Checkpoint’s Devil May Cry 5 Review
Devil May Cry 5 – though I wasn’t a long-time fan of the series like many others who’ve played through Devil May Cry 1-4 (and even its weird cousin, DMC: Devil May Cry) – was a thoroughly fun and exciting game. For the longest time I’ve heard from friends who’ve been longtime fans talk about how in Devil May Cry you become the badass devil slayer, Dante, and go on devil/demon-slaying rampages in the most stylish and satisfying visual manner imaginable from swordplay and “gun-fu” (for the indoctrinated, this is “gun” combined with “kung-fu” and refers to fighting styles with guns a la The Matrix). And Devil May Cry 5 definitely delivered this sentiment yet so much more, because now you’re not kicking demon butt as only Dante but throughout the game you cycle through the battle-hardened Dante, the new devil slayer Nero, and the mysterious man V. And each have their own unique play styles and soundtracks that make the game so satisfying to play.
Story-wise, Devil May Cry 5 picks up immediately after Devil May Cry 4, which happens after Devil May Cry 2, which in turn took place after Devil May Cry 1, which canonically happened after Devil May Cry 3. The chronological order of the whole serie’s story is a bit of a mess due to the confusing game titles, but luckily, Devil May Cry 5 does feature a “Story So Far” option that explains the, well, “story so far” and it does a good job catching those such as myself up to the premise of why Devil May Cry 5 is taking place. But for those still confused about the story, this is the chronological order of events – SPOILERS FOLLOW:
- Pre-Devil May Cry 3: Sparda is a super strong demon warrior part of demon Mundus’s army. Sparda defects from Mundus’s team, marries Eve the human, and has two half-demon twin boys Dante and Vergil (Vergil being born slightly before and is the “older brother”). Sparda and Eve are killed by Mundus when Sparda seals Mundus away in the underworld.
- Devil May Cry 3: Dante and Vergil are grown up. They now fight demons separately with Dante wanting to fight demons to protect humanity, while Vergil wants to fight demons to grow stronger. They end up fighting for Sparda’s old sword which has a lot of power and Vergil loses. Vergil decides to seal himself in the underworld and hunt Mundus for killing his parents, while Dante remains on the surface world and begins a paranormal demon-hunting business called Devil May Cry with his partner Lady.
- Devil May Cry 1: Dante is hired by Trish to kill Mundus, so he travels to the underworld to kill Mundus with intention to both get revenge for his parents’ death and to complete the job. Along the way he comes across a transformed Vergil, now going by Nelo Angelo, who was corrupted by Mundus and is now a demon-army general. Dante kills Nelo Angelo, and goes on to kill Mundus.
- Devil May Cry 2: Dante continues his work at Devil May Cry with Trish and Lady. Nothing really impacting happens here.
- Devil May Cry 4: We are introduced to a group of demon-hunting priests who call themselves The Order and Nero is part of this group. Nero apparently dies but is then resurrected by the Order with a blue demon arm. Nero and Dante come into conflict with Dante pointing out to Nero that The Order is actually evil (they kidnapped and are holding Nero’s love interest, Kyrie ransom plus some other stuff) and so Nero and Dante team up to defeat and shut down The Order.
- Devil May Cry 5: Dante and gang (Trish, Lady, and Nero) are hired by mysterious man V to kill a new “demon-king” named Urizen who has sprouted a demonic world tree on the surface world and the tree is sucking up human blood. At some point before this, Nero gets his arm torn off by another mysterious man and the arm is fed to Urizen which made him powerful. As such, Dante, Nero (who now has a robot arm), and V become the three heroes who go on to try to stop Urizen’s reign of terror.
- Devil May Cry 5 MAJOR SPOILERS: V and Urizen are two halves of Vergil, who apparently survived his clash with Dante from Devil May Cry 1 but split himself between his human self, V, and his demon self, Urizen. Dante, Nero, and V beat Urizen, but at the last moment V and Urizen decide to merge and become Vergil once again. Nero’s torn-off demon arm is revealed to be Vergil’s original sword, and Vergil himself is revealed to be Nero’s father. Dante and Nero end up fighting the re-completed Vergil as Vergil wants to just prove himself superior, but Nero ends up proving himself the victor once he awakens his true demon form from his half-demon blood. After this final fight, Dante and Vergil travel to the underworld to destroy the demonic world tree’s roots, while Nero continues the Devil May Cry business on the surface.
