Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Reviewing Devil May Cry V Demons: Part One
Devil May Cry is a series I've neglected pretty badly, having neither played any game in the series or reviewed any of its monsters before, but Halloween 2019 is a good enough time to start, with the fifth game having only just arrived earlier this year! Even back in 2001, I was aware the series had some pretty stellar monster design, but this latest entry just about knocks it out of the park, and we're going to try and review every single thing that qualifies as a "monster design" in this one! This is going to be a long one!
We'll start with what is technically the fifth game's central antagonist, even if it doesn't know it, or know much of anything because it's just a vast, vast demonic tree. Every few thousand years, the Qlipoth consumes enough blood to produce a single fruit, and any being consuming the fruit can attain nearly god-like power, so now you know the plot hook! Apparently the tree is even older than the underworld itself, making it one of the most ancient of all demons.
We mentioned that the Qlipoth feeds on blood, too, and that's through its network of prehensile, wormlike roots, each tipped with a syringe-like feeding tube! The roots tend to surround a tumorous "heart" that helps pump blood throughout the tree's network, making the entire root cluster look like some sort of bizarre, pulsating octopus, which is just amazing. I love that a big part of this game is just you versus a horrible, ghastly tree, though it doesn't fight alone, either...
Looking at this design, would you believe this is considered the game's "most basic" enemy?! The insectoid Empusa are symbiotes of the Qlipoth, draining even more blood from any source they can find and sharing it with their living, demonic nest. What a gorgeous design, too! Three bulbous, humanlike craniums form the spiny, ant-like head, a pair of empty eye sockets almost like "nostrils" in a very alien face. The emaciated, humanlike body and birdlike wings tie it in with the Empusa of mythology, which was more like a bird-woman who seduced young men and drank their blood. Reimagining these infernal harpies as a eusocial colony of bug-bird demon people is pretty damn unique!
As the "main" enemies, the Empusa naturally come in several variations. Red are actually the rarest, their abdomens swollen with a storehouse of crystallized blood, and will mostly attempt to escape and burrow away rather than attack. I guess they're kind of like the repletes of some real world ant colonies, workers who take on the role of food storage containers.
My easy favorite, the Green caste is intentionally more fly-like in appearance with its bloated abdomen, insect wings and more pronounced outer heads textured to resemble huge, compound eyes! This one is a support unit, its green goo able to heal other demons on contact, and it can replenish its supply by feeding on any blood in the surrounding battlefield. I'm really liking that all the blood spilled in this game can have mechanical functions during combat; that's amazingly uncommon.
Badass! At first glance I wasn't that impressed with this design's official art, but I could appreciate her much better in a close-up render. She's more mantis-like than the other castes and a more intimidating, lethal looking monster, but what really clinches the design for me is that fan of purple tumors on her head, evocative of flower petals and some sort of regal crown! The Empusa colony is a multi-queen system, as are many real eusocial insects, but they're treated sort of like mini-bosses assisted by other Empusa types.
THE QUEEN EMPUSA
We're done with Qlipoth and its bugs, but still barely getting started. We'll get some of the less thrilling but still fairly nice designs out of the way first, namely the basic "tortured souls" you encounter in your journey through hell. The Caina are said to be hell's foot soldiers, and under normal circumstances, can only manifest in the mortal world by possessing a person or an object. There's not much I can say about their design, it's basically just a ghoul wielding a scythe, but it DOES have curious little chicken feet!
This is supposedly a Caina upgraded through sheer torture into hulked out berserker, but its features are largely hidden by tattered, filthy rags.
The towering, teleporting commander of the Caina and Antenora is a much more interesting design than it may at first appear; its upper body is actually several corpselike figures melded together, and its "arms" are just clumps of gooey tendrils supporting a pair of blades!
Irritating little bats are a video game classic, but they rarely get a design this good! I positively adore the flaring, flaming nose they use to light things (such as you) on fire, the rest of the face eyeless with wing-like ears and a slightly more Giger sort of look than either your typical bat or other enemies in the game. That nose though. That is SO cute.
