Title: Devil May Cry - Special Edition
Platform: Steam, Windows, PS4, Xbox One

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Hack ‘n’ Slash
Players: Single player

Written by Bad Demoman 7th July 2015

Devil May Cry 4 was one of my first forays in to what was then “The Next Generation”, on the Xbox 360. I'd played the first Devil May Cry and unfortunately the second as well. I considered DMC4 to be my favourite of the series, having missed out DMC3 which later attained that title with its Special Edition that allowed you to play as both Vergil and Dante. The variety really improved the replay value, something that DMC has always strived for mostly through increasingly ridiculous difficulty levels. But now DMC4 has a Special Edition of its own, with a roster of five very different characters to play as. Will this re-release capture my favour, or will DMC3 keep it in its grip?

Devil May Cry 4 was originally only playable as a new character designed for DMC4, Nero, and later Dante. Nero can be a tad annoying at times. He's angsty, occasionally abrasive and his entire motivation is to chase after his childhood friend, a character that doesn't really receive much background. He's even been compared to a more PG version of the rebooted Dante from DmC (or Donte, if you will). I wouldn't go quite that far, he has his moments of occasional badassery, particularly with the bosses, but nowhere near on the level of Dante. Playing as Nero feels like the character that fits the game the best, as the game was designed around him. Nero has access to the Devil Bringer, a demonic arm that allows him to grab enemies. Most enemies will have a unique interaction with the Devil Bringer – usually lighter enemies will be thrown into the air or back down to the ground, but other enemies might be swung around and used to batter any others around you for example. Using it on bosses will usually simply pull you towards them, but if they are stunned you'll get a special animation that causes massive damage. Nero's Devil Bringer is probably the best thing about his playstyle, as it really makes you approach every enemy very differently. It also usually gives you a strategy against some of the more annoying enemies (like the DMC mainstay, the Sin Scythes).

Nero also has the Red Queen, a hefty sword of relatively similar size and style of use as Dante’s Rebellion. It even has some similar moves. What it has over the Rebellion though, is an engine. Nero can power up his moves to extraordinary levels by revving the engine, and can gain a full meter for this by timing revs perfectly after a move hits. It’s a system that rewards precise attacks rather than mashing randomly, which is a rarity in a lot of hack-n-slash games it seems.

Later on into Nero's story mode, you'll switch control to Dante. Dante plays mostly like he did in DMC3, with a variety of styles to choose from. There's Trickster for dodging, Swordmaster for access to new sword techniques, Gunslinger for new gun moves and Royal Guard for blocking attacks. You can switch between styles and weapons on the fly, making Dante have a flowing gameplay style (Although this makes him possibly the most difficult character mechanically, as it can be a tad difficult to keep track of everything). Nero and Dante make for the most complete experience, as they are the only characters to have every cutscene – others will only have an opening and ending cutscene, so a lot of things don't make much sense. I highly recommend playing as Nero and Dante on your first playthrough for this reason.

Vergil is the character I was anticipating playing as the most, as he's an absolute blast in DMC3. He feels similar to Dante, but with only one style. He's also a hell of a lot more mobile, with various abilities that are purely for mobility and deal no damage. The one I found myself using the most is Grim Trick, which allows you to teleport to enemies after striking them with Summoned Swords. Vergils mobility sacrifices his ranged capabilities. Being completely adverse to the use of guns, Vergil instead attacks with rather slow summoned swords. These can be upgraded to do some pretty cool things, like circling Vergil, but as a ranged option they are sub-par. Due to this, Vergil can at times feel a little disadvantaged and frustrating against certain enemies, such as the previously mentioned Sin Scythes. Vergil has another mechanic that rewards precise play, even moreso than Nero. To complement his calm, cool mannerisms and his Iaijutsu sword style, Vergil has a Concentration Meter. This meter will be increased through precise actions, standing still and using Air Trick, but will be depleted for getting hit or missing attacks. Some moves can only be used when Vergil is concentrated. He has access to three different weapons, the same ones he had in DMC3 with largely the same movesets. Yamato is a katana with swift but fairly weak moves, Force Edge allows you to dual wield Force Edge and Yamato and Beowulf gives you access to slow but insanely powerful punches and kicks. Overall, I found Vergil the hardest character to play, although perhaps that was the intent. He feels very satisfying when everything goes right, but his combos can be a little lackluster due to his rather small amount of actions per weapon.

