Prima facie, DmC Devil May Cry seems like a rather risky reboot. The franchise possesses a deep legacy guarded overzealously by a legion of hardcore fans. However, this doesn't stop the reboot from making massive changes not only to the canon, but to the very essence of the franchise itself. The end result, I believe, is a competent hack-and-slash game that serves as a fitting reimagining of the series.
Unfortunately, old-school fans of the franchise tend to be resistant to change, which leads to much polarisation of opinions. That's exactly what happened when my colleagues and fellow DMC addicts, Nachiket and Ram, mulled over the place of reboot in the scheme of all that constitutes Devil May Cry. In case you're wondering, I'm Shunal, and what follows is an animated exchange between my belligerent colleagues about their diametrically opposite viewpoints on the reboot.
Ram: Now there's nothing wrong with being gay, but why on Earth did Capcom have to go and turn DANTE, of all people, into an emo brat? The over-the-top, Rajinikanth-esque, witty Dante all of us loved and admired now has none of his old charm and behaves like an apathetic, emo idiot. I'm not kidding! The new Westernised Dante uses bland, unoriginal expletives to taunt monsters and enemies, and has also started smoking in an attempt to look cool. The dark red jacket's been retained, as has the bastard sword, Rebellion, but that's where the similarity ends. Ninja Theory's efforts to make DMC more appealing to the masses through a westernised Dante has more or less alienated the franchise's older fan base.
Here's a token throwback to the old-school Dante
Nachiket: Where do I even begin?! For starters, allow me to clarify that although I love DMC3 as much as you do, there's a fundamental difference in the way we see the new game. While I approach the reboot with an open mind, your better judgement has been blinkered by a thick veil of prejudice and fanboyism. It doesn't take a genius to realise that the negative pre-release perception was primarily attributed to fans who were apprehensive or just resistant to change. However, the game has clearly proven its mettle where it matters the most.
Dante isn't remotely gay. In reality, the rumour precipitated from a pre-release trailer that was taken in the wrong context. His heterosexuality should be undeniable within the first five minutes of the game, especially when his impending threesome with a pair of smoking-hot ladies is cut short by the hunter demon. That is unless you use the homosexual reference figuratively to ridicule the darker, more emotional aspects of the reboot. If that is the case, you have sorely missed the point of the reboot.
Ram: Oh come on! I wasn't referring to the emotional fluff; Dante has turned metrosexual, and well, LOOKS gay. And if you find animated pixels hot, you need a life! Now the reboot's Orwellian plot seems to hold some depth at first glance, but it's quite linear and predictable—the antagonist Mundus has taken away poor lil' Dante's parents (Sparda, a demon and Eva, an angel) and controls most of the world through a huge corporation. Naturally, Mundus is after your life and Kat and Vergil find you to help with their rebellion. Frankly, the plot is quite ridiculous, but that's nothing new for this series. The characters don't have much to remember them by either. Dante's way less awesome and could learn some sarcasm, Vergil's too cold and distant to remember, Mundus is pretty predictable as the stereotypical villain, and the lead female (Kat) is a witch with daddy issues.
Nachiket: The franchise had hitherto painted Dante as an entertaining caricature of your typical anime-inspired video game badass. However, the reboot has simply taken a more mature route to the storytelling that's seated deeper in the realm of conventional logic. The anti-hero from the previous games makes way for a brash, anti-authoritarian Dante who's more interested in going about his hedonistic and rebellious lifestyle than ridding mankind of the demonic scourge.
DmC bears a remarkably strong and distinctive art style
The Rajinikanth-esque flair of the series has been replaced with a setting that deftly imbues the modern and the arcane in a plausible manner. The DmC reboot is quite like John Carpenter's They Live, albeit with demons instead of aliens hiding in society and controlling humanity through the economy, government and media. This is a great way of reimagining the franchise instead of treading along the same boring path to deliver DMC5.
I like the way Ninja Theory has turned the "excuse plot" of the franchise into a biblical battle between good and evil—all of which doubles as a clever allegory to the modern-day evils of censorship, political excesses, herd mentality and corporate greed. I mean, if your judgement hasn't been clouded by your fanboyism, you could have seen where I was coming from.
Ram: Again with the fanboy thing! Have you ever played God of War? If you haven't, well it's a simple, hack-and-slash title where you just have to mash a couple of combos and evade attacks to get through the game. Yeah, I admit it had a good plot and looked nice, but what about the gameplay? It takes barely any skill to destroy the unintelligent monsters the game incessantly throws at you, and there's barely any depth to the battle system. And that's quite a lot what DmC: Devil May Cry feels like: a new God of War with the style system from the original DMC quadrilogy, guns, a Westernised plot and a gay Dante.
Nachiket: Enough with the gay refrain; you're flogging a dead horse here! Let's not forget the fact that DMC released way before God of War (GOW). While the whole DMC franchise—reboot included—may look like a GOW clone to most casual gamers, let's just say that the DmC reboot is meant for GOW players who have outgrown their diapers. Make no mistake; I thoroughly enjoy the GOW games, but comparing them to DmC is a travesty. In the former, everyone can mash a few buttons and become Kratos, but do the same in the reboot and you'll get your butt handed to you.
The animations are fluid and segue well from one loop to another
Ram: Exactly my point! DmC Devil May Cry is disappointingly easy. In a bid to make the game more accessible, Ninja Theory has turned down the difficulty to the point that you rarely die in battle on the default difficulty mode. More importantly, the previous games were DIFFICULT. You had to work hard to even survive in the initial levels, especially in DMC3. The learning curve was steep, but once you got the hang of it, the gameplay was fun and never got boring. This made for good replay value as you could always do a combo better or master another style, which is invaluable in a hack-and-slash game. The higher difficulty modes in the reboot, which are unlocked once you complete the game, help make things a little better, but it would have been great if the game was a little challenging. The end result is a game that doesn't make you want to replay it unless you're a completionist and want to complete every one of the secret missions.
Nachiket: I won't deny the fact that DMC3 was exquisitely difficult, and that it was the rare instance when a mainstream game had the pluck and gumption to incorporate the level of challenge and gameplay depth usually found in a masocore indie game. Unfortunately, that only makes sense if you plan to target a niche. However, when you spend tens of millions on producing a AAA title, it's fair to expect the developer to make the entry point more welcoming to a wider gaming audience that isn't as twitch-endowed as its hardcore brethren.