We’ve already taken a look at changes in Dante’s wardrobe over the course of the Devil May Cry series. In anticipation of Capcom’s upcoming reboot, we thought we would explore how some of the mechanics and tone have changed from game to game, namely in the intro cinematic and very first mission of each game.
The first Devil May Cry opens with a scrolling text (à la Star Wars) introducing Sparda, Dante’s father. Sparda’s role as a savior of sorts for the physical world is a recurring trope in the series; every game starts by paying dues to the guy. The creatives at Capcom are also big on bathos, wherein the tone abruptly changes from grave to irreverent. After words on Sparda’s godlike heroism, we’re treated to a cutscene: Dante, feet up on his desk.
Once gameplay starts, it’s immediately apparent that the game was originally designed as the next game in the Resident Evil series. The somber ascent to a distant and dreary castle, the transition from one fixed camera angle to the next as Dante moves through it, even the blocky inventory and information files all scream Resident Evil.
Devil May Cry 2 was a bit of a disappointment for fans of the first game, despite many solid additions to Dante’s repertoire right from the get go. Among them: enemy health bars, a passive targeting reticle, wall runs, double jumping and tumbles. The opening mission tasks players to use these new abilities in some neat platforming. The camera also follows Dante in a much more fluid manner.
But the grievances with the game were a lowered difficulty and a less affable Dante. Basically, Devil May Cry 2 pulls a Spider-Man 3, as the protagonist goes emo and no one really cares. This is evident from the first scene, which bypasses the funny intro and gets straight to business. Devil May Cry 2 netted the lowest score of the series on Metacritic, with 68.
Devil May Cry 3, a prequel, gets back to what makes Dante badass. A young narrator again recounts the feats of Sparda as a Prometheus figure, before introducing his son, who isn’t really filling those shoes. He’s eating pizza in his still unnamed (and later eponymous) bar, when a visitor shows up. Here he drops the same lame line as in the first game, about the bathroom being in the back if needed.
The cut scene is immediately more cinematic than the rest of the series’, as violence and humor meet halfway. Surfing on grim reapers and eating pizza—it’s all there.
The mechanics in Devil May Cry 3 don’t change much from its predecessor, at least not early on in the game. Players are treated to a tutorial, though, which opens up a lot of possibilities in combat.
Finally, Devil May Cry 4 is a wildcard. The introduction seems more akin to what you might find in a Final Fantasy game. Dante only shows up as a villain of sorts, his first action being to shoot a priest in the mouth. Hmm...
You play as Nero first, who has plenty more to his arsenal than Dante does in earlier games. The latter has visibly matured, as when he leaves the initial combat without playing the wise guy but giving credit where it’s due instead: he admits to having underestimated Nero.
How will DmC size up to all this? Since rebooting a series basically gives developers full license to drop past trademarks, it might be hard to recognize Dante as we’ve seen him before.