Devil May Cry 5 review: The devil you know

Devil May Cry returns for an explosive entry that delivers on plot, gore, and humor in ways that elevate the series beyond what it's accomplished before.


It's been over a decade since the last core entry in the Devil May Cry series, with Devil May Cry 4 introducing players to a new character in 2008. Teenage Nero and his "Devil Bringer" arm initially presented series faithful with frustrations similar to that of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, which introduced the then-new character Raiden.

When fans found they were playing as Nero over Dante, at least for a good portion of the game, it was a bit of a shock, but critics and players alike ended up finding that they loved what he brought to the table. The game was ultimately a promising new direction for the series, and heralded great things for Devil May Cry as a whole.

But then, after a brief pit stop with Ninja Theory's DmC: Devil May Cry reboot in 2013, there was nothing but radio silence for six years. Enter Devil May Cry 5, the first proper sequel to the core Devil May Cry continuity and the first new Devil May Cry game on current-get consoles like Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Bringing Nero, series mainstay Dante, and new character V together for an explosive combination of stylish action and lore expansion, it's the best the franchise has to offer so far by a country mile.

Shout at the devil

As previously stated, this is a continuation of Devil May Cry 4, and continue the story it does. The story kicks off where an unknown man named "V" heads to the Devil May Cry office proper to enlist Dante to help him clear out a series of demon attacks taking place around the world. Dante pairs up with companions Lady and Trish to tackle V's little demon problem and soon realizes he may be no match for the powerful demon who needs slaying, named Urizen.

As Dante and the others are swatted down like flies, Nero takes his shot as well, realizing he's no match for Urizen. As Urizen grows stronger and more powerful, Dante, Nero, and the newcomer V must work to take down the demon before the demonic tree he's growing through the nourishment of human blood can continue to flourish.

That's the story in a nutshell – barring all the surprises that happen between the opening moments and the final wrap-up that results in the return of a fan-favorite character (by way of someone who's not who they appear to be) and something of a Goku and Vegeta-type rivalry between massively powerful beings. Suffice it to say, without spoiling anything, it's the most shocking end to a Devil May Cry game we've seen in the past, but it's full of good surprises, especially if you've been waiting for some sort of evolution of your favorite half-demons for quite some time. There may even be another joining the family, but mum's the word here.

With that in mind, this is very much a story for those who have completed the entirety of the Devil May Cry series (excepting DmC: Devil May Cry) from start to finish. It culls from lore throughout the entire of the games, such as Dante and his brother Vergil, their father Mundus, the origins of Trish and Lady, and how Nero came to receive his demonic arm. You'll want to have at least played through some of the games or be familiar with the lore if you want to take this entry on. 

The devil's right arm 

Devil May Cry 5 finds Nero back in the saddle again, though he's essentially armless this time around. His demonic Devil Bringer has been stolen, unceremoniously ripped away from his body, and he's forced to use prosthetics if he has any hope of destroying the droves of enemies that plague Red Grave City. He's a demon hunter with his own demon agency, lovingly referred to as Devil May Cry (with support from Dante, of course).

It's not like he's using a plastic, hollow arm, though. He has tons of awesome arms called Devil Breakers, built for him by friend and engineer Nico, the granddaughter of the woman who created Dante's iconic handguns Ebony and Ivory. Devil Breakers run the gamut from what appears to be a white plastic arm with a back and forth motion (hinted at as" good for Nero's girlfriend Kyrie," wink wink), a literal fork, and even Mega Man's iconic Mega Buster, with several others to choose from. 

With that in mind, the game's all about clearing a room or corridor full of enemies, collecting orbs (health, Devil Trigger energy, currency to purchase things) and then doing it all over again in a new area. Unlike the earlier entries, it's bereft of puzzles, placing the spotlight squarely on killing all the demons that you need to eliminate to progress. And that's fine by me, because I've never booted up a Devil May Cry game to solve puzzles. I want to cleave through demon flesh.

