Review: Devil May Cry – Vergil’s Downfall
After the slash-tastic gloriousness of the Devil May Cry reboot by Ninja Theory I was salivating for another dose of its crackishly addictive combat. Getting a bite-sized story arc with lead Dante’s estranged brother Vergil, however, provided a far sharper edge than I’d anticipated.
Coming in at just a couple of hours, you’d be forgiven for thinking Devil May Cry – Vergil’s Downfall would be short on content and not pack all that much of a punch. And you’d be wrong. Ninja Theory has taken the opportunity to throw some new flavour into its developmental melting pot and cook up a remarkably compelling jaunt purely focused on Vergil after the climactic events of the main story arc in Devil May Cry.
With Vergil’s relationship with his half angel, half demon twin Dante soured the power hungry Nephilim finds himself journeying back to his roots. Pulled into the realm of Limbo he arrives at the remnants of his family’s home as his mother’s voice beckons. Vergil has a gaping hole in his heart which he needs to mend if he’s going to move on and survive. Apparently the sure fire way to cure what ails him is a whole mess of swordplay and platforming antics.
Whatever gets you through it buddy. Who am I to judge your healing process?
Immediately you’ll notice Vergil handles completely differently to Dante, as demonstrated in the main game’s campaign. While Dante sported a myriad of weapons, including a more precise angel arsenal for crowd control and devastating demonic death-dealers for collateral damage, Vergil’s reflects his manner and temperament. He has but one instrument of destruction, his sword Yamato, and he wields it with all the elegance and poise he exudes in every other facet of his existence.
Rather than use a clumsy mallet or axe to bash demonic heads in or chains to drag enemies closer, Vergil will teleport to dodge or get up close and personal and executes precision strikes to send these unholy sons of bitches back to the fiery depths that birthed them. Initially it feels like his actions and movements are slower, but as you new unlock abilities and become more comfortable using them the inherent grace and beauty to his combat becomes more and more apparent, and addictive. It’s all about timing.
Toss in his Devil Trigger ability to generate a doppelganger to fight along side him and Vergil is one hell of a handful for the minions of Hell. Kudos to developer Ninja Theory for taking the time to make Vergil’s quest play completely different, rather than merely reskinning Dante and tossing in a new move here or there.
Visually the plot points of Vergil’s Downfall are revealed in a completely different manner to the main campaign. While Devil May Cry favoured spectacularly rendered cut scenes, Vergil’s Downfall takes a more subtle approach. By using rough animation with an economy of line, it mimics a dream sequence and detaches you from reality, or at least what you could consider reality taking into account your surroundings. It’s a little jarring at first, but really suits the tone and I couldn’t imagine anything else working quite as well.
It’s hard to discuss the plot without giving away the whole shebang, so all I’ll say is this. Vergil is on a trip to harden his heart, deal with the ghosts of the past, overcome them and stop being his own worst enemy. None of these concepts should be a surprise if you’ve knocked out Devil May Cry, with Vergil’s Downfall tailor made for the character embracing all his strengths and weaknesses, desires and character flaws.
Though on the short side Devil May Cry – Vergil’s Downfall feels just right, lays (or reinforces) the foundations for any sequels in the works and offers something quite different for fans of the original game. Consider it a yin to Devil May Cry’s yang, beautifully complimenting its counterpart and restoring the balance at the other end of the spectrum.