Spoilers for Devil May Cry 5 below the image
Devil May Cry 5, published by Capcom, is a game I have probably played to completion about three times. With the Game of the Year awards approaching and the fifth entry being nominated for Score & Music and Best Action Game, I decided to replay it yet again. As a series, Devil May Cry is known for having wacky and out-there characters with larger than life attitudes that match their over the top weapons. Devil May Cry 5 introduced a new character to the franchise in V, the mysterious one. This means the game features three playable characters, Nero, V, and later Dante, each with three very distinct play styles.
When I first saw his gameplay trailer, I was unsure about how much I would enjoy V’s combat style. Unlike Nero or Dante, V stays out of the action, instead commanding his familiars, Griffon, Shadow, and Nightmare, to fight for him. This is wildly different than what you traditionally see in a Devil May Cry game. But as much as I love Dante and, as unpopular as an opinion as it was during Devil May Cry 4, loved Nero, after playing Devil May Cry 5, V is my favorite character of the series.
V is one of the most interesting characters in the game, and while is story definitely is part of that for me, a bigger part is the fact his playstyle works best with my own, despite my previous concerns. This is most likely because V, like myself, is disabled.
Unlike Dante, V is not indestructible. He cannot survive being stabbed or shot in the face multiple times by Lady. V was created from Vergil, Dante’s twin brother who was previously thought to be dead following the events of Devil May Cry 3 (though it was later revealed otherwise in DLC for Devil May Cry 4). After escaping the demon world, Vergil was weak but still longed for power and hoped to get revenge on Dante. In order to get his sword Yamato back, he tore off Nero’s Devil Bringer. After doing so, Vergil returned to the burned Sparda mansion and stabbed himself with the sword to separate his human half, V, from his demon half, Urizen.
Because V is separated from his demon half, he is dying and literally decaying, which becomes more and more apparent as the game goes on. He struggles to run and later, even walk on his own. In addition to leaving V incredibly weak in his human form, Vergil also left V with four physical manifestations of Vergil’s trauma from his time as a Nelo Angelo. These manifestations, Griffon, Shadow, and Nightmare, take forms based on Mundus’s minions and end up being V’s greatest allies in battle. While he initially has one other familiar, Phantom, it perishes in a prequel story prior to the game. V has Vergil’s memories and knows the horrors he endured, but he also sees the good in all it. The fact that he adapts so quickly to his situation and turns his greatest traumas into strength is something many people, particularly disabled people, can relate too. However, V never feels tropey or like his disability is a superpower. Instead, it feels like he is playing the deck of cards handed to him.
Similarly, I have found strength and beauty in my disability by writing about it. Writing has offered me solace and a way to cope with and understand my new reality. In a similar way, V finds strength in poetry. V’s character is very different from that of other Devil May Cry protagonists, even Vergil. He’s calm, collected, and has a love for art and poetry. He even spouts it off in the midst of battle as a way to antagonize enemies. The pen is not mightier than the sword in the world of Devil May Cry. However, in V’s case, while he can’t lift the sword of Sparda, he can recite William Blake’s “Infant Joy” like there is no tomorrow.
V’s inability to lift a sword means he has adapted the way he fights. V relies on a cane to walk and it also acts as his primary weapon. After Griffon, Shadow, or Nightmare takes out a demon, the enemy turns white, allowing V the chance to finish them off for good. Additionally, V cannot jump like Dante or Nero, instead, he uses Griffon, his familiar who takes the shape of a hawk, to get him to higher areas or away from danger in the nick of time.
By the final battle with Urizen, V is barely able to walk and is disintegrating with each step. As he plunges his cane into the demon, he reconnects with him once again, forming Vergil. It was difficult seeing my favorite character, the one I saw myself in, betray his found family and rejoin with the abled-bodied man who created him and forced him into existence. I understood it from a story angle, with Vergil being the best antagonist of the series, but it was still disappointing. V’s story at the end of the day was to the service of Vergil, never his own.
Nonetheless, I love the Devil May Cry series, even though I’m not good at it and as I have gotten ill, I have only gotten worse. That is, except for playing as V. Consistently while playing as V, I would get an S or higher (the game offers stylish ranks during fights, boss battles, and at the end of missions). Anything less was nearly unheard of. For a lot of Devil May Cry players, that might be par for the course. For me, S ranks were fairly revolutionary.
Devil May Cry 5 is not a particularly accessible game. The subtitles do not have speaker titles, there are no visual cues, and there is no mini-map to inform you about enemy locations, forcing you to rely on music changes. Additionally, other than an easy mode, which actually punishes you for using it since players earn fewer red orbs that are needed to level up, there aren’t a whole lot of accessibility options like being able to slow reaction time. The game does offer some button mapping as well as auto-assist, which helps players perform combos with simple button inputs; however, using it also earns fewer bonus points on the final results screen. The game luckily doesn’t feature quick-time events, but it can still do a number on my joints. It’s a shame too, especially considering one of the playable characters is disabled.
I can’t exactly pinpoint what it is about V that makes him so much easier for me to play with, but part of me has to believe that my connection to his character plays a role. Either way, I hope to see him return in some form or another in future installments. I also hope the series embraces more accessibility options so more disabled players can enjoy him as much as I do.
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