Devil May Cry just might be gaming’s most inconsistent franchise, but Capcom managed to finally land another outright success with the most recent entry. Devil May Cry 5 has everything fans could have wanted from a follow-up to DMC3, without the shoddy level and enemy design of 4. DMC4’s greatest improvement was the ability to instantly transition between Dante’s four combat styles, a feature which finds a new home here. In a genre all about switching up your attacks, any additional option is fantastic. Devil May Cry 5 feels as smooth and expansive as they come.
DMC5 hits a special niche by having three diverse protagonists, forcing the player to adapt to their unique styles between missions. Nero returns from DMC4 with his fun abilities to quickly shorten the distance between himself and enemies. Dante has a few new tricks, but his familiarity is key to making this a true Devil May Cry experience.
The true highlight here is the third protagonist, V. In a genre all about getting up in enemy’s faces, Capcom came up with the ingenious idea of integrating a summoner. V comes with three familiars who do the fighting for him, though he is always forced to deliver the killing blow. Until that moment arises, you have the option of getting some distance and reading from a book of poetry by William Blake, an action which increases your devil trigger meter. The controls all work very similarly, with the attack buttons giving commands to the familiars. It’s a total innovation that never feels out of place, adding a distinct layer of strategy around your relative positioning.
Devil May Cry has always played with the idea of ‘cool,’ with both Dante and Nero precariously straddling the line between dorky and cool in their over-the-top gestures. V, meanwhile, feels like an effortless success. He’s what everyone who ever shopped at Hot Topic wishes they could be. His weird tendency to recite Blake in every possible situation perfectly contrasts with and sometimes builds upon the series’ tendency toward quick banter. Like Vergil back in DMC3, V acts as a perfect foil.
A cool new feature called the cameo system changes up a few missions. As the three characters’ stories intersect, you will sometimes see what the others are doing. Instead of this being a simple background event, these are other actual people playing another mission. This seamless multiplayer integration is a neat touch, and two missions end up being full-on cooperative.
Outside of these new features, Devil May Cry 5 is a continuation of everything we loved about the series. Excellent gameplay, terrific enemies and level design, and a somewhat cheesy story serving a much more effective central conflict – the only thing missing from DMC3 is the thoroughly excellent bosses, but few games have ever compared to that, and those DMC5 does have are still great. V is enough of a change of pace to make up the difference.
Devil May Cry has always served as the preeminent Character Action Game series, and the fifth entry’s excellence means DMC3 can stop carrying that load all by itself.