Do you know the feeling that when you play a game, that you sometimes think to yourself:" That's some really video gamey stuff". No? I have neither, but I have seen lots of other people utter that exact same phrase or something similar to that. And it always confused me, because I always thought to myself:"Well duh, you're playing a video game what did you expect?". And more recently after I got into the character action game genre and watching some playthroughs from various youtubers/streamers I heard these games being referred to as "The most video gamey video games". And now I know what confuses me so much.
Video games at their core are entertainment experiences. They are designed to be fun and engaging for the player, but most importantly, they let the player experience something completely different. They immerse the player in a role, they give them the tools to fulfill some kind of fantasy or dream within a virtual world. But I've noticed that over time, video games have been losing this mentality more and more. Most games, at least the singleplayer ones, focus almost entirely on telling a story rather than actually being about the gameplay. Some story driven games have gone on to be crowned some of the best games ever. The Last Of Us 1 as well as The Witcher 3, Fallout New Vegas, Uncharted and many others are amazing titles with insanely good stories. But the success of these titles has also inspired many other titles that came after them and it shows. If you look at most of the game reviews that were released in the last couple of years you will find that the sections about characters and story is often always longer than all the other parts combined. The games narrative takes center stage and pushes the, in my opinion, really important things like gameplay, level design, combat system, gameplay innovation etc waaaaay back. On top the of that comes that most games released today are grounded in reality. They spend lots of time trying to immerse the player into their world, explaining all types of details, how specific things work in this world, how it came to be and all that juicy lore and backstory, so that the player cares about the world the devs have created. Now those games aren't necesarilly bad.
And then there's Devil May Cry 5. A game that simply does not give a fuck about any of that, but instead wants to show the player how over the top and stupid it is. A game that doesn't waste the players time with story, or relationships between characters. A game that just wants to make you feel like the most stylish edge lord ever. And I love every second of it.
DMC5 is a true example of a game design philosophy that I think gets thrown by the wayside: Gameplay first, everything else second. Now don't give me wrong the game's world, graphics, cutscenes and characters are very good and very enjoyable, but the game knows that you didn't buy it to watch them talk for 10 hours. You bought the game because you wanna slice up demons with lots of style and the game will not slow you down with that at all. But because DMC5s gameplay is already nailed down, the developers had ample time to write a narrative that would fit with the overly expressive combat style. And holy shit did they do a good job.
Devil May Cry 5 is so absurdly ridiculous with its characters, its story and its cutscenes that you almost have to appreciate it. The things that happen in this game are so devoid of any logic, sense or coherency, but you also don't care. Does it make sense that this Dante guy gets a motorcycle and a cowboy hat, that makes him burst into Micheal Jackson dance moves, to use as weapons? No. Does Nicos van literally crashing through walls, ceiling and at one point the damn floor have anything to do with the overarching plot? Nope. Does it make sense, that Dante and Vergil have a petty fight at the top of the big ass tree, that spawned out of hell itself, which does absolutely nothing apart in the grand scheme of things, while there is a god damn demon invasion happening that kills hundreds of thousands of people? Hell. No. But I don't care, because its fucking awesome! I don't care about what does and doesn't make sense for the plot, I don't care that these things that happen are stupid and wouldn't make sense to do. I don't care, because I get to slaughter hordes of demons with a motorcycle chainsaw, a shotgun and a rocket launcher.
And this is what I think so many games try to avoid. Just accepting the fact that they are a video game, fully embrace it and create something that lets the player experience something that no other medium can do. Stick you into a world, where the concepts of the real world aren't present, where nothing has to be grounded in reality. A world where you aren't expected to care about its inhabitants, its backstory or its importance. A world where you just get to have fun
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