And DMC5 does it with such panache that it feels like a celebration. It's ultra-stylish (as your performance is graded, of course) and feels fantastic, to the point where you enjoy fighting just as much as dashing through each level hacking through caches of red orbs and occasionally sticking nasty little "booger babies" (nidhoggs) into roots to open up areas. It's so enjoyable that I don't mind being interrupted going from point A to point B every few minutes to kill off various species of bad guys because it's so damn fun

Most of the fun stems from the different kinds of combat you can work with. Each Devil Breaker can be used multiple times until it breaks, or discharged immediately to cause a bigger blast and do more damage. Then, the next one in your magazine is ready to use. So if you select a few of your favorites to use, you can burn through them at your leisure as you cut through the hordes of demons.

Unfortunately, though you can choose your loadout at the beginning of a mission, you cannot swap between your Devil Breakers at will. You must instead break the current one you have equipped to use the next one. This results in you having to be selective about which works best for you. Do you opt for the Punch Line which can fire rocket-powered left hooks or Helter Skelter, which features spinning blades? You might want to wear the Mega Buster (available with the Deluxe Edition I reviewed) for kicks. Since you have to find the arms out in the world if you don't buy the ones you want between levels, you'll deal with random ones instead. It's nothing to complain about, but something to keep in mind.

V is an intriguing character to play as, because he doesn't actually lift a finger to fight himself. It may be unconventional, but it does add something of a refreshing and almost comical element to the story. He can summon the birdlike and panther demons Griffon and Shadow to aid him in battle instead. They simply do all the fighting for him, but V has to strike the final blow with his cane.

As V, you need to stand back away from the action, occasionally using V's "quick step" to be pulled through the air by Griffon away from enemies so you can dash right up to them again and end their miserable lives. Instead of a Devil Trigger, V can summon the massive creature Nightmare, who's around for a short time and can make short work of enemies. V can read from the grimiore he carris around with him to charge up his Devil Trigger gauge for additional juice so you can keep trotting Nightmare out. While I enjoyed this fighting style, I couldn't help but wish there was additional variety, and there's that undeniable urge to want to be up close and personal with the action – but given the story reasons for V's weakness, I understood why that was the case. It does add a challenging layer to the game that we haven't seen before, however. And with any other weapon, we might have figured out V's secret sooner.

Though Nero is undoubtedly the "star" of the game considering he's integral to the story, it's Dante who steals the show in terms of combat. This is the big Demon Hunter, the son of Sparda, it's freakin' Dante. Of course he's going to deliver with the big guns. And deliver he does, with his famous guns, shotgun, sword,, and the all-powerful Devil Trigger. It's even new and improved later on in the game with a souped-up version of the ability that absolutely wrecks everything in your path, making some of the later encounters a cinch. But Dante has it all, to the point where playing with him feels almost like cheating because he's so powerful. The man can wield motorcycles and beat demons to death with them by using two halves of one as blades. Come on.

You won't switch off between the characters every level, but you do it every few chapters or so. Some will let you choose who you want to play as first, though you'll have to go back and do the other levels later as the others. This allows you to absorb more of whoever becomes your favorite, because you'll undoubtedly have one between the wildly varying play styles of Nero, Dante, and V.

Devil inside

When you finish the game, you do have several goodies to look forward to. One such is Son of Sparda mode, a higher difficulty level that will whip you into shape. You can also browse character models, items you've collected, and look back on all the secret missions you partook in throughout the game. If you're feeling particularly creative, you can go back into the game and make good use of Photo Mode, which you can do no matter if you've beaten the game or not, but with access to all the levels at your disposal, you can go through and take some seriously impressive shots. It doesn't have all the same niceties of games like God of War or Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, but it can make for some awesome photos. 

