In 2008, Devil May Cry 4 left gamers pleased but lukewarm, while the 2013 reboot, DmC: Devil May Cry, split the fanbase right down the middle. But now, Capcom have released Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition, which combines elements from both the original game and the reboot.
While the game does boast new features, it is essentially an HD rerelease. Capcom has fortunately done the right thing by lowering the price to around NZ$35, rather than charging full price.
Added to Special Edition are alternate costumes for each character (one of which is DmC Dante’s colour scheme), something that was in previous DMC games, but the fourth installment sadly lacked. However, unlike previous games, these costumes actually appear in cutscenes, which is a nice touch. Also included is Legendary Dark Knight Mode, an extremely high difficulty that was only available on the PC version of DMC4, but is now available on all platforms.
But the most anticipated feature, the prime reason for getting Special Edition, is the inclusion of Lady, Trish, and Vergil as playable characters. Each has their own unique play style, and none feel at all like re-skins of existing characters.
Lady is the slowest of the three and relies heavily on gunplay, as her melee attacks are sluggish and leave her exposed. Meanwhile, Trish’s more graceful fighting style focuses on raw power and speed. Some of her techniques are influenced by Dante’s move set, and she also possesses a variety of area-of-effect attacks that turn her into a literal whirlwind of punishment.
However, Vergil is the most unique of the three. His move set is a combination of his attacks from Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition and DmC: Devil May Cry, and he also has a new concentration mechanic. By filling up the Concentration gauge, his attacks become faster and more powerful. The gauge fills by successfully landing hits on enemies and evading their attacks, and it depletes rapidly whenever Vergil receives damage or his attacks miss.
This requires players to be patient, precise, and thrifty with each and every movement, perfectly emulating Vergil’s character and fighting style, and punishing the typical strategy of just hacking away until everything around you breaks.
Unfortunately, the combat is the only thing that has been improved upon, since the lacklustre puzzles (including that god-awful dice game) and the backtracking through the second half of the story are still present. And while the new characters do receive their own plot-related cutscenes at the beginning and end of their respective campaigns, those are the only cutscenes they get (excluding when they solve a puzzle or activate a set piece). The actual game just has them run through Nero and Dante’s missions, which was a problem present in DMC3: Special Edition as well.
A problem that has been fixed is the mandatory grinding to get all the available skills. Items, Red Orbs, and Proud Souls obtained in-game are gained for all characters, so if you receive 5000 Proud Souls as Vergil, then everyone else will also get that amount. However, if you spend 1000 as Vergil, then only Vergil will lose Proud Souls, meaning that if you are low on currency for one character, you can simply switch to another and play through their campaign.
This also means that if you max out one character’s health and Devil Trigger gauge, it applies to all characters, negating a lot of repetition in a game with enough backtracking as it is.
The biggest downside to Special Edition is the DLC. Rather than extra content, it is stuff like “unlock all modes” or “receive 200,000 Proud Souls”, essentially letting you unlock everything for about NZ$35 in total. This just seems unnecessary and rather insulting, since maxing everything out is already so easy.
Graphics-wise, the game runs smoothly at 60fps and 1080p on PlayStation 4. However, the textures and character models are clearly from last generation. The only noticeable graphical glitch is that the screen will occasionally flicker whenever you find a secret stash of red orbs. This seems to occur most often when playing as Vergil, but is otherwise negligible.
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition, despite its flaws, is definitely worth getting for both old fans and new. The new characters, the updated combat, and Legendary Dark Knight Mode definitely add a new dimension for veteran players, while the game as a whole serves as a decent entry point for new fans, especially at its lowered price.