Last week I spotted a deal for Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition on PS5 for the princely sum of £25. Sold. After I picked it up I realized I’d better get a move on in my series playthrough before it arrives.
With the first two games already under my belt I fired up the Devil May Cry HD Collection with no small amount of anticipation. I last played Devil May Cry 3 16 years ago on PS2 and have fond yet hazy memories of it. Back then I was a little nervous about harder games and this one had a reputation for being particularly unforgiving.
I eventually strolled out of the demonic tower of Temen-ni-gru a more patient, attentive and better player. In 2005 Devil May Cry 3 was tough but scrupulously fair. Screwing up meant a gigantic dent in your health bar and (in the original release) dying probably meant you were restarting the entire level. Countering that is that Dante is a Swiss Army Knife of violence and has the potential to clown on even the most gruesome boss (and also on a clown, now that I come to think of it).
This game (as well as Ninja Gaiden on Xbox) encouraged me push myself to master systems, consider what each inputs does and not to get greedy when attacking bosses. It’s a skill set that came in incredibly useful for From Software’s games and especially Sekiro.
I’m now older, wiser, more experienced than I was back in 2005. Surely notorious early roadblock boss Cerberus will be a piece of cake given my virtuoso skills?
Nope, that fucking three headed bastard creamed me.
A couple more tries later and I regained my Devil May Cry rhythm. Even with the years that have passed – and the many character action titles that surpassed this – this is still incredibly satisfying to play. Dante is fast, responsive and with a move-list a mile deep. Being able to instantly switch between two weapons and two firearms gives you a practically limitless array of combos – and the various styles pile on yet more variables.
My bread n’ butter is still Trickster, giving you a lot of movement options and letting you zip away from trouble fast. But Swordmaster and Gunslinger are both insanely fun and I love the way they unlock extra moves for apparently limited weapons. I did give Royal Guard a try, but try as I might I just can’t get the hang of it…
Chalk me up as a fan of this game’s ludicrous aesthetic too. Anyone who doesn’t see the excellence of a boss battle against a slutty vampire who transforms into an electric guitar weapon you proceed to rock out on isn’t living life to the fullest. Sure, the characters are prime mid-2000s edgy and the plot is barely present, but Dante isn’t taking things seriously and neither should the player.
For me, everything comes into sharp focus during the game’s boss battles with Dante’s moody twin brother Vergil: an enemy who’s roughly as powerful as you. As with the best boss battles it feels more like a dance than a fight, gradually learning every tell, counter-move and vulnerable phase and ruthlessly pushing towards victory.
The only genuinely awful thing is the music, in particular the battle theme which is a godawful hybrid of nu-metal and drum n’ bass. I’m usually too focused on carving up demonic hordes to pay attention to it, but yeesh it sucks.
Sadly I don’t have the time to get deeper into higher difficulties or the Bloody Palace mode, but I’m sorely tempted. Maybe I’ll pick up that recent enhanced Switch port so I can get into some Devil May Cry 3 on the movie.
DMC5: Special Edition is out on December 1st, so I’ll squeeze in the fourth game next month and that’ll mean I’ll have played the whole series. Yup, Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry 2, Devil May Cry 3, Devil May Cry 4… and Devil May Cry 5. The complete set!