Reimagining Evil: Ninja Theory On DmC’s Cultural Satire

By Paul Walker on January 30th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

There was an unexpected element to DmC: Devil May Cry. It was always going to be about smashing up demons. It was always going to feature weapon-switching, combo-building, score-chasing, and combat tech-fests. What was possibly more of a surprise was it being an outlandish political satire which takes aim at consumer culture, finance and banking, surveillance society, and right-wing media. Ninja Theory’s Dominic Matthews explains the role satire plays in DmC’s cultural commentary on evil.

Dante’s nemesis, Mundus, isn’t just king of the demons. He’s a big shot banker, operating from the top of a twisted skyscraper, which might be at home in the financial districts of London, Frankfurt or New York. Revelling in the power he yields, he keeps the general population in debt. His allies are the likes of Bob Barbus, a manipulative Fox-News-alike news anchor who tries to frame Dante as a degenerate terrorist, and a foul mouthed succubus who squirts soft-drinks out of one end as obscenities flow from the other.

“We made the concept of rebellion — also the name of Dante’s sword — the heart of DmC,” says Ninja Theory’s Dominic Matthews. “Rebellion in its current form covers all these issues in modern day society. But more than that, we wanted to consider a different kind of evil in DmC, one that didn’t rely on the typical horned devil.”

Matthews explains that bringing a new, contemporary direction to the series was always the brief from. “It was our mission to take Devil May Cry and take it in a completely fresh direction. Capcom said to us, ‘Think about Dante as if he were a character from a contemporary western movie.’ They gave us a lot of creative freedom and support in the direction we wanted to take things. The challenge was to keep Dante, the spirit of Dante, and Devil May Cry, while bringing the themes, the look and attitude into the here and now. We were asked to reimagine the franchise. That also meant reimagining evil.”

In the way that DmC deals with this new evil, it’s drawn a number of comparisons with John Carpenter’s They Live. In the classic film, the protagonist obtains what might be described as a pair of ‘ideology sunglasses’. When wearing the sunglasses, the truth behind the banal advertisements, shop signs, and magazines which surround the protagonist are revealed, so that he is bombarded by messages commanding him to “obey”, “marry and reproduce”, and “consume”. DmC pulls the same trick, so it’s no surprise when Matthews confirms that They Live was indeed an influence.

When Dante is pulled into the demonic dimension of Limbo, the shift of perspective puts him in a world in which ideology becomes plain to see. Early on a sign that reads “Hot Food” becomes “Gluttony is good”. DmC adds its own twist to the formula by ramping the concept up a level or two. In Limbo, the environment itself becomes oppressive as it shifts and mutates to try and hinder your progress. You’re not just being told to obey, the world itself actively conspires to make you obey.

What you get from DmC then is not a narrative about demons tempting the innocent, torturing and tormenting souls, or using automated phone services to constantly bother you about Payment Protection Insurance. You get a story about a population controlled by powerful and corrupt financial institutions which hold sway over government. A story about a population with its senses dulled by an obsession with consumer culture and celebrity. About a population fed lies through a reactionary corporate media network which seeks to police the truth rather than reveal it. So, outlandish as it is, DmC’s world is a satirical interpretation of our own.
Ninja Theory have simply held it to a fun-house mirror, warping and accentuating its most disturbing features.

It’s also anything but a po-faced critique of contemporary political and social institutions. The outrageously grotesque figures which Ninja Theory use to represent their chosen targets with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer make that perfectly clear. And that’s not a criticism. Sure, DmC’s brand of Hollywood Marxism isn’t what one might call sophisticated, but it’s not meant to be. Ninja Theory are being deliberately ostentatious, taking a pop at their targets in a playful way and maintaining a sense of awareness about the ridiculousness of their approach.

“Satire is a peculiarly British focus,” Matthews says. “From Spitting Image to Have I Got News for You, we don’t hold back in ridiculing the establishment and getting to the truth through humour. DmC is no different in that regard. It’s a comical satire on the world we live in. It shouldn’t be taken too seriously but it is a reflection of our times”.

