DMC 5 Narrative Critique

INTRODUCTION

From the initial conception, DMC 5 was never made as a progressive sequel to the series, but rather a comeback to its original form!

This is a new-age “remake” which has been masked in the form of a sequel. And with said intentions, there are many iconic systems which are altogether thrown away, or traded in to obtain the brand set vision of reaching – “Smokin’ Sexy Style!

There is no questioning about the origins of the series. They have achieved everything essentially “needed” to create a DMC game.

But I personally believe DMC as a series is much more, than what it has been made to appear…

STORY

“There is a difference between “appearing” as something, and something which is actually what it’s stating it to be!”

DMC at its core is not just a journey about “Smokin’ Sexy” characters.

The game from its conception and at its core, is about a nuanced story of a demon, an antagonist, who helps other characters of the world by hunting other demons.

An anteater trying to help other ants in trouble… your mind cannot reason this logic! But the characters are all filled with multiple motivation factors and have their own reasons, choices, and consequences which make them see logic through the unreasonable.

Referring to DMC 3:

The protagonist demon should have had little interest in helping humans retain their land. In fact in DMC 3, Dante makes clear of this point.

He leaves the land to dread because he has no moral implications to help others.

Though later on he does extend his hand for help (because of certain introductions), there are still many differences in what a deadly demon can do, versus the one who does not care about prying upon human lives.

DMC 3, the better example of the series, showcases Dante slowly building up his motivations (with the player), to stop his brother from his own undoing.

The term – “Devil May Cry” is not only applicable to other demons who Dante kicks ass off, but also to himself (which can be evidently witnessed in the game).

The change in Dante in DMC 3 is not spontaneous. Till the end, Dante is not completely on-board with the idea of defeating his brother. It has been built throughout the game through progression. You empathize with his choices made as a player, and understand the need to show who’s the boss around when the time actually arrives for you to shine. And that’s what makes you feel like a “badass”.

Back to DMC 5:

DMC 5 does not feature such a nuanced story if you’re looking for one. It’s about reimagining what people “think” DMC is about, than what it actually is.

In the word of the director Hideaki Itsuno himself, DMC 5 was made to fulfill one single purpose:

We have created the game for the single purpose of Nero having his own shining moment (With his cool DMC 4 hair back).

A nuanced story dropped to a power rangers script… It’s definitely not bad, and it’s enjoyable for sure, but it’s “only” as enjoyable as how a power ranger script can be, and I feel DMC 5 is nothing more than that.

Many characters are introduced just for the sake of nostalgic comeback, than actual narrative progression. Most of the plot points feel they need to happen, but they don’t have any natural build up to them.

I would say DMC 5 has thrown away lot of what it’s predecessors have done, and I would also argue that the direction they’ve taken is not entirely bad, but it’s only fulfilling a different purpose.

Though witnessing the previous installments of the series, I’m sure DMC 5 wasn’t made for me, but more for a person who forgot what DMC as a game was, but still had fragments of memory left in him which defined the series.

If I had to put DMC 5 in an referential example:

In Star Wars latest installment – Rei, the main protagonist of the story, shows no motivation factors / reasons to whatever she is doing. It always feels like she is being nudged / put into places to make the story progress.

I believe DMC 5 doesn’t care about having a plot with progressive motivations as well. Rather, it cares about the making itself appear “badass”, while being nudged towards it, all while the points could have been achieved through proper progression like the older games as well.

In short, the new age DMC 5 is all about… AAAAAAAAAA!!! FUCKING COOOLL!!! AWESOME!!!! DID YOU LOOK AT THAT SHIT MAN!!!!! – type of narrative progression.

Now I would like to clarify that there’s nothin wrong with this sort of progression. Most players will actually feed into it, but it’s only the niche category that has to deal with what has been presented.

But to complain about something:

Movies, TV shows, Anime’s which are made for one single purpose work out because of their short timelines. AAA Games on the other hand, which last for 20+ hours do not depend on one, but multiple motivation factors to pace in the player experience.

At many points in the progression, the game feels rather empty with no headway to where it is building / getting upto.

But wait a minute…

DMC 5 also has an example of a good character motivator in comparison to DMC 3.

The only character who is applicable of such motivation factor, is the ACTUAL antagonist of the story. You face him to lose around ~3 times (till the end of the game) from where you will start building up negativity / hatred against him, and then you are made to contest a final face-off.

Although DMC 5 gets the point of being a “badass” by defeating the final antagonist, I feel this could have been further amplified by progression throughout the game as well (if the game tried to make use of all the characters in play).

Ultimately, it’s the approach of the characters which make them “badass”, but not if they have any new animations / new shiny weapons / or new noises while using them.

CHARACTERS

The game features almost all the prime characters from the original series, but if you ask me, again, “There is a difference between “appearing” as something, and something which is actually what it’s stating it to be!”

The characters in DMC 5 show little to no traits of their previous characteristics.

