These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.

Devil May Cry 5 really is something special.

This is the culmination of a series that founded — then refined — the character action genre. I followed it through its highest highs, its lowest lows, and even longed for it during its excruciating absence (Devil May Cry 4 was a game that was begging for a sequel without having earned it, which still frustrates me). When series director Hideaki Itsuno exclaimed “DMC is back!” I was everything between surprised and excited. I couldn’t have known what was coming. 

Devil May Cry 5 takes every great idea from the last eighteen years of Sparda’s lineage and remixes them in new ways to make the formula fresh while allowing for deeper, additional lore in a mythology once thought frivolous by the casual onlooker. If you remember the boss battles from the first entry, you’ll love seeing them in this title. Here, they are remixed as V’s familiars, represented as nightmares of the time when Vergil was Nelo Angelo. Series mainstay weapons Rebellion and Yamato have a new purpose here, reinforcing their importance to the franchise. 

The love for the franchise’s history is matched only by the wonderful wrapping it all comes in. Every moment walks the line of being flashy, grungy, and refined — going from electronic beats to metal guitar riffs to gothic piano and violins. I use these descriptions both for the music and the tone given to each character. Each character, environment, and moment is given a visual and audio aesthetic that comes together to form a whole experience. Dante’s hard rock and grungier all-leather look feel like a more modern version of an early 2000s inspiration. Nero, with more upbeat electronic music gives the sense of handing off the franchise to a new generation. His clothing is more functional, ditching leather for cloth. V falls somewhere in between with his music, combining gothic industrial rock and electronica in a way that sounds great and fits perfectly into the story. I’d be remiss not to mention Nico, who provides much needed levity and moments of calm between missions in her recreational-vehicle-made-mobile-armory.

Smaller details like earning more layers of music with higher battle ranking feel like the game urging you to get the absolute most out of it. Even the damn inventory upgrade screens are treated as a living, changing environment that builds as you progress. Devil May Cry 5 is an absolutely perfect love letter and thank you to the fans of the franchise. Every aspect adds to it. Every moment feels like it belongs. Every character interaction is earned — and is a roller coaster of emotions. DMC really is back. And it’s kinda perfect.