Wednesday, January 16, 2013

DmC: Devil May Cry

I'm going to be forward with you. I really enjoyed DmC, but I seem to be taking a wildly different perspective from most people on this game. In fact, where many say the story was lacking, I found that to be the strongest part of the game. Let's start off with the new Dante's character (not his appearance just yet).

Rather than Dante being a "like-able" (as in heroic) good character, I feel that he is neither and isn't really intended to be either. Dante is, however, a realistic character and that gives him points in my book. Let's be honest, what are the odds that someone with the history of this Dante (left without a real family) is going to end up an upstanding citizen? Close to none at best. What we have is an immature slacker with no direction in his life until he meets a leader (his brother). This is a pretty believable set-up I think. He's also no master at banter, and I also like that. People often cite the infamous "FUCK YOU!" scene as evidence of poor dialogue, and they are kind of right. It is poor dialogue if you're looking for something incredibly witty. This Dante isn't witty and it shows. Left and right he makes bad puns and jokes, seemingly at nobody, and you can see on his face how proud he is with it. This is EXACTLY something I could see a real person doing. In the heat of the moment just before a fight, a real person doesn't spout comedy gold. Rather, if you watch people circling each other before a fight, you get mostly "Fuck you"s and "Son of a bitch"es. The bad dialogue actually serves to make Dante an even more believable character.

Dante isn't a completely unlikable douchebag however. He has a very strong and naive sense of justice. He believes strongly in freedom, likely in some form of anarchy. In a word, Dante is a punk. This is different from the Dante of the rest of the Devil May Cry series who is more of a Spiderman/Deadpool badass hero. New Dante is just a lost youth who is angry at the world. He's pretty dark and edgy, but I think there is actually a good reason for that, and I'll tell you why later. On to his look.

The Dante of DmC: Devil May Cry looks really different than his predecessor. In fact he looks almost nothing like the other Dante. He has black hair, a baby face, a wife-beater, and a black jacket. In fact he looks closer to Nero, the protagonist of Devil May Cry 4, than to Dante. Gradually in the game, however, Dante changes in appearance closer to that of the traditional Dante. His Devil Trigger form changes his hair white and coat red for one, but more interesting is what changes happen outside of it. After passing a certain point in the game you can see a patch of white show up on Dante's hair. It is in fact visible before it is even mentioned in a cut-scene, which feels rather rewarding if you're a little observant. By the end of the game, after certain events, Dante's hair goes all or mostly (it's hard to tell as the shadows in the game can at times be misleading) white. Dante's appearance in the beginning of the game is a warning that this Dante is different from the previous games' protagonists. However, the changing hair hints that Dante is growing into his role as the story progresses. But enough about that, it's time to talk about the ending, the part of the game I feel deserves the most conversation.

After defeating what appears to be the final boss, Mundus's final form, a cutscene shows the people of the world realizing that they have been living under the vicious control of demons for some time. Dante, Vergil, and Kat stand at a cliff watching the view after they overthrew this tyrannical leader. A few words on Mundus. He was a bad guy that's to be sure. He instated demons as a superior class to humans and ruled with an iron fist without a word from humans. He viewed them as cattle. But he did bring order to the human world; he had a decent motive. Now, Dante was tortured by demons as a child. He has a nurtured hatred for them. Further his moral compass tells him that freedom is of utmost importance. On top of that, his own father was killed by this tyrannical leader. Of course he is going to want to overthrow Mundus.

Vergil, on the other hand, seems to be more mature throughout the game. He is a lot less naive than Dante, willing to do what it takes to achieve his goal of overthrowing Mundus. Vergil was raised in a privileged environment and was well educated. Upon learning of his true heritage, there is a logical progression that leads to his intentions and overall goal.
1. He was born the son of an important and powerful demon named Sparda, and an angel named Eva.
2. Sparda at that point had given up the desire to fight the angels, and instead most likely desired peace.
3. Mundus slays Eva and imprisons Sparda.
4. Mundus has also enslaved humanity and taken control of the rest of the world
5. Vergil should continue the legacy of his parents to end the war between angels and demons.
6. To do this, Vergil must overthrow Mundus
7. At such a point humanity would be vulnerable to the demons as the demons would no longer be led and would then be left in anarchy.
8. The right thing to do is protect the humans and the most effective way to do that is to lead them into strength and continue Sparda's legacy as Mundus's replacement.

After defeating Mundus, Vergil makes the comment that the world is ready to be ruled by him and Dante. Earlier on in the game we see Vergil take advice from Dante, likely seeing his strong sense of justice (stronger than his own and he recognizes this). Though he doesn't do everything Dante suggests, Vergil's following of Dante's moral leadership leads to Kat's life being spared.

When Vergil reveals his desire to rule and Dante is taken aback, Vergil appears confused. To Vergil, the path was clear. He never intended to cross Dante. But Dante feels misled, as his moral compass directs him to human freedom with no strings attached. He doesn't want to rule, since the only authority figures he ever saw were evil and corrupt. Vergil, coming from a privileged family, likely saw some good in ruling. Now we are at an impasse. We have two brothers who have apparently irreconcilable differences.

At first, Vergil tries reasoning with Dante, but Dante has closed his ears now. He views Vergil as an enemy. Think about it this way: Dante has really only just met Vergil and all he has of their childhood is distant memories. Vergil has known of Dante longer, however, and has had more time to form interest. Dante makes it clear that there is only one way that he will except as an end to the disagreement, and that is battle. Vergil eventually accepts, though it is apparently somewhat begrudgingly.

They fight and Dante ends up on top and is about to kill Vergil. His kinda-sorta love interest Kat intervenes and pleads with Dante to spare Vergil (she probably has some feelings for Vergil since she kind of owes him her life and freedom from demonic mind-control). Dante at this point has gone a bit mad. His eyes are glowing red and he's filled with rage. After some time he relents his attack and Vergil limps away making an escape saying "I loved you Dante." Just before leaving.

Now what does this all mean? To me it means that Dante is the true betrayer in DmC and Vergil is the betrayed, contrary to the previous series. Does this mean that Dante is a villain? Not really. Does this mean that Vergil is a hero? Well, since he has just been given a reason to hate the one thing that helped him have compassion for humans, probably not. Essentially what we have here is a sort of prophecy coming true at the hero's hands. For veterans of the Devil May Cry series, it is known that Vergil was going to fall at some point. It is in the very definition of his character to be an antagonist. Since he was not evil in the beginning of this game, the fall had to happen at some point. However, it was not obvious that such a fall would actually be a result of Dante's naivete.

Now what that is, I think, is good writing. Not only does our hero have realistic weaknesses, but those weaknesses (particularly naivete and a short-temper) end up creating a worse enemy than the one he worked so hard to overthrow. If he was more cool-headed, it's possible he could have talked Vergil out of wanting to rule, or if he were less naive, perhaps he and Vergil would have made good rulers. And that leaves us ready for a really great sequel, as well as really great DLC coming soon, both of which I am eagerly anticipating.