The series has been a marketing success with the first three games selling multiple million copies and being awarded the "Platinum Title" award by Capcom. The success of the video game series has led to the creation of comic books, novelizations, an anime series, guides, collectibles, publications, and a variety of action figures. As of 2008 there are four games in the series.
Although the series is substantially different from its original inspiration, its lineage is still apparent, from the recurring boss characters and tendency toward grotesque adversaries, the need to solve elaborate puzzles to proceed, to the "This Game Contains Scenes of Violence and Gore" warning at the opening sequence and "You Are Dead" game over screens. The violent finishing moves some monsters can perform are also reminiscent of its lineage.
|Devil May Cry||2001||PlayStation 2|
|Devil May Cry 2||2003||PlayStation 2|
|Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening||2005||PlayStation 2, PC|
|Devil May Cry 4||2008||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC|
The gameplay of the series focuses primarily on fast and 'stylish' combat; gaining a high style ranking requires long attack and evasion strings while avoiding damage. In later games, the system was slightly modified so players had to actively vary the attacks used, so as to maintain the style rank. The style rank is tracked during combat with letter grades, from worst to best: D, C, B, A, S. They are also represented by words that start with the first letter of the class, "Dull" for D for example. The third game introduced "SS" and "SSS" ranks, which continues in the fourth. The player's performance on each level is also ranked using these letters.
The game also features some puzzle-solving and exploration elements retained from its survival horror beginnings, but these are downplayed; Devil May Cry games put emphasis on action.
The Devil Trigger ability enables the player's character to transform into a devil-like form with additional powers based on their current weapon, while the character's strength and speed increase and health is slowly restored. Notable weapons in the series include the swords Force Edge/Sparda in Devil May Cry, Rebellion in Devil May Cry 2, and Yamato in Devil May Cry 3. The first three games also eliminated the need to reload or reserve ammunition.
Dante is generally the lead character in the games, though Devil May Cry 2 featured two other characters who could be selected instead of him (Lucia or Trish), the Special Edition of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening allowed the player to use Vergil, and Devil May Cry 4 features a new protagonist named Nero.
Each game in the series has added new elements to the gameplay.
Devil May Cry introduced the 'style' meter and ranking, encouraging players to attack and evade continuously while avoiding damage.
Devil May Cry 2 introduced the ability to perform combination attacks in mid-air and an evasion button. It also introduced a weapon-change button, so the player could cycle through ranged weapons without switching to the inventory screen.
Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening added a selection of gameplay styles, allowing the player to focus on their favorite techniques or weapons, whether it be swords, guns, evasion or defense. Each of the four basic styles gain experience points, which unlock more techniques and abilities without costing 'red orbs', the common currency of the series. A second weapon-change button was added, allowing the player to cycle through the character's melee weaponry, specifically known as Devil Arms, as well.
Devil May Cry 4 brings one major innovation in the form of main character Nero's "Devil Bringer" arm, which gives players the ability to pull distant enemies in to be attacked, or smash them into the ground. Nero is also armed with a sword that can be "revved" up via a throttle handle, allowing players to precharge the sword for extra damage on the next hit, or with precise timing it can be charged after each attack, for extra damage and style. As Dante, players can also switch fighting styles in mid-combat.
The chronological order of the Devil May Cry series does not follow the release order of the games. The first game in the time line is Devil May Cry 3, followed by Devil May Cry, then "Devil May Cry the Animation" then Devil May Cry 4, and finally Devil May Cry 2.
The plot of the series begins with Devil May Cry 3 in Dante's as-of-yet unnamed shop as a mysterious man named Arkham appears to offer an invitation from Dante's brother, Vergil. An immense tower erupts from the ground a short distance away from the shop and Dante takes the situation as a challenge. Following numerous battles Dante arrives at the tower's summit, Temen-Ni-Gru, and battles Vergil. Vergil defeats Dante and departs. He eventually catches up in the control room located in the tower's basement. The brothers battle again until they are interrupted by Lady, then Arkham, who has been manipulating them all to reactivate the tower. Arkham intends to steal the Force Edge, Sparda's sword.
Dante crosses over to the demon world and catches up with Arkham, and he and Vergil work together to bring down Arkham. Dante and Vergil battle, and Dante is victorious. Returning to the human world, Dante meets Lady outside the tower where she coins the phrase "devil may cry" while trying to comfort Dante over the loss of his brother. They form a friendship and the beginnings of a partnership in demon-slaying, and he names his shop "Devil May Cry".
