After not the most successful restart of the series in 2013, the fifth part of Devil May Cry was released on March 8, 2019. In a way, Capcom did something with its lineup that Silent Hill fans never expected from Konami. Having tried to become part of the foreign mainstream, Capcom nevertheless decided to return the series to its former charm and present Dante to the players in its previous form.
Devil May Cry (2001)
The story of Devil May Cry begins at a time when Resident Evil 2 director Hideki Kamiya was tasked by Capcom with bringing something new to the players in the fourth part of the horror lineup.
Together with screenwriter Noboru Sugimura Kamiya came up with a story, the main character of which was a character named Tony, who received superpowers as a result of biotechnology upgrades of his body. When creating the setting, the developers studied the sights of Europe, which helped shape the dark gothic style of Devil May Cry.
In the fourth Resident Evil, the developers wanted to add action and make the camera freer, thereby moving away from the proprietary monotonous passage of the first Resident Evil titles. All this didn’t sit well with series author Shinji Mikami, who insisted that Resident Evil 4 shouldn’t stray too far from its fundamental formula. However, instead of starting over, Kamiya convinced Capcom that his ideas had the potential to develop into a full-fledged standalone title.
Soon, Tony turned into the half-demon Dante, named after the Italian poet. According to the story, the father of the protagonist, the demonic knight Sparda, saved people from Prince Mundus a long time ago, and later married a woman, Eve, Dante’s mother.
The player is introduced to the lead character while already working as a demon hunter for his Devil May Cry agency. At some point, a certain Trish appears on his doorstep and warns him of Mundus’ desire to return. Dante decides to stop him, at the same time avenging the death of his brother and mother.
In terms of gameplay, DMC proved to be the exact opposite of Resident Evil, offering players high-speed shootouts and battles filled with acrobatics. By the way, the combat mechanics were partially inspired by a bug that arose during the development of Onimusha Warlods, which was released in the same year as the first DMC. The bug allowed you to keep enemies in the air, continuously striking. This mechanic eventually became a recognizable feature of both the Devil May Cry series and other representatives of the genre.
Another important combat mechanic was the “Devil Trigger” mode, which, depending on the hero’s weapon, temporarily increased certain characteristics of the character. The DMC also went out of their way to force the player to use their entire arsenal of moves, punishing repetitive moves with low scores at the end of levels.
In Devil May Cry, there was a place for puzzles and platforming elements, and passing statistics added replay value and encouraged players to compete with each other. Kamiya said that although the developers deliberately made Devil May Cry quite difficult, they aimed first of all at a casual audience.
In 2001, Devil May Cry was released on PS2 and was immediately acclaimed by players and critics alike thanks to its fresh gameplay, user-friendly camera, and seasoned visual style. The excellent reviews resulted in multi-million dollar sales and Capcom’s strong decision for a sequel.
Devil May Cry 2 (2003)
When it came time to develop the second part, Capcom sent the Kamiya team to deal with Viewtiful Joe, and entrusted the second DMC to less experienced employees. Moreover, the game designer did not know until the last moment that the development of the sequel was underway at all.
Four months before the release, Capcom’s management decided to check the quality of the future title and was surprised to find that it was completely unprepared for release. In order not to release an extremely crude product on an urgent basis, the development was handed over to game designer Hideki Itsuno, at that time known in the industry for his Power Stone fighting game series.
Unfortunately, despite Itsuno’s pre-release changes, the game was never saved from the title of “Most Disappointing Game of 2003”. Critics scolded DMC 2 for the giant and boring maps, the unnecessary second playable character Lucia, and also for the fact that Dante was deprived not only of charisma, but also of lines in principle.
DMC 2 turned out to be nine times larger than its predecessor, and at the same time it was inferior in level detail. The situation was saved a little by the fact that the developers left the gameplay practically unchanged, apart from adding some acrobatic elements and the ability to change weapons on the go.
As for the plot, this time the main antagonist of the game is the businessman Arius, whom Dante, together with Lucia, must prevent from summoning the demon Argosax and conquering the world.
However, all of the above did not affect sales, and one and a half million copies sold in a month convinced Capcom to try to fix the situation in the third part.
Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening (2005)
Capcom approached the development of DMC 3 with all the attention, worked on the bugs, and decided to focus on what brought the success of the first part, namely the hurricane of innovative gameplay, vibrant visual style and memorable characters.
It was decided to present the third part as a prequel to the entire series. Dante’s agency is attacked by Arkham, Virgil’s henchman, the protagonist’s brother. Virgil intends to connect the human and demonic worlds, having received half of the amulet, which is in Dante’s possession. Arkham’s daughter Mary, who wants to avenge her father for her mother’s death, helps him resist.
