DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition Preview

Blood brothers.

Typically, slow console launch lineups have historically disappointed by relying too heavily on upgrades to older games, but I was still happy to hear that Capcom would revisit DmC: Devil May Cry for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Perhaps my enthusiasm was driven more by fond memories and the almost overriding awareness that fans and consumers at large railed against the publisher for daring to alter the lead character’s look whatsoever. “How dare you!” Capcom haters cried. “We dare!” Capcom said.

I’m glad they did. Linear action games don’t usually approach the parabolic rate at which the player learns new moves, combos, and strategies as smoothly as DmC did, when it was originally released on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Controlling Dante, overcoming platform sequences, and generally learning how to kick as much frickin’ ass as possible felt great, and Ninja Theory did an admirable job redressing the character in as much attitude as possible. DmC Devil May Cry Definitive Edition adds all of the downloadable content, several new gameplay-changing modes, and loads of options for high-score freaks.

During a preview appointment in San Francisco, I jumped into an early stage and immediately got down to squashing a few baddies with Dante’s sword, ax, and scythe. As was the case in the original release, players will execute standard attacks, wallop with heavy damage by holding either angel or devil modifiers (on PS4), and lift, juggle, and blast away with circle and square. Holding the triggers and hitting square will also allow players to close the gap by dashing towards or pulling an enemy down. While I haven’t played the game in over a year, the PlayStation 4’s smooth presentation made it easy to get back into the rhythm.

Definitive Edition’s biggest assets prove to be crisp, smooth graphics thanks to full 1080p resolution and sixty frames-per-second gameplay with pre-rendered cutscenes bridging the gaps. New difficulty levels push the original trio of easy, normal, and hard to a new diminutive sidebar, though you’ll have to choose how to start the adventure over again given new modes too.

Turbo Mode speeds gameplay by 20%, while Must Style dictates that enemies do not take damage unless you’ve already hit S-rank on your combo count. With such a wide variety of enemies, it’d be difficult to accomplish a complete playthrough using some of these modifiers from the start. Regardless, Capcom have added classic skins and other aesthetic changes to keep things fresh as you slog through the adventure.

Before the demo was finished, I got to try my hand at Vergil’s Bloody Palace which challenges the player with increasingly difficult waves of enemies under a variety of conditions. Capcom said that gamers asked for a challenge mode like this in order to turn practice sessions into high-score beat-'em-up challenges. My first attempt resulted in a pathetic round four defeat, but turning the timer off and readjusting to Vergil’s ghostly blades made a big difference. Rather than continue without a barrier for how long it’d take to clear a fight, I quit out and flipped the clock back on.

This time, I dedicatedly focused on singular enemies while also trying to attack groups. Shield-toting enemies left little option other than to wallop with heavy attacks and in my panicked state I took damage. Playing the spacing game and pulling these enemies towards me got them to drop the shields but chainsaw-wielding baddies quickly rushed Vergil instead. I did my best and managed to hit level 10 with only seconds to spare.

DmC: Devil May Cry got far more vitriol than it deserved, particularly as Dante’s attitude meshed well with the environment and the game’s overall structure. Taking down bosses and fighting all the way through to Mundus’s dark heart proved intensely satisfying, even for a casual action gamer like myself. I don’t protest to have any experience with the franchise’s history, but you can’t argue that linear action gaming needed the shot in the arm. Priced at $39.99 and available both digitally and at retail means new-generation console owners have something to look forward to in March. I’ll be there but perhaps without Dante’s stylish airs or bad attitude.