It’s not just oppressive forces that are represented in DmC. There is also the revolutionary group, The Order, of which Dante becomes an ally in his quest to take down Mundus. Early on in the game, the group’s leader sends out a message wearing a mask clearly intended to reference the famous V mask adopted by groups such as Occupy and Anonymous. The way the group operates, communicating, organising, and hacking information using the internet, invites further comparisons to these groups, as well as the likes of Wikileaks. However, Matthews is reluctant to read DmC as taking a firm political stance on the status of these groups.

“We thought about what tools a small resistance group like the Order would use to fight back,” Matthews explains. “The themes presented shouldn’t be taken as Ninja Theory’s political stance or us trying to say one thing or another. We’re representing how we believe an organisation like The Order would operate in our world.” Matthews prefers to describe DmC as a game dealing with “the universal theme” of “the need to rebel as a means to achieve freedom.” He prefers to see the game in the linage of works like V for Vendetta, “a very good example of the viewer being [placed] on the side of social uprising and rebellion”.

Matthews does concede however that the power of the internet as depicted in DmC does reflect something important about its potential as a tool for social change in the real world. “The line between news reports and satire like Brass Eye has all but vanished,” Matthews continues. “The power of the internet is that it gives people around the world the means and voice to both create and smash disinformation.”

Whether Ninja Theory genuinely didn’t intend for DmC to be read as a comment on groups like Occupy, Anonymous and Wikileaks or not, inferences to these groups are there to be read by the player. And as the game certainly does represent the internet as revolutionary tool, it’s not difficult to draw connections to how it’s used by Occupy, Wikileaks, et al. The negative depiction of The Order as terrorists and traitors by DmC’s right-wing media is precisely the way such groups are often framed by certain media outlets.

Regardless of how Ninja Theory intended this to be read, it’s refreshing to play a big budget game which plays with contemporary political themes, and which is prepared to take a progressive stance, even if it is coated in a layer of demonic silliness. Matthews agrees that broadening the scope of the themes videogames deal with is important for the growth of the medium.

“It seems that games are perceived to be for kids and should never tackle themes a Saturday morning cartoon wouldn’t. It would be pretty depressing and limiting if all developers accepted that as the status quo. Our games are being played by intelligent adults, so there is no reason why we can’t treat them as such.”

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199 Comments »

  1. Terragot says:

    YEAH FUCK EVIL CONSUMERISM

    • Terragot says:

      On a serious note: How is comparing consumerism as slavery an adult theme? This is the sort of topic 14 year old kids latch on to. Do they provide a better alternative? Nope. Do they attempt to explain why current consumerism is an issue? Nope. Ok then, sure buddy, let’s fuck the neo-fudalist system and let anarchy rain down upon us! WOOO.

      “Hey man, you drinking pepsi? Yeah, you are? Well man that shit’s poison man! Is that a sandwhich, why are you excersizing consumerist choice? fuck consumerism man, also buy my game DmC : Devil May Cry now for 39.99″.

      also; FUCK YOUUUUUU.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        I wish I did live in a country where 14 year olds were challenging consumerism, unfortunately they’re too busy buying trainers from whichever company can afford the most billboard adverts near to their school.

        I don’t know if you’re from the UK but satire here really is something of a leveller, whatever the dominant ideology is tends to become a target irrespective of political alignment. At the moment corporate ideology is highly visible and dominant, for better or worse (it’s worse), and as such is basically a big old satire magnet.

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          In the UK 14 year old do not buy trainers. They aquire them through the media of public bin through window / fire

          • Eddy9000 says:

            That’s how consumerist they are, they don’t even let a lack of money stop them being consumers.

      • StingingVelvet says:

        Wish I could upvote.

        Though I will say pointing out the more egregious aspects of capitalist society does teach some of the smart kids to avoid those mistakes and rise above the more heinous conditioning.

        • P.Funk says:

          I doubt it. If you don’t know the world is a sham by the time you’re in high school then you’re just another happy minion.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Also, Dante is HAWT. This is all I have to add.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        He looks a bit to much like someone on the Soho scene trying really hard to go for the bad-boy look if you ask me. You know the types who try to look rough but their clothes are a little too fussy and their stubble is obviously well trimmed? I think it’s the sailor cut T-shirt under the leather jacket that does it.

