Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
An eight-hour road trip I recently took with a friend quickly turned into a musical deep dive. As we flew through conversations about bachata, gospel, R&B, soul, house, and more, my friend mentioned that ’90s music made up a significant portion of his palate. “You know, there’s a lot of anime and video game music that’s influenced by black American music,” I casually mentioned, barely concealing the same air of conspiracy as someone planning to play you no less than several dozen “hilarious” YouTube videos. My friend, a non-nerd who trusts my sense of his taste (wise) and who is very patient with me (unwise), humored me and handed me the audio cord for the car’s stereo (anarchy).
“Walking in the crowd in a faceless town, I need to feel the touch of a friend,” I crooned, Milly Rocking emphatically. “Smile Bomb,” the opening them from Yuyu Hakusho, is widely considered a classic among anime openings, and I wanted to put my friend on.
“YASSS high notes! She must be a soprano,” my friend cooed in approval, which I took as a sign to keep going. As a card-carrying Sonic R apologist, this was clearly my chance to get someone else in my corner. I played “Work It Out,” one of several songs from the game that I’m convinced could have been on a CeCe Peniston B-side.
My friend liked this one, too, but after a while, he reasonably wanted to hear something he knew the lyrics to. I set a smaller section of my 6,000-song collection on shuffle, but then I felt a familiar anxiety building. It’s one thing to curate these songs for someone but another thing entirely to randomly shuffle through thousands of unorganized songs. I kept my finger on the skip button so that I could keep us within the parameters of the R&B and soul that had sent us down the rabbit hole in the first place, dodging cringey options. I also resisted the temptation to play more Bust a Groove music, even though it actually would fit the vibe we were going for.
I have way too many unpleasant memories of shuffle snafus directly caused by game and anime music. It’s embarrassing to be creating a relaxing mood and suddenly have a weird nasal voice start warbling, “Where’s that place that comes in pairs whenever I’m aware? Casino here, casino in my hair!” Once, I was playing a bunch of relaxing alternative R&B when “Devils Never Cry” suddenly came in with its mildly horrifying church organ music. It’s one thing to explain away, say, a Korn phase, but it’s a little harder to make a case for occult-sounding pretty-boy devil music. If my friend thought I was a murderer after hearing that on my playlist, I kind of couldn’t blame them?
Then there are the jarring moments where I’m not paying close enough attention to that skip button and I ruin my own mood by letting a song play when it should have been skipped within the first millisecond. I love Louisiana bounce music and dance to it a lot. What I don’t love dancing to is “Go K.K. Rider,” yet there it is on my playlist, confidently following Big Freedia like it’s just supposed to be there!
I often find myself skipping songs I otherwise like because they are notorious mood killers, popping up just like that one super weird episode of a show you were otherwise excited to brag about. “Otherworld,” the theme that plays in the big fancy cutscene at the beginning of Final Fantasy X, does this often. “DON’T. YOU. GIIIIVE UP ON IT,” it growls at me, before I quietly give up on it and try the next track. I headbang a few times to the riffs of “Fright Flight!!” from Um Jammer Lammy, but I skip to the next track before the traumatized pilot can scream at me to “LOOKUPINTHESKY, GIMMEALLYOUGOT, NEVAGIVEITUP, SOLDIER!”
Still, sometimes, I hit lyrics that truly capture the essence of the soul, and in those moments, the cringe of it doesn’t really matter: now me ohhh me now, kway kway me nah oh, me oh me oh me oh me oh!
The Bloody Palace has been a fixture of Devil May Cry ever since 2003’s Devil May Cry 2. It’s a mode that involves an exhausting climb through monster-filled rooms with hundreds of enemy arrangements and bosses along the way. But it’s also the best place to play around with combos test your skills in real-time. Devil May Cry 5’s new Blood Palace keeps the basic format, but adds extra variety with numerous characters and boss fights.
Bloody Palace released today as a free update, bringing the series staple to Devil May Cry 5. There are 101 floors of enemies, each with their own encounter layout; players need to cut their way to the top. What makes Bloody Palace so appealing is how it highlights Devil May Cry 5’s combat while adding a slight dusting of puzzle-game seasoning. Every room is timed, and you receive a grade if you finish all of the fights. This means you’re constantly reminded of how quickly you have tackled previous levels and where you can improve. If you die, you have to start over at the bottom floor. The exciting part is being able to apply your previous knowledge to optimize each encounter and make more progress on the next go around.
