Devil May Crys past could feel a tad rambling, having a meandering pace punctuated by a stream of events and battles often slightly lacking in context or narrative weight. In DmC, that’s been fixed. With a location-hopping structure of self-contained levels now, setting, narrative and gameplay are bound with a far greater sense of combined purpose.
Take the early level set in Dante’s old family home, for instance. It’s (probably intentionally) the most similar to the DMC of old, being a winding gothic mansion made of ruined pathways and locked doors. But the slower pace and twisting, indirect layout make metaphorical sense within the context of Dante’s confused rediscovery of his half-remembered past. It’s also damn good, gameplay-driven storytelling that this is the section of the game in which Dante undergoes the most dramatic empowerment of his in-game abilities. Thematically everything ties together to powerful combined narrative and gameplay effect. And that’s a quality present throughout the game.
Hell, even the tutorial is damnably smart. Following straight on from a brilliant opening title sequence depicting Dante staggering home from a nightclub with two girls in tow, it takes the form of a series of ‘morning after’ fights against an onslaught of demons rude enough to bother him on a hangover. The tutorial introduces each combat element individually – sword first, then guns, then both – justifying the rationing of abilities by Dante having lost his gear while drunk the night before.
Ebony and Ivory are eventually found hanging from a bra hooked on a lamp-post. Later, Dante discovers his coat dangling off a ferris wheel. It’s clever stuff, building his personality along with his abilities, while tying the whole thing into the character foundation laid down in the opening credits. Coat finally on, his iconic aesthetic is complete, at exactly the same moment his personal identity and core in-game abilities are cemented in the player’s mind. And the whole thing is so smooth and narratively cohesive that you won’t even notice it’s a tutorial in the first place.
What Devil May Cry 4’s combat soundtrack lacked in cutting edge quality, it more than made up for in repetition. Thankfully that horror is a thing of the past. DmC’s soundtrack – an original co-production between Noisia and Combichrist - is every bit as fresh, modern, exciting, eclectic, and pulse-poundingly affecting as DMC4’s wasn’t. And you won’t believe what a difference makes. So far this feels like a vital, immediate, and utterly relevant reimagining of everything that was good about Devil May Cry, and that quality is apparent in every one of its constituent elements.
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