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Devil May Cry: A Wide Assortment Of Sad Denizens Of Hell

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Anyway, I replayed DMC4 since we're talking about it.

This is ultimately still the game that underwhelmed me in 2008, but time has been kinder to it in the sense that when removed of that original release context, it need not be so beholden to serving all the various masters that it seemingly had to, at the time. In my view, it needed to 1) prove that 3's functional comeback for the series wasn't a fluke 2) drive forward the series's ongoing narrative, after the irrelevant 2 and prequel 3 3) figure out this whole "HD" thing. Fulfilling all those obligations at once seems a tall order, and especially when taken together some things begin to chafe, so with 4 there's a sense that it's both a risk-taking and safety-in-formula kind of continuation for the series's voice.

My personal antipathy toward it at the time (and somewhat still now) was largely rooted in the realities of console development at the time and what the fidelity jump entailed; we had larger screen resolutions now but the scale of asset development and familiarization with the related tools would take years upon years for most people to get a better handle on--it's why the mid-to-late 2000s are the most aesthetically dismal period in the wider medium that I can recall, and DMC4 carries many of those scars. Overly spacious environments for how barren and sparsely populated they are, a washed-out and monotonous colour palette, an entire forest made out of aggressive bloom lighting. It does not help that 4 invites a direct comparison, as it looks to DMC1 most of all for guidance in a plethora of ways, including its environmental narrative. The castle --> forest --> colosseum and back again game loop is more or less present here, just in less captivating form or without the sense of interconnected sprawl that leaves a game world mentally persistent even after it exits one's immediate field of vision.

DMC1 looms over much of the game and it oscillates wildly whether the influence is for good or ill. More abstract parallels are welcome, such as Nero's playstyle evoking the non-weapon-switching focus of the original, but in many instances the cribs are strangely literal. A large starring role of the regular enemy cast is given to DMC1 transplants like Frosts and Assaults (Blades by another name, really) or opponents that very directly evoke their earlier counterparts, as the Scarecrows are to Marionettes and Mephistos and Fausts are to Sin and Death Scissors, whether in appearance, behaviour or related tactics. Almost all bosses are fought more than once, even outside of the scope of the customary Capcom boss rush, though in contrast to DMC1, it's usually you as the player character who are changed and not they from encounter to encounter. Regardless, all of it together and on a consistent basis can leave the game feeling like it's searching for an identity it doesn't really have, and leaves one wondering whether the reliance on previous concepts was defaulted to in the wake of the generational jump that complicated all other development matters. DMC was functionally dormant for so long of its existence that it can sometimes escape recollection that this fourth part was only a six years and change after the first game, leaving the backwards-facing nostalgic bent of it a little premature in how it comes off.

Dante's playable role is something I've come to appreciate more over time, or at least shed some of my hangups about his integration. He still feels a visitor in someone else's game, with the nuances and overall rhythms of battle tailored for Nero's specifics, but depending on personal aptitude with his vast kit, he really can just override much of the projected challenges and scenarios presented by those dynamics. I'll never maximize his potential because I don't possess the mental computing nor finger dexterity necessary for it, but even sloppy, haphazard play can result in him projecting the same showboat power he exudes in the narrative and as a boss. What I am not so fond of is his arsenal, which taken together as it always is during play turns dizzyingly diverse, but in its individual components rates more than a little uninspired. Four sixths of it consist of familiar staples, with particularly the gauntlet and greaves combo in Gilgamesh being a functional repeat of 3's Beowulf with a few DMC1 Ifrit niceties mixed in. Lucifer and Pandora are both conceptually inventive, but practically fussy and very pro-oriented in how much you can show off with them and how awkward they are outside of mastery, which leaves the overall dynamic between the arsenal and Dante himself embodying much of the disconnect in the various things that make up what DMC4 is: either curiously stagnant, or pushing it toward an extreme that leaves a middle ground largely exempt from the proceedings.

It almost escapes mention for how outrageously blatant it is about it and thus ostensibly needless to particularly detail, but... you also can't play this game and come out of it with a sensation that it regards women as anything but sex objects. On a "friendly to women" scale in what it's about and how it expresses itself, DMC has for all its existence been skimming the bottom, but 4 represented a kind of turning point even by that excessively low standard that it has not reoriented since. It's not the kind of subtly insidious sexism that poisons a narrative when you think about it for a while or colours irreparably your understanding of a work--it's the kind of shamelessly unexamined, heaving-breasts parading and posing of women, whether in the throes of orgasmic combat, embroiled in sexy peril, or just bending over for the camera, all sculpted and dressed up for that consumptive end. It's completely devoid of subtext in its aims and so can be read directly for what it is, and consequently grant oneself with the understanding that the game could be like this because none of it was ever questioned in how normalized this type of content was and is, especially from Capcom's internal culture during this period. You can't particularly defeat sexism and misogyny, with them just adapting to the different standards and conventions of an era--the only way in which DMC4 might appear exceptional in this regard is that it can cause whiplash in reacquainting with a recent past's permissible and expected norms that may have by now morphed into something else.

