Capcom has just released a demo of Ninja Theory‘s highly-anticipated DmC: Devil May Cry, and we have some hands-on impressions. To sum things up, the game is turning out to be a fine entry in the series, and this is coming from a fan of the franchise.
From the very first cutscene presented in Under Watch – the first demo stage – you’ll notice that this isn’t the Devil May Cry you remember, at least story-wise. Gone is the light-hearted humor and silliness seen in the previous titles. Instead, there’s a gritty tone to the series, full of conspiracy and government surveillance. It’s one that deals with a sort of demonic totalitarianism, as powerful demon Mundus (originally seen in DMC 1) runs the world, its media, and it’s surveillance systems. Virgil, Dante’s twin brother, is the leader of a rebel group known as “The Order” that is fighting Mundus and his legions, and he recruits Dante to aid in the battle.
While the plot may not sit well with people expecting the something akin to the previous entries, I find that it’s a refreshing change of pace and resonates with the current times.
When it comes to the gameplay, rest easy knowing that Ninja Theory has it in the bag. The gameplay in DmC effectively captures the best parts of previous titles, and perfectly meshes them together into one cohesive experience that is absolutely a blast to play.
Combat feels just like the way you remember it: fast, fluid, and explosive. The controller scheme is similar to other games in the franchise, with dedicated buttons for sword attacks with Rebellion, guns Ebony and Ivory, jumping and dodging, and the inclusion of a button used to launch foes into the air. Devil Trigger also reappears, allowing Dante to run move quicker than his enemies and deal more damage. Combat feels responsive to the touch, and controls like a dream.
New is the ability to switch to weapons Arbiter and Osiris with the shoulder buttons or triggers, which allow Dante to switch to either a scythe (Osiris) or a axe (Arbiter). Not only do these weapons exhibit different properties and grant additional combos, they also allow the use of different abilities, like Osiris’ “Angel Boost,” a short air dash.
Both shoulder buttons – in conjunction with the shooting button – also grant Dante access to an ability that’s similar to Nero’s devil arm back in DMC4. It’s called the Ophion Angel Lift/Demon Pull, and depending on the shoulder/trigger button held Dante can either pull enemies towards him or pull himself towards enemies. He could also use it to reach distant platforms or make new ones from rubble. It’s an interesting mechanic that quickly becomes an essential element to pulling off longer combos and gaining those high scores.
Under Watch harks back to the days of DMC 1 & 3 when stages where small, tight and straightforward. There’s light platforming and exploration here and there that requires the use of Ophion, but the stage mostly keeps itself concentrated on what matters most: killing demons. Demon security cameras, which serve as demon doors, are scattered throughout the stage and will spot Dante on close proximity, closing down the path and spawning enemies. Once all enemies have been dispatched, players can destroy the cam with a demon pull and then proceed to the next area.
What I loved about the stage is how it transforms when you’re on the move.
Mundus has control of the city itself, and as such, can manipulate the environment around Dante. Buildings will compress and explode in debris, roads will crumble and split, and everything will try to squish Dante into fine paste. It’s really cinematic stuff, and shows off the graphical prowess of the developers. These sections are also fun to play through, as players must race to the end of a section before they are killed.
There are a bunch of collectibles from what I saw as well. Hidden throughout the stages are keys, which unlock secret doors that house orbs and goodies. There are also Lost Souls, beings who glow red and are stuck in-between worlds and must be released from their misery.
The demo also features a boss battle in the second demo stage titled Secret Ingredient. Here players must battle a foul-mouthed giant worm demon thing (what a mouthful!) that lies in wait at some underground ruins that float over a pool of lava. The objective here is to disconnect the creature from some tubes, and to do so players must jump platform to platform using Ophion, deal damage, and pull the tubes when they are exposed. While the stage is extremely short, it offers a glimpse at the uncommon tactics required to defeat larger foes.
I forgot to mention a fun but minuscule detail: Dubstep is the battle theme for the boss fight. I don’t know about you guys, but I do love my dubstep.
While the demo for DmC: Devil May Cry offers a small glimpse at what’s to come, I can safely say that Ninja Theory is heading in the right direction. With an excellent and fluid combat system, dynamic stages and a interesting plot, Dante’s next adventure should definitively be on your buy list.
DmC: Devil May Cry will be available in stores January 15th, 2012. The demo is available now on PSN and Xbox Live.