“Not in a million years,” laughs Dante. It’s half way through the first level, and the rebooted anti-hero has already carved up more than an afternoon’s worth of demons when Ninja Theory’s middle finger appears. The situation? I’ll not spoil it. The result? A sudden, deserved boost of confidence for the series’ new direction and a big fat smile from a move unlike anything else I’ve seen in the previous games.
This is Dante refreshed, updated and modernised rather than coated with the rather lazy brush marked ‘emo’, as many had liked to label the game ever since it was first announced. And you know what? This refresh – in the face of all the vitriol – works – and rather brilliantly, too.
Not that I personally ever really had any problem with Capcom’s flick of the switch – Dante as he stood had run his course (and I think much the same about Kratos in God of War, in case anyone’s wondering) and this new direction is long overdue. It works because it feels fresh, and it works because the context of the story demands a new interpretation of the canon.
He may not be Dante of old, but he's more than capable of taking a demon to bits. At the end of the day, isn't that the important thing, rather than complaining that the game designers have wanted to make some changes to the character? Dante, regardless of version, kicks like a mule.
Look to writer Alex Garland for that – his involvement was there to bulk up Dante’s backstory – but thank him, too, the player character finally fully rounded and (panic) somewhat easier to relate to.
There’s a fair bit to take in with DmC, and the game whips along at a pretty nippy pace most of the time, so it’s credit to the developers that it all just about holds together.
Sure, it might not be the prettiest game and novices will find the way it quickly requires deft use of every single button on the controller in order to make much progress a little offputting (so: dial down the difficulty) but DmC manages to craft a decent enough plot throughout all the madness. The scale doesn’t hold back and the action (when the exposition isn’t in the way) doesn’t let up, but not once did I wish I was controlling ‘old’ Dante.
In fact, after years of the likes of God of War, Bayonetta and the other other Dante, anything else would simply have felt old hat.
For starters, DmC’s Dante still has that swagger and confidence, that slight air of arrogance, that serves to make the player feel invincible before every battle. He still has that wicked vernacular (“Fucking demons”) and verve that makes every victory a rewarding, drama filled one, no matter how trivial the scrap. And the sense of humour’s just as dry.
I’m not entirely sure what the issues ever really were? Is it the hair? The clothes? When I’m knee-deep in juggles and racking up the combos I’m not checking out his t-shirt, I’m trying to figure out which demon-spawn is next for my pistols. And the cut-scenes, of which there are plenty, obviously, never once made me lose focus on the matter at hand.
Dante’s weaponry, too, is hardly a marked diversion. The aforementioned Ebony and Ivory are present and correct, and the melee weapons don’t exactly take massive leaps of faith to connect with. Indeed, moves and their corresponding score points are presented more visually than ever, so anyone worried about the central mechanics can thankfully rest easy knowing that Ninja Theory might have wanted to reset Dante’s looks to something new, but he still swings his arm the same.
My advice is to embrace the changes and go with the flow – DmC is very much Devil May Cry, just one updated and dressed in a new coat of paint.
Our review is out now.