It’s kind of amazing that the Devil May Cry franchise has lasted this long. The original 2001 game began as a concept for Resident Evil 4, meaning that it was a tad derivative from the beginning. And the concept of a stoic protagonist in a long coat carrying a small armory made it seem like someone dropped The Matrix in a vat of Mountain Dew.
Nonetheless, that first game was more than the sum of its parts. The action was fast and unforgettable, and the story was pretty captivating (despite being held back by that terrible dialogue). And it turns out that there was real audience demand for this new genre of “stylish action.”
Now, we’ve got more Devil May Cry games than you can shake a red duster at. But which ones are worth playing again and which ones are best left in the used game bargain bin?
Without further ado, here is our ranked list of every Devil May Cry game, from worst to best.
6) Devil May Cry 2
It’s an open secret that sequels usually suck. While you can name a few interesting exceptions to this rule (such as The Empire Strikes Back and Halo 2), audiences generally find the second entry in a franchise pretty disappointing.
Devil May Cry 2 is no exception to that rule. Whereas some sequels fail because they are overly ambitious, this is the rare sequel that sputters on just about every level.
If you enjoyed the wacky and wise-cracking character of Dante, the 2003 sequel finds him mellow and, frankly, boring. If you enjoyed the eye-popping color palette of the first game, this game is dark and dim throughout. And if you enjoyed the frenetic action of the first game (arguably its biggest draw), the sequel’s combat feels sluggish and repetitive by comparison.
Some completists may feel the need to play this when making their way through the series. For everyone else, it’s worth it to skip this game altogether.
5) DmC: Devil May Cry
Remember that bit about sequels that failed due to vaulting ambition? DmC: Devil May Cry is a great example of this.
This 2013 game is different from the top-down, and it both looks and feels like nothing else in the franchise. One big reason for this is that Ninja Theory handled DmC instead of Capcom.
So, what did Ninja Theory do to the franchise? Character redesign, for starters. Dante now looks like a goth slacker instead of an escapee from an anime series. And in a really on-the-nose metaphor, the Demon King Mundus is now a generic evil businessman.
The action and humor are more on par with the first game. The redesigns and poor story leave this entry near the back of the pack.
4) Devil May Cry 4
Devil May Cry 4 was a calculated risk for Capcom. For once, they challenged fans to care about a new protagonist, Nero. And fans don’t always like a bait-and-switch setup where they get a new hero (just ask those Metal Gear Solid fans who still hate Raiden after all these years).
Fortunately, Capcom’s gamble paid off in 2008. The focus on other characters like Nero and the mysterious Vergil (as well as the focus on magical swords and conspiring cults) helped stretch out the mythology of the franchise, bringing in new fans and giving old fans something to chew on.
Gameplay is fast and fun, but the main thing that holds this game back is, ironically, Dante himself. His levels are all a boring retread of Nero’s levels, meaning that by the time you got to play as the most beloved character, there were no new surprises left.
3) Devil May Cry
Here we have the game that started it all. In many ways, it seems like there is not much left to say about one of the most influential titles in gaming history.
This game introduced the signature swinging/shooting action combos as well as Dante’s flamboyant style and personality. We also got a series staple: brutal boss fights waiting at the end of every major section.
Really, only two things hold this entry in the franchise back. The first is that the silly puzzles (a throwback to this game’s Resident Evil roots) unnecessarily slow the action down. And the second is that a couple of other titles took everything good about the franchise debut to the next level.
2) Devil May Cry 3
Remember how Devil May Cry 2 was a sequel that failed on every front? Devil May Cry 3 is the 2005 follow-up that managed to outshine its predecessors in every meaningful way.
The focus on Dante as a younger man gives us an excuse to learn more about his backstory, especially regarding his sibling rivalry with Vergil. And the younger Dante is ruder and cockier than ever, making for a refreshing return to form after the dour Devil May Cry 2.
And in terms of action, this game was absolutely crazy in the best possible ways. Not only are the boss fights smooth and kinetic, but the Style system in this game encouraged you to find new ways to take on all foes.
Heck, you can even channel Dante’s inner dancer by spinning around stripper-esque poles and channel his West Coast bro by surfing on your enemies. When your main character is having this much fun, you will, too!
1) Devil May Cry 5
It’s tough to give the top spot to Devil May Cry 5 instead of 3. So, what helped this 2019 entry get the coveted top spot?
First, it was a return to form. Capcom was back, and they brought the designs, the humor, and the style that was missing from DmC: Devil May Cry.
Second, the game is breathtakingly beautiful. While older entries still look good (especially remastered and running at 60 FPS), Devil May Cry 5 has scenes where you want to stop fighting and just take it all in.
Finally, the combat in this game is deeper than anyone expected. There are stance systems, weapon systems, and even a deep skill tree for every single weapon. It sounds like a lot to take in, but this depth is “just right” for the franchise. Players of every style and skill level can use this system to take on the bevy of killer bosses on their own terms.
While that’s our list so far, Devil May Cry 5 gives players hope that the franchise will eventually return even bigger and better than before.
What’s your favorite Devil May Cry game? Tell us in the comments below!