At this year’s Tokyo Game Show, the newest iteration of the popular Devil May Cry franchise was unveiled. For this sequel, Capcom decided to hand off one of their flagship series to a Western developer in an attempt to revitalize the series. Entitled simply DmC, Heavenly Sword‘s developers Ninja Theory has the task of creating a reboot of the series and an overhaul of the character Dante. This is one in a new trend of Japanese developers handing over development to Westerners. The results have been overall unfavorable.
A quick glance at the short trailer that was released leaves a lot to be desired. There is no gameplay reveal, but what is seen is an overly processed FMV that lacks any style that the series is known for. We see Dante use a scythe weapon of sorts to fight off a horde of demons. Since there isn’t any gameplay footage, the only thing to comment on are the design choices for DmC.
Despite his relative short time around, Dante has become a gaming icon in his own right. From the poor voiceover to the waifishly “hip” character design, it appears Ninja Theory is shoehorning a look that doesn’t jell with the garish tongue-through-cheek nature the series is known for in an attempt to attract an alternative — and supposedly wider — Western demographic. To change up the design and reboot the story is entirely possible, and even welcome in most circumstances. This design just isn’t a proper representation of the character. From the black “skunking” hair (to possibly explain its conversion to white) to the attribute of smoking, it just feels contrived and flat. The atmosphere is all but missing, as is the personality.
Overall, it feels like Capcom is having identity problems within themselves. Executive producer Keiji Inafune — considered to be the father of Mega Man — has gone on record on many occasions stating his feelings regarding the Eastern method of game development, finding it too arcane to continue. However, his personal views stand contrary to fact: Devil May Cry 4 was the bestselling title in the franchise to date. They’re trying too hard to appeal to foreigners without realizing they made great games on their own.