Devil May Cry 5 review | Hack, slash, enjoy

Capcom’s venerable hack-and-slash stays airborne. Here’s our review of the deliciously good Devil May Cry 5…


Devil May Cry 5 is a blast from the past, even if Capcom’s RE Engine makes it look as stunning as any big budget heavyweight in 2019. In truth, the action genre has been something of a niche relic for years, and after a divisive reimagining of the series a few years ago, it seems director Hideaki Itsuno and his team have decided to move forward by looking backwards.

Gone are the awkward environmental platforming or dragged out Metroidvania backtracking – this is a lean and linear romp that doubles down (or perhaps triples down, with three playable protagonists) on what it does best: letting us batter the hell out of demons as stylishly as possible.

Sporting a new haircut and extra dose of swagger, Nero is the most versatile and fun character, his grapple allowing you to hook a nearby foe to easily ensure a continuing combo chain to raise your style meter.

Meanwhile, an impressive repertoire of devil breaker arms made by sassy sidekick Nico switches up styles or buffs, throwing in some improvisation as their fragility means you’ll most likely be working through a few of them at any time, though self-destructing one offers you a quick escape when things get dicey.

Fans will be right at home with Dante, with the four switchable styles he’s had since Devil May Cry 3 all present and correct. But even an old dog can learn new tricks, or in this case acquire outrageously new toys, from nunchucks capable of unleashing different elemental attacks to the grandstanding Cavaliere that’s literally a motorcycle you can ride and slam into enemies or split in two and rev up as dual-wielding chainsaws.

Given these are all switchable on the fly mid-combo, there are some dizzying options for those wanting to experiment with and master the movesets.

V is a marked difference, mainly because he actually has demonic beasts on his side to do his dirty work. It’s a little weird at first, though once you get into the rhythm of it, Shadow and Griffon respectively function much like melee and ranged attacks. Building up a devil trigger gauge, you can use it to enhance each familiar’s attack or summon in the hulking golem Nightmare to crash the party. But even amidst this cacophony, it’s still V who delivers the final blow.

With the ability to teleport to your weakened prey one after the other, it’s immensely satisfying chaining these finishes to quickly boost your combo meter up to SSS. Yet because you don’t have full control over your familiars, V also arguably lacks the depth of the other two – and he sees notably fewer missions, though there’s narrative justification for this.

To say more of his role in this apocalyptic story would be to spoil things, though even if you’re not a hardcore fan, it’s all rather telegraphed early on. In any case, it’s an enjoyable yarn told with sumptuous cutscenes, though its lore (which newcomers can catch up with in a fairly concise ‘History of DMC’ featurette) is less enticing than simply seeing a fictional version of London descend into hell.

There are some neat touristy nods to look out for as you traverse through ruined analogues of Piccadilly Circus and Borough Market, while the towering demonic tree taking root could well be a satirical swipe of the Shard and its ilk.

It’s just a shame this is a destination you reach by the midpoint, which in turn means most of the environments then become rather samey, viney, demonic caverns. If it’s any consolation, you might not notice it all too much since the focus is not on exploration but combat, where you’re creating your own spectacle.

As a way to accommodate casual players or newcomers, you can freely toggle an auto-assist mode to string combos for you. While I appreciate some players might just want to mash their way to a good time, more worthwhile is a training mode called The Void where you’re free to practice your moves in a number of configurations, much like a fighting game.

At the risk of telling readers to ‘git gud’, Devil May Cry 5 really is at its most rewarding the better you play. It’s right there in how more stylish kills net you more red orbs, which you use to purchase even more stylish moves, which in turn help you earn even more stylish kills, and keep that delicious loop of mastery and rewards running.

It’s precisely what makes the game worth playing again on a harder difficulty, which drops in tougher foes much earlier on, while an increased enemy count ensures more targets to keep your style meter and combo in flow.

Where the challenge occasionally missteps is with the bosses, especially one recurring adversary you’re repeatedly scripted to lose against, which just feels a bit cheap if you’d been playing so adeptly otherwise.

Despite being a reasonably paced action campaign, its conclusion is also surprisingly abrupt and likely to wash over the oblivious. But when even the credits include combat sequences, it’s hard to stay disappointed, because you’ll already be revving to go for another spin with the latest skills you’ve unlocked to test out on a new batch of meat puppets.

Just like the addictive battle music stuck in my head, the irresistible action of Devil May Cry 5 just urges me to keep coming back to – bang, bang – pull that devil trigger.


Whether you’re dodging attacks or just showboating, staying airborne is the path to stylish play. Nero’s aerial manoeuvres are even better thanks to a devil breaker that doubles as a makeshift hoverboard, though even more accessible is his mid-air taunt that’s effectively a double-jump as he channels Tony Hawk performing a kickflip off his blade. Riding high indeed.


Unapologetically old-school, Devil May Cry 5 luxuriates in lean action, excessive style, and devilish good fun.



Genre: Action
Format: PS4 (tested) / XBO / PC
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Price: £44.99
Out now

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