Do I like DMC4? Maybe, though it would be a reserved affection. Its mechanical retexturings of series tenets rate a little paradoxical in personal estimation, while its navigation of its place in that lineage tracks similarly soul-searching. It is reliable and floundering all at the same time, confident in its ability to entertain while stalling for time. It may be uncomfortable, but an equilibrium all the same.
 
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spines

cyber true color
(she/her, or something)
I'm curious what this means. Reading more responses to the game after finishing it, I noticed that DMC4 (like Bayonetta 1!) has a pretty vocal contingent of people who argue that it has the most technically interesting combat in the series and therefore is the best. Is that what this is referencing? Because I did notice that there are definitely people who argue that it's the most rewarding to put time into at least in terms of what you get back for systems mastery, no matter what they think about the level design.
yes. i think even compared to the other dmc games, the platinum games, and stuff that's a bit further from that lineage but still in the "character action" genre or whatever you like to call it (and even some stuff outside the genre but with elements of that, like more technical action rpgs), dmc4 is a game that i think is relatively unpopular among people who are likely to play through a game like this maybe once or twice and much better liked by people who played it for a long time. i can't think of a similar game where i feel a disparity like that so strongly, although certainly i don't think everyone who didn't like it is someone who approaches games like this relatively casually either; dante is a really crufty and complicated character (who i still felt extremely mediocre with after playing the PS4 version for like 70 hours). and as Peklo noted a lot of his stuff is pretty similar to DMC3, with the most different stuff also being the hardest to use by far.

personally i enjoy that kind of aspirational feeling, like there's always more i could do better, but i get why it clashes with people whose interest is more in mastering a game or just playing through it. but i also didn't think of it really in terms of "getting better at the game", nor "completing everything." it was just that the wide variety of playable characters in SE and the difficulties and grading made it easy to keep playing even as i didn't ever feel like i was just going through a checklist, because i felt like i could always keep finding something interesting to try and do. then i eventually finally got my fill and haven't really touched the game since (although this thread and conversation is certainly making me think about it)
 
personally i enjoy that kind of aspirational feeling, like there's always more i could do better

There's a huge amount of overlap with fighting games

These ideas came back to me as I'm continuing to enjoy my Lady/Trish playthrough. I don't really have a full handle on either character, but that's not a problem for me. I think I do enjoy these games in a way very similarly to how I used to enjoy fighting games, especially during the era when when it felt like there was some attention to a single player campaign. I'm thinking of maybe Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Soul Edge (Blade? I forget) on PS1, two games I played a lot with friends but also a lot on my own. I'm not interested in devoting dozens of hours to mastering DMC games or honestly ever even trying Dante Must Die mode, but I think it's fun to take a character and learn it just well enough to get through the campaign on Normal or the equivalent. I can tell there's a ton of potential I'm not tapping into, and that's interesting to me but not a source of irritation. For better or for worse I'm a Character Action dilettante, and I think DMC4 (and especially the SE, with the additions of Lady, Trish, and Vergil) has a lot of appeal to character action dilettantes.

(I do still wish Lady got levels designed around her, though!)
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I can enjoy and interact with these games in a bunch of different ways but any time they've done a bonus character whose mechanical existence is just that as a contextless sequence of fightboxes as a guest in someone else's environmental narrative, my interest completely evaporates. That's probably part of why 4SE's additions didn't really affect my read on the game at all--Vergil's been a bonus character three (four if we're being particular) games in a row and I can never enjoy the context in which he's presented as playable. A similar phenomenon is traceable in my preferences with search action equivalent bonus modes--they need some kind of structural or narrative hook to capture my interest should they repurpose the majority of the existing game for their own ends.
 