        • strangeloup says:

          I’d been trying to figure out what was amiss and you’ve got it spot on.

          He’s still hawt though, even if trying too hard. There is, predictably, fanart.

    • Gap Gen says:

      That said, the 2010s are ripe for satire on corporate politics, even if it’s not this. At a time when basically every Western country is having a debt crisis, wages haven’t risen in real terms since the 1970s, and even economists are questioning the value of “shareholder rights”, it’s worth looking at how the system should change to stave off further crisis. Granted, CORPORATIONS R BAD isn’t what’s needed, but given the political and economic power afforded to large companies, it’s worth exploring what effect that has on society.

      • vondas says:

        Has anyone ever done a study on what effects video games have on society? Aside from encouraging misogyny and violence, of course. :P

        • Gap Gen says:

          Unsure if this is something that videogames specifically relate to. Sure, games *could* discuss the role of macroeconomics in governing social trends, but few do in any detail. So far social comment in games has been fairly limited. I don’t know of anything with the same impact as, say, Dickens or Orwell.

        • Volchek says:

          I’m 20 years old with 15 years gaming experience, and I don’t hate a single person without reason. Because I know how to separate fantasy from reality. And can recognize a dramatization when I see one. I got through most of middle school before standardized testing came about, and seeing the 14-16 year olds these days, thank whatever god you do or don’t believe in I did.

        • smb says:

          When I saw this question, it made me think… shouldn’t it be reversed? To study society’s effects on the media? We do this all the time when analyzing old movies and literature. For good reason too. By understanding why various issues and themes consistently pop up in popular culture, we better understand the society that gave birth those ideals. I wonder why we have the completely opposite attitude when dealing with current media…

    • Anton_Titus says:

      what Mary answered I didnt know that someone can earn $7728 in one month on the internet. have you seen this web site… http://xurl.es/ya08g

  2. Freddybear says:

    Oh yawn, more “progressive” propaganda. So edgy, preaching to the choir.

    • jp0249107 says:

      Gotta’ play to the lowest common denominator I guess.

    • The Random One says:

      What’s worse: progressive propaganda that refuses to make any statements because it was made by people who refused to study politics beyond a college kid’s understanding of it, or Call of Duty’s conservative propaganda that exists only because the devs were so alienated they just blindly followed their military advisors’ lead?

      That’s a legitimate question.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I wish that were true.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Oh yawn more people calling a political perspective propaganda because they don’t agree with it. Accusations of ‘preaching to the choir’ preached to their own choir. Oldest derailment trick in the book.

      • crizzyeyes says:

        The satire in this game is so ridiculous it’s arguably propoganda… mostly because the jokes aren’t funny.

      • Freddybear says:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda

        “Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed towards influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument.”

        • noom says:

          “Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed towards influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument.”

          Note the emboldened passage. A thing is only propoganda if it’s made with the explicit intent of influencing opinion, which this game clearly isn’t.

          True that it’s hardly a mature or revelatory viewpoint, but it really can’t be taken as an attempt to disseminate an ideology.

  3. omicron1 says:

    And that – the “Conservatives and capitalism are evil, but the still-think-they’re-stuck-in-the-sixties rebels are good” theme – is exactly why I won’t touch this game. Next time, try making a game that isn’t horribly bigoted against half its potential audience, please.

  4. Vaedresa says:

    What a bunch of wank.

  5. Runs With Foxes says:

    Our games are being played by intelligent adults, so there is no reason why we can’t treat them as such.”

    Uhm. If I were to show someone a mature game for intelligent adults, DmC isn’t exactly what I’d choose.

  6. UpsilonCrux says:

    Guess I’ll have to dig out They Live again. Oh Rowdy Roddy, how great thou art.

  7. Danda says:

    Wow, grumpy old youngsters!

    I love what Ninja Theory did with DmC. Too bad if you are offended by a game. Were you also angry when you watched “The Matrix”?

    • Dominic White says:

      If The Matrix literally continually flashed “SYMBOLISM” and “FIGHT THE POWER” on screen in size-80 bold print while blaring Combichrist at you… it’d still be more subtle than DmC.