These enemies go way back to the earliest Devil May Cry entries, but look a lot eerier here in 2019. You can't go wrong with the simplicity of a black, shadowy cloaked phantasm, a creepy white mask and a pair of giant scissors, prime bogeyman material I could have seen as a single, uniquely menacing figure in a more gothic horror title. They are supposedly very weak, low-level evil spirits that barely hold together a physical form, and the white mask is the core of it all.
I am immediately reminded here of the Hunters from Resident Evil, filling the same nich of a much tougher but fairly simple, reptilian monster. Between the two, I think the Hunter has a more iconic, crocodile-ape sort of look to it, but I'm somehow still a little more drawn to the Riot. There's something "goofier" about this purple, leaping lizard from hell that I appreciate a lot more.
The Angelos are artificial demons, supposedly created by combining an unwilling human with demon flesh, and represent a "mass produced" version of a legendary demon known only as the Black Angel. Cool lore, but the design is mostly just a human in weird looking organic armor. It's interesting at least that the face in the shield is more normal and easier to make out than the eyeless, overgrown visage on their shoulders.
A related demon is the "Proto" Angelo, which despite the name is more powerful and higher ranking than the Scudo, able to command bands of them at once.
I've seen quite a few goat demons in my day, but this one is exceptionally scuzzy and decrepit in a highly appealing way. It's kind of a shame, though, that it's a lower-level demon rather than a distinct character or boss. Baphomet is supposed to be kind of a big deal! These are actually magic wielding, floating demons in this continuity, and specifically only cast ice-related spells for whatever reason.
These sound like a lot of fun! They're demons of gluttony so ravenous that their fellow demons keep their mouths chained up, but of course you can free them, get out of their way and let them go on the rampage for you. You can even land on them and control them for a little while! The design isn't anything I haven't seen before, really, a big crocodile mouth monster with a pair of weird tongue-worm-arms, but if it works, it works!
An advanced cousin of the Riot, this lizard demon is lined with knifelike blades and attacks by curling up and spinning, like one gigantic rotary saw! Not bad!
We get TWO flaming demon bat designs in one game? Completely different ones?? Sweet! While I still prefer the Pyrobat's little flame nose, the Hellbat has a nicely grotesque humanoid skull face, and lights itself entirely on fire.
One more lizard! Unfortunately the least interesting design of the three, the Fury is nonetheless the most powerful, able to sprout a blade from its arm and run faster than almost any other enemy in the game. This is hypothesized in-game to be a mutation brought about by its sheer desire to kill more efficiently.
Nice one! The Lusachia is like a legless, floating torso draped in a slimy blob with multiple chattering mouths, and that's entirely so it's just that much better at magical incantation! It functions a lot like the Baphomet, but with a wider variety of deadlier spells to cast, and while mouth-blobs are something I've seen fairly often, this is an exceptionally unsettling one.
THIS is a design!!! This is actually a returning guest from the first Devil May Cry, and kind of shows off how some of the designs back then were actually weirder and wackier than today's stuff. They're only known as "nobodies" because other demons, for whatever reason, refuse to really acknowledge or respect them, and nobody seems quite certain where they came from or why, but they use that giant arm on their back (belly?) to swap out the mask that they wear, each mask representing different behaviors and abilities. Their two major powers are the ability to grow a lot larger, and the ability to grow explosive extra eyeballs they can pluck out and hurl like bombs!
Oh, and did I forget to mention their personalities? I did! I uploaded this whole article forgetting to talk about their little mannerisms until I woke up the next morning! I was just SO excited by the eyeball bombs! Nobodies aren't the skulking creepy crawlers you might suspect from their anatomy, but almost monkey-like in maniacal energy! They giggle! They DANCE!!!! Nobody even knows why they dance but they do!! They love it! They have a GREAT TIME!!!
And if you liked any of these demons, you're gonna love when we get to part two: the bosses!
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