I get why the replays as other characters might not be appealing. I basically approach it as containing two separate games. One game is a crafted narrative experience with an element of exploration, and another is basically a beat 'em up or or a single player fighting game. For the new characters, they get a little intro and closing movie and the playable content in the middle is a kind of abstraction of them overcoming whatever obstacles they're facing, given that it's not going to be in the cards budget-wise for Cacom to allocate resources for them make a whole new game around each character. In DMC4SE especially, I appreciate the care put into making Lady, Trish, and Vergil all feel characterful and distinct from Nero and Dante, and they've also clearly put a good amount of work into the campaign to make Nero's gimmicks still feel natural enough with Lady or Vergil's movesets. It's also pretty brief to replay one of these games once you know the basic beats of each mission, so by the time I feel like I've got a grip on a character's moveset it's over. It's a fun bonus for me at least, even if (again) I'd prefer the characters to get their own levels.
 
Trite observation: DmC has so much dialogue, and it's all so bad. This is a very well trodden subject so I'll leave it at that unless I feel like I have something specific worth saying after finishing it.

In terms of gameplay, the angel/demon duality theming works I think with when you're using left and right shoulder triggers to activate angel and demon associated weapons in a way that's very fluid and natural and combo-able due to the ease of weapon swapping, but using this for other abilities feels overwrought. I don't think I'm going to be convinced this game is improved by having two separate color coded grappling hooks as a core traversal element. I understand that they technically have different functions, but it all comes down to "use the blue grappling hook for glowing blue points, use the red grappling hook for glowing red points," and that distinction isn't interesting in the way that an AoE focused but weaker scythe vs a slow, hard hitting axe, each with their own fully fleshed out move set, is interesting.

I'm also realizing this that is probably the first game I've ever played that implements a lot of the codified modern design sensibilities and best practices, so I'm getting a lot of really dumb firsts that I've previously only heard about through other people complaining and sharing clips on social media. For example, when Dante is in a narrow hallway with a big glowing EXIT sign, and he says, "An exit, huh?" to let me know that I should walk toward the exit. I don't like this stuff.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
They really overshot it with the grappling in an attempt to keep residual elements of Nero they thought were interesting or worthwhile. Devil Bringer was used as occasional navigational punctuation or puzzle-solving flavour in 4, whereas most of DmC makes you engage with its analogue as a constant mobility tool without any kind of manual element in trajectory, momentum or execution that would justify that kind of emphasis, something which another Capcom outsourcing of the era in Bionic Commando actually pulled off well. The drive to have it be as frequent a level design element as it is also has the trickle-down effect of largely shaping what kind of environments there can even be: a lot of the game takes place on sequences of floating platforms visually themed according to whatever crumbling ruin iteration is being explored at a given moment, both emphasizing the platforming that's not very interesting or diverse, and leaving the game bereft of any kind of architectural or locational identity aside from "abstract" (not really) assemblages of the current round of concept art source material. The kind of mix of the occult and supernatural invading the mundane--or ornately grand--world bent the series at its best can pull off is nowhere to be seen in it since at base level it's going for much more detached, impossible spaces to exist in, so the contrast has no room to manifest.

It frustrates me because many highlight the game's art direction and environments as one of its strongest areas even if the rest is always in contention... when it's one of the worst aspects of the production to me for following design tenets I don't find well-considered or executed at all, and relies on really tiresome and derivative aesthetic clichés to attempt a stylistic reinvention, like its intensely aggressive orange/teal and white/red colour palettes done in service of ostensible contrast. It's just a conceptually and thematically drab game even if you're going purely on aesthetics.
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
DMCV Special Edition is 20 smackers on the PSN Store, so I bought it. Is playing the first or third one really important to know what’s going on? I played 4, so I‘m familiar with Nero, at least.

Is there a way to get a good version of 1 and 3 separately on consoles?
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
DMC5 is a heavily reflective and wistfully nostalgic game in themes and content, so that context will be lost on you for the parts of the game that allude to earlier entries. It's still doing enough particularly from Nero's point of view that you can use that as a narrative anchor and enjoy that angle of it, if you do.

The first three games are only sold separately on Switch, where they technically cost more apart, but realistically only the very curious would be picking up 2 on its own at this point. They are functionally on par with every other release through the HD Collection, which means mostly intact remasters of PS2 games divested of that original context and hardware, leading to many objectively but not materially different--unless you're very familiar with the originals--effects work and other kind of presentational nuances. For newcomers, they're more than adequate and likely the only versions you'll ever want or need.

The big difference in 3's individual release on Switch is Dante having had the on-the-fly Style-switching that debuted in 4 retroactively applied to him as a play option. Styles on their own already revolutionized the play mechanics of the series as 3 did them, so it's a substantial addition that can potentially transform your entire play experience with the game now that it's available.
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
Thanks a lot, Peklo. I would like to play DMC3 at least, especially if it’s gotten the most Quality of Life upgrades.
 
