There is nothing better than kicking back on a couch after a hard day and playing a satisfying beat-em-up or shooter video game. Since introducing headphone jacks to console controllers, all players can now slap on some headphones and disappear for an hour or two (or for however long you game) and not have to worry about upsetting the neighbours next door as we experience the movie-theatre-like sound quality of games for this generation. Or even for games of last generation. Before the PS4’s DualShock 4 controllers, I was lucky: back in the day, I’d hook up my console to my parents surround sound system for that theatre experience, but could only do so when the family went on a trip to Queensland, leaving me house sitting and looking after many animals.
Because you can’t just turn on the TV and have the sound off when you play these games—it isn’t the same. Especially in Devil May Cry 5, where you can’t experience the ultimate joy or satisfaction that a SSS ranking in DMC5 feels like without having that volume notch up—not to its full extent, at least, since the visual stimuli of that reward system doesn’t have quite the same impact. Most, if not all the sound effects (likely in DMC5 particularly), build upon your desire to be a better player by enabling a rewarding sound for successful hits and a downright pained sound when Nero, Dante, or V get slammed to a ground should you fail to deflect or dodge an attack. This is the reason I’m consistently drawn to DMC5 in particular, despite it not being my favourite game in the series—it just sounds so amazing.
YouTuber NakeyJakey summed it up best with his video, The Power of Video Game Sound Effects:
Summarizing his categories:
- UI (user interface)
- General feedback
- Action feedback
- Something Special is Happening
- Reward Association
And if you’ve played Devil May Cry 5, you’ll know that this is a game that ticks all those boxes.
I think I’m in love.
Flipping through the main menu or Nico’s shop, where the legacy sound effects that have made its way through the series for nearly 20 years (minus DmC: Devil May Cry, which I have not played) as you choose your gun or devil breaker for the mission or boss battle ahead? Glorious, from the second you hit the “Press Any Button” screen typical of most games released this console generation, and runs with NakeyJakey’s UI (user interface) category. Not only does it give you that classic franchise feel the minute you boot up the game, but the music set underneath and the general menu layout freshen up what was admittedly an aging interface.
Firing Nero’s Blue Rose or Dante’s twin pistols, Ebony and Ivory, at an enemy or charging those suckers up for an extra powerful shot? Slashing the absolute shit out of enemies with Dante’s choice of three swords or Nero’s Red Queen? Revving and driving into or over countless enemies and bosses with a god-damn motorcycle? Satisfying and downright sexy, Imma be honest.
And then there’s Royal Guard (or blocking/deflecting attacks), which has almost an entirely different level of NakeyJakey’s Something Special is Happening category of sound effects, it might as well be king.
What about the music?
DMC franchise has always what I consider a unique relationship with music—I’ve never been a fan of heavy metal (lords know I’ve played no other games with this genre of music I enjoyed, or even remembered), but in DMC5’s case, I’ve genuinely enjoyed this soundtrack. Heavy metal is not its only feature—they remix some tracks and soften them somewhat, like with Devil Trigger and its use in the main menu (the Tropical Devil Night Remix even sits firmly on my studying soundtrack).
DMC5’s also pulled a clever little trick by layering its music tracks during battle. The game relies heavily on its Style ranking system—the higher ranking you get, the better your end-of-level score. As you rise in ranks, the better the music gets until you hit SSS ranking: the full score of the music mid-battle. Like the music is egging you on.
In the end, we are all satisfied.
After much deliberation, I had to stand by Devil May Cry 4 being my favourite of the series—it’s the game I started the franchise with, and its whimsical story and character encounters have a place in my heart that other games cannot encroach on. But Devil May Cry 5 continues to pull me back to the epic combat of the game more than it’s predecessor because I get more enjoyment out of demolishing bosses or hordes of enemies with a freaking motorcycle, and I’m addicted to the sound it makes. It is the game that schools me about its combat repeatedly, with techniques I can carry back to its predecessor because of the series’ excellent combat design carrying across to each entry. It’s captured me in its clutches and won’t let me go—don’t send help, though; I’m enjoying myself immensely.
Don’t let the new game engine, magnificent visual quality, stand-out game-play, and surprisingly strong story and characters fool you: Devil May Cry 5′s sound and music design is its best feature.