I leap from the sky, crashing into yet another room that looks suspiciously built for people to fight in, waiting for the next slate of victims to spawn from the netherrealm. One, two, three—no, four drooling husks appear. What happens next can go a million different ways.
A couple hours with DMC5 has really driven home my initial impression from the trailers: that Capcom took a lot of the stylistic choices from DmC (2013) and put them in a really good Devil May Cry game.
I liked that game but I really disliked a lot of the mechanical choices Ninja Theory made and that game’s fat-shaming, no-homo bullshit really stuck out when I returned to it last year. The decision to make DMC5 less anime and more B-movie cheese, the dubsteppy trash metal, the overt horniness, the mix of tech and body horror all feel lifted from DmC and applied with a smarter, softer touch than that game.
I think this game is going to re-frame what that game meant to the series for a lot of critics in a more nuanced way, rather than the “I was great! You fought Glenn Beck in the TV!” defence that I’ve seen consistently over the years. That game has Problems, mechanically and tonally, and deserves a re-examination with the critical distance that new and Very Good sequel will create.
I really don’t understand what people see in that game the only take away i got was that that game absolutely HATES women. people keep bringing it up remembering it fondly and honestly any good parts atleast to me are very much overshadowed by the worst aspects, no amount of level design or passable combat is going to overshadow (CW: game spoiler, body horror, death, mutilation, reproductive references ) Abortion by sniper rifle. Am i crazy? do people not remember that?
Almost all of Ninja Theory’s games have some kinda gross shit lurking beneath the surface of “brave art game” that they always go for, so that sounds about right. Honestly I didn’t get that far into DmC the last time I gave it a try. It left a real sour taste from the jump.
I liked DmC, and I’d honestly say it’s the second best in the series (or third, now that 5 is out, 4’s rushed development due to that blasted PS3 cell processor and MUCH worse story just barely bring it lower).
I had issues with the story as well, but it didn’t bug me as much because I finally got to it after playing the entire original series, which included:
-Demon king making a clone of Dante’s mom that he may or may not have been attracted to in that game
-Endless damseling as far as the eye can see
-Lady was underage in 3
-Kyrie could be replaced with a lamp and barely anything in DMC4’s story would change
DmC is much weirder because the text does want to respect the female cast (Lilith is portrayed in a sympathetic light, for example, and the definite edition changes the scene a slight bit to reflect that), but it manages to stumble into a completely new problem. Kat does end up being a solid character in her own right by the end, but she’s not really given agency in the story when she should have plenty because her motivations are wrapped too much around Dante and Vergil, and putting her in danger was a cheap cop out to get the plot moving where they needed it to go.
The portrayal of sexuality is also really bad, and it stems entirely from the game taking cues from English punk culture, which as it turns out was pretty damn misogynist. Dante having sex is fine, but the women he’s with are objectified pretty hard. I get the point is to show how he changes later, but that also doesn’t excuse stuff like the presence of two images in that game where a bunch of women are basically worshiping his crotch.
But the reason this wasn’t such a deal breaker for me is because, as I mentioned, ALL of the DMC games are strangely misogynist or have creepy sex stuff dragging them down somewhere. It was a bad call on where to take the series, but I just don’t think it was as bad comparatively to the four games that came before it (NERO’S GRANDMOTHER’S CLONE BASICALLY CAME ON TO HIM IN 4 HOW DO WE NOT BRING THIS UP MORE)
I watched the opening credits for DMC5 and it’s completely sold me. Everything about it is simultaneously 100% stupid and 100% the coolest shit ever.
I’ve got DMC and have been meaning to play it for years so I might try and get through that first. It sounds like it’s got some uh issues, but I think it will be cool to play it right before 5 to see how it influenced it.