There is co-op play, but only in the broadest sense of the word. Because I played ahead of the game's official release, I rarely experienced many sightings like this, but at certain intervals when all three characters cross paths, you may potentially run into the "ghost data" of other players. You might look off of a ledge and see them fighting demons while you're doing the same thing across the way. It never happened to me, likely due to a lack of player data, but they could even theoretically fight alongside you when it makes sense in certain areas.

This will ramp up more when the game is out and everyone can play it, but it's a cool feature. At the end of a mission where another player makes a cameo, you can rate their performance as "stylish" or not, and if you end up receiving positive ratings yourself, you'll be rewarded with things like Gold Orbs. I would have vastly preferred traditional co-op play, but this made things interesting, and I felt like I needed to put on my best performance so others would rate me positively and I'd rack up the items. Plus, I wanted to look cool in front of my peers, of course. 

Sympathy for the devil 

Devil May Cry 5 is an excellent action game. It's an even better Devil May Cry, perhaps the best the series has seen just yet. It's aesthetically pleasing in ways I never thought possible for the series, and chock-full of love for the fans, oozing out of every pore. From the throwback naming of demons that hearken back to the earlier days of the franchise to the style that drips out of every orifice, this is the best that Devil May Cry gets and more. Some fans may find the open-ended conclusion a bit frustrating, but I found it the perfect way to start laying groundwork for additional titles in the future. And judging by this game's quality? We're going to need them sooner rather than later. Trust me on this. 

This review is based on a PlayStation 4 download code provided by the publisher. Devil May Cry 5 will be available on March 8 via retail and digital stores on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It has been rated M for Mature by the ESRB.

Senior Editor

Fueled by horror, rainbow-sugar-pixel-rushes, and video games, Brittany is a Senior Editor at Shacknews who thrives on surrealism and ultraviolence. Follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake and check out her portfolio for more. Like a fabulous shooter once said, get psyched!

Review for
Devil May Cry 5
  • Excellent graphics
  • Thrilling surprises for Devil May Cry fans
  • Silky smooth combat
  • Wide variety of weapons and combos to pull off
  • Fun extras and unlockables to keep you coming back
  • Additional lore in the Devil May Cry saga that sets the groundwork for new games
  • Can be completed fairly quickly
  • Unable to swap through Devil Breakers in your Magazine
  • Playing as V could potentially slow down the experience for some
From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 6, 2019 8:00 AM

    Brittany Vincent posted a new article, Devil May Cry 5 review: The devil you know

    • reply
      March 6, 2019 9:31 AM

      The only DMC I ever played was Ninja Theory's DmC: Devil May Cry. I had no idea it was a reboot but I thoroughly enjoyed it. If this new one is anything like it I will check it out.

    • reply
      March 6, 2019 10:47 AM


    • reply
      March 6, 2019 12:59 PM

      Nice! Damn this also sounds amazing My Body is Ready! I am all pre-ordered up for my PC(pray it works in triple screen config on the PC for that would be insane!).

      I personally fell in love with it during the XB1 demo so to read this review makes me Ultra Mega Hyped :) . The style, art, gameplay, sound, vibe is so Japan game design and I freaking love that(was what I was hoping for in the next DMC title), it just feels so right/has soul. That was my impression from just the demo, it is DMC done right and what it should progress to and what it should be.

      So happy right now, Brittany you made my day :) , thanks for the write up.

      Tomorrow is going to be an Epic day.

    • reply
      March 6, 2019 5:19 PM

      Review is as cool as the 5th installment of DMC. Nice!

      Capcom is really going all out.

      They've been introducing some of the best remakes of their most popular game series such as Resident Evil 2 and Megaman 11.

      I can't help but have a strong feeling that Devil May Cry 5 will be the best game in the DMC series.

      I love how I still get to see Nero and Dante.

      I'm excited for the new protagonist as well.

    • reply
      March 8, 2019 11:43 AM

      This game should he held as an example to other developers of how to do a PC port. It has better setting options than Metro, but a mile. Also the HDR is amazing in this game which is nice to see given the mediocre implementation in the re2 remake.

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