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Next Step Towards Ninja Theory’s Greatness Is DMC

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Posted by: Robert Workman

In a matter of three game releases over the last seven years, Ninja Theory has established themselves as a development team to watch out for. They received their start in 2003 as Just Add Monsters, with the hilarious party beat-em-up, Kung Fu Chaos, then followed that act with a dramatic, epic-sized adventure for Sony with the release of Heavenly Sword in 2007.

The defining moment for the Cambridge-based team - its most ambitious project to date - recently released in the form of the multi-platform adventure game, Enslaved: Odyssey To the West. Namco’s project has not gone unnoticed, thanks to several high scores from various gaming establishments, including GameZone, and a number of great talents involved with the project, including actor Andy Serkis (Gollum from The Lord of the Rings).

After the release of Enslaved, however, is when things are bound to get interesting. Capcom recently announced that it was relaunching its Devil May Cry brand with Ninja Theory at the helm, introducing a younger, darker-haired Dante in the role of the familiar gray-haired hero. Controversies aside, many folks are wondering if the development team is up to the task of taking over where Hideki Kamiya and his team left off. We believe they are, and the proof lies in the company’s latest release, Enslaved. Let’s look at the facts.

Ninja Theory is no stranger to compelling storytelling. Enslaved told a great tale of unexpected friendship between Trip, a former slave with a lot of technical know-how, and the gruff Monkey, who is her captive protector thanks to a reprogrammed headband. Over the course of their journey, they worked together to overcome the odds, while occasionally running into side characters.

Meanwhile, Heavenly Sword weaved an interesting tale of Nariko, a young warrior doomed by the power of the Sword, which slowly but surely kills whoever wields it. Still, she must use it to fend off evil forces, led by the vicious King Bohan.

Story may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it provides a stronger backbone to a game than you might expect. After all, you don’t want to be let down by a lackluster ending or not feel as if your character doesn’t have any real motivation. It’s this type of writing that will provide DMC with unexpected strength, along with an explanation as to why Dante looks as “emo” as he does. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of tale Ninja Theory comes up with for him.

Free-flowing combat is of vital importance in Devil May Cry as well. Part of the thrill of previous games is chaining together guns and swords into one masterful combo, watching enemies fall to pieces with all the grace of a destructive ballerina. Ninja Theory knows this part of gaming well, between Nariko’s outstanding combat in Heavenly Sword and Monkey’s undeniable strength in Enslaved. Use of guns is familiar territory to them as well, as both games enable you to shoot enemies, either with Kai’s arrows (Sword) or Monkey’s stun/destroy shots. We’re confident that the developer can fuse these together, giving Dante lots of ways to kill his merciless opponents.

DMC announcement trailer:

For that matter, physicality can also play a part in DMC. In Enslaved, Monkey uses his physical prowess to jump around, reaching girders otherwise out of reach for other people without breaking a sweat. Dante could do something similar, running along walls, performing back flips and flying through the air, jumping from enemy to enemy. There’s no question that Ninja Theory can get the job done; in fact, they’re probably researching old DMC games just to make sure it “feels” right.

As you saw in the trailer, DMC has a different look than previous games. Ninja Theory introduced the post-apocalyptic streets of New York City in Enslaved, and that same level of dreariness, minus the lush plant life, could easily carry over to DMC, along with a few twisted enemy designs, and a lot more carnage (better to shoot for a Mature rating than a Teen, we believe). As for audio, expect a top-notch cast, similar to Enslaved’s, with Serkis possibly returning to voice the anti-hero. We’ll see.

There’s a lot of risk going into DMC, but sometimes relaunching a series with a fresh team is one of the best things you can do with it -- for instance, look at Retro Studios’ brilliant Metroid Prime reboot. We’re eager to see what Ninja Theory can bring to the table, and if this new Dante will be just as badass, if not more so, than the original. And maybe not just another “emo kid”.

Trust in Ninja Theory. These guys have skills.

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