All three playable characters—Dante, Nero, and V— are available. You just one character per attempt; the Bloody Palace allows you to focus on whoever you prefer. As a result, it’s a good way to really chip your teeth and play around with Devil May Cry 5’s combat. The main story has a few challenging encounters, but the Bloody Palace is designed to surprise and break players. There’s a gentle difficulty curve, but as encounters start to vary, you’ll be forced to get creative in order to survive. You have one life in Blood Palace, and that added tension encourages the best possible gameplay. Over time, you’ll break down what works and what doesn’t. If you weren’t paying close attention to enemies’ quirks during your main playthrough, Bloody Palace will force you.
I have complaints about Bloody Palace, but they’re the ones I’ve brought with me from the main campaign. The environment is boring, taking place almost entirely in the drab demon nest world that dominated so much of the main story. Devil May Cry 3 and 4 had truly palatial locations, using baroque and gothic aesthetics to full advantage. Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t have that luxury, meaning this version of Bloody Palace isn’t that easy on the eyes. Also, while I adore what the game’s designers pulled off with V and think they crafted a unique playstyle for his character, he’s just not as fun to take through the Palace as Dante or Nero. V works best in short bursts and in highly curated situations; otherwise, the seams start to show. Dante has various fighting styles that he can alter between to navigate different situations. Nero has tricky timing-based combat and collectable Devil Bringers that can radically change how a player handles an encounter. V? He’s charming and fun to play for short periods of time, but I don’t know if I’m eager to climb with him all the way to the 101st floor when I could rage around as someone else.
Bloody Palace is a simple idea: fight and fight some more. It’s Devil May Cry without the distraction of lore and drama. I love the franchise’s cheesy story and stylish cutscenes, but Bloody Palace is a chance to have a more pure Devil May Cry fighting experience. This version might be a little drab-looking, but the fights and boss encounters still shine. A lot of effort has gone into making Devil May Cry 5 responsive and easy to control. The Bloody Palace is a playground for pushing your skills to the limit and trying new tricks in pursuit of a delicious S ranking once the bodies hit the floor and the dust has settled.
At the end of Devil May Cry 5, heroes Dante and Nero need to fight Dante’s brother Vergil in two back to back boss fights. A YouTuber and modder who goes by Nekorun has successfully made Vergil playable only a few days after release. Nekorun curates a YouTube channel called Deep Game Research, where the modder develops and uses various tools to explore games to their fullest. In many cases, this means helping to develop camera tools that can be used to see out of bounds and which are invaluable to shows like Boundary Break. In the case of Devil May Cry 5, Nekorun used a cheat tool to alter certain variables within the game’s files.
“The process of playing as Vergil? You have to find the Player ID value and change it to 4 then reload the stage,” Nekorun said via Twitter DM. “This can also be used to play as any character in any stage.” They’ve already used the tool to show off the third playable character, V, fighting Vergil. This is normally impossible.
The fact that all it took to enable Vergil was changing the variable for the player character had Nekorun speculating in his video description that Vergil could be a DLC character. That’s somewhat unclear, as this could also be a means for developers to test animations and skills in a more controlled fashion. Players interested in checking out Vergil for themselves are in luck, as Nekorun plans to release a “trainer” for the game. This program will allow players to adjust the game to their liking and even play as Dante’s anti-heroic brother. Nekorun says it will be ready “in a few days.”
Devil May Cry is known for many things: great combat, cheesy one-liners, devils that rarely, if ever, actually cry. But it’s not known for nudity. That’s made the occasional flashes of forbidden flesh all the more noticeable in Devil May Cry 5, especially given that how much nudity you see is determined by the platform you’re playing on.
The latest game in the long-running series of instructional tapes on how to use a motorcycle as a sword features a scene in which Dante rescues his longtime partner Trish from inside an enemy. She falls from the belly of the beast, naked, and Dante catches her and lays her on the ground. Camera angles largely obscure any actual nudity, but players have discovered that in the Western PlayStation 4 version of the game, this scene is mildly censored, with lens flare from Dante’s motorcycle blotting out Trish’s butt.
However, in the Xbox One, PC, and Japanese PS4 versions, this scene remains uncensored. Here’s a video demonstrating the two different versions of the scene from Naughty Gaming(warning: NSFW and contains slight spoilers):
Even more strangely, there’s another scene in the game—again featuring a butt, the most obscene of crevices we all share—that’s censored in every version and territory. In this scene, another character, Lady, briefly appears naked, viewed from behind. Here, reports Eurogamer, lens flare censors her backside no matter what version you’re playing.