I wouldn't expect too many QoL upgrades! The main changes on Switch are just the previous mentioned the Freestyle Mode and the addition of multiplayer in for the Bloody Palace (endless mode). For the most part, it's still extremely a PS2 game. On the other hand, it's a late PS2 game and the Special Edition already added generous modern checkpointing for easy retries, so the most important QoL upgrade was already baked in.

(I recently played on PC, but I watched a video about the new Switch only changes.)
 

air_show

elementary my dear baxter
I am playing Devil May Cry 4 right now. I have a weird relationship with the series.

I rage quit the original on the second Nightmare fight permanently as a lad. Deliberately avoided most games like it for years after. Inexplicably ended up playing Bayonetta and eventually loving it. So I had started giving thoughts to giving the DMC games another chance. Then DmC came out and I personally loved it because I like edgy trash and it's still visually fantastic but I definitely respect now how it is not how Devil May Cry should be. I eventually got around to re-playing and properly beating the original game on PS4 a few years ago and here I am now, wanting to play 5 but feeling like I should at the very least play 4 as a warm-up.

4 is actually the one I know the least about aside from 5. I had at least kind of half-watched some Let's Plays of the first three games a while back so I have a rough idea of what happens in 2 and 3 at least. Playing 4 now is a trip. I wasn't expecting it to be so very very much A Devil May Cry Game as it is. Hammy ass characters everywhere. And an alarming number of proto-Bayonetta stuff. I feel like it's impossible that there wasn't some creative crossover between those titles.

I hate some of the platforming stuff though. I found a secret mission where I had to do a bunch of rapidfire demon-claw hookshotting to climb to a very high place and I quickly gave up trying to deal with the horror of trying to control these stiff ass jumps and treacherous camera. And there was this bit where I had to cross some glowing disappearing bridges while fighting some fucking asshole ghosts that push me off way too easily resulting in me having to fall in a pit and fight a bunch of enemies about a dozen times. I only got past it by standing back on solid ground and chipping away at the ghost, whose AI was clearly designed to punish me for this, slowly and agonizingly, so I could cross unmolested.

But in general running around fighting stuff is fun and it feels rewarding to git gud at it. Took me forever to figure out how the revving your sword up mechanic actually even works. I can't decide if I like or dislike spending all that XP and money the special edition dumped on me without giving me any choice in the matter. On the one hand it feels like I robbed myself of a proper sense of progression mechanically in the game. On the other hand it's made Nero very versatile and beefy right away and is arguably helping me play through the game faster which is kind of a good thing in a just playing to warm up for the next game situation.
 
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Every boss in DmC so far (through the Raptor News guy) is a really tedious HP sponge with nothing going on except spectacle.

One thing that's a good idea, though: the Angel affiliated weapons have air scoops. They're like launchers, but you do them mid air and they scoop enemies up off the ground to bring them to you for more air juggling. That's fun!
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Around when this kind of game got made more often, I keyed in on a cheeky but not altogether inaccurate signifier for how uninspired the boss design of a given game might've felt: if they do a ground pound that results in a shockwave, that's the mark of ideas running thin. It happens quite a lot in DmC, even to the point that the aforementioned Bob Barbas boss is entirely built around the concept on the player end.
 
there is one good boss in DmC and it's the final boss, but even then they ruin it by inserting needless cutscenes every few notches of health that just basically show exactly what you're doing by playing the boss fight, and it interrupts the rhythms of an otherwise well designed encounter just enough to be irritating

what is the point of this game uhgh
 
It's edgy, ya know

The thing is I honestly approached DmC with the expectation that I might like it a lot more than the consensus on this forum, because I think I have a relatively high tolerance for edgy pulp trash. I can enjoy a lot of exploitative and intentionally offensive content, as long as there's something interesting going on.

But it's just such a nothing game. When I look at discussions about this I see there's a general divide that seems to be along the lines of "too offensive to play" or "bad story, but a good game." But I just think everything about it is just dull. Boring nothing storytelling, boring nothing game. It's just babby's first Adbusters storytelling and themes combined with a frictionless, soulless Best Practices Game Development approach to the ideas of Devil May Cry that makes every encounter into a lock and key solved problem. If DMC4 sands off the edges a bit, DmC just transforms something solid into a content slurry. It's not even edgy—it's all too neat, too symmetrical. There's nothing there.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
For what its worth, I share a lot of your feelings too estragon. I would metaphorically "roll my eyes" whenever I read people saying "it had a bad story but was a good game" because I just thought it sucked all around.
 
