The Devil May Cry Difference

Capcom's wild ride offers a lot more than just fighting

With the recent release of the long-awaited Devil May Cry 5, I thought it about bloody time that I sat down and finished the original 2001 Devil May Cry, courtesy of the HD Collection for PS4. And finish it I did. I ploughed (not plowed) through it like a hot egg ploughs through hunger, finding it generally not as hard going as I'd been led to believe. See, Devil May Cry is that series, isn't it? It's the series for real gamers. A "noob" need not apply. Yeah, stick to Hello Kitty Roller Rescue, mate. More your speed, isn't it.    

I don't want to talk about the combat. It's rubbish anyway. Activate "Devil Trigger" (your limited-use, but quickly recharging super mode that makes you hit harder), mash on the sword or gun buttons, win. Seriously, more or less every fight is beatable with this tactic.

Devil May Cry finds himself in an ornate and atmospheric Great Hall.

"But Stu", I hear you whimper, pawing ineffectually at your keyboard, "that's not representative of the real game. That's not Hard Mode, or Dante Must Die Mode. It's just the default difficulty, the only one available on your first playthrough." I look at you, unimpressed. The penny drops and you realise how insane what you just said is. And I win the debate that existed solely in my own head, and didn't matter.

No, the appeal in Devil May Cry for me is the exploration. Of course, there's not a lot of it - it's fairly linear and the areas are small, but there's a lot of interesting stuff hidden around in them. I recall fondly a moment with a series of tall pillars that appear decorative, but I found myself wondering if I could climb them. I messed around a while with the unusual, awkward jumping until I managed to land atop each pillar, only to find myself rewarded with a clutch of until-then-invisible collectable orbs. Absolutely no reason for it, besides the developer anticipating that I might try to do a stupid, pointless thing simply because I can, and opting to reward me for it. It's this tacit rewarding of encouragement and experimentation that gives Devil May Cry such a rich old-school feel, evoking something like Donkey Kong Country above all else. I found it a fascinating throwback that manages to offer the appeal of linear action gaming while squirreling all manner of treasures into secret little nooks and crannies.

These menacing mannequins are out for Devil May Cry's blood.

Subsequently the series moved defiantly away from this offering into its far less interesting "stylish action" incarnation, to the great acclaim of, well, almost everyone. But not me. I sit here alone with my little candle lit for the platforming.

Hmm, this is a bit of a contentious one. At least I didn't say DmC was the best game in the series. Even though it definitely is.