Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4
It can be an unsettling business reading the words ‘Definitive Edition’ at the end of a game title, as there tends to be the smell of cashing-in wafting in the air. Whether it is a simple graphical touch-up or adding alternative endings, there always remains that feeling of dodgy second-hand car dealership about the practice. Thankfully any concerns that you may have regarding DMC’s definitive edition can be comfortably set aside thanks to an utterly confident release from Ninja Theory that really does lay a marker down for any other developers thinking they can simply phone it in.
If you managed to miss the original release and are approaching the game for the first time Devil May Cry sees you taking control of Dante; a Nephilim with a taste for the excesses of life and a tongue that’s sharper than his sword Rebellion. Living in Limbo City, he spends his time between being a deviant and fighting the demons that exist in a world simmering just beneath reality. He comes into contact with a secret organisation that is determined to bring down the head demon, Mundus, who is secretly ruling the world. Through outlets like a scare-mongering news network, or even soft drinks, Mundus has dumbed down the population who remain oblivious to their enslavement. It’s up to Dante and his new friends to take out Mundus’ henchmen to lure him out into open combat - it’s a simple structure but from early on it gives you a real sense of progress and every victory leaves you with a sense of true end-goal momentum.
It’s no secret that the original release of Devil May Cry prompted a bit of a backlash, with many fans criticizing the emo aesthetic that pervaded the whole feel of the game, a topic that was touched on in our original review back in the heady days of 2013. If you were hoping for a toning down of that rock-star aesthetic then you’ll be disappointed, although you can wave goodbye to Vergil’s hat which is probably as close as you’ll get to such a change. But these things are simply distractions to what is going on under the hood and it’s there that a lot of the interesting changes can be found.
One of the first things to notice is that the game now runs at a sumptuous and reasonably solid 60fps, DmC’s combat has never looked more fluid and as you battle your way across the levels you’ll be drowning in beautiful liquid combat. If the framerate feels truly next-gen it is somewhat hampered by the textures still feeling somewhat old-hat, it’s never a distraction but there is an incongruity between the pace and flow of the game and the odd jarring texture. Add to this the improved loading times and what you have is a wonderfully slick and immediate experience that rarely loses pace and helps see the initial ten hour campaign go by in a bloody flash.
On top of the glossy technical changes that Ninja Theory have made, they have gone out of their way to make DmC a game for everybody and to cater for every play style. A near essential mode is the Turbo mode, an optional modifier that increases the game speed by 20%. Once you have got to grips with the combat it is worth moving it up to Turbo as the combat’s fluidity reaches a whole new level, and the added freneticism to proceedings it brings is nothing short of a bucket of fun. The only downside to Turbo Mode is that in particularly busy moments there can be the occasional slow-down - it’s not consistent but can break your flow somewhat. If you feel that you have mastered the game then you can always push it onto ‘Hardcore Mode’ that mixes up enemy movements, and while that may feel like a subtle change it is more than enough to make the experience tangibly different, and keeps you on your toes. Ninja Theory have also added a ‘Must Style’ modifier to the game that really takes difficulty up a notch as you’ll need to get your combo to a ranking of ‘S’ before any damage is applied to enemies.
Team these modifiers together or in isolation with any of the eight difficulty levels and you are left with an experience that is truly modifiable to the experience that you feel is right for you. It is a fantastic approach by the developers who were hit with criticism for the original release from both sides of the house; those who didn’t feel the game was accessible enough and those who felt it was too mainstream. So now you can very much have the game your way and once you are done there will be other ways to play. This layer of replayability is something that makes DmC such an enticing package, it really does feel that you will never be done mastering the game, but in truth that’s not a bad position to be in.
DmC Definitive Edition also comes with ‘Vergil’s Downfall’ which was previously DLC and explores Dante’s brother Vergil - who some might say is a more interesting character tha the main protagonist. It’s a short experience compared to the main game’s offering and the comic-book styled cutscenes may feel cheap compared to the main production but it gives Vergil’s story its own sense of identity. Once you finish Vergil’s Downfall you will also be able to do even more battle in Vergil’s Bloody Palace - giving you sixty floors of battling his enemies with his unique skillset. It’s another great addition to the package by Ninja Theory and again they have everyone in mind as if you can’t finish the Bloody Palace you can quite simply turn the timer off. That may seem like a cheat of sorts but it’s clear that Ninja Theory just want anyone who plays DmC to experience as much of it as they want and in whatever fashion they choose.
The main question that arises with a Definitive Edition is, “if I already own it, is it worth buying again?” Truthfully, at the release price-point it’s a difficult sell even in the face of all the fantastic tweaks and modes. If you haven’t experienced this entry into the series before, or if you want to dip your toes into DmC for the first time, we couldn’t recommend this enough. Between the deep combat mechanics and the truly memorable boss battles you are in for an absolute treat. It is a package that is brimming with value and is as self-assured as our cocky anti-hero. For those who already have the original it may be worth holding out for a price-drop, but that makes this no less an essential purchase, more a financial consideration than a comment on the quality of the product. DmC is somewhat of a halfway house, dressing up the previous generation in fancy new clothes but if this is a sign of things to come, a full next-gen DmC will be something truly spectacular. Some people say the devil is in the detail, but the attention the developers have paid to the detail here is absolutely and utterly heavenly.