I was one of the lucky few to get a preview night ticket for San Diego Comic-Con this year. I got to the convention center a little bit after preview night started with one mission: buy a Cave Johnson edition Portal 2 gun replica from the NECA booth. So, I get on the floor, make my way through the oddly dense preview night crowd to the NECA booth, and… they had sold out of them immediately before I had a chance to get there. I was really bummed. So with that sting still hanging over my head, I went off looking for other things to do. I eventually ended up at the Capcom booth to play the demo for DmC, the new Devil May Cry reboot/prequel. After standing in line for a ridiculously long time because Capcom for some reason had only set up four stations for a 20-minute demo, I was finally able to give it a shot.
Before I jump right into it, here is a playthrough of the demo level from the people over at Capcom Unity. Go ahead and give it a watch if you’re interested in seeing the demo level in more detail than I could get into in an article.
With that out of the way, here are my first impressions from my hands-on time with the game.
The demo takes place in what looks like the first level of the game. You play as a younger version of Dante from the earlier Devil May Cry games. The demo starts on a street in the middle of a city and begins with a brief tutorial on the basic functions like jumping and double jumping and your basic attacks.
Overall, the combat feels similar to older Devil May Cry games in a lot of ways but different in some ways as well. The combo and scoring systems from the previous games are still there – your combo rating and score for defeating enemies increase by varying your attacks and avoiding damage. Like in previous Devil May Cry games, you have basic sword and gun attacks and a jump cancelable launcher move that leads into aerial attacks. The special moves from earlier Devil May Cry games were not in the demo, although it’s not clear whether they will be in the full game since you had to acquire special moves with upgrade points in the earlier games. Instead, Dante has an angel stance and a devil stance that change the properties of his attacks. In general, the angel stance makes Dante’s sword change into a whip-like weapon that quickly attacks multiple enemies in an area in front of him, while the devil stance changes Dante’s sword into a scythe that is very slow but powerful and capable of breaking enemy armor.
The biggest system change from previous games seems to be the addition of a grapple system. While in the angel or devil stance, Dante can perform grappling moves by pressing the shoot button. The devil stance causes Dante to perform a “demon pull” that can pull enemies or objects closer. The angel stance causes Dante to perform an “angel lift” that zips Dante to a targeted enemy or object, which is somewhat similar to Devil May Cry 4 but doable anywhere. In addition to grappling, the angel stance also allows Dante to glide forward instead of double jumping. Dante’s Devil Trigger has also changed somewhat dramatically, and in my opinion may take some getting used to. Instead of functioning as it did in earlier games, Devil Trigger gives Dante his old white-haired, red-coated appearance while the screen turns mostly black and white and makes Dante fly around punching people. The closest comparison I can think of is that it’s like the power-up mode you enter into in Painkiller when you get 66 souls. It’s just… very odd, and not that intuitive.
The visuals in DmC look more “next-gen” than any other game in the series that has come before it. The city itself is trying to stop Dante in the demo level, and there are a few really cool sequences where whole city blocks smash and contort themselves together in front of Dante Inception-style. There is also a sequence at the end of the level where Dante must jump and grapple his way from one side of a church to the other while the walls and floor of the church move apart around him. Despite this, DmC just doesn’t seem to have the charm of the earlier games. The heavy metal soundtrack that has been a trademark of the series has been replaced by a more theatric-sounding score that just isn’t the same. There have also been scattered complaints of the animation not being as smooth as earlier games, although this could just be because the demo hasn’t been optimized yet. The changes to the combat system, and Devil Trigger in particular, are also somewhat of a mixed bag of improvements and steps backward.
In general, DmC seems like it will still be a fun game, although it’s still up in the air whether it will be able to live up to its predecessors. DmC has been the target of a lot of fan rage ever since it was announced, and it will be interesting to see whether DmC can overcome the rage and win over the fans of the series.