Oh, and just to be clear, I'm not meaning to criticize or single out anyone here by the previous post. I'm referring more to like, skimming threads at Reddit and Major Purple Gaming Forum to get a gist of the capital G Gamer consensus.

(Also of course it's fine if anyone likes it! I just would not recommend it to anyone, personally. I would place this alongside DMC2 in in the category of there's really no reason to play it unless you want to try every DMC game out of curiosity. If you just want to have a good time, skip it in my opinion. Not even interesting as a disaster.)
 

air_show

elementary my dear baxter
I was thinking about DmC's story and how it's like, edgy, but also boring. Every plot point and line of dialogue is extremely blunt, simple, and devoid of subtlety of any kind. And like, on the one hand it's like, yeah, it's Devil May Cry! I wouldn't exactly call anything I've seen of the series subtle. And yet more and more I'm understanding the character of the series and how DmC doesn't really vibe with it very well. Also in retrospect I don't like the change to make Dante and Vergil's mother an angel either. I didn't even remember that OG Dante's mom was a human at the time but now I definitely feel irked by that change for some reason.

I'm on Nero's final mission in DMC4 and kind of trapped at the beginning of the mission because some OCD impulse makes me really want to get that last statue but it wants a SSS rank and I have spent like 10 minutes wailing on the thing trying to get it to climb even halfway up the SS meter and I just can't do it. I can't figure out what move or combination of moves I am not performing sufficiently to satisfy this thing.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Also in retrospect I don't like the change to make Dante and Vergil's mother an angel either. I didn't even remember that OG Dante's mom was a human at the time but now I definitely feel irked by that change for some reason.

It boringly literalizes the internal conflict present in Dante from previously contrasting his human and demonic aspects into making it about an angel and devil on one's shoulders kind of set-up... which both completely uproots the character from his supposedly mundane human traits and connections (which are still emphasized anyway) and removes the personal relevance that dynamism has been used to fuel. I don't buy DmC's Dante as a character within his own story, in all its hokey "social commentary" (lol) on our common reality, because the element of heritage and identity is just nowhere in it to be seen. Dante claiming his mother's identity isn't something that ever comes up because the angelic theming is nothing but lip service, seemingly only present to facilitate the game's weapon and enemy design baselines in the stock elemental opposites and weaknesses framing. There is also definitely an aspect of increasingly gendered writing in the reframing, where you have Good Woman Angel and Bad Devil Man in what Eva and Sparda's union represents.

Aside from the obvious, the narrative issues in DmC also for me come down to it being a very unimaginative reboot conceptually. There was so much investment in presenting its Dante as a radical departure from the precedent, but what is he actually about? His overall arc presents a responsibility-shirking young adult hedonist who's dragged into conflict he initially mocks wholesale, but through interactions with his family and a human woman who in turn humanizes him comes to claim that responsibility and identity to stand up for something, even if it's against said family. It's just the arc that DMC3 already presented for him, told much worse in every fathomable way; the all-ages pizza-and-backflips symbology of Dante traded in for the literalism of alcohol and sex. There's stuff to snicker about in other DMC stories that usually come down to fixating on line-reads or performances of the material, but there's an overarching tone that commits to their melodramatic macho sincerity in ways this reimagining could never hope to, since its thematic and conceptual crux are rooted in either reheating old series-internal material, or clumsily incorporating pop culture residue into that still present skeleton. Nothing about it justifies the pretense that any meaningful reinvention of the series has been made--it only manages to dilute.
 
There's stuff to snicker about in other DMC stories that usually come down to fixating on line-reads or performances of the material, but there's an overarching tone that commits to their melodramatic macho sincerity in ways this reimagining could never hope to, since its thematic and conceptual crux are rooted in either reheating old series-internal material, or clumsily incorporating pop culture residue into that still present skeleton. Nothing about it justifies the pretense that any meaningful reinvention of the series has been made--it only manages to dilute.

Yes, even setting content totally aside, the execution is just not good. DMC may be corny, but it's corny like in a primal, evocative, action movie kind of way that is or at least verges on being expressionistic in its best moments. DmC is mundane and dramatically inert in terms of both gameplay and narrative even during its moments of highest spectacle (evaluated purely in terms of visual busy-ness).

I'm on Nero's final mission in DMC4 and kind of trapped at the beginning of the mission because some OCD impulse makes me really want to get that last statue but it wants a SSS rank and I have spent like 10 minutes wailing on the thing trying to get it to climb even halfway up the SS meter and I just can't do it. I can't figure out what move or combination of moves I am not performing sufficiently to satisfy this thing.

