I was missing out on the story a bit, so I changed it back. However, once you’ve seen a cutscene, you can go to the menu and watch either one of them – so I’ve just been rewatching all the live action ones I’ve now unlocked. One downside for these is that the live-action segments are Japanese only, with English subtitles, yet the main game can be played with either Japanese or English voices.

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Roll in the blood, you become bloody! Dante’s hair turns red as well!

Technical
My god, Capcom have done it again. Devil May Cry 5 looks absolutely amazing. I’m playing the game on a 51 inch 1080p TV via a PS4 Pro and the game looks simply stunning! The texture quality, the minute details, the shadows, the lighting, the explosion effects, it’s all breathtaking. Also, there’s a bare-bones photo mode, which is quite pointless as you can only spin a little around the character and there’s no filters or enhancements, but it does let you view the characters up close. This is what I spent a few hours of my time with the game doing…

Just look at the images above, that’s actual in-game quality, I’ve just gone into the photo mode. If you zoom into your character, you can clearly see the quality and care which has gone into creating each of the protagonists and the enemy creatures. Devil May Cry 5 sets a bar which all games should try and follow from now on. Sure, the game is only small enclosed areas, but it’s an almost solid 60fps with details like this on all four consoles and PC. I simply can’t falter anything to do with the visuals, there’s reflections, water effects, tonnes of post-processing and everything looks bloody gorgeous, despite the whole evil demon aspect.

One of the best features about Devil May Cry 5 has to be its awesome soundtrack. The game delivers a brilliant Rock/Metal soundtrack which fits in perfectly with the intense action which you’ll be engaging with throughout. The Gallery also has the ability to choose which piece of music each of the characters hear as you play. If you own the Digital Deluxe edition, you can also choose music from the previous four main-games. 

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Devil May Cry 5 is easily one of my Game of the Year 2019 contenders, even though it’s only March! The smooth and fluid gameplay, combined with the over the top action and intense metal soundtrack, creates a truly demonic and exciting experience no matter what system you’re on. Although the story is a little fragmented and delivered out of order in places, the reconstructed narrative is just as wacky and creative as the gameplay!

As a fan of the original games, I can’t help but love Devil May Cry 5. Not because it’s another game in the franchise, but because it’s clearly the best game in the franchise by a long shot and it’s also yet another amazing achievement from Capcom.

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Devil May Cry 5

£44.99
9.5

Final Score

9.5/10

The Good:

  • - Pure over the top action combined with humour and mindless combat
  • - Easy to pick up and play for people of all ages and skill levels
  • - More of the same DMC gameplay we all love
  • - The music and voice acting are perfect, as are the incredible visuals
  • - The live-action cutscenes are probably the best bonus feature for a Deluxe version of a game I've ever seen

The Bad:

  • - The game prompts you to pay real money to buy red orbs if you wish to continue but don't have enough left
  • - The photo mode is very, very basic. I hope they add filters and more options, as well as removing the watermark and name in the bottom corner
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