Home > Game Design, Impressions, Non-Fighters > Design Impressions: DmC (Devil May Cry)

Design Impressions: DmC (Devil May Cry)

Lately i’ve been jotting down thoughts and observations while playing random games for fun. A few friends expressed interest in reading my notes, so i’m posting them here in case anyone else cares. Who knows, maybe some fun conversations will come out of it. Today i’ll be delving into DmC: Devil May Cry, developed by Ninja Theory.

Disclaimer #1: This is not a review of the game. These scattered notes are just my personal impressions as a player. Please don’t take them too seriously.

Disclaimer #2: I’m not trying to say i could do better by any means. If i point out a flaw, it’s usually because i think it’s interesting; not to criticize anyone involved. There are countless reasons why a feature might be imperfect, buggy, or incomplete. Game development is a chaotic human endeavor, and it’s very rarely easy to figure out why something went wrong. Anyway it’s a safe bet that the dev team thought of most ideas or solutions i might suggest, but they couldn’t be implemented due to some unfortunate constraint.

• Combat feels crisp, responsive, and satisfying.
  ○ The Demon Pull and Angel Lift mechanics are awesome. Controls can be hard to remember at first; but if you make a commitment to the game, it’s an incredibly fun and versatile system.
• Level design is often spectacular and exhilarating, especially during dynamic environment transformations. The church exit and car chase were both amazing experiences.
  ○ Those must have been an interesting challenge for the environment art team. I can’t think of anything quite like it in prior games.

    WeaponsDmC Dante
• Rebellion is Dante’s basic melee weapon and feels good throughout the game. Reliable combo starter on the ground (Hacker into whatever) and in the air (Hightime launch).
  ○ The delayed Death Coil chain also feels strong and adds variety.
  ○ Stinger is the only weak link, because the double tap input feels unnatural on a pad stick and mashing for Trillion Stabs gets tiring.
• Arbiter feels both amazing and effective in combat, and it’s fun to figure out how to overcome its slowness. Presenting clear tradeoffs in an otherwise open-ended combat system is such a great way to encourage critical thinking and exploration!
  ○ Osiris isn’t a bad alternate since there are some stylish things it can do, although it felt significantly less powerful than even Rebellion and its upside wasn’t entirely clear.
• Eryx was probably the weakest weapon design in that it never felt fun to use or more commanding than Arbiter, despite requiring a lot more patience to deploy. It was useful for launching armored Butcher enemies, and that’s about it.
  ○ Aquila is probably the second most fun weapon – but it only shines after unlocking the Buy In upgrade, which pulls in all nearby enemies. Until then, it’s largely a situational gimmick weapon used for the Round Trip ability.
• All three of Dante’s guns are fun at first, but ineffective and therefore largely forgettable.
  ○ In fact, the ranged weapon trophy was the last weapon-based achievement i unlocked. It’s the only reason i used guns in the last 1/3 of the game. That and shattering occasional Demonic Shards, which felt more like a tacked-on mini-game than part of the core combat experience.
• Kablooey is an intriguing gun design, but it’s unlocked too late in the game to become familiar and requires too much patience to utilize. I used it against Vergil, but mostly as filler to accompany the real strategy of reflecting his own projectiles back at him, which yielded far more damage. Definitely a cool weapon for advanced combo construction though.

• Healthy mix of small troops, large threats, flying target practice, and unique enemy designs encountered in later stages. Not much to say about most of them; i think they worked well.
• Harpies were my least favorite enemies to encounter. They’re pretty damn tough to kill, and extremely annoying in groups with other enemies. The strategy to fight them is just very murky and one-at-a-time.
  ○ It would be more fun if there was some way to hurt the whole group at once, maybe by catching one of their (extremely painful) lances and causing a shockwave that stuns them or damages their wings.
  ○ I wonder if there was supposed to be another airborne enemy type which got cut, so a few extra gameplay elements were added to Harpies without giving them the full endgame enemy treatment. So now they’re in that middle zone of annoying to fight, but not quite respected. (This might be worth discussing further in another article.)

• Odd tangent, but i don’t understand the marketing strategy for DmC at all. Judging by trailers and commercials, i thought new Dante was a jackass. Everyone did, apparently.
  ○ Playing the game, i was shocked to find out that DmC Dante is one of the coolest, chillest, most likable protagonists in any action game – with a genuinely compelling story! He’s certainly more relatable than classic Dante. How did that get lost so completely?
• Choosing the Succubus boss battle out of context for the playable demo was a terrible idea. Not only is she disgusting, but it’s easily the low point of the story, dialogue-wise. Just questionable decisions all around.