      It’s a decent game (like 7/10 material – 6/10 if I’m having a bad day with the too-low, too-twitchy camera), but the satirical elements are painful.

    • frightlever says:

      I wasn’t angry when I watched the Matrix, but those sequels…

    • necromantic says:

      I have a feeling the ‘grumpy old youngster’ stuff you are seeing is just the milennial predilection for contrarianism. They are just so much smarter and better and more special than the masses that whatever everyone else is they have to be the opposite. Ten years ago these kids were all 15 year olds painting ‘stop bush’ on traffic signs. Now that the culture has shifted to the left they HAVE to be conservative so they can show the world they are different and special. There is no actual analysis or reflection involved.

      That being said there is something predictable and sad about seeing anti-consumerism becoming a commodity. Its especially galling to see it in such a ‘whiz-bang’ mindless violence-fest like DMC. But we should have seen that coming when they started selling ‘fair trade’ coffee at Starbucks.

      • The Random One says:

        Bullshit. People aren’t slamming DmC because it shows a leftist perspective, they’re slamming it because it’s horrible, unsubtle and self-satisfied. I’m like 89% liberal and I agree.

        • necromantic says:

          Either you misunderstood me or I mis-spoke. I was referring specifically to people crapping on the game because of the politics, not to people having a legitimate problem with the game play, setting, etc. Just because I think one reason to dislike the game is BS, doesn’t mean there aren’t a TON of reasons to dislike it for legitimate reasons. Apologies for any misunderstandings.

          • The Random One says:

            I still think your point is silly, but I apparently didn’t follow the discussion on this thread thoroughly and my response was overstated. Sorry.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          I think you’re making a massive assumption if you think even 10% of the people slamming it here have actually played it.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      I’m not objecting because of the message. I’m objecting because the way Ninja Theory have chosen to deliver these particular themes is so utterly clumsy to the point where it makes me cringe a little bit.

    • Spacewalk says:

      The only Matrix that I care about was the one in Commando.

  8. misterT0AST says:

    what do you mean “Paul Walker”. It’s always been “John Walker”.

    Anyway, this does seem pretty bland and generic. All that analyzing could have been done equally in depth on a “FUCK THE POLICE” writing on a wall.
    And Fight Club, They Live, and many many other things did this first.
    And quit pretending you’re doing this because that’s what you think. You’re doing it because these days it’s “cool” to be a rebel.

    • maninahat says:

      Don’t forget to add Banksy too.

    • visseking says:

      As an old-school KULT-fan, I’ve enjoyed the few things I’ve seen in DMC. It’s basically set in the same world, just a tad more modern – it makes sense.

      • strangeloup says:

        I knew it reminded me of something. I’d love to see a proper KULT game sometime (though as far as I recall the RPG’s long out of print) but I suspect the blue-and-orange morality would make it difficult for it to be anything but a weird indie production.

        Also makes me think that the Silent Hill games are a bit like KULT, though in those the world is more related to the individual than having a degree of objectiveness to it.

        I’m going to have to go rummaging in storage for RPG books now.

  9. frightlever says:

    If I was marking this A Level Social Sciences essay I would award it a C+.

  10. Brosepholis says:

    You can’t call this satire, because satire is actually funny. This is awful tryhard ideological masturbation, the videogame equivalent of the sort of people who comment on the Guardian website.

  11. Dominic White says:

    I will say one thing positive about this – it really seems to have rustled the jimmies of just about every videogaming right-winger out there. No group is more deserving.

    • jp0249107 says:

      Says the left-winger whose entire sub-culture subsists on getting their jimmies rustled every year when CoD comes out yelling “JINGOISM!”. That and white-knighting that Anita chick. You guys have no idea how absurd you are. You make even Fox News look academic and intelligent in its discussion of games.

      • Dominic White says:

        You must be a real joy at parties.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Although I do love it when people use the phrase ‘white knight’ and basically scream ‘look at me I’m a self hating greeb who still thinks 4chan is relevant!!!’. Saves you the effort.