Devil May Cry begins with Dante being attacked in his office by Trish. He brushes off her assault and she claims that the demon emperor Mundus is planning a return. Dante explores Mallet Island, encountering a variety of demons, including one named Nelo Angelo. Dante is defeated but Nelo Angelo flees. Other encounters with Mundus' demon generals serve to indicate Dante has become even more powerful than his father since his initial awakening in Devil May Cry 3. Nelo Angelo attacks twice more in later missions, and is eventually revealed to be Dante's twin brother, Vergil. Dante enters the underworld in search of Mundus, where Trish sacrifices herself to save him. Dante releases the power of Sparda that Vergil sought in Devil May Cry 3. Dante and Mundus then battle on another plane of existence. Trish returns and lends Dante her power. Dante then defeats Mundus. Dante and Trish escape as the island collapses, and later work together in the renamed shop, "Devil Never Cry".
Devil May Cry: The Animated Series is an anime series that led up to Devil May Cry 4 and tells more about Dante, Lady, and Trish's adventures.
In Devil May Cry 4, Lady calls upon Dante to investigate The Order of the Sword, a cult-like group that worships Sparda and has been collecting Devil Arms. Dante is originally uninterested, but Trish goes on ahead and takes the Sparda sword with her. Later, Nero witnesses Dante crash into an Order meeting and assassinate the leader, Sanctus. Nero attacks Dante and awakens his Devil Bringer arm, only to find that Dante was not taking their fight seriously. Nero pursues Dante, and along the way comes to realize that the Order is opening gates to the demon world in order to harness its power. Sanctus is revived through demonic power, and he sets in motion a plan to have Kyrie, Nero's love interest, kidnapped. Nero pursues and fights against Sanctus, but is captured by Sanctus and used together with Kyrie to form the core of The Savior, a giant demon in the form of a god. Dante steps in and destroys all the Hell Gates that the Order has opened, then fights against the Savior. Unable to destroy it from the outside, he leaves that task to Nero. Nero defeats Sanctus and rescues Kyrie, and ultimately destroys the Savior. Dante gives Nero the sword Yamato that formerly belonged to Vergil; the Order had found it, broken, and Nero had restored it and used it in his fights. Later, at the Devil May Cry shop, Lady pays Dante and Trish for their work, however Trish is unhappy with the amount. Dante avoids dealing with the situation, and as a customer with the password phones in, the three head out to take on another mission.
Devil May Cry 2 begins with Dante entering a museum where an important item called the Medaglia is stored, where Lucia invites Dante to Dumary Island. Lucia's mother Matier asks Dante to help fight Arius, a businessman who wields demonic power. Dante decides to help. Lucia confronts Arius, who reveals that she was his creation. Shortly afterward, Lucia gives Dante the last of the Arcana before leaving. Dante then encounters Matier who asks Dante to take the Arcana to save Lucia from Arius. Lucia attacks Arius, though he captures her. Dante arrives and trades the Arcana for Lucia, then attacks Arius, who escapes. A large stream of energy strikes the Uroburos tower and a portal to the demon world is opened. Dante and Lucia argue over who will enter, with Dante entering the portal to deal with Argosax.
After Dante departs, Arius returns too, though Lucia goes on to defeat him. Within the portal, Dante fights and defeats the partially summoned Argosax. Finding the portal closed, Dante instead drives further into the demon realm on a motorcycle. In the aftermath of the battle, Matier insists to Lucia that Sparda returned from a similar trip. Sometime later in Dante's shop, Lucia muses about Dante and examines the coin he gave her. It shows that it was two headed. Outside the sound of a motorcycle echoes, and Lucia leaves to investigate. The player is not shown whether or not it is Dante.
Dante's confident and fearless attitude have gained him widespread popularity. He was ranked as the seventh of Game Crush's "Top 10: Most Badass Video Game Characters" list, and third among the "Top ten coolest video game characters" list of Screwattack. The popularity of the Devil May Cry series led to a line of Devil May Cry action figures produced by Toycom. Japanese company Kaiyodo produced a similar line for Devil May Cry 2 and a Devil May Cry 3 Dante action figure.
Two volumes of a planned 3-part Devil May Cry 3 manga series have been published in Japan and the U.S. Taking place about a year before the events of Devil May Cry 3, the manga tells the story of how the characters came to where they were at the start of the game.
Three issues of a comic adaptation of the first game was published by Canadian publisher Dreamwave Productions in 2004, but was left unfinished when the company went bankrupt in 2005.
An anime series entitled Devil May Cry featuring Dante debuted on the WOWOW TV network in Japan on June 12 2007. The series ran for 12 episodes. The show was produced by the anime studio Madhouse and was directed by Shin Itagaki. Bingo Morihashi, one of the writers for the third and fourth games, was one of the writers. The first full trailer featured Dante in his garb from the first game, and a character list including two of his partners from the games (Lady and Trish) and two new characters.
On July 25, 2008, both WildStorm (a DC Comics’ imprint) and Capcom announce that they are joining to create a new Devil May Cry comic book series. The details on the new comic series, including creative team and launch month, will be announced at a later date.