Now is a time when Capcom games have been received more positively. A lot has been riding on the success of the company’s most recent game, Devil May Cry 5. When looking at releases like Resident Evil 7, Monster Hunter: World, and the recent Resident Evil 2, the standards for Capcom games have increased. With Devil May Cry 5, we have an elegant blend of a natural progression for the series paired with familiar tropes that fans are sure to love. But does it fit the standards set by the aforementioned installments? In short, it’s a resounding “Yes,” but let’s get into what makes this game so fun and well-rounded.
Right off the bat, it’s important to note that Devil May Cry, much like other games of the same genre, features insane, over-the-top action and doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is something that it uses to its advantage, and it makes the subject matter easier to take in. It wouldn’t be as enjoyable if the whole thing was all doom and gloom. Devil May Cry 5 takes the insanity and cranks it up several notches, while still having enough serious, heartfelt moments that keep things balanced.
The gameplay in Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t stray too far from the other entries in the series. There are levels with a variety of demons to slay, an emphasis on combos, a ton of different moves to use, and a boss every now and again. You won’t find many surprises in the formula, but that’s not a bad thing. It is well executed, so it doesn’t need to branch out too far to stay fun.
Three’s a Crowd
In Devil May 5, you take control of three characters, each with their own unique abilities and styles. You start with Nero, who uses the Devil Breaker, an appendage that acts as a prosthetic forearm with multiple cartridges that have various uses. They range from Helter Skelter, which has spinning blades that can be used to slice enemies, to the Rawhide, that can be used to whip demons with its deadly razor wire. There are several others you can find throughout the levels, each with unique uses. Nero also has access to a sword and a gun, along with other abilities. Playing as him, while challenging at first, is super fun and because of the refreshing variety Devil Breakers provide.
You can also take control of Dante, whom you might be familiar with if you’ve played the other DMC games. He is my personal favorite, because of the sheer variety of weapons and abilities he has at his disposal. There are several guns, melee weapons, and abilities to choose from, and even though he plays somewhat similarly to Nero, there are numerous nuances that definitely make him stand apart.
You’ve probably seen the trailers that show Dante dual-wielding a severed motorcycle, holding a half in each hand for attacks. Yeah, Devil May Cry 5‘s that kind of game. If you’re wanting over-the-top action, you’ll probably fall in love with him like I did. I almost wish you could play as him for the entire game. I was having a good time with it before the point at which he became playable, but unlocking Dante truly made this game special. He even has some of the most kick-ass music out out of the three characters. If you’re into deathcore, a sub-genre of metal with an intensity that matches Dante’s style, you’ll probably have a huge smile on your face as you’re slaughtering demons.
V—the third playable character—is where things sort of start to fall apart. To be clear, I don’t think V is a bad character or that he’s awful to play as, but when compared to the other two, he just falls flat. The idea with V is that you can command three different demons to fight on his behalf, a concept that I really love. However, in execution, it just doesn’t feel as satisfying since you aren’t directly attacking your enemies. You have to aim your demon minions towards your foes to attack them. The only problem is that the enemies are generally pretty quick, and it was sometimes a chore to even land an attack on them. All you have to defend yourself with is a cane that is nowhere near powerful enough to ward off enemies if your demons go down.
Because of this, I would often have to jump around and run away from the enemies while V’s demonic minions recharged. You can read from a book of poetry to charge up your Devil Trigger gauge to unleash devastating attacks, which definitely comes in handy, but playing as V was mostly frustrating and not as satisfying as the others overall. I appreciate the fact that Capcom tried to do something different with him, and it almost worked for me. Maybe even some slight tweaking might help. Especially since V is more enjoyable to use when you upgrade him more. (Even with that, I still had more fun even with an un-upgraded version of Dante.)
Another minor issue is that the controls can feel slightly too complicated. So much so that, if this is your first Devil May Cry game, you may have trouble getting acclimated. The fact that different characters prioritize different buttons doesn’t help either, so it can take some getting used to. I would sometimes try using a button combination that another character uses, but take damage because I got confused about attacks. When you’re constantly learning new abilities, there is a lot of room for error with the controls. Fortunately, you can fully customize the controls, so you have that option if it becomes too much.
Perspective is Everything
Gameplay aside, the characters do all have unique personality traits and interact in meaningful ways that kept me engaged throughout my playthrough. At the end of the day, Devil May Cry 5 is an action game with a focus on slaughtering demons, and that clearly takes priority over the story. I will say that there were numerous interactions that had me laughing out loud, as well as some more serious sections towards the end that were quite emotional. The story, while predictable, was interesting enough to keep me from wanting to skip the cutscenes.
What’s really cool is the way the story plays with the timeline. You’ll see certain sections from one character’s point of view, and then get to play that same section as another character, giving you various perspectives. If you like linear storytelling, this might not be for you, because it does tend to jump around the timeline a fair amount. It keeps you on your toes and can be more rewarding than a straightforward narrative, if done right. It also adds to the variety, constantly giving you new stages, new abilities, and new characters to experience. That’s sort of the theme of Devil May Cry 5: Variety.
But when it comes to the writing and delivery of certain lines, it definitely leans heavily into the silliness you might expect from action games such as these. Many times, it’s to the game’s detriment, especially during the action sequences. When it’s two characters talking one-on-one, it’s usually fine, but the cheesiness really comes through during the battle sequences. That style of writing hasn’t aged as well. It’s not surprisingly bad, but when the majority of the game is so good that I wish the writing was up to par too.
Not only that, but a lot of times the lip syncing was slightly off. This looked very odd on the photo-realistic character models. It’s a minor gripe that never ruined my experience, but is a noticeable issue nonetheless. Although, when the dialogue and lip syncing worked, it really worked. There were certain instances where character banter that had me cackling or at the very least, grinning from ear to ear. It’s just too bad that wasn’t carried out throughout the entire game.
One thing that you probably might notice is how good Devil May Cry 5 looks. It’s devilishly good—from the realistically rendered characters and animations, to the pores in their skin and the grotesque enemy design. These sorts of visuals are expected with AAA titles sure, but taking the time to appreciate the art will improve your experience. If you pause your game during extreme action sections and dive into the photo mode, you’ll get a sense of how beautiful this game really is. The art team at Capcom deserves a lot of praise for the work here.
There are some really fascinating creature designs, too, like the Goliath (pictured below), the interesting-looking demons used by V, and some late game bosses that I don’t want to spoil for you. Even the environments have personality, with various growths wrapped around buildings and organic rock formations that appear to be alive.
If you’ve played action games like Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Ninja Gaiden, you’ll feel right at home with Devil May Cry 5. It takes that familiar action gameplay, then adds an immense level of polish and some over-the-top battles that give it personality. My biggest piece of criticism is the way V’s combat works, which might not even be a problem for you, depending on your play style. DMC5 leans into silliness in such a way that had me smiling for most of my time with it and if you can get past some of the minor gripes I had, you’ll probably enjoy it. It’s hard not to love wiping the floor with demon guts while dual-wielding a motorcycle as a weapon as heavy metal plays.
There’s almost too much to love about Devil May Cry 5, and I’m so glad Capcom is continuing to deliver games of this quality.
The Devil May Cry 5 review code was provided by the publisher. Version 1.00 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.