I’m starting to realize that DmC: Devil May Cry is one of my favorite games ever. It might not seem like much at first glance — it’s not one of the epic RPGs I usually like, a la Mass Effect — but it’s so fun, I keep going back to it.
I played it when it was first released — but on PC. That was hard. Hack-n-slash games are just not meant for a mouse-and-keyboard set-up, no matter how much you may love that style most of the time. However, I toiled through it and ended up enjoying it so much, I replayed missions to improve my scores. I even started a new playthrough on the Son of Sparda difficulty that’s unlocked when you complete the game.
Now, the Definite Edition is out for Xbox One. I bought it for myself as a birthday present last month and dove right back in. Relearning the moves with the Xbox controller is a challenge, but I’m finding the platforming sections are particularly streamlined compared to how they felt on PC.
If you haven’t played it, DmC is like a re-imagining of Dante’s past — Dante being the demon-fighting protagonist of the Devil May Cry hack-n-slash series. I love the drama in these games, with Dante pitted against his brother Vergil. In DmC, Dante is shown as a teenager, the son of the demon Sparda an an angel, Eva. It’s a little like a prequel, although it’s also an alternative to how teenage Dante was presented in Devil May Cry 3.
Although a tad simplistic, the story is saved by how tight its telling is and the stellar voice acting. Even though I want to slap teenage Dante at times, I find myself laughing at many of his one-liners. The game tries to be brash and cool, and even if you see through that, it still succeeds because the gameplay makes you feel like a badass.
I love hack-n-slash combat. Dante wields several weapons in DmC: a sword called Rebellion, a pair of pistols (Ebony and Ivory), a scythe called Osiris, shurikens called Aquila, the Revenant shotgun, the heavy axe Arbiter, and the high-damage gauntlets called Eryx. Survival is about dodging incoming attacks as much as dealing damage — but that’s not how to play the game well.
I’m not close to being an expert yet, but here’s what I’m learning about mastering the combat in DmC.
Good Combos Use Multiple Weapons
To really play this game, you have to execute the most impressive combos you can imagine, as quickly as possible. Don’t give the enemy a chance to breathe. Switch weapons frequently to show off how in-control you are. Play them off of each other.
Every weapon has a ton of potential beyond what it does at first glance. For instance, I’m learning that not only can you slice through enemies with Osiris, you can also use it to grapple to an enemy, swipe a target off the ground to join you in the air, or shoot ice back at an enemy trying to freeze you.
The More Variety, the Better
You need to move fast in DmC, but that doesn’t mean button-mashing. Variety is everything if you want a good score.
That’s why it’s vital to time each button press to execute the exact move you want. For instance, pressing “Y” four times in a row is much different than pressing “Y,” waiting a beat, and then tapping “Y” two more times. Dante’s swing will hit differently, and sometimes that slight pause can actually make for a more interesting or powerful attack than just tapping as fast as possible. There are also moves that require careful timing after another move. For instance, time things just right, and Dante can kick an enemy away from him after an attack.
I really enjoy the time-based movements, even though it can be tricky to get them exactly right. That’s why practice is key here, and I always test out moves before purchasing them to make sure they seem feasible to me. If it’s too tricky for me to complete, I don’t bother with it.
Level Up Smart
The trouble with how fast-paced DmC is: It’s really, really tricky to remember all the moves at the beginning. The game throws them at you pretty fast in the first missions, and even for weapons you receive mid-game, it feels like a lot. My brain is a little overloaded with all of the potential combos I can do.
That’s why, when it’s time to level up, I tend to improve the few moves already in my arsenal to make them more damaging, rather than always learning new maneuvers. Sure, variety is important, but only if you can keep up with the learning curve enough to actually use them.
Patience is Key
Even so, I don’t expect to be great right now. DmC requires patience. Already I notice that I’m getting more SSS ranks (that’s the highest score the game gives you for cool combos and not taking damage), but they’re hardly consistent. I’m learning the moves, but I haven’t mastered them. That’s okay. It takes time to get the timing right, and as long as I’m improving my technique, I’m happy.
The first time I played the game, I found it really challenging — especially around the halfway point, when I turned down the difficulty to the easiest setting. However, by the time I got to the end of the game, I felt totally in control of what I was doing. I immediately dove back into the game not on the “normal” or “hard” settings, but on the one that was harder than hard: the unlocked Son of Sparda difficulty. And I was fine with it. I enjoyed the challenge and didn’t feel overwhelmed.
It’s also important to be patient in battle, because staying away from enemy blows is important. If Dante doesn’t dodge, Dante doesn’t live long. Even though the game rewards players for low times on missions, my opinion is that it’s better to keep your points for staying alive than risk death (and the subtraction of points that goes into that) just to hurry.
Don’t Be Afraid of Higher Difficulties
Now, I’m playing some missions on Demon Hunter (normal) and others on Nephilim (hard). I actually prefer the latter, because enemies don’t die as quickly, and that gives me an opportunity to string more moves together and increase my combo score. I find that the game isn’t too brutal if you know when to dodge, and It takes at least two or three blows from even the toughest enemies to die.
Be prepared to fail on occasion. I keep some Vital Stars and Gold Orbs handy for that, and then sit back to enjoy the slick gameplay. DmC is one of the most rewarding games I’ve played, because it truly does feel awesome to master combos and dominate the battlefield.