Some people are, of course, up in arms about this relatively minor change that happens to involve female nudity, but many are just bewildered. Why the consistently inconsistent handling of butts? Why one particular scene and not another? Why this game, when other recent PS4 games like Metro Exodus have featured more explicit nudity? Kotaku reached out to both Sony and Capcom to find out more, but neither replied. For now, then, it’s impossible to say, though it could have something to do with an alleged new Sony policy that affected the more overtly sexually-charged Senran Kagura last year.
Until we know more, I feel that we should at least lament the fact that a) there’s no comparable male nudity on display in Devil May Cry 5, and b) unlike in DmC: Devil May Cry, no slices of pizza are used to cover up dicks. Not even one! Come on, Capcom. At least get creative with your censorship.
Devil May Cry 5 is a wild mess of demonic magic, blood, brooding twinks, butt rock music, kung-fu homage, and joyous gameplay. By the end of it, I had killed literally thousands of demons and watched struggles of Biblical proportions. The experience itself is a blur, but I know two things for certain. The first is that while there’s nary a drop of romance in the game, every one of Devil May Cry 5’s sexy trash protagonists has absolutely fucked. The second is that every bone-splintering, blood-splattering moment I spent with them was a goddamn blast.
This piece was first published on March 6, 2019. We’re bumping it today for the game’s release.
Set after Devil May Cry 4, Devil May Cry 5’s story focuses on a massive demonic invasion led by a nasty-looking demon king named Urizen. Guided by series newcomer V, legendary demon hunter Dante and his erstwhile bud Nero square off against Urizen, only to face an astounding defeat at the start of the game. Nero survives, while Dante goes missing. Some time later, Nero embarks on a journey to set right was went wrong and save the world. The journey takes him through a monster-ravaged city and up to the top of a massive demonic tree. Each step forward involves a lot of hacking and slashing of bug creatures and shadow beasts.
There is an initial learning curve as the player is introduced to all of the violent options at their disposal. Players can slash enemies to bits, blow them up with rocket launchers, and capoeira kick demons silly. Once you get the hang of it, though, Devil May Cry 5 builds into the stylish carnage that the series is famous for. The joy of a character action game, be it Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Rising, or Bayonetta, is learning how to make hacking and head-stomping as graceful as a dance. Devil May Cry 5 is a subtle waltz where missing a button press by even a half-beat can have dire consequences. The allure of Devil May Cry isn’t simply the chance to play as a deadly demon hunter; it’s a chance to feel completely in control of your body. Devil May Cry 5 delivers even more by letting its protagonists’ personalities shine through in combat. When I play as these characters, I understand exactly the type of people they are.
Nero is angry. Not simply in that tough-guy, video game protagonist sort of way—he’s pissed off. Brushed off as “dead weight” by Dante during their ill-fated fight and reeling from the tragic loss of his right arm months before the game’s start, Nero has a lot to prove. Playing as Nero means channelling his frustration and loss into combat against any demon who wanders into your path. Nero’s sword can be revved like a motorcycle throttle to build up energy before attacking or to give your strikes some extra pop, Gunblade style. He also comes equipped with a variety of prosthetic arms crafted by the nerdy mechanic Nico, a new character to the series. The most basic of these releases a powerful lightning blast, but others have more dramatic effects. You find arms that let you slam enemies around like a pro-wrestler, charge up to release energy beams, propel you through the air, and fire off rocket fists that attack enemies on their own. If you want to kick ass as Nero, you need to lean into every one of these tricks. Here’s how a fight might go:
Rush in with a lunging stab, slash and then pause a half second before slashing again to trigger a furious series of overhead strikes. Do a rising slash to launch an enemy into the air, pull yourself to them with your grappling arm, punch them with your rocket fist, shoot them with your revolver to air juggle them, call your rocket arm back to you and ride that shit like a hoverboard. Glide that fist right into a demon’s throat and trigger an explosion. Leap away, dash to the next monster. Repeat until the room is full of bug meat and blood smears. Pause the game and smoke a cigarette because you’re a sexy bitch.
I sat with my bud Tim Rogers to showcase each character’s play styles and earn those delish style points.