The only thing these are asking for is for you to not repeat the same move too closely in succession. I had trouble with some of the harder ones in DMC3 unless I was on Swordmaster to get a whole new button's worth of moves, but in DMC4 Nero should definitely have (or be able to re-spec Proud Souls to have) sufficient move variation to make it work by the time you get there.

A couple tips:
*Remember that there are multiple separate basic melee combos. Make sure you're using all of them (i.e. the variations where you pause after a certain hit, not just the initially unlocked one where you press 4 times in a row).
*Don't forget to throw once in a while, it builds a ton of meter.
*Don't forget that the basic air combo also counts as separate than the basic ground melee combo. (On the adjudicator statues I found it's easiest to do a little hop in place then start the air combo on the way down.)
*Even though you don't need to close distance, don't forget to use the Stinger or equivalent (lock on+toward target+melee).
*If you're playing a character with multiple weapons, don't forget to switch weapons.

The trick for high ranking adjuciators is that the higher the rank the faster the bar depletes, but otherwise if you just like wrote down all your moves and performed them in that order on a loop without messing up the execution, you would max out style rank. (I just improvised and tried to remember vaguely what I hadn't done in a while and it worked, but I think theoretically that would be the most efficient way to ensure you're always building meter.)

Completed missions are selectable and short on a replay, so even if you've moved on you can always just replay it to get the blue orb fragment and it still counts if you jump back to the current mission.
 
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Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
After finishing 4, I've replayed 5 and 3 as well. It wasn't a set plan, and the order just kind of happened, but it's amusing that I effectively got into a series-encompassing replay of all the games in it I think are worth revisiting, and in an ascending order of preference--especially if I cap it off with 1 for last.

I played 3 on Switch because of Freestyle mode and... I may have greatly underestimated how much it would affect my interactions with the game. Previous integrations of the concept have always left me halfway between being enamored and overwhelmed, both because of the resulting diversity of options, but the nuances inherent to 3 leave me with a somewhat different feeling. Part of that is my personal history with the game: it was my 15th birthday present; I workshopped combo strings in my head during the quieter moments in class. That is to say that familiarity plays a part here; I know Dante's capabilities in this game better than in anything else and don't have to particularly commit things to memory that already are rooted to bone marrow and muscle memory.

Initially, it seems this is the most outrageous plate of offerings any iteration of him has, in this set-up: five Devil Arms, five guns, six Styles, all present at once... but the nature of DMC3's movesets, as compared to later spins, is also more compact--there aren't any back-forward or rotational inputs as the games threaten to run out of input estate to fit their characters's repertoires into. If playing with all of Dante's arsenal in this game, you have a broader complement than in any other game, but arguably also one that is more cogent to come to grips with in its totality for that unified sense of input and moveset design.

For being a play option that this game was never designed in mind with and is only now being retroactively applied (after modders having done the same for much longer on PC), it's shocking how naturally DMC3's design adjusts to a Dante who can do it all and doesn't seem to mind the player having these options at their call. This is among the very best the series ever managed for me, but I'm aware of the common criticisms, such as the host of awkwardly fought enemies that don't interact with the combat design in the juggle dummy kind of way people often want. To me, enemies like the Soul Eaters, Dullahan, or even The Fallen aren't intrusive "gimmicks" that forbid interaction with the more compelling elements of the game, but represent the kind of contextual problem-solving that has always run parallel with the more freeform combat mechanics, as embodied in the similarly specialized Secret Missions and what they ask of the player. The problem in DMC3's context with this kind of design is that the solutions have not been universally available to players, simply because the choice of a Style and two melee and firearms each dictated the potential answers to the puzzles--if you weren't properly equipped, you'd simply grouse on along and do the best with what you had, possibly leading to an overall lower estimation of the game for presenting these situations.

Having all options available at once transforms these niche situations into naturally integrated elements for the rest of the encounter and environmental design with no drawbacks that I can discern. The way the game was played before could theoretically foster learning the specific nuances of each armament through deliberate limitation and maximizing their efficiency, but it could also lead to conservative play where more niche and indirect parts of the arsenal--Gunslinger and Royal Guard, Artemis and Nevan--would see neglect because the loss of what were seen as core moveset abilities by many players weighed too much for people to make the trade and commitment in mastering the options that weren't as immediately effective.

