When it was first announced that Ninja Theory would be taking on the mantle of Capcom’s Devil May Cry franchise, there were sceptics out there who said that it can’t be done. The more I’ve seen from this game however, including playing it at last month’s Eurogamer Expo, the more I’ve felt that this initial outrage was unjust.
Fuelled by a brand new sense that both companies may be onto a winner, I got a chance to catch up with Alex Jones – Lead Producer from Capcom and Dominic Matthews – Communications Manager from Ninja Theory, to discuss the brand new take on Dante’s world and why we should be standing up and taking notice!
One Hit Pixel: I’ve already played DmC on the show floor and thought it was one of the best in show. Was the reimagining and change to a third-party developer for the series a necessary move?
Alex: Hard to say whether or not it was a necessity, but where we were at the time was that we wanted to make more Western-facing games and take risks with some of our key properties. Devil May Cry was one of the more organically Western-facing products anyway, so it made sense for that to take the splash full on, because of its atmosphere and visuals. The whole time we planned to have some Japanese influence as far as the controls and combat, to make sure from that there was a lot of continuity, but in terms of tone and visuals we wanted a drastic departure.
So why did Ninja Theory take on this project?
Dominic: It’s Devil May Cry! Why would anyone not take on Devil May Cry? It’s an incredible franchise that a lot of people internally are massive fans of, so for us it was a great opportunity to work on an amazing series, but to take it in a new direction. That was something Capcom were very clear on; that they didn’t want us to “make another Devil May Cry” but to “take Devil May Cry and make it fresh for the here and now”.
Can you give us a brief overview on the narrative hook for this new direction for Devil May Cry?
Alex: Talking about the rebirth of the franchise we were talking about earlier, this is essentially the retelling of the origin story of Dante. He starts things off the grid, unsure of where he is and what his purpose is and the story is him finding his role in the world and defining who he wants to be. He does that by making contact with his brother Vergil, who runs an organisation called “The Order” that is doing battle with Demons who are manipulating mankind to their detriment. Dante finds his purpose through the stylish destruction of demons.
Is the new Dante different in terms of his personality, as well as his looks?
Dominic: I think the best way to think about Dante is like Iron Man in the Iron Man movies. When he has his first suit, he’s pretty rough round the edges. Later on he develops his high-tech suit that is capable of spectacular moves in the air. Dante can be thought of in the same way as this is him in his early years. He’s not as refined or perfectly choreographed as he is in the other Devil May Cry games, but he is still the essence of what Dante is. He still full of attitude and still cocksure!
How is the gameplay different from the originals?
Dominic: Something we’re maintained and was the primary focus was the combat. Devil May Cry has always had fluid combat that allows people to express themselves through combat. That’s something we really wanted to retain, so we’ve given players perhaps even more options than they’ve had before. What you will find in DmC that is different from previous games is that we’ve taken the environments and given them a new level of dynamic vitality. In DmC, the world is alive and actively trying to stop Dante. That might manifest in a number of ways but essentially means that Dante isn’t just trying to kill the demons, but also do that while the world is trying to kill him.
I’ve already experienced on the show floor that there are Angel/Demon moves you can perform. Is there some kind of desperate struggle for Dante’s soul?
Alex: Not necessarily. It does tie in with his background in that Dante is half Angel, half Demon, but he isn’t going through a moral struggle between those two opposites. The story will explain why that is, but it is a cool way of having mechanics that reflect something in the story. There isn’t going to be a light/dark meter that you will find in some other games. Angel abilities tend to be lighter and faster attacks, while Demon abilities tend to be slower but more powerful blows.
One thing I noticed now that you mention it was that in the boss battle on show, the Demon attacks dealt massive damage, whereas the Angel moves did tiny slithers of damage.
Alex: Yes, but you can spin up the Angel moves. The more you power it up, the more damage it will deal. So if you get good at chaining up moves, you’ll be able to deal a massive amount of damage in time.
Are the weapons on show all the weapons we can expect to see, or are they a taste of things to come?
Dominic: There’s definitely more surprises to come.
You mentioned earlier about the world shifting and actively trying to kill Dante. Could you explain a little more about that?
Alex: It’s called Malice. Whenever Dante gets pulled into Limbo, which is where the demons can actively take action against Dante, the world is also under their control. That reflects into gameplay in ways, such as a trap door opening out from underneath him that initially looked like it was just a bit of pavement; or something over the top like a whole building caving in on itself where Dante needs to escape it. It provides various traversal based challenges for the player to overcome.
There was a lot of talk on the internet about how negatively people were taking the change in direction. What do you have to say to the nay-sayers who are sceptical about this project?
Dominic: DmC is a new game that stands alone in its own right. I think to those who are still unsure about the game, I’d say “get your hands on it, play it and see how you feel”. We’re confident that we’ve made an awesome game that is worthy of the Devil May Cry name. We’ve also had a lot of positive feedback from those who have played it, so we’re confident that a lot of people are going to love it and even the nay-sayers will get their hands on it.
Alex: Yeah, I’d echo that and also say that I think from last year we’ve started to show the game as to only showing Dante as a character in isolation. Previously enraged fans have dwindled to a minority of nay-sayers. Over the course of the last year, we’ve changed a lot of minds as people have seen the gameplay itself.
When do the public get their hands on the game?
Alex: January 15, 2013 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. There will be a PC version shortly thereafter.
One final question. What would you say if someone came up to you and said, “Hey, I hear you’re the guys who are making the new DmC, I’ve not heard of it or the Devil May Cry series before, why should I buy it?”
Alex: It’s a chance to engage with a series that invented a genre. If you love wanton sword-based violence, I think you need to try this game.
Dominic: If you like exploring combat, story and characters in a world that is unlike anything seen in games, you should try DmC. One of the beautiful things is the more you get into it, the more you can express using the combat system how you want to play the game.
We would just like to thank Alex Jones from Capcom and Dominic Matthews from Ninja Theory for taking the time to speak with us. Also big thanks to Adam Merritt for getting us the interview. Also be sure to check Ryan’s hands-on here!