Arguably one of the more anticipated mobile titles, Devil May Cry: Pinnacle of Combat had opened a limited time pre-download for open beta testing via TapTap for Android devices. Now that we’ve dabbled in it instead of relying on external sources, we can actually feel and see for ourselves what this game has in store for players…
To put it kindly, for an IP like this, you’d want to expect more out of its presentation. Even with the graphics at max settings, the game still looks more underwhelming than impressive, and Dante himself may be hitting that “uncanny valley” if you look just a little too closely.
Fortunately, the map and environmental design does not suffer the same pitfalls. Sure, it doesn’t look like the prettiest game still, but the spirit of the series is captured well enough. Across four chapters cleared so far, the set pieces are rarely simply copy-pasted repeatedly. There will be quests that have you return to certain places, but it’s not as egregious as it could have been. Destructible props are scattered on the map, which, upon breaking, may occasionally drop a Green Orb.
As for the voice acting, it’s probably not gonna blow you away, and is at least competent. The mouth flaps aren’t synced to the dialogue, so if that bothers you, then that’ll be something you will have to live with.
Unlike perhaps some of the more popular games out there, Pinnacle of Combat is not an open world game. You’ll be accepting quests from the NPCs and then transported to the relevant quest area. In the maps themselves, it’s not seamless either, as you’ll have to go through loading screens as you move from area to area.
First of all, the feel of combat has been hit right, living up to that promise of “DMC, but mobile”. Chaining combos are really easy to do, so even if you have never played the console titles or anything remotely similar to DMC, you’ll do just fine. However, the control scheme = / = feeling of controls. There are five buttons, six when you throw in the Devil Trigger. You have to tap on those buttons while busy juggling with your enemy and the subpar camera. Fortunately, as though divining player frustrations, the game comes with native controller support so just plug that in and go.
Unfortunately, there is an additional caveat to the controls. The actual registration of the inputs themselves is a little off: if you mash away as you probably often end up doing, the game will end up registering the mashes as extra attacks you may not want to do. Maybe there’s some skill ceiling there where you count the number of taps you do, and watch the animation play out before you input your next command, but that just seems rather finicky and unnecessary than adding complexity to the game.
When it comes to boss fights, the hitbox of their attacks appear bigger than they look, though it could also partially due to not being good at the game. And boy do you want to be better at the game quickly, as you get One (1) whole Green Orb for emergency heals, then nothing else. On death, you get three chances to revive yourself with an item that will restore your HP to full.
There’s really no helping the camera at this point in the game, so that’s one more thing you’ll need to get used to. A controller will help some, at the very least. For the benefit of new players, the game does have lock on, but the tutorial for it only comes in late into Chapter 3, rather than, you know, at the very beginning. To make matters even more jank, locking onto a boss when using a controller, you can no longer adjust the camera angle. Oh dear.
You’ll be spending quite a bit of time in the grind, as you go hunting for Red Orbs and books, and whatever other materials required to level up. There will be some from chests as you raise your Fame, or from completing quests, but it’s likely it won’t be enough. Your weapon can further improve its base attributes, or have additional attributes that also need to be levelled up, so get to the treadmill. Should you switch to a new weapon type, then it’s both the grind and relearning the combos, but I’m sure you’d have expected that.
The game being free to play, the monetization will always be a potential concern. It’s leaning to Yikes territory for this title.
Don’t want to play as Dante? The current build only has Lady and Vergil as the other playable characters, with Lady unlockable for free when you hit level 10, and completing a dungeon. According to Chinese players, obtaining Vergil will set you back a cool RMB3,000 ( approximately USD$460 / MYR1,904 ).
How about your weapons? You can get a new one by following the main quests, along with a new dual-wield sword and a shotgun in chapter 2. Anything else shinier? Cough up, people. You get to unlock a Weapon Smith in chapter 4, but unlike the name suggests, it only allows for reforging, and not crafting weapons.
Cosmetics? You bet! There’s a lot of them, and can boost your stats. While there’s no PVP mode at present, there will be multiplayer in the future, so that gatekeep and/or barrier of entry does not look good.
The general feel is quite newbie friendly gameplay wise, since it’s taps on the screen, while still keeping it fun, plus it has native controller support! It loses out in the looks department to say, Genshin, but it’s not the worst either which is simply damning it with faint praise. At least the environment designs are up to snuff, even if the character models themselves could make or break your immersion, depending on how you feel about them.
Unfortunately, as the spiel in monetization goes, it leans closer to pay to win, nor does the game currently offer any free pulls to soften the blow. Locking Vergil behind a pay wall is unlikely to earn them any more favours besides the extensive cash money needed for the game’s other aspects.
It’s a good-enough game, marred by its monetization. We’ll have to see if they would make any changes, if ever.