The Osiris scythe is a whirling Catherine wheel of pain with lengthy multi-storey juggle potential. The Arbiter is a meaty blend of axe and hammer, handling for all the world like a satanic hammer of Thor yet providing staggering long-range launch potential when levelled up. Aquila is a set of rapid-fire crowd-controlling projectiles. Eryx is a pair of fearsome red Hulk fists, bringing powerful beatdowns at the expense of range, but more than earning its keep by way of a savage mid-air floor-strike and a charged uppercut that can interrupt even the heaviest of enemies mid-attack.
Once you acclimatise to swapping between active Angel and Devil weapons using the D-pad, mixing and matching the powers of each within a single combo unleashes hitherto unimagined on-the-fly tactics and multitude fast-track ways to devastate previously impervious enemies. And yet it all plays out with a clarity comprehensible to anyone. It is a great shame then, that DmC’s drip-feed of new weapons feels a tad ill-paced. While a game like this needs a steady, careful flow of new options and abilities in order to avoid overwhelming the person playing it, it’s also at its best when that person is given free reign to explore its full depth. Here, you never truly are.
DmC doesn’t hand over the final chunks of its bounty until its closing hours, and with plenty of moves still left to unlock, that feels a tad late. Of course, deep melee combat games thrive on replay value, and DmC’s multiple, progressively insane unlockable difficulty settings certainly imply that it intends for you to keep playing for a good long time. But that’s not an obligation that a lot of players will be able – or willing – to fulfil.
And while DmC’s production design, storyline and vibrant aesthetic texture make for one hell of a complete ride in themselves, Dante’s rebirth isn’t quite the endlessly mad rollercoaster of design excess that allowed sexy older sister Bayonetta to thrill players irrespective of their long-term, post-completion intentions.
Still, DmC remains excellent whichever way you approach it. The final question is not whether the game should be recommended, but in exactly which way and to whom. While the true limits of its depths will be a matter for the dedicated lunatics of YouTube to ascertain over the following months, that fraternity will have a ball discovering those answers over the long term. And they should absolutely feel free to add another point to the score below and jump onboard at the very first opportunity.
If you’re the type who completes a game, trades it in and moves on, rest assured DmC is something you need to experience, too. It looks, sounds and feels like nothing else out there, and while you might not squeeze quite as much out of it, you’re still looking at the first great gaming experience of 2013. Welcome back, old pal.
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