Lady was quite a pleasant surprise for me. I expected a character based almost entirely around the use of guns to be kinda boring, especially in a series that's always been known for its exciting and extensive swordplay. However, Lady feels like something that's never really been seen before in a Devil May Cry game, and makes me really wish for a game based around her. She's just about the closest I've ever seen to a real Gun Fu character. Lets take one of Dantes signature moves for an example – Stinger. Lady has her own version of Stinger, although instead of using a sword, she does it with a shotgun. Canonically the weakest playable character (being the only playable human), she ends up feeling ridiculously powerful. I managed to get Smoking Sick Style after firing one fully charged shot from Kalina Ann, her rocket launcher. You can almost entirely forget she even has a melee option. The one downside of Lady is that the boss battles can become quite boring. Without the ability to do extensive combos, boss battles become a case of dodging attacks and spamming the rocket launcher at them. Luckily, a fully charged shot can bring their health bars down ridiculously quick, and DMC4 didn't exactly have the best boss battles in my opinion anyway.

At the time when Nero would usually switch to Dante, Lady instead switches to Trish.

If I were to describe Trish in one word, it would be broken. Trish feels like she was designed to seem as powerful as possible. She can switch between her two weapons(Sparda and Bare Knuckle) without actually using the normal switching mechanic, instead they are assigned to different buttons. This makes her fairly easy to play, and you can easily get impressively long combos going. Her moves have long animations and her standard combos are quite long, so you need to watch out for enemy attacks. The moves themselves feel really powerful if you do managed to get the full chain going, and the long animations and difficulty in actually getting the combos off make them extremely satisfying. Trish can lock enemies in place with Round Trip, which transforms Sparda into a scythe and throws it at enemies, locking them in place. This gives access to some new combos which are all exceptional at dealing with large groups (Making Trish a good choice for the Special Edition exclusive difficulty Legendary Dark Knight, which increases the amount of enemies spawned to ridiculous amounts.

Unfortunately, these extremely well designed characters are marred by some questionable choices in level design. DMC4 is well known for a couple of things that lead people to say that its got some really lazy design. The second half of the game is a run back through the same levels, but backwards and (in Nero and Ladys case) as a new character. Minor differences occur in the levels, but these differences aren't always a good thing. For example, in Mitis Forest (an already exceedingly annoying labyrinthine mess), entrances will warp you all over the place and you've got to work out where to actually go. When I was younger playing this on Xbox 360, this particular level took me over an hour. Even now, as the extremely powerful Trish, it took me 25 minutes.  Then there's the infamous dice sections, where your progress is inhibited and you must roll a dice to move a statue of your character through a board. I've also always hated the locked-camera platforming, particularly those involving grapple points that rarely seem to work as intended. But in case you haven't noticed, these problems are a footnote to my review – in the same way that they are a footnote to the game itself. These parts of the game are secondary to pure combo-heavy bliss. While other games may be better overall (Looking at Bayonetta for this one), DMC4 has probably the best, most fun combo system I've ever played in a Hack-n-slash game, and with over double the playable characters, DMC4 Special Edition has improved the variety of that system and doubled the fun.


Varied and well-designed characters,

Fluid and stylish combat,

Innovative ways to separate the characters playstyles.


Lazy level design,

Frustrating levels,

Locked-Camera Platforming.

Final verdict,
DMC4 Special Edition gets a Smoking Sick Stylish 8/10.

Written by,
Bad Demoman

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