Behind stylish, varied combat, a too-cool main character, and a focus on replayability, the Devil May Cry franchise has stood the test of time as one of the most memorable action franchises ever. Back in the spotlight after six years without a release, Devil May Cry 5 has helped renew interest, and now earlier games in the series are being drip-fed onto the Nintendo Switch. Players just now entering the series will find that the first game in the franchise set the bar high while leaving lots of room for improvement. However, Devil May Cry 2 is not quite the next step in the series’ evolution.
Unfortunately shallow combat
At its core, Devil May Cry 2 is still an action game, but it’s barely recognizable as Devil May Cry. While we do get expansive replayability, two new characters to play as, and an overall larger game experience compared to its predecessor, there were sacrifices along the way.
The combat system has been gutted. Despite there being multiple characters, each one has just one weapon and the same basic combos. Lucia might be slightly faster and get in a few more hits than Dante, but the feel and function are near identical. Only Trish, a secret unlockable character, adds any new levels of combat depth. While Trish is the most fun character by a wide margin, it makes me wonder why her variation in abilities are not present in Dante or Lucia.
Combat can still prove enjoyable at times, especially in short bursts, but you’ll find yourself in a melee rut by the game’s midway point. The action flows smoothly once you know what you’re doing, but you’ll be simply using the same attacks over and over. Ranged combat is encouraged by a high number of aerial enemies and bosses, but all this amounts to is watching a health bar slowly deplete off camera.
Frustrating design choices
The static camera tends to be a bigger threat than most enemies. Even small combat rooms can have multiple camera angles, oftentimes completely occluding the majority of enemies. An aggressive auto lock-on can have you targeting an enemy off-screen even as on-screen foes pounce on you. Rather than having a button to switch targets, you instead have to hold a button to unlock from an enemy. With the faulty auto-lock and camera, the game became decidedly less fun with each additional enemy appearing on screen.
One-on-one boss fights were a rare treat that really helped the game shine. Dueling an enemy while dodging and predicting their movements can feel and look great, but this only accounts for a small number of bosses. Many of the boss fights chose to bring additional enemies into the fray, sometimes locking you in place or letting the auto-aim swing you in circles, thus bringing down the experience altogether.
Ranged bosses were a whole new nightmare, turning into incredibly slow damage races. The Infested Chopper boss fight lived up to its infamy as I stood under it, mashing the Y button as it hovered off-screen non-threateningly. Occasionally, Dante would lock-on to a guided missile, shooting it out of the air. Other times the Infested Chopper would fire its machine gun well over Dante’s head. The fight took around five minutes to complete with essentially zero engagement.
Devil May Cry 2 isn’t all combat all the time, though, as it also throws in some light puzzles and platforming. Levels can sometimes stretch across larger complexes, with goodies and upgrades hidden just out of sight. While the platforming was less than perfect (especially without camera control), sniffing out secrets was quite satisfying, especially on revisits. Despite the flaws in gameplay, I found myself going back in for short bursts as I worked on my mental checklist.
The game does a great job of incentivizing replays. While both campaigns combined only take about five hours, each run grants you a new unlockable. Completion offers more costumes, more difficulty options, the third character, and the fight-till-you-drop Bloody Palace mode. Unfortunately, rather than being an exciting incentive to keep playing the game, these bonuses just make me wish the combat were a little more fleshed out so that I could really push myself through the six-plus unique runs that the game provides.
A sour sequel for such a sweet franchise
Devil May Cry 2 is a strange side note in the franchise that comes off as a failed experiment more than anything else. Aside from the Bloody Palace mode, most of the changes introduced were rolled back in the next game, and the series is better for it. While I didn’t hate my time with Devil May Cry 2, it pales in comparison to the rest of the franchise. If you’re looking to get into Devil May Cry, no one will stop you from skipping right over this one.
Release Date: Sep 19, 2019
No. of Players: 1 player
File Size 1.8 GB
Category: Action, Adventure, Other
A review code was provided by the publisher.