Around the time people first starting jumping on the “DMC (20-whatever) is bad unlike the old ones made by Capcom!” bandwagon I looked into the old games and uh, yeah. That last one was far from perfect, but calling that kettle black was a bit strange giving the pot being stood in was very much on fire to begin with. I’m not sure how metaphors work but I just watched Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas so that is the best I can do right now
Anyways I am on paper down for this game but everytime I have heard a game called sexy I have had a uh, bad experience with it to say the least, so I think I may gives this time for the critical reappraisal to happen ala Persona or Fire Emblem. Still waiting on that backlash for Nier though so it may be a while * continues to grind axe *
The thing about DmC that made the water boil over (besides some REALLY poorly thought out smug statements from Ninja Theory partly spurred on by Capcom wanting them to go so different they enabled their worst tendencies before the director of 2-4 stepped in during the last half of development to put the project on a more sensible track) was that it was the first DMC to be somewhat user friendly.
The difficulty of DmC would be scaled down one level in a previous game, so what was once normal was now the starting hard mode. This also resulted in the rating system on normal being very easy to cheese, which didn’t sit right with old fans and combo fiends because it felt like hand holding - and it was.
But those same people also didn’t bother where hard mode, where I think the game really pops. There were also issues with the color coded enemies that could only be defeated by a certain weapon type, especially when they were grouped together, limited your combo opportunities, something the definitive edition fixed by not having weapon bounce back if they’re hit with the wrong weapon.
Honestly, the actual mechanical issues were fairly minor outside some pretty lame boss fights compared to 3 and 4 (the Barbas fight is a stand out for sheer presentation, but the actual fight is mostly just avoiding the tron walls and hitting buttons with your dumb hulk hands). a lot of it was overblown because of the disaster of a press cycle before it released, due to Capcom and Ninja Theory showing contempt for old series fans because they were so gun-ho for getting a new audience. They did manage that somewhat (the game was not a failure by any stretch of the imagination, it sold about as well as previous entries) but it didn’t do the gangbusters the change in direction was supposed to produce.
To me it feels like devil may cry proper is a fairly sexless universe like resident evil.
Like the games are horny in presentation everyone’s hot and dresses to show it especially the ladies which is its own yikes but is very Japanese thing.
I’ll get into dante, the main female characters and how different they are to poor kat.
But Dante to me has always seemed like a 12 year-old trapped in a half demon man’s body, he’s too busy eating pizza, playing air guitar, perfecting his Michael Jackson impression and slaying demons to even think about relationships. and that character trait kinda puts a wholesome spin on his relationships to Trish and Lady to me.
They’re just 3 good looking pals who go around slaying demons together. On the surface in devil may cry and 1 and 3 it could look like Dante was flirting with Trish and (the 17 year old!) Lady but honestly he was kinda just messing with them. Trish is a demon who looks like his mum so thats a no go and he forgives her betrayal of him in the first game because of that fact.
And with lady he kinda just messes with her when she falls off the tower and gets shot in the face twice for his trouble.
Lady’s the only main line demon Hunter who is 100% human and the fact that she can keep up and be on par with the other demons and half demons is what makes her so badass. She’s climbing the tower for her own reasons in 3 and doesn’t want or need any help in acting them out. She even seems to be doing a better job of demon hunting than Dante at the start of dmc4 flaunting her success and teasing him.
Trish and Lady have allot of agency and power and they really feel like they only hang out with Dante because they want to, they could be anywhere else and be doing just fine. The time jumps in the series are also very significant it’s always a handful of years between installments the implication being that they’ll go off and do their own demon hunting on their own here and there, not always following Dante around.
This is why the tone shift and changing of Dantes character feels so gross in DmC for me because suddenly devil may cry goes from a bizarre sexless cartoon to a dirty sex negative misogynistic hellscape.
Kat has no life outside of Vergil her back story is she was raped and abused through childhood at an orphanage till Vergil swept in and saved her and used her for her empathy abilities. Untill she’s captured and beated and abused by cops which Vergil (and Dante by accomplice) let’s happen ultimately being traded like a bargaining chip in the last act of the game then cast aside. She has no agency or control and is souley defined by her worship of Vergil and feelings for Dante.