DmC Vergil     Vergil’s Downfall DLC
• Very interesting to play as Vergil through a solid 3-4 hours of content, with many new mechanics to explore.
• Vergil’s abilities seem more intricate than Dante’s, but there’s certainly a lot of power to unlock through precision. It’s fun to tackle some of the same demons with a different moveset, finding new ways past their patterns and defenses.
• Platforming is noticeably less polished than in the main game. A lot of it stems from giving Vergil an upward dash on neutral L1 and downward dash on neutral R1.
  ○ I don’t think i used the downward dash once all game, and i got killed dozens of times trying to get used to the upward dash controls. It takes an extra split second for the pad stick to return to neutral after letting go, which meant i got forward air dash while attempting an upward dash all the time.
  ○ Jumping forward then neutral dashing upward then forward dashing is such an unnatural input sequence.
  ○ This could’ve been easily remedied by keeping upward dash on the X button like Dante’s double jump, even if it meant mapping the same move to two inputs. Who cares about redundancy if it feels ten times better right out of the gate?
  ○ Anyway, platforming felt much better in my second playthrough after getting used to the controls. (Which is why it’s so difficult to avoid becoming comfortable with overcomplicated control schemes during long development cycles.)

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  1. Pokey86
    July 11th, 2016 at 04:46 | #1

    I used to play DMC3 very heavily & Funnily enough, during the production of DmC i got an e-mail from Ninja Theory asking me to come down at there expense & try the game out. (They’re an english company & i’m an english player) This was just after the backlash by the old fans started peaking, fter Ninja Theory showed the teaser with the mop on Dantes head ribbing the old Dante look & in the end i never got a third response.

    I guessed it was either the backlash from old fans was very bad or they just backed out of the idea, which is a shame as it would have been an experience. Either way i think it was a forgone conclusion that i, along with the old fans, was going to buy & play it. Most old fans stuck to the usual gripes of no hard lock on/nerfed difficulty etc.

    I expeced the combat to be bad but the story to be good but in practice it was reversed.

    to get the best out the way the platforming & level design was overall probably the best aspect of the game. the game felt to me for the most part the old games ideas revamped & adjusted to cater for higher mobility & i think it was executed very well. The weapons had very good variance & while alot of people didn’t like the enemies that had to be beaten with certain classes of weapons i felt it forced you to play around with weapons you may not have relied on.

    button press delays to alter combo execution has been around since DMC1 & the mechanic they implemented in this game that allowed you to transition between delay attacks (for example you could attack twice with rebellion then pause, switch to arbiter & do the final hit of its alternate combo) This was a fantastic mechanic to implement that i wish was in the old DMC’s & added a level of function to combo variation.

    The story however i found very disjointed. The game takes itself very tongue in cheek, but it has scenes of a girl informing dante that she had been abused which i feel is a bit too contrasting & shouldnt really go together. Lastly i felt the dialogue for the most part was very very bad. in particularly as you said the succubus battle, the idiotic things she said made me want to mute my TV, only time i’ve every got that close to being embarrassed playing a game was the opening cinematic of FFX-2 (for different reasons mind you) The dialogue came off to me like that kid who swears alot to try & sound cool.

    I could probably go on & on but i’ll cut this to one more aspect. Guns & weapon balance was a little bit skewed in this game. I can imagine most people relied mainly on Rebellion, Arbiter & Aquila & could have probably disregarded Scythes & Gloves entirely. Well, would have had they not incorporated enemies that required you to use angles/demon weapons. Guns/projectile/ranged are hard to balance out in games in general i believe, to soft & they never get used, to good & they destroy the combat system (cough* DMC2) This game i felt did it ok with E&I & the shotgun but certainly wasn’t perfect.

    Either way overall i was pleasantly surprised with the depth & strengths of the combat, even if i am a fan of hard lock on. outside of NGB & DMC3 i feel it stood out as a very strong system & wholly enjoyable, certainly better than Bayonetta, DMC4 & GoW. But the dialogue is undoubtedly its worst aspect. I platinum’d the game so played it enough to be semi efficient i believe.

    The DLC was also very good, Vergil felt very varied in terms of combat, required a bit more precision in execution which is somewhat how you expect he would have played. only gripe was one or two of the larger enemies felt a bit not made for him much like pretty much all the enemies felt for Dante in DMC4. But overall i think it was superb & a worthwhile purchase.

  2. July 21st, 2016 at 21:31 | #2

    Thanks for sharing your take. It’s interesting to hear what a hardcore DMC player thought. Personally i consider myself a fan of the series, but i only played through DMC1 and DMC2 and of course DmC. I played DMC3 and DMC4 a little bit, but never got very far – can’t remember why.

    DMC1 was pretty amazing, although i played it late so by then everyone else was already borrowing ideas from it. I actually had a blast playing DMC2, but it definitely emphasized gun combat like you said and ended up feeling pretty easy because of it. Plus it was short, which caught a lot of people by surprise, but i didn’t mind that so much. Dante definitely felt powerful in that game, and i remember enjoying the dual gun stuff and the wall run stuff.

    DmC’s story definitely had some low points, but overall i thought new Dante was a fairly likable character. At the very least he seemed to be going through real conflict, between meeting his long-lost brother and then having to deal with the ensuing drama, while trying to take care of Kat. I also thought Phineas was an interesting character. It’s too bad his chapter was so short.

  1. June 15th, 2016 at 09:32 | #1
  2. June 22nd, 2016 at 09:30 | #2
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