Remember back in 2013 when all the internet had to get mad about was a different hair colour for an angsty demon hunter? Such a colossal fuss was made over Ninja Theory’s decision to give Dante a goth makeover that it almost overshadowed what is the best entry into the series. The superb weapon variety, combat and level design made Ninja Theory’s entry one to silence the doubters. With the Definitive Edition, we get the expected 1080p/60 fps upgrade, but it is the game’s tweaks and tools, which allow the player to cater the experience to their own style, that make this a great remaster.
As mentioned above, DmC runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second. It already looked great on old gen, with wonderfully varied stages that kept players entertained throughout its 10 hour campaign. The move to the new consoles hasn’t resulted in much of a facelift, though, with visuals looking largely the same aside from the sharper picture thanks to the extra p’s.
DmC’s best new feature, however, is probably Turbo Mode, which ups the game speed by 20% (and makes 60 frames essential). Playing at its original speed now feels sluggish outside of combat. Dante trudges along at a snail’s pace without his abilities, and standard enemies (Stygians) behave like slow-moving zombies, fodder for your hero’s blades. In Turbo mode, particularly when the Son of Sparda is tooled up to the nines, surrounded by dozens of demons, fights are fast; Dante zips around and can snap to-and-fro with ease, making it quickly become the default way to play. The new manual lock-on also helps you work through enemies without suddenly falling off the plane or the camera focusing on the most insignificant part of an encounter.
Playing through DmC again, it was apparent how Ninja Theory nailed the difficulty curve. At the start of the game, Dante has a basic arsenal, equipped with only the iconic Ebony and Ivory, his two pistols, and Rebellion, his sword. But the steady drip-feed of new enemies and the weapons they require to overcome is such that it gives you time to adjust to the complex control scheme: you are never overwhelmed by your new toys.
Dante’s evolution is countered by his enemies, who also improve steadily across the chapters. Got a new Demon Blade? Good, now go face new enemies that require them (although community mods have been introduced which mean other weapons can inflict damage, too), while still dealing with all whom you’ve faced before. It’s a wonderful system that allows you to feel that you’re getting better without ever thinking there’s a lack of challenge ahead.
For those who finished the original and find themselves getting SSS-ensational ranks at a canter, Ninja Theory has introduced a new Hardcore Mode. Available on all difficulty settings, Hardcore Mode focuses on balancing the Style reward system of combat to be more ‘old school’. Instead of upping the difficulty of the enemies themselves, instead you’re punished far more severely for damage taken (a single hit ends your combo) and the S-barrier requires much flashier combos. There’s also a new ‘Must Style’ mode, which means enemies only take damage once you’ve achieved an S-ranking, plus a new hardest difficulty (Gods Must Die) for those simply looking to show off, because let’s face it, that’s what you’re doing.
With these two new additions, combined with the added difficulty modes, there’s great replay value for both new players and vets alike. The only downside is that difficulty and game speed can only be tweaked between missions, so if you find a mission too hard/easy, you either have to restart or power through in order to change it up.
Being the Definitive Edition, you also receive Vergil’s Downfall in the package, as well as his own unique version of the Bloody Palace. Vergil, unlike his more devilish brother, lacks the freedom of expression in attacks thanks to the limitations of having but one sword in Downfall. The comparison of how the two characters play is a bit like when Tekken’s Jin Kazama switched from the Mishima fighting style to more traditional Karate in Tekken 4, and suddenly wasn’t as fun to use. Vergil’s combos are slow and difficult to chain, making it much harder to move up the Style ranks; it also doesn’t help that the narrative of his campaign is poor and feels like a failed attempt at casting the character in a new light.
It may be another HD remake, but DmC does more than dust off and polish up an old title. In fact, it doesn’t really improve its looks much beyond the resolution and frame rate, but rather gives players the tools to tailor the experience. This is a remake that’s been created based on community’s feedback, upping speed, increasing difficulty and moving items to keep player’s on their toes, meaning there’s plenty here to justify a return, especially at a budget price point. There are some hiccups, like Dante’s costume reverting to default in some cutscenes, Vergil’s Downfall being a disappointment and Bloody Palace being locked until the campaign is finished, but none are enough to prevent DmC Definitive Edition being the most fun Devil May Cry in the series.