The Devil May Cry series has always had a special place in my gamer’s heart and is a big reason why I have always gravitated towards ‘Hack n Slash’ games throughout the years. The combat has always been superb and Dante was such an amazing main character. When it came to Devil May Cry 4, I actually liked Nero as a character who helped refresh the series for series fans but also attracted a new audience. When Devil May Cry 5 was announced and it was confirmed that director Hideaki Itsuno and his team were getting the band back together it had already sold me, but following the Xbox One demo I was certainly chomping at the bit to jump back into the series.
We return to a world where demons have not been seen for years when suddenly a new invasion begins and we find Nero has now set up his own Demon fighting agency, operating out of a van and assisted by Nico. The surprise is that somehow Nero no longer has his demon right arm and instead is now relying on cybernetic arms which also serves as an aid in battle, all of which are designed and built by Nico herself. Strange demon attacks are happening all over the world and Nero heads to Red Grave City, the centre of all the demonic activity where he discovers the blood-sucking demon tree Qliphoth and find Dante fighting a powerful demon that actually defeats Dante. Vowing to get revenge and to find out what is going on, Nero is set on the path by a mysterious man called V.
The first thing I have to say is that Devil May Cry 5 is one gorgeous visual feast on the eyes, this is one of the best-looking games right now on any console and that is even before the enhancements for the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro. Every character model has the most insane level of details on them especially on V, who I will speak more about a little further on, but the intricate design of his tattoos is off the charts. Then you throw in the environments with a clear inspiration for Red Grave City taken from London and then all the demonic you face and every single encounter and cut-scene just leaps out of your TV or screen. It is astonishing to see how far this series has come to this point with just the right level of gaming technology to really showcase the Devil May Cry Series as it is in this game.
Once you get over just how stunning the visuals and art style are, the combat itself yet again elevates it to another level as through the story you get to play as three characters, Nero, Dante and the mysterious V. Nero of course has his weapons with the Red Queen sword, his Blue Rose hand cannon but the addition of the Devil Breaker now makes up for the loss of his demonic powers since losing his demon arm. Each Devil Breaker has a unique ability from a standard use with B button to a charged-up move. The variety of the Devil Breakers will really make a difference in the combo chains you can put together, and as they can break from over use or damage from enemies, it is rather handy then that you can find new Devil Breakers around the area you are playing in or to setup your own loadout before starting a new mission by purchasing Devil Breakers from Nico. I fully advise experimenting with how each Devil Breaker works as you practice your combo and fighting style with Nero and also, some of the stranger looking ones can be the most useful.
Dante himself has his own weapons such as his Rebellion Sword and Balrog melee gear as well as his Ebony and Ivory pistols and Coyote Shotgun. Instead of a Devil Breaker, Dante has four fighting styles that the player can switch to using the D-Pad such as Trickster, Royal Guard, Gunslinger and my personal favourite Swordmaster. By selecting one of the styles, they become the move you use with B button, just as you would as Nero to use the Devil Breaker so that the combat system remains intact. Dante also has his demon form which can be triggered once the devil trigger system builds up enough from either defeating enemies or collecting white orbs. This form increases Dante’s damage until the meter us used up.
By far though the most interesting and visually stunning playable character to use is V. This mysterious character has a very unique combat system that completely took me by surprise. V has three demon pets that fight for him, Griffon the talking demon Eagle assigned to X, Shadow the demonic panther assigned to Y and Nightmare, the giant golem like demon who can be summoned once the Demon Trigger has three bars and is assigned to B. Each pet works independently but also at the same time by using their controller buttons so the player is really at times in control of four characters on Screen because the demon pets can only hurt enemies, in order to fully defeat them, V himself must deliver the final blow. This is the hardest character to master as you constantly have to track the pets and who they are fighting with the easiest method is to use V to lock on to a target and which will focus the pets on that target as well. Each pet has a health bar and should they take too much damage they will return to an orb state until they recover, taking them out of the fight. V can help by staying close to them in the fight but as V is generally rather weak as he can pretty much only dodge attacks until he is able to deliver the final blow, puts him in harm’s way.
