After eleven years of waiting for a new main series installment, Devil May Cry 5 finally arrived on March 2019, and, wouldn’t you know, it was a hit.
Both critics and fans welcomed DMC 5 with open arms, and the reviews were almost universally positive, even gushing. But things weren’t always looking this bright for fans of absurd combos, big swords, and casual ridiculousness mixed with surprising sincerity.
During the eleven years between installments players had to find some substitutes to get their character action fix, and, thankfully, there were a few solid Devil May Cry alternatives which could deliver on at least some part of that demand. And even though DMC5 is still with us, perhaps you fancy a break from the white-haired demon slayer dynasty.
What’s in Devil May Cry’s DNA?
What features make a game similar to Devil May Cry, then? The first are the characters. Devil May Cry is a series with fantastic combat systems, but it wouldn’t be half as popular if it wasn’t for the larger-than-life characters populating its stories. And nobody accomplishes it better than Dante, the king of cheese and pizzas without olives.
Vibrant characters with clear personality traits are important. The second aspect is action, specifically: how good it feels to slice and dice. DMC isn’t Dark Souls, killing and surviving is just beginners’ class. DMC is about looking awesome while doing the killing and the surviving. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but it has to feel good. If it makes you feel like you’re bullying the monsters and even bosses, all the better. Usually there’s also at least a little bit of solving minor environmental puzzles and advanced traversal, but they are rarely the main course.
Now let’s double jump into our list of games like DMC.
|Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak||2022-06-30||-45%|
|Monster Hunter Rise||2022-01-12||-76%|
|SCARLET NEXUS | Deluxe Edition||2021-06-25||-80%|
|Darksiders III Deluxe Edition||2018-11-27||-87%|
|Nioh: Complete Edition||2017-11-07||-80%|
|Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Premium Edition||2013-10-24||-89%|
|God of War||2022-01-14||-52%|
|Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance||2014-01-09||-76%|
|NieR: Automata Game of the YoRHa Edition||2017-03-17||-37%|
|Devil May Cry 5 Deluxe Edition||2019-03-08||-81%|
|Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition||2013-08-27||-86%|
|Ryse: Son of Rome||2014-10-10||-58%|
|Sekiro : Shadows Die Twice - GOTY Edition||2019-03-22||-|
|NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection||2021-06-10||-36%|
|Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice||2017-08-08||-81%|
Monster Hunter Rise (Sunbreak)
Monster Hunter games aren’t usually known for the fast-paced combat associated with the Devil May Cry series. This perception isn’t wrong, but Monster Hunter Rise made great strides to speed things up considerably, and to add more reasons to hug the controller. A lot of that is owed to Silkbind moves, which expand weapon movesets and dramatically improve mobility.
Things got faster still with the Sunbreak expansion. Even classically slow weapons like Greatsword received a speed bump options, and a few weapons got a reliable Royal Guard-like block-and-counter mechanics which can appropriately wreck a monster if you time things properly. If you’d love to boss rush fantastically designed creatures, Monster Hunter Rise can deliver that in spades and style.
|Developer:||BANDAI NAMCO Studios Inc.|
It’s possible that Scarlet Nexus flew under your radar, and if that’s the case we’re glad we bring this game to your attention. The first thing you need to know about SN is that its aesthetic is unapologetically anime-like, and it works very well with the lovely over-the-top nonsense you get to witness every time combat gets going.
The story involves teens with psychokinetic abilities which, of course, translates to them being really good with weapons and acrobatics. There are also weird alien mutants coming to eat people’s brains and be a general menace. A perfect target for two operatives to unleash their skills upon! There are two story threads eventually revealing to you the full plot tapestry.
Darksiders III is different enough from the series’ originator to justify a separate entry on the list. In this instalment you’ll be playing as Fury, War’s older sister, who’s given a critical mission of capturing seven deadly sins running rampant and making things even harder for the post-apocalyptic Earth. Thankfully, over the course of the game Fury greatly expands her abilities.
As Fury gathers elementally-attuned Hollows not only does her weapon transform into new forms, she also finds herself equipped with new skills which are useful for both combat and exploration of the semi-open world. It’s not as fast and smooth as Dante flipping through styles and weapons, but it does bring a lot of meaningful and impressive-looking, variety.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
Bayonetta shares a lot of its DNA with DMC, which is only reasonable, given that it was created by Hideki Kamiya, the man who was behind the original Devil May Cry. Bayonetta is loud, colorful, shamelessly ridiculous, and can be best summarized with the phrase “no regrets”. It’s a total blast. These traits apply both to Bayonetta the game, and Bayonetta the character, by the way.
