iPhone review of the day: Devil May Cry 4: Refrain - Dante and Nero get smaller and simpler, but stay cool

On iPhone
Devil May Cry 4: Refrain
Price: $0.99 / £0.59 (currently 50% off)
Size: 155 MB
Get it now on iTunes:US/UK

Devil May Cry 4 Refrain flew pretty much under the radar until we first saw it about a month ago, but we're pleased to declare that it's a pretty high quality action gaming app. This is one of those games that shows up in the “Top 10 Apps for Real Gamers” lists. That is to say: it ties in to a major console gaming franchise and executes its hack 'n' shoot gameplay well enough to engage hardcore players.

DMC 4 Refrain certainly isn't going to be winning any awards for ingenuity. It's a very straight forward action game from the series that defined the modern action game almost 10 years ago. You move around in mini-dungeons slicing things to bits until you reach a boss encounter. In between each level is usually a small story scene, but these vignettes can be skipped with no real downside - the story seems to be the same as in the console version of Devil May Cry 4, but it's so stripped down and poorly delivered it's hard to tell. Besides, you don’t play DMC for the story. You play it to carve ugly monsters up with a sword and shoot them in the face.

Thankfully, DMC4 does this very well. The combat is simplified from the console DMC games, but works beautifully. Nero's sword and guns are mapped to the same button. If you're close to the enemy you'll slash him up good. If you're far away, he'll whip out his pistols and blast away. We’re not in love with the way the game sometimes sticks with the sword even if the enemy is out of reach, but overall it’s a strong system. That funky, stretchy arm of Nero’s occupies a second button and enables you to drag enemies closer to you or slam them into the ground.

Maybe it goes without saying, but fans of DMC4 should not miss this. DMC4 Refrain sports the same awesome gothic style and heavy metal soundtrack of the full-sized console game. Combat is a bit dumbed down and is far too easy in the early levels, but it's totally worth the measly $1.99 Capcom is asking for it – and at post time, even that price has been slashed in half to $0.99. If you’re even a little bit interested, pull the trigger on this beauty.

Feb 9, 2011