I’m really, quite excited about Devil May Cry 5. I’m returning to the original games in the series at the moment, and having a blast, and as a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about Ninja Theory’s DmC.
I’ve never really been able to get past the joke the art director, Alessandro Taini made at his 2013 GDC talk regarding the art direction of the game.
Capcom asked the team at Ninja Theory to imagine Dante in a western-made movie, and how he would look, and so he puts up a slide of Dante in Brokeback Mountain, because "haha, original dante looks gay".
And of course, the audience laughed. And the general gaming press didn’t seem to care very much. I know 2013, 5 years back, was a long time ago for the gaming populace, but it felt pretty discouraging that almost every outlet talking about the game at the time focused on the reaction to Dante’s hair.
The thing that tends to dominate discussion around DmC, both then and now, was the fan reaction to the game and particularly Dante’s redesign, which to a degree is understandable, because it was loud and angry, the way toxic video game fans tend to be. New Dante didn’t really deserve all the hatred, homophobic comments and death threats that Ninja Theory received. Dude looks like a real fuckboy, but honestly, it fits the overall aesthetic the game aimed for.
The gameplay itself is fine. The original release of the game lacked some of the depth present in DMC3 and 4, and it kinda just took mechanics from Bayonetta somewhat thoughtlessly without considering how they would work with the systems from the original Devil May Cry, but like, it was fine. The game felt pretty smooth (well, as smooth as a console locked 30fps game can be), the combat was deep enough, and most of the noteworthy issues got fixed in the Definitive Edition in 2015.
But what I’ve never been able to come around on is the game’s plot and characters. Particularly, the games treatment of women. Kat, the game’s primary female character, exists to be beaten up and tortured, and to be a prize for Dante and Vergil to fight over. Eva, Dante and Vergil’s mother, gets killed before the events of the game, while their father Sparda gets to live as a prisoner.
And of course, there’s Lilith. Lilith, servant of Mundus, is a succubus, and is given the appearance of a woman with extensive facial plastic surgery, wears a lot of make up and wears a wig. It is very important that you, the player understand that Lilith is vain and cares about her appearance because she’s vain and evil. Lilith dies in one of the most brutal and violent scenes of the game, [CW:Seriously excessive violence] the sniper rifle abortion scene. What the hell.
The original Devil May Cry series didn’t have a spotless record when it came to their treatment of their female characters, (Gloria’s sexualised appearance in DMC4 for instance) but they had a bit more respect than this.
The seemingly hateful nature that was present throughout the entirety of DmC Devil May Cry has been something that’s bothered me since the game has come out. Devil May Cry appealed to me for its fun loving cheesy attitude, one that never felt mean spirited or hurtful. Nowadays most mentions of Ninja Theory are as the progressive and thoughtful creators of Hellblade. Which, to be fair, I haven’t personally played, so maybe it redeems everything in DmC. (Maybe not though.)
At least partially, I’d just like an apology for the homophobic joke, which as far as I know, they’ve never given.