If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Reboots are a tricky matter to approach. Stray too close to its origins and people will wonder why there was ever need of a change-up in the first place. Venture too far away from its roots and people will start violent mobs demanding blood (a very real threat in this instance). I can't really comment on whether or not the Devil May Cry franchise needed a reboot since I wasn't a fan of it in the first place. I enjoyed the combat system in Devil May Cry 3, but the story and characters bored me to absolute tears, especially since the main protagonist came off as nothing more than a bland, showboating bad-ass with a penchant for one-liners. Outside of that, I've always been at an arm's length away from the series. However, when Ninja Theory, a developer I cherished for creating Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, was selected for the task of re-vamping the series, I was actually interested in the franchise's next iteration. And despite the childish tantrums thrown by overly-sentimental fanboys over design changes, the game has turned out to be one of the better hack-n-slash titles of this generation.
DmC: Devil May Cry stars Dante, the love-child of a demon father and angel mother, making him a Nephilim - a half-breed capable of easily crossing between the demon and human realms. For reasons that are explored in the game's narrative, he grows up alone, fighting against the demon forces and their leader, Mundus, shunning society who has deemed him to be a violent psychopath, incapable of seeing the demons that hunt him; that is until Kat, a wiccan medium, comes to retrieve Dante and brings him into the group known as "The Order" who strive to free mankind of the sinister grasp of the demons. The group is lead by Dante's long-lost twin brother, Vergil, who journeys with him to rediscover their past and save the future for mankind. In terms of narratives, DmC is pretty standard fare for the "save the world from Demons" storyline. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and the few plot twists, though played out well, aren't exactly all that surprising when they do appear.
I never understood why soo many people were at odds with this interpretation of Dante's character in the trailers and TV spots, since, to me, he's always come off as a bit of a stand-offish egocentric douche in the rest of the series. However, this go around, the developers delve into the why of his brooding and contentious attitude which works surprisingly well. It's the explanation of why Dante is who he is which makes him a much more fascinating character than his previous portrayals. Although the ally characters of Kat and Vergil are injected with a little bit of life here and there, they aren't exactly the highlight of the game's narrative. While the villains are fairly one-dimensional, there were a few moments that actually caught me by surprise as the game questioned the role of violence and vengeance, not thoroughly mind you, but enough to garner my attention.
The soundtrack to the game is a collaborative effort between Noisia and CombiChrist combining electronica and heavy metal to create something visceral and adrenaline pumping as you hack up your enemies. The weapon sound effects are all great with the sword giving off a perfect metallic twang when bouncing off armor while your guns punch out bullets with force giving them the feeling of being very dangerous rather than just sounding like weak pop-guns that some games have a tendency to veer towards. The voice acting is solid all around with Tim Phillips as Dante and Sage Mears as Kat being the standouts of the bunch as they have good chemistry together and combine the right levels of levity and gravitas to make their relationship feel natural. The game satirizes subjects such as consumer culture and the mass media (there are wonderful FoxNews and Bill O'Reilly stand-ins for those who hate the pathetic excuse for a 24-hour news station), but they're handled with the sledgehammer approach to satire rather than the scalpel - they're blatant, not subtle, much like the previous sentence.
The combat system, while not as deep as some of the previous entries into the franchise, turns out to be one of the most enjoyable ones of the genre in recent memory. You have your standard attack buttons of guns, sword attacks, and air-launching swipes, but you also have the inclusion of the angel or devil move set that are activated when you hold down their corresponding triggers on the controller. While not only allowing you access to more weapons for different styles of attack, they also open up the options to either grapple an enemy towards you or to launch yourself at your opponent making enemy juggling a fun endeavor. Unlike hack-n-slash contemporaries like God of War or Bayonetta, these alternative weapons and combat styles actually feel necessary without feeling like a chore to incorporate into the gameplay. In fact, you'll be just as eager to see how you can string together different move sets to get the highest combat rank possible more as a genuine challenge to yourself rather than the game demanding it of you. It's enjoyable to play, and even more rewarding to master. However, there are a few enemies that can only be destroyed with certain weapons which does relegate the player to merely using these instead of the combat style you would like, but that's a small complaint at best. The traditional puzzle elements of the series are replaced (save for one instance) with platforming segments and areas where you traverse across the environment which are exciting, especially when you'll make a last second decision to swing to a ledge before plummeting into oblivion.
The game is drop dead gorgeous. The folks over at Ninja Theory always had an eye for visual splendor in their games, but this is their crowning jewel in their archive. When Dante is dragged back into the world of Limbo, bright and beautiful contrasting colors pepper the landscape making the universe feel vibrant and alive with energy, especially when these environments blast apart, reforming, and create hazardous environments for Dante to traverse; it's as if the very fabric of reality in Limbo is attempting to kill Dante making you always feel on edge whenever you're dragged back into the Hellish world. It could have been very easy to rely just a consistently oppressively terrifying environments that could leave the audience drained after a long period of time walking through them, ala Dante's Inferno, but the developer's strike a sweet balance between intimidating yet fascinating vistas. The same could be said for the enemies as the majority of them are designed more along the lines of Gothic/roman architecture inspired warriors than the easy cop-out of scary looking monsters.
DmC is not only one of the best hack-n-slash games this generation, but also (this will be heresy) my favorite entry into the series as it combines a great combat system, inspired creativity, terrific presentation, and outstanding pacing that still keeps me intrigued long after I've finished the single-player experience. Don't let nostalgia or bias of the original Devil May Cry saga ruin the experience of enjoying this game and all it has to offer especially since it's done with so much style.