Better late than never, I suppose. Devil May Cry 4 released on consoles more than two years ago, and Capcom have finally gotten around to releasing an iPhone tie-in. Time to find out whether it was worth the wait...
The core action is solid without being remarkable in any way. As the fop-haired edgy protagonist Nero, you'll lurch your way through a few familiar environments based on levels from Devil May Cry 4. Three icons map Nero's swordplay, jumping and grabby gauntlet to touchscreen controls, and on the whole, it's extremely responsive. There are moments when larger battles almost feel like a trimmed down port of the console version as you juggle foes around like colourful playthings.
Unfortunately, this is where my scant praise comes to a screeching halt... and the furious nitpicking begins.
The Devil May Cry series is known for razor-sharp combat that requires skill and timing to master, but Devil May Cry 4: Refrain distills this formula down to a linear button masher. Horde of enemies? Massive boss? Spam those buttons and hope for the best.
Character abilities and memorable set pieces have been nerfed or otherwise excluded from the experience, turning the story into a miserable grind. In fact, it frequently feels like an insulting joke parody rather than a true spin-off. Throw in shoddy, broken camerawork and you've got a potent recipe for boredom.
Every aspect of the presentation is shockingly poor. There's no getting around it. Textures and graphical assets are astoundingly low-resolution even when viewed on a Retina display, and as mentioned above, the broken camera does a woeful job of keeping track of the action. Choppy animations also certainly don't help matters.
Instead of lifting voice work from the game, the story is presented in ratty little dialogue boxes that fail to fill the screen even when it's otherwise empty. The script staunchly refuses to imbue even the irrepressible Dante with any personality whatsoever - and whilst I freely admit that we value gameplay over storyline, there's no doubt that Capcom squandered what little flair and spark the franchise had to offer.
- Familiar locations and bosses
- Combat occasionally comes together
- Series fans may get a nostalgic kick out of it
- Button-mashy boredom
- Horribly bland presentation
- No personality or flair
Summary: Devil May Cry 4: Refrain is a laughable parody of its console predecessor rather than a respectful homage. This tatty little app wasn't worth the wait and is certainly not worth your money. You should definitely refrain from buying it.
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.1 or later.
Price: £1.19 (Limited Launch Price) - App Store