“Another re-release?!” we hear you cry, amid eyerolls and exasperated sighs. Sadly, yes. The fact that this 2013 title has taken so long to make its way to next gen is disappointing, but really it’s a marvel that it made the jump at all.
Although Dante begins with a fairly rudimentary move set, with the speed at which the game introduces new moves and upgrade points – which you can spend on skills of your choice – you always feel like you are making progress. There’s a plethora of difficulty levels to beat too, from Human (Easy) all the way up to the brand new Gods Must Die mode (Very Very Very Hard), which sees all enemies spawn with power-ups and you lose the ability to use health.
Vergil’s Downfall is a really interesting aside to the main game and accessed as a separate choice on the main menu, as you get to control Dante’s twin brother Vergil instead. His moveset is similar to Dante’s, with a few differences in the way that moves are carried out, even if they have the same effect.
The DLC uses noir-esque graphic novel frames for cutscenes, about one notch up from the original Max Payne on the complexity scale – presumably to save on budget – but they serve to really separate the experience from the main game. Disappointingly though, the transition in and out of cutscenes feels a little jarring as a result.
The variety you see in the levels as you go through the game is interesting, particularly with the juxtaposition of the limbo areas, which almost play like dream sequences and often see you traversing increasingly jagged and separate platforms to continue onwards. There’s replay value too, since many areas in early levels can’t be unlocked until you have certain skills.
A particular highlight is the Aquila (or ‘eagle’ in Latin) – a pair of tri-bladed frisbee-like weapons which can cripple enemies at a distance with great speed. Best of all you can send them flying and then leap into the fray while they whip around and tidy up any stragglers
The characters are fairly straightforward, but not boring. There’s the odd misstep when the villain’s writing descends into an expletive-hurling match, but these are few and far between.
Enemies get challenging quickly as well, since every time you learn a new ability there’s one which you specifically need to use that move to take down, and as you begin to build up your skills you’ll find ways to combine them to be more effective (and, more importantly, stylish).
One of the toted differences about this version of the game specifically is the inclusion of a manual targeting system, which brings up a reticule over enemies when they are in the line of fire. In practice though, this doesn’t make too much difference except adding a bit of clarity to fighting -–generally you are zipping around between multiple enemies too much to really need it. If you’re short on time you can also try Turbo Mode, which makes the game 20% faster - but that includes enemies too, so beware.
To keep you busy once you’ve finished the main game is the Bloody Palace, a wave-based challenge arena which pits you against the game’s deadliest foes in an ever-increasing scale of difficulty. Oh, and there’s some alternate costumes to get your mits on, if you’re in to that sort of thing.
When it comes down to it, whether you should buy this game or not depends on whether you like this sort of game in general, and whether you have played it before.
For returning sons of Sparda, there’s not much to shout about here. A visual tune-up to 1080p and 60FPS is nice, and the game already looked pretty good, but some cutscenes make the transition better than others. The DLC is great to include too, and the price means that it’s not as steep as it would be to reinvest in Grand Theft Auto V, for example.
Unlike GTAV though, this is a purely single-player experience – and a fairly linear one as well. The 20 missions are substantial, and should give you a decent amount of game time for a single playthrough (roughly nine or 10 hours), but there isn’t much beyond that aside from the challenges, which will only appeal to the more skilled players.
If you haven’t played the game before though, it’s a different story. This iteration of DmC is easy to pick up and play, leads you in nicely without being patronising and actually has a half-decent story and characters too. It might be a bit black and white, good vs evil, but the simplicity is its charm – you can sit down with this and have a good time, with no horrible difficulty spikes or dud levels either.
Missing out on something like this won’t destroy your gaming pedigree, but for a game which failed to storm the industry when it was announced it still holds up very well. Plus, did we mention Dante duel-wields pistols with infinite ammo? ‘nuff said.