The Devil May Cry series has long been known for putting players in the shoes of badass-looking demon/monster slayers who beat up hordes of bad guys with style and swagger. In Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition (DMC V: SE), achieving this power-fantasy has never looked better than it does on the Playstation 5 (PS5).
With the addition of Dante’s twin brother Vergil, who returns as a playable character, a new Legendary Dark Knight difficulty level (available from the get-go), and several performance upgrades, DMC V SE is the best way to play (or revisit) one of 2019’s greatest action games.
Gotta let it out, gotta let it out
From the moment the opening credits kick off with our main man Nero slicing and dicing demons while free falling in and out of a minivan in slow motion, I already knew I was going to be in for quite the ride. The game features a mostly enjoyable playable story with a likeable cast of characters out to save the world from a mysterious demon invasion of the Earth as we know it. As the story progresses, we are introduced to our three main playable characters in Nero, V, and Dante, each of whom are meticulously designed with their unique styles of combat.
Nero wields a comically large sword that Cloud Strife would be proud of and combines close-range slicing and dicing with a literal “side arm” through disposable right arm attachments (Devil Breakers). These provide him with a range of different abilities, from quick-dashing (Gerbera) to Megaman’s iconic hand cannon (Mega Buster). Depending on the loadouts that I chose to go with, I had a great time experimenting with different cool ways I could serve up some demon sashimi.
V, on the other hand, conjures three demonic familiars that take the form of a panther (Shadow), a hawk (Griffon), and a golem (Nightmare) to bid his fighting for him.
Aided by his familiars, V’s combat style is mostly ranged, and combos are built by stringing together his familiar’s abilities and their individual movesets. To finish off enemies, V dashes towards and probes them with his staff as the camera cuts to a shot of wind gently breezing through the luscious black hair of this handsome goth man.
A tale of two sons
Then we have Dante, who is essentially a jack of all trades. He has access to a wide variety of weapons from swords, to fists, to nunchakus and even a motorcycle that turns into dual-wielding buzzsaws (which I love because it’s so damn wild!). Combine these cool toys with several fighting styles and stances, such as the blocking-focused Royal Guard and the evasion-focused Trickster, and you’ve got an endless amount of combinations to mess around with.
For returning fans, Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition also features a new addition to the playable roster in the form of Dante’s twin brother Vergil. His hard-hitting, samurai-esque movements and giant katana place heavy emphasis on making precise yet devastating incisions. Vergil is sure to be a welcome addition and provides even more content to an already jam-packed action game.
Style and substance
While gameplay and combat are surely king when it comes to the action game genre, DMC V: SE also looks and sounds fantastic. Its awesome heavy industrial rock soundtrack booms throughout the adventure and combat sequences. With its crown jewel, the “Devil Trigger” (performed by Casey Edwards), which is sure to get adrenaline pumping just as enemy hordes start seeping through from the underworld.
In terms of visuals, very few games look as good as Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition. DMC V is truly a sight to behold, from its dark, demonic, and gory art style to gorgeous character models and gameworld. With the power of the PS5, and as cliche as this sounds, the game has never looked better. Believe me; the game looks even better in action than it does in the attached stills.
For those who are more tech-speak inclined, you’ll be happy to know that the Special Edition features ray tracing at 1080p 60 fps or 4k 30 fps. Alternatively, the game also features a 4k 60 fps without ray tracing mode and even a 120fps mode. However, the latter isn’t recommended as several tests (see Digital Foundry on YouTube) have shown that the game isn’t really able to hold this at a nearly stable enough framerate, which is extremely unfortunate for an action game.
I’ve got a bone to pick
All that said, there were a few things in the game that I wasn’t a huge fan of, and I felt I should point them out here.
Firstly, the game requires you to switch between characters throughout different stages of the campaign, with each character having separate upgrades and skill trees. Constantly having to re-learn the characters and re-earn your toys was quite frustrating and kind of an odd design choice in my book.
Secondly, DMC V’s gameplay is quite technical for an action game. If a game like Bayonetta is like playing Smash Bros, then DMC V is like playing Street Fighter.
Moves and combos require multiple button inputs and take time to practice, learn and execute before you start looking cool doing them. Combined with the constant character switching, my progression could at times crawl to a halt and cause me to put the controller down for the night. While I’ve come to understand that this technical depth is why the series appeals to many existing players, this may not be to everyone’s taste, so it’s just something to note.
Thirdly, the game features optional secret missions, which are oftentimes challenges and puzzles that shine a spotlight on some of the game’s weakest mechanics, like platforming. Thankfully these were optional because boy, were they annoying.
Oh, and one last thing
While most of the cast was generally likeable, Nico Goldstein, who plays a major support role in the story, could be pretty cringy and annoying at times. She can often be seen bantering with Nero as they go on their adventure, and I quote, “To kill demon ass!”.
Believe it or not; apparently she was born from series director Hideaki Itsuno’s fetish for being scolded by ‘bad girls’. To each his own I suppose, he and I probably have different tastes; no judgement here. But if her type of personality isn’t your style as well, consider yourself warned.
Ultimately, DMC V: SE is a fun, casual romp that offers an over-the-top, zany story with some of the most stylish characters and action setpieces in video games.
Suppose you also happen to be down for a challenge after the initial 12-hour playthrough. In that case, there’s plenty of difficulty levels (7 levels including Legendary Dark Knight) and style point challenges for you to learn, master, and tackle, giving this game tons of replayability. So depending on what you’d prefer, Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition can be here for both a good time and a long time.
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition is available right now on the PlayStation Digital Store.
Visuals courtesy of Capcom.