That combining with the sexist crotch worship depictions in the menus, the previously mentioned abortion murder by sniper rifle and general contempt for women and sex shown in that game just get the feeling so wrong and ruin what makes Dante work as a character. The Vergil fedora and Vergil mobile are also pretty unforgivable for their own reasons. DMC is funloving and campy DmC feels serious and awkward.
I won’t go into the homopobic GDC talk or general destain that game had for series fans this post is more than long enough.
This is my take it’s fine to like DmC I just don’t understand and can’t really get past the sexism of that game to appreciate what it did right when it got so much wrong tonaly.
But that’s the thing: It wasn’t like this until 3. In 1, the bones of future Dante was there, but there were a few things that suggested Kamiya’s version would be openly heterosexual (particularly calling Trish babe on first appearance). In 2, they tried a radical change in tone and he become much more traditionally masculine in a brooding sort of way, and Lucia’s story line reads very much as a romantic one. It’s one sided, but the intent was still to make Dante cool in a very traditional, masculine way.
Even by 3, when Dante became a sexless dork, Lady was still sexualized in cutscenes from time to time, and she was outright canonically underage. This also doesn’t excuse how 1 and 2 portrayed the female characters, or how 4 fails to try and make that dynamic established in 1 and not at all explored again until 4 less creepy (the aforementioned Nero scene kind of sends them into even creepier territory).
On one hand, you have a game on its own that has a real problem with wanting to be progressive while using the trappings of inherently misogynist media and culture (English punk and horror action films, particularly). On the other, you have a series with confused foundings that tried to be one thing at first and only figured itself out later, failing to mix down its earlier problematic elements until 5 (which just ignores a lot of previous events to avoid it).
All of them are good games (except 2), but they are all drenched in problems with depicting sexuality and portraying the women in their stories. 5 is only as good as it is partly because of what the director took from working on DmC halfway through development, a sort of mix of each style’s best qualities. Though it also stumbles because many of its female cast just kind of get shoved aside, making you wonder why they were even there (and two major ones are just absent and regulated to a prequel novel).
Devil May Cry on the whole is great, but it has always had problems, even as it switched to a sexless sort of narrative, because it actually didn’t, and neither did Resident Evil. The characters don’t have sex, but they you get sexy costume DLC and weirdly sexual action cutscenes (need I mention the aesthetics of RE 5 and 6).
I feel like preferring one over the other is a bit dishonest, because there’s a ton to unpack in both.
EDIT: I mean critically dishonest, not that you can’t prefer one over the other.
You’re super right, I didn’t mean to come across as erasing the problematic elements of the old games they are super there and prevalent even if they ended up in an okayish place. Im sorry if I came across as preachy or blind to these problems.
And the big hard super huge big agree i have is it sucks that Lady and Trish dont get to do more in 5 as they really are stuck on the sidelines, implications about their abilities aside.
I really hope the success of 5 means that theyll fake us out and add playable modes for them both kinda like they did with revised edition of 4. Even if they’ve said they’re only adding bloody palace I hope they go back on that decision.
There’s allot to love in DMC franchise but you’re absolutely correct in saying there’s a hell of allot to unpack aswell in its bizarre messy past.
Maybe there’s hope for the future since they’ve said this is the end of the sons of sparda storyline and the future of DMC could be allot less messy and hopefully even better.
Is this actually true? You’ve mentioned it a couple of times but I was under the impression Lady was meant to be a couple of years younger than Dante in 3, making her around 17/18.
Edit: I realised I had a brainfart and forgot in the USA the age of consent is higher than a lot of the rest of the world so 17 would indeed be underage. Regardless, how Lady is portrayed is very skeevy.
Yeah I’m not so sure about the wording “sexy” when we still got creepy sexually-charged violence played for coolness here. There’s a boss monster with breasts that get a quick direct camera shot of being sliced between by Nero, a type of gross implication I haven’t seen in a game since Dante’s Inferno, followed by a naked unconscious Lady getting leered at by the camera as her intro and Nero saying some dialogue that may as well end with blood shooting out of his nose.