If you’re a sexy enough bitch, Devil May Cry 5 will let you know. Like previous series’ entries, each moment of gameplay is accompanied by a letter ranking to let you know what degree of badass you are. It starts at D for “dismal” and builds to the wonderful SSS rating for “Smokin’ Sexy Style!” Variety is the spice of life, according to Devil May Cry 5: The more you kill and the more you switch up how you’re killing, the more your rank increases. This means that the initial portions of the game can feel limiting, as you barely have access to the various sword combos, special moves, and tricky dodge skills necessary to earn those higher ranks. It can be frustrating at first, but as you play and earn orbs to purchase new abilities, the game world transforms from a paint-by-numbers kiddy book to a blank canvas where you are the master. As your rank increases, the game’s musical theme, “Devil Trigger,” begins to play. “Devil Trigger” is not a good song, but God help me if I don’t lose my shit every time I nail a combo and hear its gnashing butt rock wailings punctuate my carnage.
Nero is not the only character at your disposal. Much of the early game is spent playing as the mysterious newcomer V, whose frail body leaves him dependent on a swarm of animal familiars to deal with enemies until he can strike a finishing blow. Where Nero is angry and furious, V is slow and deliberate. In a series where aggression is everything, V flips that dynamic upside down.
Playing as V sometimes feels more like navigating a map of Into the Breach or fitting a Tetris block into the right place than it does Devil May Cry. Because he’s so fragile and slow in combat, positioning is incredibly important. If I’m playing as Nero, I know exactly where I need to be: right in a demon’s stupid face. As V, that’s more complicated. Combat as V is a combination of dashing and floating into the right position and then summoning the correct minion to punish greedy enemies. Not only does this help communicate something about V as a character—he is distant, reserved, and calculating—but it also brings variety to Devil May Cry 5’s missions. A wild stretch as Nero ebbs into a slower, counter-attack focused exhibition whenever you play as V. Both are equally satisfying, and both force you to think about enemy monsters in different lights. In rare cases, some missions give you the choice of playing as Nero or V. Not only does this offer replayability, but their diverging paths round out the gameplay experience.
It wouldn’t be a Devil May Cry game without Dante, and Devil May Cry 5 delivers the most freewheeling version of him to date. Dante has picked up dozens of weapons and fighting styles throughout years of demon slaying. Instead of forcing players to relearn his abilities or contriving some video-gamey scenario where Dante needs to regain his lost power, Devil May Cry 5 gives you access to everything immediately. To quote my coworker Tim Rogers, Dante is “a whole buffet table which happens to have some macaroni and cheese.” Not only does he have access to his signature sword and pistols, he also has gauntlets for kung-fu punching and a motorcycle to crash into enemies. He unlocks even more weapons throughout the story, such as transforming nunchaku and a cowboy hat that can be used as a projectile. All of these weapons can be augmented with one of four stances—Trickster, Gunslinger, Swordmaster, and Royal Guard. Each style gives weapons a different effect, and you’re able to mix a match all of the tools on the fly. It’s wild, stylish, and deliciously excessive.
Tons of melee weapons and guns, all augmented depending on your stance, might sound overwhelming. If I want to turn my magic nunchucks into a Sun Wukong staff, I need to remember to be in Swordmaster. If I want to counter enemies I need to time a block perfectly in Royal Guard. Oh shit, that demon is running right at me. What do I do? But let me tell you a secret: I played a fair portion of this game buzzed on wine and still managed to get mostly S ranks during missions, at least on the default difficulty. Because for all of the complexity of Devil May Cry 5’s combat, the gameplay is incredibly intuitive. After a little bit of practice and a few mistakes, you start to find what works for you. In my case, that meant falling back on Swordmaster’s ability to unlock new forms and attacks for my favorite weapons while swapping my arsenal around just enough to build up my score. Nero and V have their own particularities, but Dante’s status as Master of Everything means that you’re bound to find a play-style that turns demons into hamburger. Since Devil May Cry 5 makes swapping weapons and styles as easy as a quick button tap, you’ll start to dash around the screen like you were born for this. The core of Devil May Cry 5 is style over substance, fake it until you make it. Get your high scores, and if you mess up, just load the level again until you get those sweet S ranks.
Combat is intuitive, and the characters are clearly defined, but the surrounding pieces that make the experience stumble, if only slightly. The core gameplay is wonderful, but it’s in service of a plot that is fractured and honestly makes little sense, even to a fan of the series like me.