To begin with, Lady & Trish:

  • Both of them are strong independent woman who have their own motivation factors to approach situations.
  • They have their own choices which impact their style of approach.

Ultimately, they are not your regular sex figures who fill in to arouse people or act as eye candy between scene-to-scene.

But DMC 5 has had a directional shift which they have to bear the brunt of…

VS.

V (New Character):

Weak and frail, but to better define him:

Imagine if you were a gladiator in WW2… That wouldn’t be fair for you right? You would keep trying to charge your sword towards the gunmen while they can easily kite you, and pin you down.

Now if you reverse the scenario explained, V is the end result implementation in DMC 5.

I cannot reason any scenario where they needed to consider “V” as a character to be introduced in DMC series, in such a gameplay fashion.

DMC 5 being an action risk-to-consequence gameplay, V shatters all the gameplay barriers of the game. There is almost [0] risk in playing with V against other characters, as they are all based on melee actions, and you are coupled with a ranged toolset.

I cannot fathom the reasoning behind the inclusion of the character (I wouldn’t approve of it if someone came up to me with his design). But narratively, I could see logic to his addition…

Vergil:

Although a good execution on an antagonistic character design, I feel there are many unexplained factors on why Vergil even exists in the game the way he does. It almost feels like they couldn’t find any worthy adversary for the heroes, and the most easiest solution at that point would be

“Hey! We have Vergil! We can use him right? He just fits in perfectly!”

That’s probably how the conversation went because, besides the past, Vergil has nothing to offer to this game, and in detriment, takes away potentially what could have been filled by some other interesting antagonistic character (although the execution of the character wasn’t entirely bad).

And since I don’t wish to spoil much about the game, I’ll just say that they’ve left quite a mess to clean up with on all the plot holes that have been created by nudging in Vergil into the game.

Dante:

  • He is not a “dumbass” who just reacts upon the situation.
  • He is a detective who tracks and hunts demons on contract.
  • He is a blunt instrument with brains to approach the situation.
  • He is the guy who solves problems, however drastic they might be.
  • He is a demon who is more human than most on earth.

All of his character traits have been questioned in DMC 3, but the latter, straight up gutters them in the face of – shiny weapons, animations, dramatic defeats / wins.

Between, it’s not that the point cannot be achieved at all. The 2013 remake achieved all of the points mentioned, while building further ahead on the character. The problem it mainly had though, is how they kept throwing out subtle one-liner dialogues instead of following them up like how DMC 3 did.

And speaking of the 2013 reboot DmC…

If anyone remembers the ending of DmC reboot, it’s about demons conquering the world, humans questioning demon’s existence, and Vergil trying to pickup his mantle again.

Now if you follow DMC 5 with trailers that came out – and also the game itself, it almost feels like DMC 5 was a continuation for DmC, rather than DMC 4.

I know right? What would be the reason for that? Were they trying to make a sequel at all?? The answers to these questions became clear when I saw the quote from Hideaki himself:

“I really wanted to make a DmC: Devil May Cry 2, after the first one,” Itsuno told VG247 at the Tokyo Game Show. “I was really pumped up to do it, and then that didn’t happen. So… when it came time to make a new game, we said, alright, let’s make Devil May Cry 5.”

This quote makes perfect sense now. Nothing about this game was meant to be a continuation from the old one, and everything feels clear if it were to be a continuation of DmC. I think there might have been certain creative differences between Capcom and Hideaki Itsuno during production, but all I can say is:

Nostalgia – clears everyone’s questions and hypes them up by imprinted feelings & representations from the old. And they definitely nailed Dante’s gameplay by miles apart from its predecessors.

Nero:

When DMC 4 introduced Nero, he felt the opposite of what Dante should have been.

He is more human than all of the demon brethren, including Dante. And with said relationship with Kyrie, his love interest, it even grounds the character further on.

Now there are no such subtle differences between individual characters introduced in the series. In fact, both Dante and Nero felt the same for me (with their continuous one liner dialogues combined).

And I actually feel Nero was supposed to be the “main” protagonist of DMC 5, but if you played the game, it almost feels like he’s been sidelined, or thrown in just to achieve their initial intention of making the game.

CONCLUSION

Now just to clarify a point.

This post is not about bashing the shortcomings of the game. In fact, DMC 5 has achieved almost everything it has set out to do – and is a solid product which can withhold its ground by itself (It even won the action game of the year award, which I agree with).

But rather, this post is more towards understanding and objectively evaluating what has been done right / wrong narratively as compared to the overall series of the game.

My problem was more on the new direction they chose to go ahead with, however smart it may be (which it is).

The whole game feels like it’s been built up by data, marketing, and nostalgia from besides what the developers actually wanted to do. And you know what’s sad? It actually hits the mark perfectly… and we might not see the potential of what had been before, to only witness corporate pieces going ahead.

Now with that said, I’d like to conclude my review. Hope you had fun reading through my thoughts.

See you guys on my next post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s