          • vondas says:

            Wait, how is it not relevant? It’s a hell of a lot more relevant than RPS, with all due respect.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            you’ll work it out when you grow out of racist jokes, sexual slurs against women, repeating the same boring catchphrses again and again, photographing what’s in your pockets so you can pretend you carry a knife all the time, my little pony, incestuously captioned porn and in-jokes about fingerboxees.

            Face it, 4chan isn’t a relevant community anymore, it’s a clubhouse for 14 year old boys.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Well, CoD is jingoistic. *shrugs*

        In any case, public discourse usually involves groups of people trying to make as much noise as possible. I gather that’s how protests work IRL, too.

      • P.Funk says:

        I get annoyed when the new CoD just becomes an even more derivative version of jingoism. I want some personality to go with my empire. CoD has all the personality of the actors in Act of Valor.

    • omicron1 says:

      Hey! Guess what word is defined as “Stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own”!

      Neither side is particularly better than the other, sir. Your personal opinions aside, there is something wrong when products are made with the deliberate intent of vilifying and making pariahs of one viewpoint or belief, simply because the authors are members of the other group. This is roughly equivalent to a game in which all liberals are dangerous ecoterrorists and mass murderers, and is just as much of a bad idea.

      • necromantic says:

        I disagree with the ‘no side is better than the other’ nonsense, if people truly believed that there would be no reason to have different political factions. There is nothing wrong with villifying the other side in your creation if you, as the artist, truly believe the other side are the bad guys. What’s that charming refrain conservatives like to hang on folks who complain about how women, minorities, and other are portrayed in games? “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.”

        Where I think we can agree, however, is that a company should not cynically appropriate a poltical view and demonize the other side to make a buck. It’s pandering. It’s insulting to both sides, and it accomplishes nothing.

        • StingingVelvet says:

          Far left and far right are no better than each other. Neither seeks common sense solutions in the middle. When someone tells me (here in the US) they are a registered Republican or Democrat I usually know that person has huge lack of nuance and critical thinking in their politics.

          • Jim Dandy says:

            Well, M. Velvet, you just keep voting for Nader then. I’m sure things’ll work out fine.

          • necromantic says:

            Thats funny, because when a person in the US tells me they really want ‘common sense solutions from the middle’, I know that person is utterly without knowledge, courage, or convictions and is really hoping to ignore problems in favor of kicking the can down the road. Seems like your only principle is holding yourself up as superior to people who actually stand for something.

          • Gap Gen says:

            Democrats are hardly far-left, and the Republicans are fairly distant from, say, far-right fascism (although that’s an odd one as fascism tends to promote a strong federal state, which the Republicans dislike on the whole). I think in general different political blocs are aimed at different people – rich people would benefit more from Republican policies, and the poor and middle class more from Democrat policies, while social conservatism and liberalism also play a part. Indeed, I’d question the merit of technocratic politics and the idea that there is a “right” solution, even though there are impersonal forces that governments ignore at their peril, like constraints on the ability to project power or global economic forces.

          • mudcrabs says:

            Both parties are actually the parties of the rich. They just have different angles and different groups of rich people backing them (whether they’re on religious, racial, or cultural lines). If we actually had a leftist political party they wouldn’t be advocating for capitalism.

          • Gap Gen says:

            True, that.

      • Jim Dandy says:

        Oh, for fuck’s sake Omicron, what if the people who made the game, bizarrely, have a political opinion? What other parts of their personalities would you like them to suppress so you can enjoy their output without the risk of being exposed to things that will upset or annoy you?

        • vondas says:

          That’s fine, I guess (I’m a bit leery of literally demonising your opponents, but I admit that by this point it is pretty droll), but the same people defending it seem very uppity when other game-makers express different traits of their personalities in such ways. If you’re not part of them then my hat’s off to you, though, sir.

          • Jim Dandy says:

            Well, I can dig both Billy Bragg and Motörhead (or China Miéville and Gene Wolfe if you prefer fancier pants). For the ultimate in delicious left/right dissonance, try The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad. Norm was clearly taking the piss – nevertheless I was cheering for Space-Hitler and his iron fist-truncheon by the end of the book.

