To clear up any confusion, Devil May Cry 4 Refrain isn’t a direct port of the console version of Devil May Cry 4. Instead, it’s a distillation of the game. It tells the same story, with many of the same characters, enemies, moves, and ideas, but it packages them in a way that makes sense on the iPhone.
So what you get are 10 relatively bite-sized missions full of silky smooth ultraviolence. You play as Nero– not Dante– in a quest to single-handedly wipe out what amounts to an entire army of demons. As luck would have it, Nero is well equipped for the task. He packs a gun for ranged attacks, a beefy sword for melee combat, and a spirit arm that lets him string together impressive combos (while pummeling the crap out of enemies).
An old timey duel.
Before each mission, you’re treated to a chunk of the game’s storyline in the form of an extremely boring image- and text-based cutscene. There’s no animation or voice acting here, so these tidbits can be tough to slog through. But you didn’t come to this game for the story. You came for the action.
And the action is quite fun, even if it’s not as challenging as it is in the console version. We only died a few times the whole way through, and only during boss battles. Even when you do die, Nero hops right back up with a full health meter, while any enemies you’ve injured– including bosses– remain damaged. We wish they had at least included different difficulty levels in the options menu.
But slicing up baddies is a lot of fun, and the game contains plenty of enemy types and exciting boss battles. Two control schemes are available, one that’s boiled down to the basics for beginners, and one that more or less mimics a console controller. Either works fine, and casual players will appreciate having the option to simplify things.
Get the toad-catching net.
The game’s level design is nothing special. Each mission is simply a series of rooms, and you have to make your way to the one that initiates the end of the mission. Sometimes the layouts of the individual rooms will repeat, even within the same level. This is unfortunate, but they’ve managed to make up for it by scattering a number of creative environmental puzzles throughout the game.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the crummy graphics. Supposedly the game is optimized for Retina display devices, but it sure doesn’t look that way. Jagged lines and muddy textures abound.
Still, despite its faults, we had a lot of fun with Devil May Cry 4 Refrain. It’s a compact action game that keeps things fresh the whole way through. The story and presentation might be disposable, but if you’re a fan of the Devil May Cry series, it’s the action that you came for. And this game delivers it.