Ninja Theory’s first collaboration with Capcom, a take on the Devil May Cry universe, panned out very well for the studio and fans alike—critically, at least. Immediately after having completed development on DmC, Ninja Theory started working on a new downloadable chapter that would give long-time Devil May Cry fans a taste of what they’ve always wanted: the ability to play as Dante’s badass brother Vergil in his own campaign. However, just like the Nephilim brothers this game is based on, Vergil’s Downfall is an awkward mix of bad and good.
Vergil’s Downfall takes place immediately after the events of DmC, and as such, Vergil is on his path to redemption after having being beaten by his brother Dante. After selecting New Game, you’re greeted with the intro cur-scene: a poorly animated, 2D comic-book-style cartoon with voice-overs, instead of the regular 3D animated cut-scenes from the standard game. Leaving much to be desired, these cut-scenes are seen in the intro, between mission, and at the end of Vergil’s adventure, and they are nearly the only way that this DLC conveys any storytelling. As communicated in the intro, Vergil perishes at his father’s grave, and is sent straight to the very limbo-like pits of hell.
Once in control of Vergil, you’re welcomed with practically the only saving grace of Vergil’s Downfall: Vergil himself. Ninja Theory succeeded in crafting Vergil’s combat in a very unique way, as this newly playable character is a refreshing new take on DmC’s already superb combat mechanics. Vergil plays extremely different from Dante, as his katana—the Yamato—is his only weapon. However, this doesn’t make him any less technical than Dante; in fact, Vergil is much harder to master, but is just as rewarding. Vergil has a pretty impressive array of unlockable abilities and moves at his disposal, and, just like his brother, shift his blade between Angel and Demon mode by holding L2 or R2. He’s quick, accurate, and, instead of guns, uses mentally-spawned blades to attack enemies, teleport to them, or teleport them to himself, similar to how Dante can pull (or pull himself towards) baddies. Vergil actually reminds me of how Dante played in Devil May Cry 3, which is by no means a bad thing.
Throughout his short three-or-so hour campaign, you’ll find that playing as Vergil feels right, but never reaches its full potential for a few reasons: the levels, while very hell-ish and aesthetically pleasing, aren’t very fun to traverse or fight in. Vergil’s Downfall reuses some locales, and more often than not it unnaturally lengthens them by constantly forcing you into monster arenas—something the standard game did much more elegantly. You’ll be fighting the same enemies as you did with Dante, with the exception of two new demons: the Wisp, a welcomed for that changed up the pace of combat, and a mini-boss that you fight twice. I couldn’t care to learn his name, though; his attacks are frustratingly designed and he isn’t ever fun to fight. On the bright side, the DLC’s only boss fight is both epic and memorable, as it’s probably the single coolest part I’ll take away from Vergil’s Downfall.
As fun and fleshed out as Vergil is a playable character, it’s painfully obvious that this add-on was missing a thick coat of polish throughout. Plagued with silly glitches and bugs from menu to gameplay, I found myself shocked that Capcom and Ninja Theory would put this DLC out in its current state. Silly things like typos in some menus, improperly and inconsistently described abilities (e.g., Vergil’s Spiral Sword ability says it requires three Devil Trigger orbs, but it doesn’t–it requires four), and even glitches I encountered in gameplay–like falling off a ledge and not respawning on solid ground–really left a bad taste in my mouth.
If you’re absolutely starved for more Devil May Cry action (we wouldn’t blame you), then you should probably, albeit cautiously, check out Vergil’s Downfall at its current $9.99 price point. You’ll have access to all the various difficulty settings and modes that you did in the standard game, with collectibles like Lost Souls and Cross Fragments to boot. Unfortunately, there weren’t any incentives, like skins or perks, for completing the game on higher difficulties beside unlocking infinite Devil Trigger.
There is some fun to be had with Vergil’s Downfall—mainly the experience of playing as Vergil himself—but you’ll have to ignore some of the add-on’s own downfalls to be fully satisfied with this package. It doesn’t do the standard game justice, but it does give me hope for Vergil as a playable character in a DmC sequel—if that’ll ever happen. Fingers crossed.