    • vondas says:

      Except perhaps for videogaming left-wingers (a different group from people with left-leaning politics who happen to enjoy video games, by the way).

      Granted, that’s why I enjoy discussions like this. Sweet schadenfreude that comes with watching people I disagree with severely abuse each other mercilessly and senselessly. Now if only I could be sure that it would have no effect on the real world.

    • Jim Dandy says:

      Yup, even just talking about it seems to have got the poor little mites’ panties all in a bunch. Must be doing something right. Sometimes I think those types walk around with permanently rucked-up underboofers – it would explain the typical cat’s-bum moue and general air of surliness. And the gait, come to think of it:

      (edited to provide evidential link)

  12. Anthile says:

    Guy Debord it is not.

    • kataras says:

      The satire of consumerism and the consumerism of satire!

    • dE says:

      Gosh that would be funny. I reckon the game description would be something like this:

      The spectacle unfolds within the power of a demonic state. Truth is a commodity none have seen but the spectacle. The spectacle knows not the meaning of truth. Therefore spectacle rewards itself. Orchestrated by a lust for spectacle, the spectacle presents itself as the opposite of its meaning, Truth. Devil May Cry is not a collection of slashes but the social interaction among subjects, mediated by an icon of common denomination. Thus is the truth and thus it shall be known within the spectacle. The spectacle is. The spectacle needs itself. It needs not the player but the player is spectacle.

      There, run it through a drunken stupor filter and it should sound like Guy Debord. :P

  13. IceColdNed says:

    Seriously? I feel like this is exactly what happened with Far Cry 3. They tack on this “Oh, actually our game is super deep and it’s about the capitalist pigs killing orphans and the player being an asshole or something” to make up for the fact that their game is obnoxious and juvenile (Sorry DmC fans, combat is fun, but Dante’s way too angsty) or that their game is seriously objectionable (racism, murdering innocents, killing off the last dodo in existence, FAR CRY 3). After watching a decent amount of playthroughs on youtube, I’ve gotten the sense that the DmC wishes it could be sarcastic, but it half-asses it.
    On a related note, and I’m sure I’ll catch flak for this, but other than Suda 51, I really haven’t seen any interesting games come out of Japan.
    Now is the point where you bring up examples to prove me wrong, (Please don’t say Final Fantasy)
    (Also to encourage positive communication and debate, I appreciate anyone who took the time to read my opinions, and look forward to reading yours).

    • Dominic White says:

      So… while grumbling about a British game, you feel compelled to say ‘Nothing coming out of Japan is interesting’? So, why is that?

    • RobinOttens says:

      Cool. I have seen interesting games come out of Japan. Suda51′s games don’t really interest me though. ;)

      Anyway, yeah, I’ve been playing DMC for a bit now and the whole satire thing feels tacked on and only barely thought out. I’ll believe them when they say they made it intentionally ham fisted and shallow, but that just makes the game feel like a saturday morning cartoon in the way it handles these themes (irony?). The game’s pretty good despite that though.

    • xao says:

      Dark Souls

  14. Jason Moyer says:

    “Satire is a peculiarly British focus,”

    I didn’t realize that John Carpenter was British.

    • Ravenholme says:

      One example against… pretty much every British Comedian ever? Against things that we routinely create and air on TV? (Dead Set came to mind immediately, as I don’t really watch TV, don’t even own one – there are probably more examples than I am aware of)

      Others do Satire, but Brits are recognised masters of the satirical snark,

    • Vaedresa says:

      “Satire is very British” is just one of those things people latch onto. Oh, lots of great satirists have been British, I’m British, so I must be a great satirist!

      And then you get all caught up in thinking that you really are great, and then you become Charlie Brooker.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I think Charlie Brooker’s biggest danger is his cash-cow Guardian column. His Newswipe programs have been consistently excellent. But being given a soapbox is a guarantee that someone who has done some incisive stuff will in a few years be railing against jam, or casting aspersions on tea towels, through a combination of running out of ideas and the weird effect that having a soapbox has on your ability to filter what you say.

      • iucounu says:

        Charlie Brooker *is* great.

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        Charlie Brooker is a clever and funny man who nonetheless has been carefully constructing a fine holiday home right up his own arse for several years now.

