Let’s get one thing straight: it doesn’t matter what Dante looks like, because DmC: Devil May Cry is still that same great collaboration of action, difficulty, and attitude that fans of the series have come to love. Just because the franchise’s hero is skinnier, has different colored hair, and sports a new wardrobe doesn’t mean he can’t kick ass just as much as the Dante of old. Don’t believe me? Take a minute and read through my hands-on time with DmC at New York Comic Con to see what I mean.
The demo begins with Dante entering a large area encased within stone cylindrical walls. Hanging out within (literally) is Poison, the demon hunter’s target. This brown, fleshy monstrosity’s form is reminiscent of a slug or caterpillar, but with the face and arms of a human. It doesn’t take long for Dante to start threatening the villain’s life, with several insults and f-bombs exchanged between the two. Yep, this Dante still gets a rise out of teasing the hell out of his enemies before, during, and after ripping them to shreds.
The ensuing conflict consisted of mechanics, methods, and strategies reminiscent of the old PS2 Devil May Cry. Poison has a limited variety of attacks that he will use to lash out at Dante, each with a distinct “tell” or action that gives Dante a second or two warning to dodge. A horizontal arm swing and vertical arm slam are performed with the intention to bash the player; while a projectile vomit attack will leave the acidic fluid across the platform, forcing Dante to move on to one of the other two.
Moving from one section of this map to the next involves precise use of Dante’s Angel Lift ability on nearby hanging structures. It isn’t as easy and forgiving as any normal action or platform game, something that series fans will be happy to hear. Getting to safety will involve precise timing and proper use of the left analog stick for aiming the next grapple. This principle also applies to Dante’s Demon Pull, which is used to forcibly liberate the two tubes keeping Poison elevated above the torrent of yellow liquid that fills the bottom of the level. Doing so can’t be accomplished, however, until Poison’s health is rendered to zero for each tube. Taking down the ugly slug’s vitality bar is accomplished in two ways familiar to DMC fans: slicing and shooting.
The long method is to just pound away on Poison’s arms in between the demon’s attacks. It’s effective, but will take forever. A more efficient way to take this meat sack down a peg or ten is to wait for him to reveal his glowing-red forehead from beneath the rolls that cover it, a weak spot where any quick combo will take out a massive chunk of health.
Once Poison’s health is depleted and his tubes removed, Dante takes the battle to be over after drop-kicking the demon into the mysterious liquid below. But we all know better, and of course Poison reemerges and tries to drag Dante down with him. What ensues isn’t anything as challenging as the actual battle that just concluded, merely some more Angel Lifting and Demon Pulling to put Poison in place for the killing blow. When that finishing move does take place though, it’s an over-the-top gorefest that fans have come to expect.
Despite Poison’s limited attacks, my encounter with him did prove to be challenging. Thankfully the demo allowed for instant revivals; otherwise I could have been fighting him for far longer than I did. Hopefully this demo help put to rest any doubts critics of the new look have on the game’s difficulty. If not, they can find out for themselves when DmC: Devil May Cry releases for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on January 15, 2013.