Article first published as PlayStation 4 Review: ‘Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition’ on Blogcritics.
Devil May Cry 4 is latest game to receive an HD remaster, with a Special Edition for the latest console generation. Though Microsoft recently announced that backwards compatibility is coming to the Xbox One, it’s unlikely the PlayStation 4 will ever receive the same new feature. Between the complex Cell processor architecture of the PlayStation 3 and Sony’s heavy investment in PlayStation Now, Sony will likely concede this point to its chief competitor. While there are plenty of other games I’d prefer to see remastered first, playing through the original Devil May Cry 4 was a good amount of fun, and it’s a game that certainly deserves a shelf life extension.
One of Devil May Cry 4’s chief criticisms, by long-time fans of the series is the new protagonist, Nero. Though the saga’s main character, Dante does figure heavily into the game, the story is really all about the young knight from the Order of the Sword, Nero. The narrative isn’t very straightforward, but basically, Nero is tasked with finding a wanted Dante. Before the new hero can reach his prey, he has to fight his way through the demon infested, castle city of Fortuna. Luckily, the enemy variety and design is more than adequate, and the hack and slash gameplay is quick and dynamic. Mastering stylish combos with swords and pistols is the key to scoring well in each chapter.
This leads to the second main criticism of the game. Though Devil May Cry 4 rewards a second playthrough, each trip really feels like two, due to having to replay most of the game with Dante, after traversing the same areas with Nero. Though there are some subtle differences between Dante and Nero’s abilities, it is more similar than different. The constant button mashing will probably fatigue many players, making long sessions difficult. Besides the 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second, the Special Edition does offer some gameplay variations with the new playable characters.
The Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition offers three new playable characters, including two female characters, Lady and Trish. Those choosing to play as the women, will play through Nero’s portion with Lady, and Dante’s similar missions as Trish. While Trish plays similarly to the originals, Lady is a long-range combat specialist, which requires a completely different strategy. The DMC reboot version of Vergil is playable on all of the missions, though his ability set is based more on the Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition incarnation. The Special Edition also offers the previously PC exclusive Legendary Dark Knight mode and a turbo mode.
The Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition is the best way to play the game, and there is enough new to justify a second purchase. Despite its original somewhat mixed reaction, Devil May Cry 4 was the primary inspiration for the near universally loved Bayonetta. That being said, Capcom does deserve some shaming for trying to further milk a profit out of the game, by charging for even more downloadable content. The improved presentation and gameplay additions make the Special Edition a worthwhile investment, but it’s not a definitive edition, and asking those fans to pay even more, really feels like double dipping.