In Devil May Cry a supernatural guy is visited by a mysterious woman who asks him to follow her and stop an ancient demon related to his family’s past. So, he travels to a remote island and enters a haunted castle, full of monsters and well hidden secrets.
Dante is the right person for the job, as he can slash, shoot, jump and roll, doing everything with style. The control could have been better, for example, you need to press two buttons to dodge or shoot, there is no autofire or block and only one button is available for slashes. Nevertheless, the hero performs his basic combo easily and has some additional moves, for example you press R1+back+slash to perform an uppercut, launching a monster into mid-air to hit it again before it lands.
The hero looks cool and has fluid animation. The monsters are menacing and have various moves and special effects. For example, puppets walk as if hanging from strings, swing blades or shoot pistols and break into pieces when defeated. The bosses are hard to forget, such as the freaky hybrid of a spider with a scorpion that shoots laser beams from its mouth or stomps you with its rock body.
The game involves some exploring but you don’t have to memorize your environment. Puzzles usually involve finding a strange item and applying it at the right place, which adds variety to the action. When you complete a mission you are given a rating, however, there is no explanation why you got a “C” for example.
The game’s main attraction, besides the amazing atmosphere, is being able to transform into a demon for a brief period after delivering some successful attacks. Which demon you transform into depends on the weapon you are equipped with. While in “devil trigger mode”: 1) you recover health over time, 2) your normal attacks are more powerful, 3) your guns shoot different ammo, 4) you can perform special moves, provided you have bought them first. Demons available are Alastor, who attacks with electricity and can fly, and Ifrit, who is stronger and unleashes fire.
Your initial weapons are a pair of pistols and a pathetic sword. Thankfully, you soon discover the sword that can transform you into Alastor. Later, you get a grenade launcher and a pair of magical gauntlets that give you access to Ifrit’s abilities. Grinding is essential, as you must collect red orbs left by killed monsters to buy new moves or items necessary to survive, such as a star that makes you invincible for some time or one that increases the maximum duration of “devil trigger mode”.
The graphics are fantastic, with intricate level design, inspired use of color and light, high quality textures and an architectural/decoration style that would make count Dracula envious. Every location, even a staircase or a simple small room, is impressive.
DMC does not feature any great music pieces, however the use of sound is ingenious, making you think you are in danger even when nothing happens. The sound effects, e.g. the echoing screams of killed phantoms, also create an absorbing atmosphere.
The game is short but not easy to finish because you save only at the end of a stage, enemies deal big amounts of damage and bosses require some tactics to beat. It is a typically good console game, with suspense, moments of frustration and a sense of satisfaction when you leave a dangerous place barely alive.
I found DMC to be more entertaining than Onimusha, the other famous hack and slash franchise Capcom produced for PS2. It also reminded me of Death by Degrees, since they both feature cool heroes with acrobatic abilities, melee and ranged combat, exploration, puzzle solving and excellent graphics. Nevertheless, Devil May Cry has its own unique identity and has not aged after so many years.
Article by Dimitris