    • Angel Dust says:

      You picked John Carpenter to represent US satire? Your country produced Twain and Bierce for Christ’s sake.

      Edit: Didn’t realise the devs name checked ‘They Live’. Because I am blind.

  15. The Sombrero Kid says:

    No one ever has or ever will play this game for the story, it’s about making a D change into an SSS, the game is part of the consumerist culture they so lazily take a pop at, if it wasn’t they’d be able to openly admit the companies represented are Fox and the Coca Cola company, but as it is they dare not rock the boat any more than convention and precedent dictates they are allowed to.

  16. Kollega says:

    Whenever someone brings up the evils and shallowness of consumerist culture, i have a burning desire to be able to come up with something better. But the only immediate alternative is hardline socialism, and i should know better that when my countrymen tried it, it sort of didn’t work out. And by “didn’t work out” i of course mean “was just as opressive as cyberpunk capitalism”. So there.

    Conclusion: life kinda sucks, and i assume we’ll have to live with it. That, or hope that we’ll see post-scarcity economy in our lifetimes, but that seems farfetched and probably won’t cure politics-related ills.

    • RedViv says:

      That is why you don’t go for the absolute immediate turn into the completely opposite direction. That has always been catastrophic for the majority.
      There are no “solutions” to battle the “evil consumerist culture with. The measures have to be wide and varied and introduced slowly. Somewhat more regulated markets, while working on educating people to think for themselves, at the same time juggling the inability to keep absolutely everyone productively occupied, and so on and on and on.

      • Kollega says:

        NOOOOOO I WANT TO REFORM THE SYSTEM BUT IT’S TOO HARD WHY DO I HAVE TO BE SUBTLE

        In seriousness, i was getting more at “we tried that other thing and it didn’t work”, and i’m not sure there’s such a thing as a happy middleground anymore. Seems too utopian to work. I heard Europe is doing it fairly well, but it isn’t immune to the economic downturn and agressive advertising either.

        • RedViv says:

          Plays out well in one place, worse in others, as it’s in most places. It’s all a big happy and largely successful experiment. Got to realise that we’re only now seeing the results of a trend that lasted 60 years. Certainly we won’t see the happy middle ground reached in a single lifetime, but that does not mean that it is not something to strive for. One has to remember that life without seeing everything regulated by the church was utopian too, at a point far in the past. Giving up too early, hastily abandoning a struggle that has mostly been a thing of two steps forward, one step back, because of the latter step… It’s an overall silly thing to do.

          Not that I would not understand the dissatisfaction, due to the seemingly sysiphean struggle, of course. I can only take so much silly conjecture and knee-jerk reactions before I have to take a step back from discussions, for sanity’s sake. The sheer conjecture and oh so smart bashing of someone who actually by some degree works with The Man and all the repetition in the very comments here. Might crush some hopes.

          • Kollega says:

            I totally did not expect to see an inspirational speech in this thread. But it’s here. Thank you.

          • Quirk says:

            I’m a lot less optimistic.

            Communism failed brutally and hard. If there’s one important political note to make on the twentieth century, it’s that one: the theory is lovely, but the practice is a laundry list of things gone wrong which begins with the inefficiencies of central planning and ends with governments committing atrocities because the rights of individuals are subordinate to The State. And because it’s all so beautiful in theory there are still even now quite mainstream people who are soft towards it – being a communist is considered in an entirely different light from being a fascist, even though there is little to choose between them in terms of state-sponsored killings.

            Capitalism’s failures are more subtle. The psychopaths who would poison the political structure in a totalitarian state are at one another’s throats instead fighting to produce products that consumers want to buy. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but there is no ethnic cleansing, no gulags, no dictatorships. Our recent woes are hard to really understand, coming as they do from many complex interactions: credit default swaps built on shoddy statistical ground, financial institutions too big to fail, a money supply vastly expanded through the mechanisms of fractional reserve banking, and other things. What percentage of the population understands how money actually works, how it is created by debt to banks? And of those who do understand on some level, how many understand why this has worked for so long? The failures of complex financial instruments can scarcely be legislated on by people who don’t even understand that the finances of a government differ from a household.