The level of detail that goes into V is breath-taking with the animation alone of each of these pets who will also aid him outside of combat such as using Griffon to help with jumping and Shadow will become an almost shadowy demonic skateboard for V when he sprints for long enough. The coolest thing however is that the pets are actually the tattoos that are on V’s body, so when they are not in use, they will return to V’s body and when they are called on you can see the tattoos leaving him as the pet becomes real with V’s hair turning white once Nightmare is Summoned. He is by far the most intriguing character to play as and in the story itself as it unfolds. The attention to detail in the animation from cutscenes to being out of but especially in combat is pure eye candy and you can really see and appreciate how hard the team have worked to bring this game to life. The game engine is so solid that at no time did I experience any slow down even in the most chaotic of battles fighting a multitude of enemies and having all three of V’s demon pets on screen kicking some ass.
The combat system is extremely complex for all three playable heroes with V standing out the most. The amount of focus it takes to really pull of the high-grade stylish fight scores and even as an experienced hack n slash player, this game truly offers the greatest challenge in adapting to a character fight style. The system is so deep as you try to find one that suits you and there is so much information to take in from every battle from the different enemies you face to what style and weapons you use to tackle them. All three playable heroes are so different that learning and trying to master anyone of them is going to take time and this game is so much fun and so bombastic to experience that I want to spend a lot of time trying to be the best with each one with V standing out the most.
As complicated as the fighting system is however, it also allows for inexperienced players to manage it just fine with the option for auto assist given at the very start and rudimentary combo options available so players will never feel completely lost in the combat system but always aware that they are capable of being better. I find this such a refreshing approach to this genre, by allowing you to play the game but know you can try and do better if you can or choose to but can also just enjoy the story and the characters as they, allows a really joyful time with Devil May Cry 5 because the story can have incredibly serious and dark moments but can also be absolutely silly at the same time such as when you are able to use a telephone call box to call in Nico and her van in order to refresh your kit or purchase new skills midway through a mission, and the animation of how Nico manages to get her van to you is just nuts at times but so much fun to see on screen, and I just love Nico as a character. Nico does not just offer Nero new Devil Breaker arms, but through her shop players can spend red orbs to upgrade and purchase new skills for each character and their weapons unlocking new combo moves and character skills. What I liked about this is that the game is very generous in giving you red orbs so buying new skills for each character is easy and as the orbs and items such as Golden orbs which can revive you if you fall in a fight, carry over to each character means you are always able to give new skills to characters throughout the story campaign.
I am having such a good time with Devil May Cry 5 that for fans of the series this is potentially the most iconic chapter yet for the series and one that will offer so much satisfaction from the story to the combat systems to learn. I have deliberately avoided talking about the story because it needs to be played without any spoilers other than how it begins. Switching between the characters keeps you on your toes but I also like that at times, the player can choose who they want to play as for a mission giving this game genuine replay value because even though the overall story remains the same for all three, each one will have a different experience during their portion of the story delivered as you play as them. This is also just so damn metal when the fighting starts and the incredible soundtrack just kicks in and just you fell every second of the battle as a visceral thing till it ends. A nice touch is the ‘Cameo’ system which despite the game being single player only it does connect online and by doing so connects to other players of the game so that with it switched on, you can see the ghost image of another player, playing the same mission as you and you can compete to see who does better and the game will even ask you if you want to rate that other players performance at the end of the mission. This can be turned off but its always interesting to see how their ‘ghost’ performs.
Devil May Cry 5 just embodies everything I love about gaming and the hack n slash genre, it can be so over the top but delivers the story so well featuring every character from the series. It is just so highly polished and serves as a celebration of everything that makes this series so iconic. There is a snappy and quick pace to the action but enough room to develop your own style with even more space to learn to do better every time you jump into the game. Fans of the series will get so much from the tiny extra details put in the story for the characters and new comers to it will see just way this is a series worthy of being in your collection.