Devil May Cry is a unique series for a bevy of reasons. It started as an early attempt at making Resident Evil 4 but was quickly turned into a new IP once the game became more action oriented, obtained a free-moving camera without restrictions of pre-rendered environments, included more Gothic influences and began to focus on demons rather than zombies. What resulted was a highly-influential, cool, sleek action game that received positive reviews and sold exceptionally well. It spawned its own franchise that would continue for another seven years over four separate games. It was eventually rebooted by Ninja Theory as DmC: Devil May Cry in 2013 and received positive reviews.
Unfortunately, ever since DmC there hasn’t been a single new game in the series. This week, the Devil May Cry HD Collection was ported to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. As of now, all fans have are half-measures like adding Dante to Monster Hunter World to keep the franchise from dying out completely. Will Capcom ever return to classic Devil May Cry, or will special editions and HD collections be all the world will ever see from this once-great franchise?
The original Devil May Cry spawned an entire series – and for good reason. This PlayStation 2 classic was a fun, flashy, difficult and rewarding third-person action game that gave the industry a quick jolt in the arm. It introduced Dante, a demon-hunting vigilante hell-bent on eradicating demons after they killed his mother and corrupted his brother Virgil. He was, however, the son of the demonic knight Sparda, granting him supernatural powers in his quest to defeat his own kin. The first game introduced the style system, where attack combos netted players grades during battles, incentivizing players to experiment with Dante’s fast-paced move set. He wielded melee weapons as well as his trademark dual pistols Ebony & Ivory – together they breezily strung together stylish combos. Though the game only lasted about six or seven hours, fans found the brief experience well worth the price of admission.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for its sequel, Devil May Cry 2. It released two years after the original but was considered to be worse in almost every way. Its difficulty was gutted, Dante wasn’t the same wise-cracking PI he was in the original and its graphics were downgraded in favor of more open environments. The story is currently the latest in the original series and ended with Dante driving his motorcycle deep into the demon realm. Fans and critics alike dismissed the game, but luckily the series would be back on track once again.
Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening took another two years to complete, but it was a return to form for Dante by most accounts and a fitting swan-song for the PlayStation 2. It acted as a prequel to the original Devil May Cry, examining Dante’s antagonistic relationship with is twin brother Virgil. It doubled down on the difficulty of the original and increased customization and combat combo options, making it exceptionally fluid and fun. With Devil May Cry 3, the series was back on track.
It wouldn’t take long for Capcom to bring this now-iconic franchise to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2008 with Devil May Cry 4. The game’s story is set between Devil May Cry 2 and the original, putting players into the shoes of both Dante and newcomer Nero – the characters play with different enough styles to keep the gameplay interesting. The special edition added classic characters to the game and gave them their own playable missions, including Virgil, Lady and Trish. Dante and Nero begin the game as enemies, but slowly befriend each other over the course of the game over their need to defeat demons en masse. The game was difficult and stylish, with many considering it the pinnacle of the franchise. It received positive reviews and remains the best-selling game in the series, shipping over three million units worldwide.
Strangely, despite Devil May Cry 4’s major successes, Capcom shelved this classic franchise for some time. Besides an HD collection of the three original games, Capcom did nothing with the series until they handed the reigns off to Ninja Theory to reboot the franchise as DmC: Devil May Cry in 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Many of the changes the game brought to the franchise, especially Dante’s redesign, were met with extreme criticism prior to its release. When it did come out, however, it received positive reviews both for its gameplay and story. It takes place in an alternate universe from the classic Devil May Cry games, but this reboot didn’t start off a new era for the franchise like Capcom might have hoped. It sold well, but not as well as Devil May Cry 4, and it looks like Capcom has no plans to continue this reimagining with new games. So where does this leave Devil May Cry as a series?
Capcom has a few options for the franchise at this point. They can pick up where the classic series left off by making a Devil May Cry 5 – a path many fans would like to see Capcom pursue. They could also make a DmC2, but with Ninja Theory moving past the franchise with the recent (and excellent) Hellblade, it’s unlikely Capcom will take up the reigns of this reboot by themselves. They could also reboot the franchise once again, but that choice would likely be met with scorn from fans and critics alike. They could follow their own cues from Resident Evil VII – an excellent refresh to an old series that continues what had already been built and can be further built upon in the future. This would mean taking the core gameplay from classic Devil May Cry games, continuing the story where Devil May Cry 2 left off, and making major changes to the way the game is played in the process. Hopefully, if Capcom wants this franchise to survive into the future, a Devil May Cry 5 won’t be too far off.