So in my review of Devil May Cry 5 I did my best to avoid spoilers, which meant I couldn’t go into nearly as much detail about the story and characters as I would have liked. It’s a direct story with a tight focus, and that’s basically all I could say, other than the characters made real strides, especially Nero. I’ll be going into things in greater detail here with no restraint on spoilers, so bear that in mind going forward. If you haven’t played the game yet and want to know what I thought and then be able to go into the game blind, go read my review, otherwise, this is the last warning for spoilers if you stay. Spoilers follow.
V and Vergil’s humanity
So then, Vergil huh? He was confirmed in the final trailer and shown (with his face covered) as far back as the reveal, but I didn’t expect him to have quite as much of a presence as he does. After splitting himself into his human side; V, and his demon side; Urizen, the whole game is about the former, alongside Dante, Nero, Lady, Trish and Nico trying to take down the latter. They try, they fail, they wait a month and have another go, V rejoins with Urizen to reform Vergil and after a family reunion (more on that later), Dante and Vergil go to Hell to close the portal Urizen opened. It’s straight forward and, like I said, focused. It’s the character interactions that stand-out, with an overarching theme of humanity. For each of the main cast of demon-human hybrids their humanity is what sees them through. V is literally Vergil’s humanity ripped from him and given life of its own; everything he threw away in his quest for power. In order for Vergil to come back from the brink and be a potential ally to Dante and friends he’s going to need to go through a pretty drastic change, and that’s what happens. His human side, aided by physical manifestations of Vergil’s haunting nightmares from his time as Nelo Angelo back in DMC1 are unconditionally on the side of good. V is eccentric but warm, with a sense of humour and a love of reading and quoting Blake poems that meshes surprisingly well with the ruthless way he deals with demons. It’s implied that V is what Vergil would have become if things had been different vis a vis the death of Eva and Sparda, and Vergil’s own feelings of abandonment. He’s also physically weak and slowly dying; Urizen has the vast majority of Vergil’s power, V has a small amount he’s using to stop himself falling apart. Each of the three playable characters has a different connection to Vergil, a different angle to view him from, and in that regard V plays a dual role. He is both part of Vergil and an observer of Vergil’s all-consuming pursuit of power, it’s like feeling regret at your own personal failings while being able to see them happen in front of your eyes, unable to stop them without serious backup. V is my favourite character in the game, possibly in the whole series. His playstyle, design, backstory and interactions with everyone and everything in the game are just so endearing and interesting. It’s for that reason that I’m sad that in order to get Vergil back we had to lose V. Don’t get me wrong, I love Vergil and I’m glad he’s back. I think he, Dante and especially Nero all make great strides in a short space of time, in a way that makes sense because it’s informed by history and unspoken emotions. The way I see it is, V is the flame that burns twice as bright but half as long; all the sweeter for his brevity. Also if he’s got to be sacrificed for anyone I’m glad it’s Vergil and his existence makes Vergil more interesting. But I do still miss him.