Now that you can simply adjust according to the situation and moments within the same, there is a much greater willingness to simply try stuff out and see how it feels. Something as high-execution as Royal Guard was rarely played by me for long previously, but now that I can use it at will? I don't even want to fight Hell Vanguards, Abysses, and many other enemies or bosses without it now, simply because I tried it and found it amazingly enjoyable and effective--I made it halfway through the Bloody Palace before getting bored of the process, using much the same means. The friction that existed in this game was that some Styles and some weapons, despite the admirable balancing work done for them, still managed to leave some feeling more "primary" and some as more transitional in nature. Now, you can provide those personal definitions yourself and not feel as if you're bludgeoning the game to fit the rhythms of whatever loadout you happened to pick that mission.

I had a tiny misgiving, despite knowing well the game's accolades and capabilities, that maybe coming back to it directly after its successors would leave the design sense feeling "archaic" in a negative sense, as compared to its very dense follow-ups. What I found instead was nuance in both combat and out of it that doesn't exist outside of this game, despite completing the template that would be followed closely from this point on. Coming out of 5, a game which is very visually advanced, I was hesitant to use some more exacting techniques like Royal Guard there because of the visual overflow in terms of particle effects and the general movement patterns of enemies. 3 is a great contrast in learning that playstyle because the visual design prizes clarity and most of the common enemies perform legible, wide scythe swipes to train your timing on. It's also, notably, a master-class in audio cues supporting mechanical game design and play, with many very distinct tells that facilitate the relevant player responses. It doesn't take long until you can reliably parry Hell Lust lunges just based on the screech they make before it, literally eyes closed if you chose to.

Dante in this game has contextual abilities that root him more to his environment as an active factor that are absent from other incarnations: the spinning around poles being one, but also niche maneuvers like enemy-surfing and the little shin kick when turning around to attack an enemy at one's back emphasize combat in ways that aren't so mathematically clinical that I like. Trickster's signature ability in this game and nowhere else to me is its wall run, which allows you chart your boundaries within the spaces, both for exploratory purposes and as stylish affectation during combat; I was actually taken aback when I realized no other game carried it forward (thanks for introducing it, DMC2). I don't need to be great at the game to perform semi-abusable mechanics like Killer Bee rebounds or guard-cancelled Spiral shots, and that they are so singularly effective in ways that border on game-breaking emphasize the aspects of it that are interesting outside the realm of fair-and-square combat interactions.

This may be old news for people who've made use of the equivalent PC mods before, but I have to stress that this game in its base form is an all-time favourite, and this nominally simple adjustment has breathed so much resurgent life into it for me in ways I did not anticipate at all, as well as granting additional perspective on and legitimately improving the foundations of its design. I don't know what it would feel like as a first introduction to the game to play it this way, but for returning players it's an immensely attractive play option regardless of your personal skill level.
 

air_show

elementary my dear baxter
Yes, even setting content totally aside, the execution is just not good. DMC may be corny, but it's corny like in a primal, evocative, action movie kind of way that is or at least verges on being expressionistic in its best moments. DmC is mundane and dramatically inert in terms of both gameplay and narrative even during its moments of highest spectacle (evaluated purely in terms of visual busy-ness).

The Bob Bardas fight is something I still think of fondly in general. The visual spectacle of it is fantastic. I loved everything about the presentation from the moment you start running along news presentation graphics. And yeah, it's a pretty gimicky platform boss at the end of the day, having more in common I'd say with a Mario game's boss than a Devil May Cry boss. But it's meaty and satisfying enough from a novice action gamer's perspective. Then it climaxes with what I recall is just a dry cutscene of a dour young Dante just blandly gunning down a normal looking guy. And I remember even the first time and more or less loving it going "man, that's an unsatisfying payoff for punching the Big News Monster."

Thanks for the tips on how to achieve the highest rank too. I think it'll help to know that specifically going forward. I'm nervous because I think the momentum from all the upgrade and item points the game gave me at the start has worn out because I got near straight B's all through the first 7 or 8 missions up to and including the Credo Angelo fight. Then suddenly the game's difficulty curve caught up to me and my playthrough is starting to resemble what it usually does in these games, with my scores plummeting to D's as I started having to burn through items and use continues. Using items and my last yellow orb got me through the second Dante fight on the first try but I used about three health bars in the process as I could barely figure out how to hit him at all much less avoid his attacks. So I fear the final Nero level may actually be a challenge that I'll be struggling to overcome. Course I'll have to try it first to find out.
 

air_show

elementary my dear baxter
Ok, well, that went better than I expected. I got a B on the mission overall, which surprised me a bit because I thought I sucked it hard on the boss. I figured out how to fight him really well and took down the vast majority of his lifebar, but then when he went into that hyperactive final phase I just couldn't catch the bastard for what felt like forever.

