I was in the middle of writing up my late review of Devil May Cry on the Switch when the code for Devil May Cry 2 hit as well. So I’ve decided to bundle them both into the same review to save us all some time. This is far from the first time I’ve played either game, so my review will focus more on how both games hold up on the Switch versus other platforms, and how they play now compared to their initial release dates.
The original Devil May Cry released in August 2001 for the PlayStation 2. It received a ton of critical praise during its initial release cycle for its high level of difficulty and its impact on the action genre. The game follows the demon hunter Dante, who lost his family to “evil” twenty years prior to the start of the game. He’s contacted by Trish to investigate the possible resurrection of the powerful demon known as Mundus on Mallet Island. The whole game takes place on Mallet Island and its resident castle, with 23 known missions and 12 secret missions. So there are 35 missions total in the game, leaving players with quite a bit of content to run through.
The dialogue and story are, well, artifacts of gaming circa 2001. The plot is told in melodramatic snippets of dialogue with clumsy narration filling in the gaps. However, there is still some charm to be found in the game, between the over-the-top banter and family drama. After all, Devil May Cry is a game with a heart, drenched as it is in trash metal and demon corpses.
The game remains an incredibly difficult experience with many of the puzzles being far from straight-forward, and a ton of secrets for players to find such as the massive red-orb cache on top of the statue of Mundus in the first mission. You can’t see the cache, you can only know it exists because you managed to get bored enough to jump on top of the statue’s spear, or because you read about it online.
The bosses are brutal and they remain unique, though they were inventive as hell when the game first released. And that’s always a joy to see, because it means Devil May Cry is still worth playing.
The small touches and insane boss mechanics still hold up well, though the forced camera perspectives, lack of tutorial on move sets and controls, and synth soundtrack are very much the opposite. They absolutely date DMC as a game from the early 2000s.
Devil May Cry still suffers the same problems it always had. Having to hold R1 in order to fire your guns while on the ground continues to be annoying. The constantly shifting forced-perspectives can make fights unnecessarily brutal because you’ll lose track of monsters simply by taking a step in the wrong direction and the camera flips 180 degrees on you.
The game’s graphics handle pretty well on the Switch, despite being nearly 20 years out of date.
Honestly, if you haven’t ever played the original Devil May Cry, the Switch edition is a solid port and I do recommend picking it up. If only to play one of the games that helped define the action hack and slash genre.
Devil May Cry 2, much like the first game in the series, released on the PlayStation 2. It released in January of 2003 after a notoriously short development window. The game was first developed under an unknown, uncredited director before Hideaki Itsuno took over for the final six months of work on the game. Which left it being, well, kind of bad.
Much like the first game, Devil May Cry 2 follows demon hunter Dante in his quest to stop a powerful demon from being resurrected. This time, the demon in question is named Agrosax, and like Mundus, he was once defeated by Dante’s father Sparda. However, Agrosax has far less importance in Dante’s past, and so Devil May Cry 2 loses that sense of depth.
The game improves a bit over the original in that you no longer need to hold R1 in order to use your guns while on the ground. The graphics got a decent overhaul, and there are even a few pre-rendered movies added to the gameplay.
However, the overall gameplay experience is seriously lacking. The Dante players control in DMC 2 is a far more depressed anti-hero than the incredibly extra snarky loner that helped make the first game such a success. The overall difficulty of the game was also lowered from the first, which was a disappointment at the time as most fans of the first game adored it for its difficulty.
The bosses were uninspired in 2003 and feel boring in 2019. Most of the missions are just monster hallways. The game also comprises of just 18 missions, so it’s quite a bit shorter than the original. Which makes sense given the development cycle, but it can be a disappointment for fans late to the series.
Honestly, Devil May Cry 2 often gets more flack than it quite deserves. The game is something of a technical achievement for being slapped together in just 18 months. However, it is a great example of how level design and boss mechanics can really make or break action titles. DMC 2 includes so many of the things that made the first game great, but the lackluster gameplay, the lower difficulty, and the change in Dante’s personality make it the weakest game in the series.
That said, I’ve played far worse games in my life than DMC 2. And the Switch version’s portability makes it so that you can easily deal with DMC 2‘s predictability. Just play the game exclusively while in-transit, and you won’t be so disappointed at how much easier it is than the original.