"Face Your Demons"
There’s always a time when a franchise will change developers and fans will start to worry. As an enthusiastic fan of the Devil May Cry series that came when Ninja Theory took over the creation of DMC. However after playing the demo released yesterday it’s not looking as bad as some fans have expected. You still control Dante but he isn’t the same guy that you’re all used to. Ninja Theory’s Dante brings more of his Angel heritage to the table, with a cocky personality and a new skillset to play with – ranging from an interesting grapple to an entertaining new weapon.
The demo begins with flashbacks showing details already released: Dante has been sought out by a terrorist organisation called ‘The Order’, whom his twin brother Virgil just so happens to be leading. They want to rid Limbo City of its demon overseers, with Mundus reclaiming his position as the villain (sounding familiar yet?)
The first part, Under Watch, wastes no time throwing you into the fray with demons (as usual) trying to kill you, presenting the all-memorable hack and slash action fans will be used to. The controls are pretty standard and those familiar with the series will have no trouble picking them up, however for completely new players it begins with a simple tutorial that has you hacking away at marionette-like demons. Don’t worry, trusty Ebony and Ivory seem to make an appearance as well, meaning you can shoot creatures from afar and then zip in for the final deathly blow. Unlike previous games if you hold the left and right trigger you are presented with two new weapons to unleash devastation with: the left trigger controls the Angelic Osiris, which releases flurries of fast attacks with a few button strokes, and the left controls the demonic Arbiter, which appears to be slightly slower but deals more devastating damage. Both weapons allow you to launch enemies into the air to create some crazy combinations and can literally be switched in and out with a button press. Dante also has a Devil Trigger gauge which builds up with combat. Once the gauge is full enough simply press in both thumbsticks to unleash your demonic side, slowing down the world and increasing your damage while regenerating health.
Above Left: Combat using Devil Trigger and; above right: Normal combat using Arbiter.
While on the subject of new toys, the Ophion whip will practically become your new best friend. It allows you to close the distance to enemies (either by dragging them to you or flinging yourself up to them) as well as help you get around the levels easier through the use of ledges. Its Angelic side allows you to grip to higher ledges while the Demonic side drags ledges into place. This can come in handy an awful lot when the scenery itself tries to kill you. As well as the ability to send demons to kill you, the demonic presence can actually alter Limbo city to hinder your progress – it can contract walls to squash you in the middle, make the ground disappear and tear ledges impossibly far away if it weren’t for Ophion. The environment itself becomes a living and breathing creature bent on your death (like everything else in the game). This presents the game as not only a hack and slash but also a potential platformer, with you constantly on your toes in case the ground literally disappears under your feet!
The second part of the demo, Secret Ingredient, focuses on a Boss Battle in the form of a grotesque bug-like creature. It requires plenty of jumping and dodging, and really shows off how well Ophion can fit into battle as well as an exploratory tool. Not to mention that the boss battle style will have you reminiscing over the ‘good old days’ of Devil May Cry’.
Above: The bosses are just as ugly and interesting as ever!
The overall demo itself is pretty nice to look at, with the ‘Limbo world’ contrasting greatly with the original Limbo City. Brightly coloured and gorgeous it entices you to go and explore, with plenty of red orbs waiting. It’s quite pretty to look at, in a post-apocalyptic hell-on-Earth way
As well as this there are several collectibles, including Lost Souls and Copper Keys. These help with your level completion at the end of the mission, and the Copper Keys open secret parts of the level for extra objective-driven battle arenas (in case you didn’t get enough hacking and slashing!)
While it wasn’t the longest of demos, it’s already clear to see that the game is shaping up very nicely as the next instalment of the series. For those expecting the Dante they used to know, you may find it a little annoying: this Dante resembles more of a petulant and, occasionally, annoying teenager with a bad attitude and a sweet set of guns. He struts around like the king of Limbo City and doesn’t have that certain something that made Dante unique, but the satisfaction gained from smacking an enemy into the air and watching it explode kind of outweighs this. His skills are there with a whole new set of toys to play with and I’m quite curious to see how both Dante and Virgil develop to become the characters we both know and love.
As if that isn’t enough incentive even the loading screen has its own brand of awesome. While waiting a silhouette Dante pummels a demon using all the weapons talked about above, giving you a tantalising tease as to what is coming up. And come on, who can honestly get fed up of shattering demons like glass with that all-familiar combat style?
The demo is out for Xbox 360 now so don’t forget to download it and let us know what you think! For those still deciding check out the trailer below.
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