DmC: Devil May Cry PS3 review – What’s dazzling you is the nature of my game

DmC Devil May Cry PS3 screens

When you finish DmC for the first time, the most notable of the virtual trinkets, baubles and inevitable concept art you unlock is the first chunk of a three-part reskin for Dante. It enables you to give him white hair. Thing is, you won’t want to use it. Because by the time you’ve got to the end of the game – by the time you’ve come to really know the new Dante and understand everything that his extended family at Ninja Theory has achieved with its relentlessly on-point reimagining of Devil May Cry – any move back towards the trappings of the old series will feel like a ludicrous retrograde step.

DmC: Devil May Cry PS3 review

DmC is no basic reboot. It isn’t a simple Mortal Kombat-style exercise in sweeping away latter-day mistakes and resetting a wonky plotline. It’s more like a radical cover version of a great but overplayed song. One that takes the core essence of melody and tone, and reworks it into something altogether different. Something fresher, more exciting and entirely more powerful.

Transporting the series’ core values to something approximating the real world, DmC positively vibrates with modern-day resonance. This is a game that grabs pop culture, politics, media and mythology by the fistful and smashes them together to create some of the most striking and original visual and narrative design an action game has seen in years.

As for Dante himself, he’s still brash and self-assured, but certainly not the camp pantomime hero he was. He’s a weary, old-beyond-his-years survivor trying to live a quiet life in a grotty trailer on a pier in the arse-end of town. Reworked from the cartoon cool of old, Dante’s offhand snark is now a believable personal shield – a barrier solidified around him from years of crap endured at the claws of a world controlled by demonic manipulation of every aspect of modern life.

DmC Devil May Cry PS3 screensIt’s testament to Ninja Theory’s skill in characterisation and storytelling that despite – because of – all of this, his journey from drifter to hero is subtle, believable and affecting, yet never po-faced. For all the talk of global demonic conspiracies, DmC’s is a disarmingly human story, started by and consistently anchored to Dante’s meeting with a similarly troubled mortal girl named Kat.

But it’s best you discover all of that for yourself. Besides, there are other matters to discuss. Because whatever Ninja Theory’s triumphs in re-envisioning Dante’s world – and they are considerable – there’s another, more important point to be answered. Can the studio behind the beautiful but flawed Enslaved really pull off the precision spectacle that is Devil May Cry’s deep, demanding combat system?

The answer is yes. Things are different this time around. Changes have been made. But DmC remains an expansive, gleefully freeform, deliciously brutal carnival of violence from start to finish. Okay, so it has been made a tad more accessible, but fear not –the streamlining aims to provide greater access to the series’ complex, tactical, showboating delights, not erode them.