Dante’s had a dye job and legions of devoted fans have sworn off his triumphant return to the forefront of action gaming. Brenna Hillier slow claps.
There’s a stereotype that gamers are all pathetic shut-in misanthropes with the social grace of pubic lice (pre-endangered species status) and adjustment disorders so pronounced they are visible from the moon.
This isn’t true. “Gamers” as a body don’t exist. The people who play games are just people who play games, and that arbitrary grouping is becoming even more diverse as gamification creeps into every aspect of our lives. (It will soon be impossible to microwave a TV dinner without scoring points, updating your Facebook, killing off a boss and unlocking an UBER EPIC 5000 armour set.)
But we all occasionally subscribe to the myth that gamers are a thing. It’s easy to do when you hang around sites like VG247. You start believing that this relatively tiny group of people who know and care about video games with an unusual level of passion are a solid, cohesive unit. You read the comments and you draw conclusions about what kind of people “gamers” are.
It’s not a very nice kind. Like all comment threads and forums everywhere, gaming websites tend to be dominated by vocal minorities keen to espouse their insanity and ignorance. According to this measure, the “gamer” kind is sexist; racist; homophobic; reactionary; unable to spell; almost exclusively male; hasn’t read a book since See Spot Run; probably dramatically under-equipped in the genital department; incapable of basic self-care like hygiene, cooking and housework; and covered in Cheeto dust.
Alright, I’m extrapolating a little here. But that’s the mental picture I come up with in-between rolling my eyes so hard my skull shakes whenever I read some embarrassing comment about how Dante’s hair colour means DmC: Devil May Cry isn’t a solid, excellent game well-worth your time.
Here’s a bridge: now get over it
Look, kids, the verdict is in: DmC is a lot of fun. As it should be; it was built in close consultation with the team of action experts at Capcom who oversaw the rest of the much-praised series. Sure, Kamiya was not on board – but Kamiya is just one man and, newsflash: games are made by dozens if not hundreds of people. When celebrity individuals depart, companies like Capcom don’t lose ground. The teams that stay behind still have all the knowledge and expertise they used to build the games they are almost never given any credit for. A single auteur makes a better headline, see.
Capcom went to Ninja Theory not because it couldn’t make a Devil May Cry game itself, but because it looked at the developer’s body of work, probably paying particular attention to the excellent Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and decided it wanted that kind of creative force to reinvent Dante’s universe.
See, Dante’s universe was starting to wear thin. It didn’t start in a strong place. The gameplay was strong and Capcom turned the hodge-podge into a solid action game in the same way developers and publishers have salvaged projects since the industry’s earliest days: it started making shit up on the fly and tidying up afterwards.
Devil May Cry was a great game and so were its sequels, but the franchise’s fiction and canon is not among the great works our industry has produced; it’s all style and no substance. Dante wasn’t written to have substance, he was designed with style, to take advantage of the then-new PlayStation 2’s graphical capabilities. This was a video game franchise designed to sell a lot of units as quickly as possible on the expensive new platform, not to push the boundaries of the artform.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing; the question of what criteria, mechanics or intellectual property, are important when assessing a game is yet to be settled. But it is a thing, and it means there’s nothing sacred about Devil May Cry’s fiction that prevents Capcom from begging Ninja Theory to try and put together a fictional universe it can continue to make games in until people grow tired of its rock-solid action stylings – without writing itself into problems it can’t solve by having a woman smash through a window on a motorcycle and flash her tits.
I understand how uncomfortable it is to have a character and world you love rewritten, even when you can admit to yourself that the original product was not proof against criticism, which many of you apparently can not. What I do not understand is the blithering insanity of Devil May Cry fans in the face of a reboot which does the franchise no harm and by all accounts, quite a lot of good.
The existence of DmC: Devil May Cry doesn’t stop the earlier games existing. It doesn’t betray or compromise that existing (incoherent) vision you love so much. If Microsoft threw up in a puddle and sold it under the name “Halo 5” it wouldn’t stop Halo and its sequels being what they are. If the brand is diluted that’s not your problem – that’s the publisher’s problem when the money starts to trickle away. There was no “true” Devil May Cry game which was shelved for DmC. DmC’s existence, should you choose to ignore it, has no effect on you whatsoever.
Despite the complete absence of logic behind this ill-will, it runs so strongly that some of you have gone so far as to send death threats to Ninja Theory staff.
And yet despite the complete absence of logic behind this ill-will, it runs so strongly that some of you have gone so far as to send death threats to Ninja Theory staff, to accuse VG247 and its peers of corruption, a charge which stinks of conspiracy-theory paranoia, and to write thousands of words of rabid vitriol against Dante’s hair colour rather than react like a normal human being to a game that has absolutely no impact on your life and happiness in any meaningful way.
Devil May Cry is a video game. You are throwing a hissy fit because a character in a spin-off video game has a different backstory and hair colour to the one you’re used to. I shudder to think what will happen if you are ever required to move house, break up a relationship, change jobs or shave off your neckbeard.
You’ve lost it, “gamers”. I’m ashamed to be sharing an arbitrary demographic grouping with such raving imbeciles. Go outside. Get some fresh air. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Grow the fuck up. And try DmC: Devil May Cry, because it’s a good video game. Remember how you used to like those?