I think every so often I’m going to use this site to review stuff. Not necessarily new games, or movies, but more than likely things that have been out for ages, thus making the review functionally pointless; which is good because I don’t intend on reviewing media in a way that would qualify as ‘professional’ in any capacity. I will simply be ignoring large aspects of whatever I’m reviewing because they don’t interest me (I will never try multiplayer, for example, because I might have to talk to the kind of people who would play the game I’m about to review)
I’m going to kick off with DmC: Devil May Cry because I just love redundant titles.
I started playing DmC simply because I wanted something to play that satisfied a certain gamer’s itch for a generic, fun, hack and slash. And DmC is indeed that, but while I started the game amused at its stupidity I quickly became more irritated than anything else, and knowing that I was going to write about it allowed me to enjoy the game itself while clenching my teeth through its cut scenes, albeit with the sound turned off and watching season one of Hannibal to counter the gaping black hole of its writing from which no original thought can escape.
DmC is a reboot of Devil May Cry in the same titular way the film Star Trek is a reboot of Star Trek the original series. Although the comparison could perhaps go a bit further since both titles decided that content-wise their original was really far, far too complicated for their general audience (in both cases I’m generously assuming very lazy sedated anemones).
Basically the general plot is that in rather nebulously defined dystopian world, Dante – a half-demon, half-angel – is approached by a human woman, Kat, to help out her group of rebels who are trying to fight the demon Mundus, who controls the world. Dante meets the leader of the rebels – his long lost brother Vergil. Oh, and also Mundus controls the entire population with mind-altering soda (I know that’s the plot to a cartoon I saw once).
You don’t exactly go into a game like this expecting a wholly compelling plot and story, but it’s weird to see the world so utterly fail to be in any way cohesive. For some reason never explained Dante is living in an RV at the start of the game, and it’s really unclear how much of his half-demon powers he was aware of, or even really how he lived his life in the years preceding the start of the game, though for reasons I will explain later, I am guessing he was a raging bottom at a rough German sex club.
The game really makes no pretentions to where it’s setting its sights. Consider the 11 year old group of hypothetical boys as the target. In the opening we see Dante having a threesome (SO BADASS!) we wakes up and swigs some liquor (SO SO FUCKIN’ BADASS!!) then he confronted with a demon and he comments “Bad day for a hangover” (AW, HE’S SO FUCKIN’ COOL HE FIGHTS WHEN HE HAS A HANGOVER!!!). The last line really sums it up, because it’s written as if a hangover is an abstract concept by someone who has never experienced one. The line is delivered as if it’s a pithy one-liner, but like most of the lines it’s just a there since it seems like an appropriate place for a character to speak. The fact that the game treats it as a clever thing to say; that it launches the action of the first engagement speaks volumes.
It’s tempting to focus a lot on DmC’s depiction of women, so I will. DmC’s depiction of women isn’t irritatingly offensive in the same kind of cliché manner that many mainstream games, movies and TV shows are. It’s not content to just have female characters as relegated or unpleasantly represented, oh no. DmC’s depiction of women is so utterly appalling that the very best you can say about the characters-with-vaginas is that they exist to titillate straight males, and that’s generous because you’d be choosing to use noun ‘male’ instead of ‘literally 12 year old straight boys’.
But the reality is that the game doesn’t really even enter the realm of being truly ‘offensive’ because it’s quite simply too fucking stupid. And I don’t mean that as generalized hyperbole – the female characters have literally no reason to exist outside of plot checkpoints and breasts. They could so easily be replaced by other characters or simply not present at all, and before we view that as a comment on how female characters are viewed by game designers, I would quickly point out that their presence seems to be mandated by the overarching attitude of the game here: ‘This character/plot point/line of dialogue is in the game because it kinda feels like it should be here’.
It truly feels like that’s the sort of overall take-away message here. The designers played a bunch of similar shitty games, watched some cookie-cutter action movies-of-the-week and created a point-by-point guide for what-kind-of-thing-should-be-said-at-6-hours-in-the-game.
The character of Kat really just fills out the madlib-style plot points that feel like they should be performed by the perfunctory woman-in-an-action-thing role. She is the call-to-action for our reluctant hero, she gets kidnapped for a mission to spur on a bit of a personal stake (even though Dante’s brother could have provided the exact same role), she acts as guide (well, tutorial) to all things underworld, and she ‘humanizes’ Dante by making his dick hard for love, instead of lust. Also, she does this all while wearing shorts that only qualify as ‘hot pants’ because the tailor cut the hems off at the last possible moment before the they would expose her ass.
The only other female character who is given any real screen time is Lillith, Mundus ‘mistress’ (I am really unclear as to why she is given this title given that Mundus is not established to be married). Her importance in the game is – and this is explicitly mentioned in game dialogue - is that she is carrying Mundus’ child. She is literally just a walking vagina and that is her sole contribution to the plot. Dante is literally told that she is not important to either himself or Mundus but for the kid. It seems the only reason they didn’t just have, for example, Mundus’ son actually present as a separate character is so they could show her and Mundus fucking.