Much of this has to do with how poorly some things are communicated. At least one major character reveal was undersold so much that I didn’t even realize what had happened until I read about it again at a loading screen. The core concept is strong: Dante and the gang lost, and now it’s time to pick up the pieces. Character motivations are clear, but there’s not a lot of time spent on really understanding their relationships with each other. Key series characters like Trish and Lady are essentially left in the wings while the protagonists battle a generic demon villain with little charisma. Things finally come to a head near the end, but the process is so rushed that even the most elaborate and badass moments of fan-service land clumsily. Everything is stylish enough in the moment that I was enthralled. It’s only looking back that I realized that not a whole lot had happened in terms of raw plot or valuable character growth.
It’s tempting to say that the Devil May Cry series doesn’t need too much plot or interpersonal struggle. To an extent, that’s true. Even with this flaw, Devil May Cry 5 is an amazing ride. But games like Devil May Cry 3 and even the much maligned Ninja Theory reboot DmC: Devil May Cry found time to build out their worlds and bring richness to their characters. In the former, the baroque setting became a stage for a pseudo-Shakespearean tale of clashing siblings and patricide. In the latter, a They Live inspired aesthetic mocking cable news networks turned Dante into a sort of counter-cultural icon. Devil May Cry 5 takes bits and pieces from these games, crafting a setting that’s alternatively neon-lit and steeped in blood, but for all of the flash there’s not as much going on with its characters as I’d like until the final moments, even if the actors sell the shit out of the proceedings throughout.
Devil May Cry 5 is a firework. If you’re the one with the lighter, then setting the explosion off is as simple as flicking your finger. If you’re watching someone else, it’s more than enough to enjoy the bright colors and noise. Players looking to get dazzled will find themselves spellbound, while those who dig deeper will find a rewarding and expressive combat system. It’s a little superficial, but that comes with the territory. And while Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t completely redefine the series, it hones the gameplay to a sharp edge that will please diehards and newbies alike.
Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t release until Friday, but I’ve played it and had a veritable ass-load of fun. Each of its three protagonists plays differently, with neat quirks and flashy moves. Tim Rogers and I played as all of them, in order to break down their smokin’ sexy styles.
Oh, yeah. If you want to know nothing about the abilities you unlock in Devil May Cry 5, maybe avoid this video for now.
I’m pretty good at character action games, even if there’s always room to get better. (I know this because I watch YouTubers who have the time to devote their lives Bayonetta. I’m decent but those folks are wild.) Devil May Cry 5’s combat is incredibly intuitive, to the point that most players will grab coveted S ranks or even SSS ranks on each encounter. There’s a lot of variety here, with three characters providing different experiences.
Nero, the protagonist from Devil May Cry 4, returns as an aggressive demon hunter with tons of flashy tricks. He can rev his sword like a motorcycle for extra damages and special attacks, but he also has access to “Devil Breakers.” These are special prosthetic limbs that have a variety of effects. For instance, the Overture can blast monsters with lightning, while the Punch Line detaches to automatically attack foes. Time thing right and you can even fly around on your mechanical arm to do tricks. Nero is about getting in enemies faces and feels the most straightforward out of all the characters. He’s great for learning the basics.
Then there’s V, a newcomer who fights using summoned familiars. He moves slowly and is very fragile but commands a cool panther pal and a foul-mouthed bird bud. He can even summon a massive golem. The idea is to use your animal friends to damage enemies and then finish them off using V. The play style is deliberate and focuses on being in the right place at the right time. It’s great.
Of course, you’ve got Dante too. Dante can do everything. He has tons of weapons including swords, shotguns, nunchucks, punching gauntlets, and his dual pistols. He also can assume one of four stances: Gunslinger, Swordmaster, Trickster, and Royal Guard. These should be familiar to series fans, and each grants different effects. For instance, Swordmaster unlocks extra melee moves for each weapon, while Royal Guard allows for punishing counter attacks…. if you block at the right time. Dante’s a complex character who is a Master of Everything. He’s hard to master but really fun to experiment with. No matter what, you’re bound to find a style you enjoy.
I’ve played through Devil May Cry 5 once on default difficulty and hope to start on the harder modes soon. Having unique characters whose intricacies I can learn is fantastic, and it’s encouraged me to try to go from Pretty Good, Actually to Hopefully Excellent. I hope this preview gives an idea of what to expect in Devil May Cry 5, and gets you eager for beating up bug-dudes and shadowbeasts in the most stylish ways imaginable.