However, just because the storyline has undergone a massive shift, it doesn’t mean that the gameplay has and players will still have pretty much the same experience as in most other hack and slash games. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how big a Devil May Cry
fan you are.
Nero, for better or worse, still controls almost identically to Dante with just a few exceptions. For the most part the game is still a matter of unlocking more and more combos, moving forwards room by room and slaughtering everything in your path with a sword that’s larger than the person wielding it.
So, what is there to distinguish Nero from Dante?
Well, for starters, Nero is a much more balanced fighter and doesn’t rely on just using different styles of swordplay. For the medium-distance combat, Nero does have a ridiculously big sword called Red Rose, which he can power up by revving an in-built fuel injection system. For long-range combat there’s the pistol, which is pretty weak but fun and, for really close-quarters, there’s the demonic arm – the Devil Bringer.
Nero’s demon arm is the major new tool in his arsenal and lets him pull off some moderately-swanky new moves. The Bringer has been massively featured and hyped in the run-up to the game’s release, but, when you boil everything down, the Devil Bringer is nothing more than a fancy grappling hook for the most part. It's useful for picking enemies up, throwing them around and solving puzzles; all in all, it’s fun, but not ground breaking.
The Devil Bringer is nowhere near as clever as you might have hoped
One thing which really annoys me about the Devil Bringer though is how inconsistently it is portrayed at times. This is true with practically all of Nero’s skills and really left me a bit miffed at the character. At times Nero will effortlessly deflect sword attacks with his bare demon arm, jump over buildings, smash through walls and block savage spear attacks with nothing but an open book.
Then, when you actually play the game, Nero can’t jump higher than a few feet, needs several dozen attacks to kill even the weakest of grunts and is easily knocked off guard.
Thankfully, Nero isn’t as death-prone as Dante was in Devil May Cry 3
, which was an incredibly difficult game. Instead, Devil May Cry 4
has a much more forgiving learning curve and starts off at an almost leisurely pace. Later though the game rapidly becomes more exciting and challenging and even on the lower difficulty setting the game can still be a tad foreboding as you progress out of the first few levels. The difficult, camera-relative view doesn't help things either and will occasionally present unique problems when Nero tries to walk through a door and the camera automatically readjusts and turns him around.
Which means it’s a good thing that Nero is so flexible when it comes to learning new skills.
Throughout the game Nero can acquire new combos for all three of his weapons—sword, gun and fist—or new abilities and dodges. Purchasing new skills costs players their souls, a currency which can be found throughout the game and earned by performing especially well.
Nero proves that the pen really is mightier than the sword!
It seems a little odd that those who do the best get to unlock the coolest stuff, while those who have difficulty are forced on with the bare minimum – but that’s life, I guess.
Demon blood can also be collected from vanquished foes and hidden locations, and Nero can use this to buy himself healing potions and items. It’s also possible to take on extra side missions to earn yourself some more grisly moolah, but the side missions are so ham-handedly incorporated into the action that they are mostly only notable for ruining the serious tone that the game seems to try for.
One thing which is worthy of praise though is the process of buying these new skills – an important example of how blood and souls differ. Nero can purchase new things at certain points in the game or at the start and end of each level, but where blood can only be spent once in a non-refundable exchange, souls can be refunded infinitely.
This is a nice touch and saves players from buying moves they later don’t like. It also lets the end of the game scale pretty well as Nero can exchange in all the moves that he doesn’t use any longer and beef up to some of the harder, more expensive combos.