In ages past, the Demon Emperor, Mundus, aimed to conquer the world of humans and turn it into a corrupt playground for his forces. All hope seemed lost until one of the demons woke up to justice and single-handedly fought off the invasion; casting his former allies back into the underworld. That demon was the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda.
Now in the year of 2, Mundus plans to restore his lost power and retake the human world. It falls on Sparda’s son, the devil hunter, Dante, to infiltrate a demon-infested island and seal Mundus away once again, lest they escape and bring the world to ruin.
Devil May Cry is a 2001 “hack n’ slash” action game released for the PlayStation 2. The game’s plot follows demon hunter Dante, who is tasked by the mysterious Trish to travel to Mallet Island and thwart the plans of the Demon Emperor Mundus. Upon his investigation of the island, Dante crosses paths with the demonic forces of the island and several of Mundus’s generals: The lava spider/scorpion, Phantom, the gigantic bird of prey, Griffon, and the masked warrior, Nelo Angelo, who Dante finds he has an interesting connection with. Throughout the game, Dante explores the derelict island in search of items to unlock the secrets within, moving ever closer to his destined battle with Mundus.
From when you turn on the game, it hits you in the face with how stylish it is, kicking the warning of violence and gore. The cutscenes continue this showcase of Dante’s antics, with him surviving being electrocuted and having a motorcycle thrown onto him, surviving being impaled and pulling himself off the blade, and escaping from a sinking ship. It all carries the same sense that these events are cool. The game revels in its bombastic nature from start to finish.
Its level design and the atmosphere is another big draw. The game is set within the confines of a seemingly abandoned castle and the surrounding landscapes that dot Mallet Island, and the game makes extensive use of it. The player is left feeling alone and on edge outside of combat, exploring the castle’s silent halls and eerie chambers. It also wears its origins as the prototype of Resident Evil 4 proudly, with the player hunting certain items in order to open the path forward to another part of the island. In addition to the castle, you will explore demon-infested canyons, a corrupted cathedral, the castle’s coliseum, and a partially flooded ghost ship. Though the majority of the game is set in the castle, these excursions outside of it help to keep the experience from feeling one-note.
But above all, the biggest draw of the game is combat. Before Dark Souls, the Devil May Cry series was considered (and still is) one of the most difficult games ever made. If you mess around, the game’s enemies will tear you apart. They all have specific ways to deal with them, and often the player will be left to deal with multiple enemies that can kill you if given the chance.
To balance this, the combat system is set up in a way that pressing the attack button in a certain way can cause different attacks to play out. Dante has a regular three-hit combo that can string into a plethora of special moves that can combo into each other when used. There are several melee weapons for the player to utilize in their select play style. You can use the lightning sword, Alastor, for quick, long-reaching strikes, or the flaming gauntlets of Ifrit to deliver some powerful, bone-breaking punches. You also have an assortment of guns to stagger the enemies and keep your combos going, and mixed with these weapons, there is the super transformation known as Devil Trigger. Activating the Devil Trigger increases Dante’s strength and speed considerably and heals him while it’s in use. However, to even use Devil Trigger requires you to build up its energy meter before using it, so discretion is best used before activating it. The game has a combo meter, ranging from dull to stylish, keeping track of how many hits you’re racking up in a short amount of time. The player is encouraged to keep this high, as a higher combo meter means they get more of the game’s currency of red orbs and health items appearing if needed. The player is also given a grade on how they got through the level, depending on the time they took to complete it, how many hits they took before they reached the end, and how many long combos they were able to make. Skilled players are able to get “S” ranks from each mission, thus giving the player reason to come back and get better at the game.
This is a game that will throw a lot at you and expect you to improve as you go along, but I highly recommend it for those who want a bit more challenge from their games. Devil May Cry is available separately on the PlayStation 2, or as part of the Devil May Cry HD Collection/Triple Pack on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.