Devil May Cry 3 – Give Me More Power… and Chocolate!

Devil May Cry — what started out as a new Resident Evil game, suddenly took a more action-oriented route and became a new franchise. From the moment of its inception, Devil May Cry was about deep characters and stylish action, but the former didn’t necessarily fall into place until Devil May Cry 3.

The first game established a cast of intriguing characters, but left more questions than it provided answers to. True, with certain flashbacks, it was evident that Dante had a close relationship with the mysterious Nelo Angelo. But how exactly did his sibling turn into a nearly senseless subordinate of the demon king Mundus? Devil May Cry 3 set out to answer this question and many more.

Dante’s twin brother Vergil is intent on opening the gate to the demon world and obtaining the power of their father Sparda. He does so by erecting the ancient tower of Temen-ni-gru right in the middle of a city, prompting Dante to thwart his plan. That’s the basic premise of Devil May Cry 3; the bad guy craves power and the good guy is on his way to stop him. Simple on the surface, but it becomes much more complicated once you find out why exactly Vergil yearns for power.

However, to obtain this power Vergil needs the complete amulet: a gift from their mother Eva. The same amulet that Nelo Angelo wears in the original game; an early nod to his true identity. At this point, each twin possesses his half of the amulet and battle is imminent.

During his ascent of Temen-ni-gru, Dante encounters enormous demons — guardians of the tower — as well as other characters. His journey is full of memorable moments, such as the battle against the chatty demons — Agni and Rudra — who subsequently turn into a pair of equally chatty swords for Dante. There’s also the first meeting with the demon hunter Lady and, surprisingly, it’s possible to befriend someone who shot you straight in the face. And the subplot which involves Lady and her father Arkham, who accompanies Vergil on his quest for power, is an enticing one to unravel.

But first and foremost, Devil May Cry 3 is about the rivalry between twins and this becomes all the more apparent upon reaching the top. It becomes clear that Vergil is a formidable opponent; from his confident stance and speech to an earlier showcase of skill against lowlier demons. Vergil wields a deadly katana by the name of Yamato. And his combat style somewhat resembles that of Iaido, a Japanese art of unsheathing your sword and performing a swift strike, then sheathing it back into place. It’s a style which involves minimal movement and puts emphasis on efficiency and speed.

Vergil teleports across the arena quickly and spins his katana so fast that it deflects bullets. And at this stage, he also has the advantage of being able to temporarily transform into a demon. By all accounts, Dante loses the first encounter and his half of the amulet. He gets stabbed with his own sword — Rebellion — but this, in turn, awakens his demonic power. As Dante transforms into a demon, it becomes evident that their second encounter will be much more evenly matched.

Having what he requires, Vergil retreats along with Arkham, but this set of events establishes the Dante we know today. And from this point onward, he goes through an impressive transformation of character. Devil May Cry 3 introduces him as a young, brash and largely careless individual. But each fight against Vergil gradually makes him into the more mature Dante from the first game.

But as Dante goes through this development, so does Vergil. And by the time you reach the second encounter against him, he has become stronger as well. His combat prowess is further accentuated by how he deals with Beowulf. Albeit weakened after a fight with Dante, it only takes Vergil a single strike to slice Beowulf’s head into pieces and convert his soul into a powerful weapon. As Dante, you’re probably pissed because you did all of the hard work while Vergil reaps the rewards. And he also gets to use that cool new weapon during the second encounter.

Despite Vergil’s new-found ability, we could call the second encounter a draw with a spectacular performance on both ends. Following this, Arkham reveals his true intentions and opens the gate himself, hoping to acquire Sparda’s power. Much later, for but a single fight, the twins unite to take down a common foe with one of the most badass cutscenes ever. But alas, this companionship is short-lived and makes their last encounter all the more heartbreaking.

Twins face off one last time near the abyss to the demon world. This battle masterfully foreshadows Nelo Angelo’s identity as his theme from the first game contains elements from Vergil’s final battle theme. A small nuance which makes both characters feel brilliantly interconnected. As expected, however, the struggle leads to Vergil’s eventual demise as he loses the third fight.

Even though he fails to obtain power, Vergil retains his piece of the amulet as a memento of his family. Perhaps, it will safeguard him from harm. As Vergil falls into the abyss of the underworld he bestows a parting gift upon Dante by cutting his hand with the Yamato. It’s an odd gesture, perhaps, but it’s the only language the siblings speak to express their respect toward each other. They don’t necessarily fight to kill the other, but simply to find out whose cojones are bigger.

But this ending still doesn’t answer how Vergil becomes Nelo Angelo, right? Not quite, no, but that’s where the design of Devil May Cry 3 gets to shine once again. As the final credits roll, it’s possible to fight the demons appearing on the screen. Defeating a certain number of demons unlocks a secret ending which gives a small insight into Vergil’s struggle in the underworld.

It doesn’t show much, but just enough for your imagination to fill in the blanks. And this manner of telling a tale is actually much more effective than simply explaining everything. If a story makes you think and retrace its events afterward, then it has accomplished its goal. And lastly, following all of this, the rivalry between Dante and Nelo Angelo in the first game becomes clear. Even as a vassal of darkness, Vergil seeks to rival Dante and prove his dominance in any way possible.

But why does Vergil seek power in the first place? Even though he’s an exceptional swordsman, perhaps Vergil realizes his own inferiority. Or rather, self-imposed inferiority because no amount of power ever seems enough for him. It doesn’t become clear right away, but Vergil’s cause is actually just. His and Dante’s mother was killed when they were but little boys and now Vergil wants that power to prevent anything similar from happening again; everything else be damned.

It’s not a story about obtaining power for the sake of ruling the world; it’s a story about obtaining more power to protect those you love. Even if it means turning into a monster yourself.

Devil May Cry 5 came mighty close to surpassing Devil May Cry 3, and in some regards: it did. It brought back fan-favourite characters and writers even found a way to bring Vergil back from the dead. A way that somehow, however absurd, makes total sense. There’s that same signature focus on action, style, edgy humour and absolute badassery: everything that makes the series so great.

But it can’t be taken away that Devil May Cry 3 is responsible for popularizing the franchise. Not only popularizing, but also serving as a brilliant prequel and making sense of what previously didn’t. And there’s a good reason why it keeps coming up as a favourite among fans. It retains the signature action and storytelling of the original game and amplifies it. But at the centre of it all is a rivalry which started a long time ago between twins — Dante and Vergil — over who gets to have chocolate.

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