Why Didn't More People Like Ninja Theory's 'Devil May Cry'?

Tokyo Game Show has me thinking about a game most people wrote off before they ever played it.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/paka8n/why-didnt-more-people-like-ninja-theorys-devil-may-cry

Around the time that Ninja Theory’s DmC had come out, I couldn’t help but shake the notion that the (primarily straight male) internet gaming audience was made uncomfortable by the new Dante being designed for the female (or non-straight male) gaze. Now maybe I’m reaching here, as I’m also a straight male, but it seems to me that a lot of women find the new Dante hot. There just appeared to be a lot of comments from people saying that he looked “douchy”, which read more like guys feeling threatened by a dude their girlfriends found attractive.

This theory may be a reach, but honestly it’s the only one that makes much sense to me. Outside of Dante’s character design and a new presentation, there isn’t much else that’s different here. Dante’s still a nephalim, Vergil’s still his untrustworthy brother, and a lot of demons are killed using a responsive and fun fighting system. I’m a big fan of the PS2 original, and the reboot stacks up just as well in my opinion.


I remember enjoying this game, and i also remember thinking that i would have preferred something closer to the original DMC, something with a little more horror and resident evilying. Notably this was released after DMC4, a time when fans were anxious for a return to the heights of DMC and DMC3, which DmC didn’t seem too interested in simulating.

I have played DmC this year, and while I don’t hate the game, the personality of Dante coupled with the plot makes it very forgettable :

  • Dante’s personality is mostly composed to offer shock value, they replaced a cheeky character into a punk character. This isn’t bad by itself, it’s just that I think it wasn’t well treated when you listen to him say “fuck you” for the XXth time. I respect that they gave the finger to original fans though.

  • Female characters is treated with contempt and disinterest in ways even a macho series like DMC didn’t go through.

  • DMC found an identity on putting action set-pieces with intricate choreography, DmC has none of that, the cutscenes are almost all very basic. I speak of moments like this (mild spoilers on this) :

  • The gameplay, while snappier with the use of 3rd person camera, is dogged down by enemies designed to make you use less of your arsenal

  • The level design is linear and goes away with the Resident Evil formula of being able to explore and go back areas, which I think is a real bummer.

If we consider DMC3 as the canon game of the franchise, I can understand the dislike, but the vile hatred was unwarranted for sure.

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I remember there being a minor drizzle of hilarious push-back because the Dante redesign looked eerily like a idealized version of Tameem Antoniades.

I could never get behind the original DmC because of Dante! I would end up watching friends play and while I thought the combat, levels and everything else was great, Dante always put me off.

When Ninja Theory decided to reinvent Dante I couldn’t have been happier, even if he does come off a bit emo. Ninja Theory’s take on DmC was amazing and knew exactly what it was doing, sly winks, nods and all. It would be rad to see a follow up to their game.


I also like the game’s action hack-n-slashing, the ridiculous camp and tongue-in-cheek “edginess” of the “new” Dante, and all of the over-the-top lukewarm anti-establishment BS that pervaded the storyline.

The game has MAJOR problems in how it deals with women and probably quite a lot of other stuff if I went back to it, but it definitely has a lot of merit. I wish people hadn’t reacted with such vitriol towards it because I’d totally love a sequel, especially after how it ended.

it was like if banksy made a video game

and i would know, im banksy


A few things off the top of my head as general criticisms I had for the game:

  • It’s divided in focus between trying to portray a grunge-punk style but also pay visual lip-service to the originals, muddying the focus and making it come off as a “how do you do fellow teens” interpretation of the series
  • Everyone has a bad case of the “Unreal Engine 3 potato face”
  • Holding down the triggers to use devil and angel weapons was a very rub-your-head/pat-your-belly approach to combat design which lead to a lot of control fumbling and weapon redundancies
  • I think this was changed in the Definitive Edition but having most of the enemy types require the use of angel or devil weapons was pretty lazy and restrictive design
  • Boss fights had interesting visual design but were super shallow mechanically and didn’t involve much of your toolset
  • Most of the game’s portrayal of women is awful and trying too hard to be edgy
  • Automatically getting a max chapter ranking for finding all the collectibles was a bizarre design choice which undermined any incentive towards combat creativity or efficiency
  • Minor nitpick: what was with games around this era using nephilim as plot devices? (Diablo 3, Darksiders 2, etc)

Compared to their recent game Hellblade–which is both a much bolder and far more focused production—DmC feels like a huge misstep. I’m personally not a big fan of the DMC games to begin with, I just don’t think Ninja Theory succeeded in what they were going for here.


That game didn’t have a lock-on at launch and it really brought the combat down. I believe they even added it back in for a re-release.

Other than that it was kinda just average? Some interesting concepts but as a character action game it didn’t do anything to justify it’s existence as a reimagining of DMC.

I distinctly recall women (girls really, I was a teenager) at the time saying DMC4 Dante was really attractive. I guess just in a different way.

The annoyance I felt with the reinvented Dante had nothing to do with his appearance, but his whinier, more humourless attitude. Fans of the traditional Dante character I think were more annoyed with the fact that DmC Dante was emblematic of a more populist approach to the style of the game - a less weird, quirky lead, with a dumbed down fighting system that didn’t draw as much on the complexity and emphasis on execution of fighting games as it did on the spectacle of God of War.