Bayonetta is an Umbra Witch who awakens after centuries long-slumber and has to deal with a celestial mess and her own incomplete memories. With magical hair, four guns, and flair for the dramatic, Bayonetta is ready for a party and happy to stomp on any angel who tries to get in her way. The series is now up to three games, with the third scheduled for an October 2022 release.
Darksiders is quite a bit less cheerful than DMC, but the grim-faced protagonist War is surrounded by NPCs which are fun to interact with and all characters are fun to look at thanks to the art direction of Joe Madureira of the “Battle Chasers” fame. Darksiders has a distinctive art style and brutal combat. So much so that the game statistics track how much blood was spilled.
The game isn’t particularly difficult and has a more ponderous tempo. War is a walking tank with anger issues simmering just beneath the surface and his combos do a great job conveying the force and momentum behind his weapons (mainly sword, scythe, and punchy gauntlet). Especially the finishers show just how much power War has, and they reach God of War level of violence.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Developers at Ninja Theory seem to enjoy experimenting with action games. Enslaved is their attempt to take some of the motifs and characters from the Chinese epic “Journey to the West” and make them work in a post-apocalyptic, science fiction-like setting. And it works amazingly well, partially because the world is gorgeous, and partially because combat feels and looks awesome.
The player character, called Monkey, is a very agile, nearly bestially so, man, and an adept user of an enhanced bo staff. The game mixes intense, melee-oriented combat with puzzle segments usually based on giving directions to Monkey’s companion, Trip. They are nowhere near the only references to Journey to the West, and if you’re familiar with the epic, you’ll recognize quite a few of them.
God of War
|Developer:||Santa Monica Studio|
2018’s God of War is one of the best games of that year, and one of the best titles in the genre. Although, much like Darksiders, it’s not really cheesy, it’s exceptionally dramatic, and the combat feels amazing and crunchy thanks to a great application of advanced animation techniques and the fact that, unlike previous installments, the camera is now right behind Kratos’ meaty shoulder.
The story about old Kratos trying to do right by his son and dead wife would be interesting on its own, but when you add Norse mythology to it, with its own set of weirdness, it gets amazing. Although the game began as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, it has since been ported to PC, and received a sequel, God of War: Ragnarok which moves the plot towards the famous Norse apocalypse.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
What do you get when you give a super-katana to a ninja cyborg? You get cut, that’s what. Metal Gear Rising: Vengeance is all about cutting, and with the finesse typical for PlatinumGames, it really does make the cut, and more. MGR stars Raiden, a platinum-haired man from the main Metal Gear series, who due to stuff gets some upgrades for his already cybernetic body and weaponry.
One of the benefits is that his tricked-out new sword can actually cut anything. A car? You can slice it. Chop them to pieces. There’s more than just wild swings, however, because enemies often have weak spots for you to target. In addition to the sword, Raiden can also acquire other melee weapons, as well as use various explosives and firearms lying around on the lengthy levels.
NieR: Automata was one of the highlights of 2017, and not without reason. It looks great, the world it presents is vivid in a certain “post-apocalyptic wasteland” kind of way, the story becomes weirder and weirder everytime you play it, and the action is on par with anything in the genre… or genres, as it mixes an RPG, an action game, and more than a little bullet hell. It’s a lot.
And kind-of like DMC5, NieR: Automata doesn’t limit itself to just one playable character. Instead, over the full course of the convoluted story you’ll play several existentially troubled androids, steadily discovering the full plot of the game up to its dramatic conclusion. Years later, Automata is still one of the most interesting games of its type, engaging both through story and action.
|Developer:||KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.|
Nioh may look closer to Dark Souls, what with the demanding difficulty and all. But it also holds some DNA from DMC’s once big contender: Ninja Gaiden, and there is something about what’s going on that lends it some of the over-the-top, ridiculous nature of DMC. For example, the final boss is as Biblical (apocryphal, actually) as it gets, and your character encounters cutesy Kodama spirits.
There are also shades of the DMC Styles, here present in the form of low-medium-high stances which change the balance between offence and defense. Nioh offers many different weapon types, and as you progress through the game you’ll also improve your skills, since just like in DMC, each weapon has its own list of upgrades meaningfully expanding your combat options.
Thus ends our small glimpse at games which wear their exciting, over-the-top action on their sleeves. Some of these games are a more direct competition to DMC than others, but all are absolutely worth checking out. We’ve included several different styles, themes, and aesthetics so that you can pick the kind of game like Devil May Cry that you’re the most interested in.