The only other female character (I’m excluding enemies and bosses) is Dante’s mother who is a dead angel (Yeah, dead angel and a demon mistress, although honestly it’s completely believable that the writers have never heard of ‘Madonna/whore’ because they are that profoundly dull) but it’s riddled with the female form. The menu splash screen is Dante lounging in a chair, surrounded by a group of angels, one of which rests near his thigh (Dante, for his part, is pointing a finger gun towards his crotch. I’m unclear if he’s directing her to blow him or if he’s trying to make some comparison to his gun, it’s weird), pillars in the background of the resistance hideout are comprised of three women nuzzling each other, one of Dante’s hangouts is a strip club where the strippers dress as sexy angels, and so on.
And it’s that last specific example that really hits home how hard it is to pinpoint how to feel about DmC in terms of women – Dante hangs out with Sexy Angel strippers? It’s so utterly trite and profoundly simple that it’s meaningless in terms of what that’s supposed to mean in relationship to his being a half demon/half angel. It’s like a cheap pun more than a literary device. And so too are the depictions of women just as weird. They’re certainly not intelligent or pointed enough to be satire, but are these the works of someone who is a sad man-child unsure of what women are like? Possibly who is just a terrible writer? More cynically and equally plausible, maybe this is just the result of writing designed to elicit the most attention from the core audience – hormonal teenagers.
But it really isn’t worth unpacking any of it more than that, because at the end of the day it’d be like trying to look at female representation in ‘TITS: The game!’. The only redeeming quality here is the depiction of Dante, visually.
The original Dante (in games I have not played) was a sort an anime nerd’s cosplay dream. He was essentially Sephiroth-but-the-main-character in appearance. Or Alucard. Actually, apparently long wavy hair and a high-opinion of yourself go a long ways in this style of media. But safe to say if you were a lanky kid in high school, you could wear a long coat and grow your hair out to have an outfit recognizable as Dante.
But Fancy-Dandy-Dante isn’t cool for kids these days, particularly as video games are not the escape fantasy of a select few anymore. New Dante is tough. He’s bad-ass. He’s has threesomes with girls, and drinks liquor straight from the bottle (and he doesn’t care if his Dad finds out!) and he lives at the circus (That still makes no fucking sense).
Oh, and he’s fucking super twink for some reason.
I have no objection to this, but it is weird. I guess some credit goes to the design department that could recognize what hot male model queerbait looks like, but it’s a little strange to be playing a game with a character that’s supposed to be super-hetero-alpha-male-no-homo when he really looks like he’d be a lot more comfortable sucking cock. The movie version of him would have to be gay porn star Johan Paulik (My boyfriend has argued that he looks like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, which I think is arguably just as gay).
Fan communities for Devil May Cry predictably love the idea of incestuous homoerotic love between Dante and his brother, Vergil, because… well, because anime. However in this version, Vergil has been made into what can only be described as ‘a fucking faggot’.
He’s not overtly gay, but rather he’s given qualities that you would expect to see given to the unlikable snooty character in a mid-90s movie. He’s effete, he doesn’t care about the hot girl he works with, he’s intelligent (but not street smart like Dante) and he very, very predictably betrays Dante (No, it’s not a spoiler, it’s telegraphed so hard that I actually received a notice of it on a literal telegram from 1921). In other words, he is written to elicit the ‘What is he, some kind of fucking faggot?’ reaction that so many mid-90s movies did.
The gameplay is where the game is actually fun, and the reason I played through it. It makes DmC a lot like Birth of a Nation, – I can love Birth of a Nation’s landmark technical achievement and DmC’s gameplay but the former is a racist propaganda film and DmC is chauvinistic filth (Yes, DmC’s story is so awful that coupled with its idiotic misogyny it upgrades to being on par with a KKK film). The game is a fairly easy one, and its hack and slash combos are fun. It’s enemies do get repetitive, but it’s fast paced and the environments differ enough that you barely have time to think ‘I’m getting a bit bored’ before that thought is cut off by a massive set-piece.
And the aforementioned set pieces are fun, too. One brief segment involves Dante hopping over news station IDs that float in space, and then fighting the floating head of a giant Bill O’Reilly/Rush Limbaugh parody. Indeed, though the writing for the satirical amalgam of right-wing pundits is so cringe-inducing it renders them toothless and pointless, the actual appearance of the bloviating pundit (and fighting him as a literal talking head) is out-of-place in terms of clever visuals.
I’m not quite sure how to end this review since I don’t feel I’ve served any purpose other than providing information for people who probably won’t play it. I find it unbelievable that so many mainstream reviews only pointed out its poor writing in a casual fashion as if it affected the game through one or two cut scenes rather than being the endless parade of vulgar idiocy it actually is. So while I barely touched on the gameplay, I figure that balances out any other reviews you might read.
I give it one super-twink out of… a circus RV.