Then I played through the first Dante mission and it was more intimidating than I thought. First I'm overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available right out the gate and have no idea at all what they're useful for. I almost wonder if I should put a pin in this playthrough and go back to DMC3 to see if it familiarizes me with these concepts in a less... thrown directly into the deep end kind of way. But doing that would put off DMC5 even longer.

Then the time limit hits. Then I have a HELL of a time getting past those lasers. I can't help but feel like it would be literally impossible without air hike? The only way I was able to reliably clear some of the lasers was by double jumping over them. Either way I had to use a gold orb because of how hard a time I had with those.

Then in the last room I panicked and used a Holy Water to kill the knights because they tended to give me a hard on Nero who I did have a fairly good grasp on how to play and that time limit was making me antsy.
 
I almost wonder if I should put a pin in this playthrough and go back to DMC3 to see if it familiarizes me with these concepts in a less... thrown directly into the deep end kind of way. But doing that would put off DMC5 even longer.

DMC3 is really good and both 4 and (I believe) 5 seem to presume you already understand how Dante works from that game, so it would definitely help. Coming in knowing Dante from DMC1 and 3, his levels mostly just felt like a victory lap, because it feels like he has the perfect overpowered tool for every situation, if you know how to use him, compared to Nero's good-enough-at-everything moveset.

Then the time limit hits. Then I have a HELL of a time getting past those lasers. I can't help but feel like it would be literally impossible without air hike?

If you're overwhelmed by styles, be aware that Trickster gives Dante a very very good dodge dash that gives him a huge advantage over the laser section.

My basic advice if you don't go back to DMC3 is to just stick to Swordmaster and Trickster, based on whether you want more varied attacks or more dodge options. Swordmaster gives Dante a whole new set of moves per weapon assigned to Nero's devil arm button, and Trickster gives Dante a bunch of movement abilities assigned to that button.

Royal Guard can be extremely good in certain sitautions, especially if you're good at timing blocks (personally I'm not), and Gunslinger does a lot to make guns do more than extend combos or beat enemies only weak to guns or ranged attacks, but I think Swordmaster and Trickster are probably the easiest to learn and the most immediately useful. Use Proud Souls to level them up to the fullest (you should have enough by the time you get Dante), because you get a long of bang for your buck with both.
 

air_show

elementary my dear baxter
So... I decided to just go ahead and jump into DMC5. It works out well because I just got all familiar with all of Nero's moves and now it looks like you start the game playing as him again.

So like, Dante is Nero's uncle, right?

Also, for those who've played more of it... is there any particularly great performance I would miss out on if I don't play the game in english? Cuz like, Nico's voice is really hard to tolerate in english and at least the japanese actress puts in a performance that seems to match the vibe.
 
dm5 has the most punitive approach to building style of any entry in the series—if you're not doing well enough, you will not be able to hear the theme song vocalist when she sings "bang, bang, bang—pull my devil trigger" :cry:


it's cruel not to let me hear it, imho
 
other stray thoughts

1) it's kind of amazing that V works as well as he does. i can imagine that his summoner moveset is probably divisive, but it absolutely clicks with me, and when it works it feels great. there are some interesting ideas here that might be fun to use for a dragon's dogma 2 class, and it might work even better in that context.

2) this might be the first one of these i replay on a higher difficulty, because it's a lot of fun but definitely seems tuned down a lot relative to previous games. i'm not a DMC master by any means (i died a lot in 1, 3, and 4), but i'd like just a bit more tension i think.

3) i was worried for a second that nero's grabby arm might be limited to a specific piece of equipment, but luckily it seems standard as long as you have anything equipped.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
V is game-ruining for some folks, for sure. The only issue I have with him really is that his playstyle relies heavily on buffering, as Gunslinger and other more ranged options in the series do, and the default control scheme is not particularly comfortably set up for that, so you need to fiddle with things unless you're just willing to take him as is. Otherwise, he recalls memories of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness for me (lol) and how a more intricate execution on that kind of creature commander concept might have turned out. The series always needs new blood in its core mechanics so I'm glad they're willing to experiment, even in the context of a game like 5 that's so much about the greatest hits.

You do get an absolute stockpile of Gold Orbs in 5 to recover from more dire mistakes just through minor poking around. It doesn't (initially) push back as much as the other games, which was probably the right call after a long absence.
 
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