Last month we went hands-on with Capcom’s mobile version of Devil May Cry 4. The game missed its intended late January release, but last week Devil May Cry 4 Refrain [$1.99] finally hit the App Store. In a post-Dead Space [$6.99/HD] world, where we’ve seen what is possible in bringing a console-like experience to iOS with an original storyline to boot, it’s hard to get terribly excited for Devil May Cry 4 Refrain. Story-wise it’s essentially a retelling of the console game with static cutscenes and text, and visually there is a lot to be desired. Still, the action is solid (though repetitive) and the virtual controls work really well. If you’re a fan of the Devil May Cry series and are looking for a version you can squeeze into your pocket, then Devil May Cry 4 Refrain satisfies.

The game takes place over 10 levels which each consist of interconnected areas which you must explore. The environments look decent but are barren and lack any sort of life or vibrance. The game description boasts Retina Display support, but honestly I don’t see it. The graphics are full of jagged edges and the text in the game is blurry and difficult to read. Overall the game certainly doesn’t look bad, but it could stand to look much better compared to other titles on the App Store.

Graphics and presentation aside, the combat in Devil May Cry 4 Refrain is what really stands out. You control your character Nero with a virtual stick and an option for a 3 or 4 button setup. I suggest going with the 4 button setup that gives you a button each for jumping, shooting, swordplay, and using your Devil Bringer arm weapon. The simplified 3 button setup combines your gun and sword into one button, but takes away most of the skill of engaging in combat.

The Devil May Cry series is known for over-the-top combos and an emphasis on style, and this translates very well to the iOS version of the game. The actual mechanics behind the combos have been drastically simplified in order to work sufficiently with virtual controls, but the “feel” of the combat is still there. As you make your way through the game you’ll be able to unlock a plethora of new moves for all your various attack types. These can be configured to your liking in the settings, offering a small bit of customization to your character.

As neat as it is that the stylish combat of Devil May Cry translates well to the mobile version, it still has a tendency to feel repetitive and button mashy. In fact, the general nature of the game is quite repetitive. The core experience involves entering a new room, clearing it of enemies, and moving on to the next. This is broken up somewhat by mild puzzle solving and boss battles, but for the most part the game hardly ever changes. It’s also pretty light on difficulty and fairly short, as the entire game can be completed in just a couple of hours without much struggle. There is some replay value in going back to replay levels for a better score, but it’s insubstantial.

Despite the drawbacks and overall unambitious nature of Devil May Cry 4 Refrain, I can’t deny that I’ve had fun playing through it. Something about the combat is just really satisfying. Capcom has stated that there will be an update to the game adding Dante from the original Devil May Cry games as a playable character, which should address the current brevity of the game somewhat. Opinions of players in our forums are mixed, with some enjoying the game a good deal and some not at all. I think if you adjust your expectations accordingly, you’ll find enough to like about Devil May Cry 4 Refrain. At its current price of $1.99, it’s easy to recommend for fans of the series or action games in general.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Anonymous

    Looks good but with my large backlog of iPhone games I'll wait for a 0.99 sale.

    • Decoy Octopus

      And you wonder why more developers wont invest in more AAA titles

      • Ujn Hunter

        No iPhone App is worth more than $0.99 to me. That being said... I just paid the $1.99 for this game.

      • CodeRed

        Then you're missing out

  • Ron Goodrich

    How come I can never find the actual "score" that touch arcade gives a game when it reviews them?

  • Chaos_envoys

    looks like JAVA 3d.. 🙁
    the action is quite good tough

  • Orination

    I have to say, Eli, that while I normally wholeheartedly agree with your reviews, you might want to add a tiny bit to this as well. I had pretty much the same opinion as you at first, until I started my second playthrough of the game. The skills that you unlock as you go along REALLY, REALLY mix up the gameplay and add MUCH needed diversity that the game sorely lacked.

    While I went through the game just like anyone else would the first time round, I'm on my fourth playthrough and I've only unlocked half the content available. It's in-SANE how much there is to do, and I think you should let people know this too. It's disconcerting for you to say there's insubstantial replayability to a game I've found is one of the best to replay in quite a while, since it KEEPS giving you more to toy with. And the more they give you to toy with, the better you can try to get your score to, and the better you score, the more stuff they give you.

    I dunno, after my first impression I said it was probably an 8.0 or 8.5, but I would easily say this is a 9.0 for one of the BEST hack-n'-slashes on the App Store right now, and it isn't really getting as much praise as it deserves, if only because much of its alluring content is hidden away at first.

  • M Feldhofer

    No plans for an Ipad/HD version?

  • HisDivineOrder

    Looks fairly meh to me. Thing is, I think this is one of many gaming publishers realizing that Gameloft's onto something in bringing conventional games to the iOS market.

    Expect Activision to realize it eventually. EA to continue pushing console-like experiences here. Once they realize the price has to remain low, you'll see them embrace episodic experiences to help keep that price low.

  • muthaFUKyouyoudontknowme

    can't go wrong for $1.99

  • Anonymous

    Reading this review makes me even more appreciative of how EA innovatively told the story in Dead Space with audio. It worked so well.

Devil May Cry 4 refrain Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 3