Before we get into this piece let me state openly that I don’t play games like this, I really don’t. It's a genre I never understood and one I frequently found confusing. Often I found these games constructed around stories that are as manic and disorientating as the action on screen, with the characters unappealing and irritating. I just never appreciated it.
Then… well then I played Devil May Cry.
The game is a reboot of a well-established and loved franchise and puts you in the shoes of Dante; a half Angel, half Demon (Nephilim) with no memory of his past. Now I know the memory loss plot mechanic is a common one, but here it works beautifully, drawing you into the universe and it's characters. A lot of credit has to go to the writers; not only is the plot easy to follow and well structured, it never once dissolves in to the utter madness of other titles of the same ilk, whilst equally dealing with a subject matter that is purely fantastical but entirely realised maturely and thoughtfully.
Another character to this story is the world in which you play: Limbo City, and its design is breathtakingly beautiful. Existing on two levels; the “real” world and the “limbo” world, where the city takes its name and where its true identity lies. The way these two worlds blend and flex together is utterly incredible, with the environment literally comes apart and reforms before your eyes as you play.
It creates beautiful, unique but deadly arenas with floors dropping from beneath your feet, to buildings and cars trying to crush you as the world splits apart. The design is cleverly done with the environment in the “real” world directly affected by what you do in “limbo”, making for some spectacular set pieces. I guarantee you spend a lot of time simply looking around at just how clever these mechanics are.
However, the most important character in any game is the character you play and Dante, to my surprise, is very, very easy to get along with. Sure he is young, good looking and cocky but it is scripted in a way that not only endears you to him (think Han Solo) but also and crucially empowers you. Dante is sure of his prowess and his ability and this translates to you as a player. In another game, if say a giant fire breathing, half-dog half-ape behemoth, armed with a grappling hook the size of a house and more teeth than the offspring of Janet Street Porter and a Great white shark attacked you, you would nine times out of ten flee whilst attempting to change your trousers. Not with Dante, not with YOU as Dante. No, here you simply cock one eyebrow, throw a taunt or two and charge straight in - your only worry being how skilfully you can dispatch you opponent. It is a liberation to play a game once again where you truly feel like a hero.
It is here in the combat that games of this type show their quality and where I have traditionally struggled to get involved. However the experience in DmC is amazing. The game gently eases you into each of Dante’s weapons one at a time, from his sword – Rebellion, then his guns – Ebony and Ivory, to later on a scythe, giant axe and more. With each weapon the game takes you through the basics; simple strikes to pulls and lifts, and then combinations, placing the relevant enemies in front of you so you might learn, all the while maintaining an acceptable and challenging level of difficulty.
The method the game employs to teach you is incredible and even as a novice I found that I was soon “juggling” opponents and stringing huge and impressive combos together, whilst at the same time assessing the remaining enemies, their locations, weaknesses and how I was going to attack and exploit them. This is all after about an hour of game time. Trust me, learning the moves is easy... learning when and how to use and combine them will take a lot longer.
As you progress through the levels you unlock extra skills and combinations and I genuinely found myself eager for the next battle to test them, hoping it would be against large, imposing enemies with plenty of backup so I could demonstrate my skill. More than once I found myself looking around the room to see if anyone had noticed some impressive kill or combination I had performed. But above all this, crucially I felt in control of what I was doing and never once in the heat of battle did I descend into simple button mashing - neither will you want to: that is the crux of DmC.
As for the on screen action itself? Well in short it is absolutely beautiful, like watching an angry butterfly with swords for wings dancing through wave after wave of enemies slicing, dicing and throwing them around like confetti at a wedding for the undead. Couple this with an exceptional soundtrack pumping away in the background and I challenge you not to want to fight more, to fight better..............and that’s when it clicks.
You see, the game's story aside, you will want to dispatch the enemies you face as skilfully and as quickly as you can, forever chasing the elusive SSS rank in any given battle. You crave it and you enjoy the thrill of the chase; fighting such a wide range of beautifully diverse and challenging enemies in an ever changing environment is addictive and at the same time immensely fun.
So there you are, I “Get It”. I finally understand why this genre is so much fun and it is purely thanks to DmC. If you are a fan of the original series you won’t need my words to sway you, but if you were like I was then I urge you to pick this up and try something new - it will change everything.