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Devil May Cry 5 Demo First Impressions

A fun, stylish romp

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Lately, we’ve been learning there are few things in the world more terrifying than Capcom with money. Since DmC: Devil May Cry’s release in 2013 we thought we’d seen the last of crazy pizza woohoo Dante. Then last year at E3, we saw the rare phenomena whispered only in legend: the “deboot”. Capcom announced Devil May Cry 5, a new sequel to the mainline Devil May Cry series, with director Hideaki Itsuno at the helm. He came on stage and thusly proclaimed: Devil May Cry is back.

For those of you new to this, Devil May Cry is a series of action games that posits the simple question: what if killing demons was easy, but the challenge was looking cool while doing it? Slash and shoot your way through rooms full of demons earning style points, being graded on your repetition and technical skill in executing combos.

The Devil May Cry 5 demo starts you off with a cutscene that shows the first huge leap from the Devil May Cry 4: the art style. The game uses the new RE Engine, giving Nero and his genius enabler Nico some more realistic renderings of their faces. I have my own reservations about Nero’s new look, but that’s just my bias for long-haired anime emo-boys. The point is, it’s using the technology it has beautifully.

The demo itself is pretty straight forward. A few areas for you to beat up enemies, a simple puzzle and then a bossfight. There’s some light exploration, and you get to test out three of Nero’s new Devil Breakers (arm weapons with unique abilities). I appreciate the brevity of the demo because this isn’t a demo you’re meant to play once. You’re meant to go back over and over not for hidden content, but to perfect your stylish combos.

To that end, the level design is interesting: One room with a more passive enemy, one room with a more aggressive enemy, and one confined room with a mix of both. The boss himself also tests your mobility across a narrow space, a tight space and an open one. It’s a great test of your ability to improvise, and replaying it lets you mark out which areas you want to focus on for your combos.

The combat is great. Despite boasting a more realistic style, the actual attack animations themselves still feel good to use and their timing hasn’t been weighed down by simple things like “realism” and “the laws of physics”. Current gen hardware gives Nero’s moves some gorgeous looking effects that were previously just speed lines in DMC 4.

Compared to previous games, Nero’s got some great quality of life improvements. Firstly, his charge shot gives you three shots which fire like crackers. This is great for juggling enemies or just doing more damage. He now has an air taunt, which not only gives you style, but can be used to rev his sword to enhance your attacks.

Nero’s new Devil Breakers are prosthetic arms that are easily broken if you use them recklessly. They’re finite in use so you’re going to have to time them if you don’t want to be scrounging around for spares. The three in the demo are a mobility-based Gerbera which lets you push people away as well as air dash infinitely, the right arm of Michael Bay, Punch Line, which fires a rocket and can be ridden like a surfboard as well as Overture, which seems deceptively simple until you realize its shockwave attacks can be used as a parry.

My one complaint with the demo so far is an annoying yet somewhat niche one. The game uses lock-ons for some of Nero’s inputs, where the directional input is based on the enemy it is locked on to. As not every attack uses the lock-on, some combos will require you to alternate having it on and off. Rather than resuming your previous target, the demo will often times select a new target, totally separate from where you’re facing, messing up your combos. Unlike the previous Devil May Cry games, there seems to be no option to change how lock-on works.

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Final Thoughts:

As a demo, this one is pretty comprehensive in its features for Nero. You feel like you have enough to work with to be sold on the concept of playing as Nero, though you aren’t given his full kit and therefore have reason to play the rest of the game. The desire to get an S-rank will keep you replaying the mission, constantly trying out new combos to impress the ever-judgemental Style meter.

Devil May Cry 5 comes out for PS4, Xbox One and PC on March 7th, 2019. The demo is currently available for download on Xbox One and PS4.