277th played so far
Platform: PlayStation 2
Year of Release: 2001
Sometimes the dice just roll your way. To keep variety, we occasionally pick a random game to go into our ‘next game’ pile and this time, it came up with an interesting one.
I’ve been interested in Devil May Cry for some time. Both Bayonetta and God of War II were great fun and successes for us. It seems to share its desire for stylish combats and outrageous maneuvers, action for its fun sake rather than caring too much about credibility. And despite some of the comments about the protagonist’s emoness, the total picture always seemed like it would be fun to me. Hence, I’m excited to try it.
So many things to say today, where do we start?
Let’s start with the above. The game’s combat – one of the big selling points, obviously – is mostly just right. At its best, you end up in a whirlwind of slashes, thrusts, jumps and gun fights as you weave your way through piles of enemies. One boss battle pitches you against seventeen of them, which is standard a level or two later.
The game isn’t yet as stylish as it’s descendants. The like of Bayonetta and God of War clearly spin-off a lot of their techniques from here. While there are many moves and especially the later ones are flashy, they don’t get as cinematic just yet. Probably best are some of the boss battles, which are more interesting than fighting off a mob, although also a lot tougher. Entertaining and manic, although probably not as much fun to watch just yet.
The enemies in the game, however, are all the more interesting. The game was originally designed as a Resident Evil spin-off and this is where it shows. The forces of darkness are represented by the sort of creatures that would fit most horror environment. The first basic enemies you encounter, the mooks you see most often early on, are possessed puppets, where you even see the strings pulling them up after they fall down.
One thing that is interesting about this game being a retooled Resident Evil is the discussion of at what point did the retooling start. The survival horror parts have been stripped out, obviously, in the favour of a more hack-and-slash style game. That all makes sense to me. The setting however does speak of a different direction, no longer in a manor or through a city this feels more supernatural than chemical warfare. Resident Evil 4 does share a number of traits in this game in terms of atmosphere and style (with gameplay being entirely different). If I wasn’t such a chicken it would have been great to play these back-to-back to see how many similarities cross-over.
I’ll be honest on one thing – I did want to change the difficulty to easy mode after a while. While I didn’t do too badly, a few battles got incredibly frustrating and the boss battles in particular got irritating. The first knight battle was a final straw – you get two difficult boss fights in a row, as well as a QTE-style story event, with no chance to save in between and little chance to rest and heal if you’re not ready for it. Having used up all my lives a few times, having to reload, got annoying.
The intermediate parts are as interesting. Not as action focused as you might expect, the game plays more like an adventure in between. In the first chapters, you explore a large castle. You find the right places to go to, solve some simple puzzles – bring an item from one place to another, find the hidden door, things like that – and make your way through the area. The game is divided into chapters, with doors and sections only opening in particular chapters, as the story (as much as there is) is told.
On the whole though, these adventures elements (as annoying they can be when you’re stuck) are secondary to the brawling experience. And that’s probably good enough here.
This is both a nice brawler and a simple, nice adventure. The difficulty mainly comes from the battles, although some of the mook battles drag on.
On the whole, I’m looking forward to the sequels, where I hope it’s all enhanced a bit further, but until then, this game works well.