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I played Devil May Cry Peak of Combat so you don’t have to

Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat attack

Devil May Cry has been one of the most beloved franchises in the video gaming world since it first landed on the PlayStation 2 back in 2001. Its mix of fast action and stylish combat was an instant hit, and the series has gone on to generate millions of dollars for Capcom over the last 20 years. The last Devil May Cry game to launch was back in 2020, but we finally have a new game in our hands in the form of Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat.

The gameplay footage above was recorded on a Redmagic 7S Pro at 60FPS with all the settings cranked. Your experience may differ from mine (and if it does, it might be time for a new gaming phone), but I didn’t experience any hiccups while playing. Also, be aware that I’m playing in Mexico, so the prices you’re seeing for items in the game are in pesos, not dollars.

Combat and controls are actually good

Just because Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat is a free-to-play game doesn’t mean everything about it is bad; there are a lot of things the title gets right. I think developer NebulaJoy handled the combat very well. It’s not easy to take a console-based brawler and convert that to mobile.

The controls are pretty standard, with a d-pad in the bottom-left corner of the screen and the action buttons on the right. Each character has a primary and special attack button, a dash, and a jump. You also have two characters on standby that you can switch to by tapping their icons above the jump button.

The essence of all Devil May Cry combat is executing damage-free combo attacks, and Peak of Combat is no exception. It can take a minute to get used to where the buttons are located, particularly on a smaller screen, but the key to getting big combos is switching out your characters at the right moment, so it’s important to get it right. Thankfully, Peak of Combat has controller support, although not all on-screen interactions are supported by controller input, such as minigames. Still, for the most part, a controller is plenty viable, which is always appreciated for those of us who prefer tactility with their gameplay.

Level up your team

I know it’s not for everyone, but I particularly enjoy the micromanagement that goes into leveling up a character in mobile games. I concede the point that this is a common feature of the gacha and collectible RPG genre, but I’m here for it.

Each character has four skill trees you can develop, each with a dizzying array of consumables required to progress through them. As you advance through rank, your HP will increase, and you’ll unlock new attacks. Upgrade or Rank Up your weapon to do more damage and increase your defense.

You also have four card slots. Each card will augment your character in some way by boosting your HP or giving you stronger attacks. Your cards can also be upgraded, boosting their augmentations. New cards can be acquired randomly as you progress through the game or by playing Slot of Slaughter, a slot machine mini-game.

Finally, you can level up the attacks unique to your character. Each level-up increases your damage output just a tad, but leveling up doesn’t unlock any new functionality that I’ve seen.

Peak of Combat has plenty of rough edges

Despite everything that Peak of Combat gets right, it gets so much more wrong. Although combat is as good as it can be on mobile, fighting quickly becomes tedious. The enemy models, and attack animations may change, but the pace of combat is virtually unchanged from level to level and enemy to enemy.

The game offers 3D environments, but they’re largely wasted. Gameplay involves traversing beautifully rendered (but starkly empty) worlds from one cutscene to the next, punctuated with redundant combat encounters. A level will occasionally reward exploration with a trivial resource, but Peak of Combat exemplifies everything that can go wrong with linear level design.

Questionable artistic decisions abound

The most distracting aspect of this game for me was the voice acting. I’m not sure who they got to read these lines, but the script comes straight from a middle-school power fantasy and feels like a cheap attempt to connect with teenage boys. The line delivery misses the mark every time and feels amateurish and devoid of emotion.

Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat Dante

Peak of Combat’s desperate need to appeal to adolescent males bleeds into the character design as well. Dante struts through the game in nothing but abs, leather, and sarcasm, oozing “cool” like an overactive sweat gland. Likewise, Lady is reduced to a miniskirt, machine guns, and swagger. This kind of reductivism was par for the course 20 years ago, but feels out of place in a modern game.

Wallet May Cry

More than an edgy combat game, Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat is a shameless cash grab built on the back of a classic franchise. The formula it follows to make money is well-hashed by this point: everything takes consumables to upgrade; without upgrades, you can’t progress; to get more consumables, you need to spend real money. Real money buys you “Devil Gems” which can be transformed into other items that can be spent to acquire even more items, which are used to level up weapons that can be used to level up other weapons. It’s kind of a mess, honestly, a maze designed to separate you from your money.

Peak of Combat also gambles on you wanting to play as Vergil so desperately that you’ll pay for it. The only way to unlock Vergil is through a gacha mechanic (“guaranteed within 90 summons!”), but you’re more likely to get weapons or items instead. The other drawback to the character system is that there are currently only four characters available: Dante, Lady, Nero, and Vergil. You can also summon upgraded forms of these four, allowing you to have multiple versions in your character pool, shattering any diegetic pretensions Peak of Combat may have had.

Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat doesn’t do anything new, which is sad since this is the first we’ve seen of Dante and company since 2020. The free-to-play mechanics are the same as all the other F2P games out there, and although the controls and combat are well-executed, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. If you still want to scratch that free-to-play itch, we can recommend some games better than Peak of Combat.

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