Nero and the Power of Love
I certainly wasn’t expecting Nero to be the heart of this whole story. Just as Dante and Vergil are about to land potentially lethal blows, Nero disintegrates his Devil Breaker, grows a human arm in its place and taps into his very own Devil Trigger, regaining the Devil Bringer he lost. His DT is born from a desire to stop his Uncle and Father killing each other, to end their sibling rivalry, connect with his family and turn their collective attention to destroying the Qliphoth. Dante and Vergil finally stop trying to kill each other because Nero gets in the middle of them, taps into the power of love and literally beats them both into submission. Nero’s brash and cocky but it makes sense that he’d take this turn after everything that happened with Kyrie and Credo back in DMC4, with him even referencing the latter’s death as something that haunts him to this day. His kicking the shit out of Vergil probably doesn’t hurt his image in his Father’s eyes either, considering his fixation with power and strength. Speaking of which, giving Nero a new Devil Bringer that carries over into new game plus is great, especially given that you can combine it with Devil Breakers, adding a whole extra layer to Nero’s combat style. The final boss fight between Nero and Vergil isn’t as hard as Dante’s prior bout (at least on normal difficulty), instead offering an immensely satisfying cooldown, particularly when you first activate Nero’s DT and he yells “FUCK YOU!”, raises a spectral middle finger and an awesome remix of Devil Trigger starts playing. It’s a powerful moment for the series as a whole and in particular Nero; he’s really come into his own as a character in DMC5. I also like that he’s still in a relationship with Kyrie and lives with her in and that she’s still involved as a character, although I wish she had more of a presence than just a disembodied voice. I look forward to seeing where Capcom take him in potential sequels, particularly if Dante and Vergil really are trapped in Hell. Speaking of which…
Vergil and Dante
Hoo boy. So Dante and Vergil finally tone their rivalry down from “duels to the death” to “brotherly sparring” but it takes the hardest boss fight in the entire game for them to do so. Their relationship in 5 goes from trying to kill each other to working together, sparring and trading friendly banter, ending the game with this wonderful exchange:
“Don’t you dare say it!”
I think everything V did was instrumental in this change in Vergil, as well as meeting his Son for the first time. Having lost the nightmares from his time as Nelo Angelo, regained his humanity and managed to avoid dying, which was the whole reason he split in the first place, it makes sense Vergil might be looking for something else to do with himself. Nero’s proved he can best his old man in a fight, and that he has the physical strength and pure heart required to protect the human world, so why not go off with Dante to seal the portal and bum around Hell for a bit? Presumably the two brothers will escape from the underworld eventually, I feel like having finally brought Vergil back to life proper Capcom wouldn’t do away with him so quickly, and as a send-off this isn’t nearly over the top, cool and goofy enough for Dante. Dante’s going to die in the ultimate blaze of glory or Dante’s never going to die. Regardless of where it goes from here, the ending of the game is excellent. It really feels like a satisfying culmination of everything that leads up to it; that focus on the mental and physical strain of waging a seemingly insurmountable war against Vergil; brother against brother, son against father, humanity against demonic power. It takes a toll but it all pays off, and I’m excited to see where a potential sequel would go.
Finally, just some extra stuff I like:
Dante’s styles, specifically this being the first game that made me want to use something other than Swordmaster. Got some good mileage out of Trickster and Gunslinger. This is the most fun I’ve ever had with Dante, his weapons this time around are all fantastic, combined with the styles and how fluidly he moves and attacks, it’s brilliant.
V’s backwards dodge being Griffon carrying him away
The neat little alternate main menus showing Dante and Vergil hanging out in Nico’s motorhome. Particularly the one where Vergil looks over at Nero like he’s about to say something then shyly decides against it
Speaking of Nico: everything Nico does but especially her getting the Devil May Crymobile into all manner of hard to reach places
I just came up with Devil May Crymobile and I like it, I’m going to use it more often
Lady’s new design. It’s like her terrible DMC4 look never happened
Dante’s new design; I like the more simple look in line with 3 after his chaps and Chris Redfield gloves from DMC4. Excellent boot game.
V’s EX colours making his coat have the colour and pattern of Vergil’s DMC3 outfit
Nero’s hood up taunt and V’s violin and orchestra taunts
One the subject of V, one final mention of the fact that I love everything about him. V is best boy.
So that’s Devil May Cry 5, the most fun game in the series, and potentially the best overall. A game that’s immensely enjoyable from start to finish and that balances deeply satisfying action gameplay with a poignant, emotional story that makes real strides for the Sons of Sparda and Nero, introduces V and Nico and continues Capcom’s meteoric resurgence into the top tier of game developers. I love it, and I’ll be surprised if it isn’t either my game of the year or at the very least a close, close second. So far its only rival for first place is the Resi 2 remake. God, Capcom really are killing it right now.
By James Lambert