The release of Devil May Cry 5 comes 11 years after the last numbered installment in Capcom’s popular hack and slash series. Aside from a reboot that was developed by Ninja Theory and featured a very different-looking Dante much to the dismay of fans, the original series protagonist has been missing in action for quite some time. As such, Capcom’s intention with Devil May Cry 5 is clear i.e. to deliver what series enthusiasts have been craving for in the form of a true successor to Devil May Cry 4.
Set in Red Grave city after the events of Devil May Cry 4, the latest demon-slaying adventure reunites Dante and Nero in a bid to take on a new threat in the form of a cryptic demon king known as Urizen. They are not alone in this battle, however. A new character dubbed “V” now fights alongside the uncle/nephew duo.
The game’s opening establishes Urizen as a formidable enemy, as he pummels Dante and forces Nero to retreat alongside V. Red Grave city has been taken over by bloodthirsty demons, and therefore the game begins in a dire situation for the protagonists. Nero now runs his own demon hunting agency based out of a van along with his friend and co-worker Nico, who built him a prosthetic arm called the “Devil Breaker” after his original Devil Bringer arm was viciously dismembered off of him by a mysterious hooded figure. She comes in quite useful throughout the game, as she puts her engineering skills to use and builds upgrades at her workstation.
As is the case with every other Devil May Cry game, the story is largely an excuse to orchestrate stylish, over-the-top action. This is ultimately what makes the series special, and the fifth installment does a great job of raising the bar in this regard. From the opening to the very end, you’ll be thrown into grandiose action sequences that deliver impactful audiovisual feedback.
Make no mistake, however. Devil May Cry 5 is a game about substance just as much as it is about style. The combat feels incredibly fluid and is easy to get into, but difficult to master. That said, it becomes second nature the more you delve into the depths of what it has to offer. All three of Dante, Nero, and V are playable characters, each with their own distinct fighting style. While Nero and Dante will be mechanically familiar to series veterans, V’s unconventional fighting style will offer just a much-needed breath of fresh air.
Unlike his comrades, V’s fighting style doesn’t follow the series’ DNA. You won’t be seeing V launch enemies into the air with his sword and pulverize them with a barrage of bullets. Instead, V has the ability to summon demon creatures to fight for him. These include Griffon, Shadow, and Nightmare. Griffon is capable of hurling a series of projectiles that do electric damage, while Shadow dishes melee attacks to nearby enemies. Nightmare is a larger, slower beast that deals a considerable amount of damage. Upon directing his pets towards enemies, V’s job is to stay out of harm’s way and watch as they wreak havoc. He can, however, perform a series of magic spells as well as executions using his cane on weakened foes. Playing as V often echoes the feeling of playing as a character from a JRPG, where you’re managing multiple characters. There’s an undeniable element of strategy here that is completely new to the series.
Where V boasts a fresh and unique way to play, Dante brings back and refines the tried and tested. Series veterans will be glad to know that the son of Sparda goes back to his Devil May Cry 3 roots, bringing his four distinct styles – Swordmaster, Gunslinger, Trickster, and Royalguard – back in action. Much like before, these styles can be switched between during battle for some creative mix and mash of moves, combos, and juggles. Dante will get the opportunity to wield a variety of Devil Arms, one of which, known as the Cavaliere, is literally a transformable demonic ironclad motorcycle!
Much like his uncle Dante, Nero wields a sword as well as a pair of guns and largely plays as he did in Devil May Cry 4, though there are some neat new additions that give his fighting style a good dose of variety. His new prosthetic arm, Devil Breaker, is a customizable piece of equipment that can be altered in order to gain access to a different slew of abilities. Some favor defensive A variety of these Devil Breaker limbs can be purchased from Nico’s workstation and added to your magazine. It’s possible to switch between the different Devil Breaker variants on-the-fly during battle, paving the way for some creative combos and juggles.
An odd design choice is the restricted nature of the dodge mechanic. It’s only possible to perform a dodge roll while you’re locked on to an enemy, making its use case fairly limited.
In terms of level design, the game hasn’t seen a whole lot of evolution. While the environments are larger, the levels are still fragmented into smaller chunks of individual sections for you to clear of demons before advancing to the next. It would’ve been nice to have seen the series take a Metroidvania inspired turn towards an interconnected Red Grave city. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but nevertheless disappointing to see that the game hasn’t progressed much in this area.
Devil May Cry 5 also features asynchronous coop, where another player or their ghost may join you in levels in which your character is accompanied by one of the other two protagonists. Although it’s possible to set your friends’ list as a preference in matchmaking, the lack of a proper invite system reduces it to somewhat of a half-hearted feature.
Each of the game’s levels culminates into an exciting and spectacular boss fight. These fights are loaded with audiovisual bombast, but they’re also a test of your skills and equally rewarding for those who invest time in learning the kinks of the combat system.