Obviously it didn’t go that far, it’s still much more complex than GoW, but look at what’s happening with the FGC right now with regards to Street Fighter 5: everyone from 2 Turbo and 3rd Strike veterans to people who cut their teeth on SF4 are on the warpath because their beloved game has been dumbed down to sell to people who might casually see it on ESPN fight nights and give it a shot because it doesn’t look overly complicated.

There’s something to be said for celebrating complexity and depth

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I have a lot of fun dissecting action game and fighting game movesets, figuring out how they work and exploring interesting ways to use them. The original release of DmC was very boring from that perspective. I ran into the limits of that system very quickly without finding much of anything that I found interesting or aesthetically pleasing and the enemies that forced you to use a specific category of weapon constrained that even further. The pace of the game was also extremely slow by comparison to what I expect from the series. I’ve heard some of these issues were improved on in the re-release but was never interested in finding out more.

I can see a lot of things to like about it. The story is basically the same but not put through the awkward filter of translation so it comes across more smoothly, it’s a great looking game and having platforming sequences in place of resident evil style put x object in y place puzzles is a lot more appealing to me. But when a game says Devil May Cry on the cover I’m there for one thing, and on that front this game was middling at best.


If I remember correctly didn’t DmC come out a month before Metal Gear Rising? I didn’t play either but I always got the sense around the time like the hype for Metal Gear as a series was way higher than DMC had been since 4. Part of it may have been that Rising was being developed by Platinum which often comes off as the golden child for certain individuals in the industry while Ninja Theory’s previous games had at best been received as imperfect executions of interesting concepts. Maybe that’s not a great reading of it but that’s kind of what I remember hearing from people at the time.

I hated the awkward trigger button weapons. They never felt right. The writing is shallow and at times offensive. It ranges from goofy shit like the fuck you exchange or Dante writing on the clipboard to some needlessly fucking dark shit like Vergil shooting a pregnant woman’s stomach with a sniper rifle with a smug smile. It couldn’t pick a tone and came off as pointlessly edgy.


I loved DmC more than any entry in the previous series, and I was obsessed with the original when it came out. As far as the writing of the character goes, in my opinion Dante was always a douche, but in Ninja Theory’s game, he at least seemed like he could be an actual person rather than just a campy anime stereotype. The action in DmC felt modern, fun, and fluid in a way that the old games just aren’t. The levels and environments were way more dynamic and interesting than anything else in the series had been, and I loved that this game actually seemed to take place on Earth rather than some isolated spooky demon castle in the middle of nowhere.

I will say, though, most people that hate DmC seem to have a reverence for DMC3, which I just could not get into. It came out around the same time as God of War, and after playing God of War, DMC3’s action felt stale, dated, and punishing in ways that just weren’t fun. I even liked DMC4 quite a bit more than 3.

I’d love to see a follow up to DmC, but that seems incredibly unlikely, particularly how classic Dante is the character Capcom keeps putting in MVC…

ETA: To respond to the actual question in the headline, I think it can best be summed up by the original series was totally anime and the reboot was not.

DMC has a higher Metacritic than Devil May Cry 4. I think the more accurate question is “Why didn’t more people buy Ninja Theory’s ‘Devil May Cry’?”

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DMC4 sold really well thanks to how well received DMC3 was, even if 4 was one of the weaker entries of the series. DmC sold very poorly because a) Ninja Theory’s marketing of the game at the time was horrible to the point where most series fans stayed far away, and b) the wider audience they were going for just weren’t interested in a game with that kind of grunge-y style.

Also as mentioned earlier, Metal Gear Rising came out about a month afterwards, which was largely considered to be better successor to the DMC games. The narrative at the time was that DmC represented a hamfisted attempt to westernize the series for a US audience, while Revengeance was Platinum embracing the awesome absurdity that Japanese games were traditionally known for.

I didn’t like the new Dante, but that is mostly because I didn’t like that the Japanese aesthetic got ditched, it was so goofy and fun, and the new guy was so angsty and abrasive. I also thought the story was a bit on the crass side. But the level design and gameplay was pretty fantastic. I had a lot of fun with it, even after playing through it multiple times. I worked on it over the course of multiple weekend shifts the last couple months of development, (so take my opinion with a grain of salt).

I still have my Virility T-shirt, and wear now and again, though the drink itself was pretty nasty (several cases were made for promo events, and we all got gift boxes of promo gear with some in it). Yea, I have fond memories of that game.

Anyways, I hope whatever form the next game takes uses some of the gameplay elements from DMC.

As a person who only played DMC3 and DmC, I enjoyed the new Dante more, and that game more overall. I guess I get why people were so attached to the old one, and maybe I didn’t see his best moments, but it felt like they were trying to do a little more with the character in DmC. I thought it had much better gameplay than 3 as well, which I think most consider the best in the classic series.

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LOL I can’t understand people going “well he’s not a bad character” when you literally see him shoot a fetus with a sniper rifle. You wouldn’t even find that in fanfiction dot net