Devil May Cry proves that a classic fast-paced gameplay style can be successful and enjoyable.
Devil May Cry is an action game composed of many different elements proper of various concepts and times. The pace of the game is a correct interpretation of what 2D games once were, ever since the first Contra was released for the NES. The rest of the presentation shows a metal or gothic atmosphere strongly reminiscent of 1980s games. This awkward combination creates an engaging and entertaining title that adds both freshness and nostalgia to the new genre: hack and slash.
Devil May Cry introduces Dante as the main character, a half-human, and half demon freelance underground mercenary. He is the son of the legendary knight Sparda who disappeared thousands of years ago. Dante is invited by a beautiful woman named Trish to Mallet Island, a gateway to the devil world, to defeat the demon lord Mundus. The story is really simple and underdeveloped as it is based on clichés and stereotypes proper of this type of genre and these formulaic ideas give you more excuses to slay monsters and demons.
What’s most attractive about the game though is its gameplay, as it has a simple but addictive control scheme. All the movements that you can perform on screen seem intimidating and intricate at first, but are intuitive to carry out. To accomplish this you have a powerful sword and two guns that are named Ebony and Ivory. Eventually, you’ll find more weapons (like the shotgun and grenade gun) and abilities (like round trip and air hike) that’ll help you throughout your adventure. You can improve your weapons as the game includes some minor RPG elements. In addition to this, Devil May Cry has a grading system, so each time you finish a mission your performance is given a letter from D to S (Stylish being the top grade). The grade depends on many factors, but usually the quicker you are to defeat enemies the better the rank you acquire.
The fast pace nature of the game and the way it controls are well synchronized to be challenging enough. You can unlock new weapons and abilities by using red orbs that you acquire by defeating enemies and bosses, so while the game gets even more difficult you increase your strength. The gameplay has an increasing learning curve and the only problem is that the normal difficult is obscene. Fortunately, an Easy-automatic mode can be unlocked by finishing the first mission in the normal mode, making it more accessible for players with a different skill level. Whichever difficulty you choose you’ll be part of fun and intense battles fighting bizarre enemies like marionettes, demons, shadows, minions, phantoms and so on.
The game becomes engaging and intense quickly and it continues to build up from there until the end, which can be really disappointing as it’s not a challenge you’d expect at that precise point in the storyline. Another element that can be considered a flaw is the camera, and some challenges can be extra difficult when the camera gets in the way. The angles are reminiscent of Resident Evil (after all Devil May Cry began its development as Resident Evil 4) and the static cameras can be uncomfortable and unsuitable for an action packed game of this kind, as you may be attacking enemies that are there but are not taken by the camera. Every time you enter a place it awkwardly changes and you’ll manually have to orientate your position to move to the place you were originally going to. Of course the camera angles have the clear purpose of creating a cinematic effect, and are managed in a creative way. When you have to face many enemies the camera is far from the action and lets you see everything that happens from a more comfortable spot.
Visually, Devil May Cry is stunning. The environments are fresh and unique and are full of details. Some specific elements are reminiscent of some old Resident Evil games that only hardcore fans will recognize. Characters models are pretty distinctive and move fluidly according to the action they are performing. The animation of the characters blends in incredibly well with the rest of the environments and the gameplay. All the moves look realistic and convincing and never get repetitive as they are fluid and fast paced. The game’s music is always intense and strong as it’s mainly composed by guitar tracks. There are many sound effects included, and even though they are not impressive at least they are accurate.
Many years have passed since this title was released and maybe for some people it can be quite difficult to go back and play it again. Some aspects of the game haven’t aged so well, like the weird and uncomfortable camera angles, the simple storyline and its extremely high difficulty. But it has some details that are interesting, specially taking into account this was the first game in the series. The music is engaging, visually the game looks quite well and it has fluid animations.
Even though the game doesn’t last long at all if played in the easier difficulties it’s challenging enough to any player. Unfortunately, it’s unreasonable to play it more than once as there are no reasons to do so. The story can be shallow and meaningless but it the game’s presentation and the extremely attractive graphics are satisfying enough to play it at least one time.