Devil May Cry 4 takes place between the events of the original Devil May Cry game and the second one. It follows Nero, a young man who hunts demons for The Order of the Sword that worships the Legendary Dark Knight, Sparda. During a ceremony, he witnesses the high priest being murdered by Dante, the protagonist from the first three games. Nero, doing what he presumes is best, makes it his mission to take down the mysterious assassin.
The storyline of Devil May Cry 4 isn’t anything to write home about, but such is the standard for this kind of game. The action is front and centre to everything and the story really only manages to propel the characters from set piece to set piece. While I might be inadvertently making the game seem empty and hollow, it really isn’t.
The Special Edition of Devil May Cry 4 is a re-release of 2008’s Devil May Cry 4. It includes barely any new story elements, beyond some vague additions to Vergil’s storyline in the franchise, but nothing beyond that from a story perspective. Instead, it adds a load of new content from a gameplay perspective. Vergil, who remained absent from the franchise since Devil May Cry 3, is now fully playable in this special edition. Trish, who has not been playable since Devil May Cry 2, is also now playable with her own unique moveset. Lady, who makes her playable debut, fights primarily with guns.
Most of this new content is inserted into the game as “what-if” scenarios, and don’t add anything major to the game’s storyline beyond a few minutes of new exposition for Vergil and his time in Fortuna before Dante and Nero’s escapades in the region.
When it initially released in 2008, Devil May Cry 4 was an amazing looking game. Running on Capcom’s proprietary MT Framework engine, it presented beautiful and pristine worlds while running at a fluid 60 frames per second. Thankfully, most of this pizazz has carried over into the game next generation remaster but at a bare minimum.
The game more or less looks exactly the same as it did in when it originally released seven years ago, although the developers have managed to squeeze some extra performances out of the game using the next gen hardware. None of these major new advances in the game’s presentation will be anything new to players who picked up the PC port of Devil May Cry 4.
Previously exclusive to the PC version of the original, Devil May Cry 4 now has a new mode called Legendary Dark Knight. It basically fills the screens with enemies – more so than the original game did. It’s a minor feature but one that does it’s best to utilise the new hardware without creating an entirely new game.
Of course, since this game is roughly seven years old now, there are some elements that don’t look as hot as they did back then. Some textures look low quality and some locations look rather barren by today’s standards. They’re acceptable losses to achieve 60fps, especially with so much going on on-screen at any given time, but make no mistakes – this game looks almost exactly like it did in 2008. For better or for worse.
When Devil May Cry 4 released seven years ago, it was an exciting time. This was Capcom’s first next generation title in one of their storied franchises. But back in 2008, there were some glaring issues with the game. The game essentially made you play from point A to point B, but then halfway through switched characters and made you run from point B to point A. Yes, both characters played rather differently, but it still felt like a bit of a lazy decision to essentially play through the same game twice.
The Special Edition of Devil May Cry 4 unfortunately still has this issue, but those who enjoy the intricacies of character actions possibly won’t care – the fun isn’t necessarily the situations but how the tools a character has at their employ can use them in those situations. It would be remiss to dock Special Edition any praise just because it didn’t introduce new combat situations, but a decision that felt so antiquated seven years ago still feels rather wrong today.
The three new characters added to the mix are quite fun to play as and introduce brand new mechanics to the fold. Lady and Trish share a campaign – similar to how Nero and Dante share one. Lady is the more mechanically interesting one of the two, fighting purely with handguns and other guns to control crowds like no other character in Devil May Cry. While not demonic herself, she also can employ explosives in moments of tension to get out of tight spots. It’s fun to play as Lady in Devil May Cry because she’s a different way to play a game that’s historically been mostly about swords.
Trish, on the other hand, plays quite similarly to Dante but feels a lot more accessible than Lady or even Nero and Dante. She can use her fists to deal damage or her transforming sword to set up all kinds of different situations to deal damage. Trish also has access to powerful magic that lets her trap enemies to deal even more damage. She’s similar yet different to series mainstay Dante but still a welcome addition.
Vergil is the most interesting of the three new characters. He fights with a form of aggressive precision that gives him the power that Lady has but with the versatility of Trish. He has the most diverse set of moves that can be employed, fighting with his trademark katana sword or employing his light gauntlets or even his family heirloom sword, the Force Edge. He’s easily the most well thought out inclusion in Special Edition and one of the most fun characters to play as in Devil May Cry 4, possibly even usurping both Dante and Nero.
All of the new characters are incredibly fun to play around with but they’re definitely nowhere near as balanced as Dante and Nero might’ve been in the original game. Constantly, it’s easy to get an S or even SSS rank in battles using Lady or Trish’s moves which focus on crowd control and high damage – something the ranking system favours. But they’re not necessarily meant to be balanced, they’re meant to be fun for players and fans of the franchise, and in this regard they’re incredibly successful.
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is a good example of a remaster because not only does it allow a new generation to experience Devil May Cry 4 (and all of its flaws in the process) but it also provides an enticing reason for players to return to the game and with the new characters provides reasons to play through the game several times more.
It’s important to highlight that those who love to delve into these kinds of games and unpack combo opportunities and so-called “tech” will gain so much more from Special Edition than those who played through Devil May Cry 4 briefly and on a purely surface level. But on the same level, those who never played Devil May Cry 4 and have only experience with Ninja Theory’s re-imagining of the franchise will enjoy a different perspective on the franchise – and quite frankly, a greater and more in-depth experience.
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is one of the most visceral and pure action games on the market, and besides other more landmark action games like Bayonetta, nothing like it has come since. The game is a lot more difficult to grasp than games like Bayonetta and DmC: Devil May Cry, but the potential is endless and in the case of the latter, much higher.
The new characters and countless modes on offer here are definitely worth the price of admission. Each of them add a new element or degree to Devil May Cry’s signature, style orientated combat. But be warned – the issues that plagued the original still remain here. It’s still slightly repetitive by nature (especially in terms of level progression) and the new story additions are minor.