In 1320, Dante Alighieri finished The Divine Comedy. His epic poem dealt with humanity’s relationship with sin and presented a representation of the journey towards spiritual understanding. In 2001, Hideki Kamiya helmed a project that punched up the script a little; eventuating in a few more iterations, the third of which we shall be specifically speaking. Now, I won’t say that somebody of Alighieri’s literary magnitude would unequivocally love the work which took nominative inspiration from his poem…but he’d be crazy not to appreciate a game that has a guitar-scythe in it. Like, a guitar that is also a scythe. I don’t care what era you’re from, that’s cool.
Now, if a guitar-scythe is up your proverbial alley, then boy are you going to love this game. Just in case you didn’t know, Devil May Cry 3 is all about style (as were its predecessors). If the protagonist wearing a red leather trench coat wasn’t proof enough, then…just, everything else will be. I mean, the entire opening brawl consists of Dante beating up demons with the blades they impaled him with. Yes, you read that right; he straight up kills a demon using a blade that is sticking through his arm. This is also after he struts over to a jukebox (and punches it) for a little diegetic fight music. Oh, he also uses one demon as a surfboard…or maybe skateboard? I’m not up to date with my demonic locomotion terminology. Either way, it’s cool, it’s over the top, and it’s very Devil May Cry.
Now, this ridiculousness isn’t just relegated to cutscenes, no sirree, even the combat is devoted to looking cool. Anybody can spam a basic sword slash, but it takes a true bastion of style to slash once, do a backflip, and then shoot a demon in the face. Now, why am I talking to you like nobody knows what Devil May Cry is? I don’t know. I guess I got swept up in the vibe. I mean, this is Special Edition, which means there was an initial release and this adds more. Having never played the original, I had to do a little research to note said additions; but, having played it now, there is one new feature that changes everything: Free Style.
As one of the main aspects of Dante’s fighting abilities, Styles allow you to alter the way you play. Royalguard, for example, allows Dante to block enemy attacks, whilst Swordmaster grants him specialised attacks for each of his weapons. Definitely a handy system…too bad you can only change Style at the beginning of each mission, or at a sparsely placed Divinity Statue. I mean, it would be so useful to be able to “switch” abilities on the fly, quickly alternating to what best suits the scenario…can you see where I’m going with this? Because, thanks to the Nintendo Switch’s exclusive features, you can totally do that now. A feature perhaps taken for granted in later instalments, the fact that you can retroactively use this mechanic keeps the game from feeling old school in the wrong ways. The only downside to this change I can see is that levelling up each Style can feel slow, as the game wasn’t designed with rapid changing in mind. Still, I managed to level up each Style once by the time I finished, and this is a game designed to be played through multiple times. So, I suppose it isn’t that big of a deal.
Another particularly beneficial change to the original formula of 3, you are now able to take every weapon Dante acquires into battle. Though using every tool at your disposal seems like a no-brainer, Dante was originally limited to two weapons. However, thanks to Free Style, Dante can now toggle between every melee weapon and firearm whenever. This opens up a world of combo possibilities, sure to get you ‘SSStylish!’ (the highest combat rank) in no time. Also…it’s just really fun. I mean, why give me all of these toys if I can’t play with them all? I want to slash a demon into the air with my sword, follow through with my nunchacku, give him the ol’ razzle-dazzle with my dual blades, and bring things home with my gauntlets. Now, if only I was actually skilled enough to do any of that…
And that’s really where my experience ends, at least for now. Special Edition also allows you to play the additional Bloody Palace mode in co-op, but my adventure was a solo one, so I can’t speak about it with any sort of authority. I imagine it would be helpful though, because some of these demons can really get under your skin…like, with blades and stuff. I can’t tell you the number of times I was driven into a corner by a swarm of enemies and mercilessly picked apart…a lot…it was a lot of times. Still, the old school this-was-going-to-be-a-Resident-Evil-game camera carried over from earlier games didn’t bother me as much as I initially thought it might. I mean, I could also mention the graphics, but anyone expecting next-gen visuals from an old game is ‘Crazy!’ (the lowest combat rank…and an insult). Simply put, Special Edition is a fun way to replay a classic; potential frustrations are mitigated, and the modifications fans might want come pre-built. Plus, if you brave the journey through Temen-ni-gru (the big, evil setting of the game), you might just learn when a devil may cry.