There are six different fighting styles that the player chooses at the beginning of levels or at checkpoints. As the game progresses, Dante faces more different opponents than in the second part, and the battles themselves have added dynamics.
DMC 3 is considered the most difficult game in the series, where learning various combos was necessary primarily for the sake of progress, and not for the sake of spectacular battles. A separate test was represented by interesting well-designed bosses, each of which left a weapon behind. Also, the developers have increased the number of puzzles and made the levels more confusing.
DMC 3 was the first game in the line to be ported to PC and the last to be released on PS2. That being said, the port received much more subdued reviews compared to the console version, mainly due to control issues.
Devil May Cry 4 (2008)
The fourth part was again assigned to Itsuno, and the game designer was determined to surprise the players with something. In DMC 4, you spend most of the game as a new character named Nero. With this move, Itsuno hoped to diversify the gameplay and attract a fresh audience.
A young knight of the Order of the Sword witnesses how Dante kills its leader and other knights, who turned out to be demons. Nero decides to go in search of Dante, and later joins him to stop the evil plans of the scientist Agnus.
The main difference between Nero and Dante was his right hand Devil Bringer, which has demonic power. With its help, Nero could carry out especially powerful attacks, as well as attract enemies to him.
When it came time to play as Dante, the player found that the gameplay was taken from DMC 3. However, now between styles could be switched with the press of a button.
After the announcement of DMC 4, many believed that the innovations demonstrated would alienate the public, but it turned out just the opposite. Critics applauded the arrival of the charismatic Nero in the game’s universe, admired the impressive visuals, and applauded the title’s level of difficulty.
The fourth DMC proved to be the best-selling part of the line, selling two million copies about a year after release.
By the way, Hideki Kamiya was so impressed with DMC 4 that he studied it inside and out while creating his other slasher film Bayonetta, the first part of which was released in 2009.
DmC: Devil May Cry (2013)
Despite the success of the last title, Capcom was determined to take the series to the ranks of the top AAA titles, and to do this, develop the next part, focusing primarily on Western audiences. Capcom commissioned the English studio Ninja Theory to do a kind of remake, impressed by their slasher Heavenly Sword.
While fans and critics were pleased with the gameplay ideas of Ninja Theory, the new look of the protagonist Dante was not to everyone’s taste. Given Capcom’s desire to appeal to a younger audience, Ninja Theory presented Dante as a more casual young man, reflecting modern Western culture.
The game takes place in an alternate reality where Dante has to meet his twin Virgil and learn that he, being the son of a demon and an angel, is one of the only ones who can handle Prince Mundus.
The entire combat system of this part revolves around the change of modes of an angel and a demon, differing in the weapons used and techniques. The Devil Trigger mode has not gone away either, this time slowing down time and throwing enemies into the air. Combining modes, the player could build various combos, the implementation of which was simplified so as not to frighten off the newly minted audience. Separately, it is worth noting the attractive visual style and dynamic setting with “live” levels.
Despite the general hatred for the unaccustomed Dante, the gaming community agreed that Ninja Theory’s DMC felt, for the most part, like a native installment of the series. However, this fact did not help Capcom sell the game in the necessary circulation, although its re-release on PS4 and Xbox One in 2015 helped a little to correct the situation.
Devil May Cry 5 (2019)
Capcom decided to go back to the successful formula and once again outsourced development to Itsuno, while the game itself was built using the Resident Evil 7 RE Engine. In DMC 5, the developers have put together everything that they have accumulated over two decades.
Five years have passed since the events of the fourth part. Nero got his own branch of the Devil May Cry agency, as well as an assistant engineer named Niko. After an unknown demon rips the Devil Bringer from Nero, Niko constructs dozens of replacement prosthetics for him. After going in search of the kidnapper, Nero crosses paths with Dante, Mary and Trish, who are looking for the same demon on behalf of another client named V, who later becomes a playable character.
But if certain plot repetitions may not cause delight among some players, then in terms of gameplay, the developers have given their best. The developers have equipped each character with epic weapons that allow you to further diversify the gameplay and take battles to another level. What are only the aforementioned Devil Breakers prostheses, which seriously replenish Nero’s arsenal of attacks, or Dante’s Cavaliere motorcycle, which is divided into two saws. As for V, he himself prefers not to participate in battles, but deals with enemies with the help of improvised demons: an eagle, a panther and a huge golem.
As it turned out after the release, Capcom’s experiment with returning the series to its former tracks was quite successful. DMC 5 was received much warmer than the restart, and initial sales please the publisher. It’s hard to imagine what else developers can offer players in a potential sixth part, but it will take a very long time to wait.