Forgive me if this isn’t the most professional introduction, but I can’t help it: Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat is freaking awesome!!
Developed by NebulaJoy and supervised by the Japanese DMC team, Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat is the first time the series has delved into the mobile realm with a completely original title. It returns fans to the life of a Devil May Cry 3-aged Dante, which somehow includes Nero and Vergil. I won’t question those timeline shenanigans because a mobile cash grab is the last place that I’m looking to find canonically coherent plotlines for any series.
When I fired it up, I expected a watered-down Devil May Cry replica. That was true in some ways. My attack combos are simplified, certain techniques aren’t present, and characters lack the depth they have in mainline games. However, what it lacks in depth, it makes up for in plenty of other ways that take the series to fresh territory. I can’t help but gush about it off the bat when something surprises me this much so early in a year, even if I recognize its problems.
It’s important to set expectations right out the gate: Yes, Peak of Combat is a gacha game built to get money out of players through microtransactions. Upon starting it, it felt like I was getting a full-on Devil May Cry game in the palm of my hands. I did to an extent, but as with any gatcha game, the “full experience” isn’t entirely free.
Players start with Dante, Lady, and Nero as free characters. Each comes equipped with their standard starting weapons like Dante’s Rebellion and Nero’s motorcycle-like sword, Red Queen. Like in the mainline games, there are other characters, outfits, fighting styles, and weapons to be unlocked such as Royal Guard and, of course, Dante’s motivated brother, Vergil. So there are tons of options to be explored in true DMC fashion.
But unlike the mainline games, you won’t be unlocking these by simply playing through the story. It’s all up to chance after dropping as much money as possible to summon new gear. While this isn’t necessary to enjoy the rest of the game, it can make mileage vary for those who just want to play a new full-length DMC title.
It also looks like a second-rate gacha mobile game the more you inspect its character models. Dante, Nero, and Lady’s faces look like lifeless dolls. While that doesn’t take away from how fun the core game is, it’s worth mentioning all of this upfront. If monetization-heavy games are a no-go for you, Peak of Combat isn’t likely to convert you.
While the gacha elements may be a turnoff for many, Peak of Combat surprisingly shines as a Devil May Cry game when it comes to combat. There are new systems here that I’ve always hoped the series would adopt, making it a surprising dream installment.
To start, the action matches the intensity of older games, but it’s been simplified to work with limited touchscreen controls. Characters can jump, as well as execute attacks, cinematic super moves, and heavy-hitting style moves to extend combos and deal tons of damage. There is also a new ability similar to Bayonetta’s Witch Time dodge that allows players to unleash a well-timed jump against an incoming attack to move out of the way for a counterattack.
That’s all fun, but the star of the show comes in the form of a tag mechanic. In Peak of Combat, I’m able to put together a team of three characters and switch between them at will. Just like I’d hoped, I could swap between these characters in the middle of combos, creating a dynamic battle system that lived up to its console counterparts. For example, I was able to Royal Guard counter with Dante, swap to Lady to shoot guns and launch my enemy into the air, and switch to Nero to finish things up with an air sword combo and, finally, a super attack.
It’s wild that I got a mechanic I’ve always wanted from the series in a mobile title, but better here than never, honestly. And thankfully, you can hook up a console controller to mobile phones so there’s no need to worry about finicky touchscreen controls.
Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat isn’t a full-featured mainline DMC title, and it definitely shows. The characters are ugly and the gacha inclusions can be intrusive. But it’s all a small price to pay (literally) for a shockingly fun DMC experience. As much as I adore the earliest games in the series, Peak of Combat might be the Devil May Cry game I choose to break out anytime I need to return to that world. It’s got everything a demon-killing fan could need.