Gameplay-wise, Devil May Cry 5 is a very refreshing experience that evokes a nostalgic feeling for the old arcade-like hack-and-slash games, with each level grading you from D to SSS on how “stylish” you were. And the game rewards you for being “stylish” by increasing the oh-so-fitting and satisyfing character soundtrack for when you do increase your “stylish” rank when you’re in a fight. Personally, one of the most satisfying things is hearing the lead female vocals for Devil Trigger singing “bang, bang, bang, pull my Devil Trigger” blasting on the speakers while you’re zipping around the stage using Nero’s robot arm and cutting up all the unfortunate demons on your screen.
As an arcade-like game, Devil May Cry 5 is a very refreshing experience that opposes the large amount of AAA open-world games we’ve been seeing as of recent. It does not offer multiple approaches to fights or character interactions, but the linear level progression and plot railroading brings about a sort of nostalgic movie-viewing experience with interactive elements reminiscent of the original Devil May Cry series and series such as God of War. And even then, the game does not make the player feel too railroaded as it still features some RPG elements – such as purchasing combos for sword and gunplay, and unlocking new weapons for each of the new characters that come with their own fighting styles and allowing the player to switch among these weapons during battle for a mix-and-match playstyle. The game definitely stays true to the feel of old-school action RPGs in that to be good at the game, players don’t need to grind levels or in-game currency to make their characters more powerful, but rather players just need to be good at the game itself and the rewarding feeling from knowing that when you hit SSS “stylish” rank during battle is all the more wonderful.
And true to the Devil May Cry series’ fame, the combat is anything but stale. With three characters to cycle through per story mission (though for some you’re allowed the option to choose among the three playable characters) the game keeps you at the edge of your seat as you combo your way through levels with a plethora of different combat styles for each of the three characters.
The first character you’re able to play is Nero, who wields a motor sword that is capable of being revved up and turning into “Ex-mode” which opens up a new set of combos. This is paired with his pistol which is able to deal ranged damage and has non-existent switch time between gun and sword. On top of this is his robot arm that is able to pull enemies towards him or himself towards heavier enemies, but is also able to be interchanged with different models that have their own unique powers from attack-boosting, to time-stopping, and even to rocket-arm-riding.
The second playable character a few story missions in is V, who due to his weaker build cannot fight demons on his own but does so through his three familiars: a bird named Griffon who does ranged damage (replaces Nero’s gun), a panther named Shadow who does melee damage (replaces Nero’s sword), and a golem named Nightmare who serves as an ultimate ability dealing huge amounts of AOE damage for a set amount of time. To do combat, V has to summon and command his familiars to fight for him and are commanded by each button press from the player. What makes V interesting is that as you’re not directly fighting demons, when you command your familiars to attack they will auto-target the demons while you’re running around the field trying to not get hit, as in line with his weak constitution, whenever V does get damaged he loses a significant amount of health. Moreover, you’re able to have all three familiars on the field at once and so battles become a game of balancing the commands that control your familiars to attack while moving a character that is not directly attached to those commands – a little jarring at first but an interesting playstyle that grows on you.
The third and last playable character is the original devil slayer himself, Dante, who wields his signature claymore sword, Rebellion, and is able to interchange it with demonic gauntlets and greaves, dual heavy pistols, and a shotgun. Later down the line he is granted a motorcycle that splits into two dual-wiedable chunks of metallic death, an elemental nunchaku that transforms into a staff and a three-sectional staff, two dual-wieldable rocket launchers, and a throwable hat reminiscent of Cappy from Super Mario Odyssey. On top of this, Dante is able to “style change” among four styles (“Trickster”, “Swordmaster”, “Gunslinger”, and “Royal Guard”) which grants him further boosts to his attack combos depending on the weapon he is using. And as all of his weapons and styles are interchangeable during combat and with the press of a button, his gameplay potential is essentially infinite.
As an overall game, Devil May Cry 5 was an incredibly fun and exhilarating experience that felt good and fresh throughout the whole ride. Despite having a narrative that was not thematically deep, mature, or thought-provoking as other titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2 or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the fun I gained from the action more than made up for it. Though I wasn’t a die-hard fan of the series initially, I’ve definitely gotten hooked by the high-intensity, fast-paced, and exuberantly-stylish action that is Devil May Cry .