            I fear therefore that the tinkering that will be done to please the electorate will be crude and ugly, because any changes capable of being made to improve matters will be at a level where politicians can barely be expected to calculate the results, never mind the voters. Instead there will be anger against the rich leading to clumsy pushes here and there towards statism, with inefficiencies and authoritarianism as a result; some pushing for that statism will be rabidly nationalistic, some will be dreamers hoping for a fairer world, but the results will be similar enough.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      De-centralised capitalism.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      The solution is happy mediums and common sense reforms, but extremists on both sides prevent that. Unfettered capitalism and socialism are worlds apart, really… plenty of room in the middle. I would say the countries which have straddled that middleground are some of the most successful.

      • vondas says:

        It’s not even a matter of them being extremists so much as that they care less about reality – real people, real countries, real economies – as they do about their left-, right- or centrist doctrines, which their rhetoric frequently betrays (I don’t listen to people who talk about FREEDOM or PROGRESS as a rule, unless they have some more specific and realistic suggestions in mind). Those are ALL highly objectionable, and so is the sort of propaganda that encourages it (not that DMC really counts as such).

    • mudcrabs says:

      Just because your country and every country that followed the Stalin model of socialism fucked up doesn’t mean it’ll never work. Democracy went through tons of shitty implementations before it turned into something relatively good. Just because different attempts and angles at creating a flying machine failed for thousands of years doesn’t mean that a flying machine isn’t possible.

  17. ass wasp says:

    YEAH FUCK THE SYSTEM CORPORATIONS SUCK BUY OUR $80 GAME WITH THE $15 DLC
    DmC is a decent game that no one should ever pay for, yeah i’m advocating piracy, i’m advocating piracy of a game that advocates killing children to get what you want.
    All this game’s plot really is is pandering to me when i was 13, i’m 22 now and it just seems silly to me, 13 year olds now are different from how they were 10 years ago, they don’t listen to ministry and have ‘fuck bush’ scrawled on their school notebook, this game is pandering to a demographic that doesn’t exist.

    • Vaedresa says:

      “Killing children to get what you want”

      This was the only part I actually respected then for, as it was a controversial thing which made sense given the context and wasn’t just shoehorned in like every other “edgy” thing.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      “they don’t listen to ministry and have ‘fuck bush’ scrawled on their school notebook”

      No, but 35-40 year olds do, and that’s a prime demographic for a game like this.

  18. neska says:

    Sorry, what?

    There’s no British satire here. British satire is generally subtler, allows more engagement with the reader, lets them fill in the blanks. The “satire” in DmC is extremely obvious, amounting to the sort of bottom of the barrel political cartoons The Onion parodies (http://www.theonion.com/features/editorial-cartoon) – in fact if DmC had exhibited the satirical qualites The Onion does in most of their work, i’d understand the praise this article is lavishing on NT.

    But i’m not getting it. It’s no good saying the hamfisted attempt at lefty political messages are intentional, because they’re still really bad. Sure, DmC has alot to talk about: hacktivist culture, energy drinks, bankers, debt: but does it have anything to actually say? No. There are no messages or opinions for the viewer to form, not even the writers have any particular opinion that isn’t in a generic “good vs bad” stereotype. Even Vergil’s betrayal is a generic “people want power” message that anyone could have seen coming from miles away. They’re not even trying to be neutral, it’s clearly anti-conservative pseudo-propaganda to the very core, Bill O’Reilly clones and all, and whether you agree with it or not, it’s extremely unprofessional to take sides where the realm of satire is concerned.

    And regarding They Live, this game isn’t so much inspired by it as it is…directly copying it. DmC is not using similar symbolism or twisting the idea and applying it differently, it is literally just copying the idea in its entirety, but replacing alien beings with demons. The words on signs, the use of “Obey”, they’re all there exactly as they were portrayed 3 decades ago, but with some ‘contemporary’ perspectives that Black Ops 2 managed to beat NT to the punch with anyway. DmC doesn’t diverge nearly enough for this approach to be considered as anything less than amateurish copycatting of a cult classic.

    Again: There’s lot’s to talk about, but nothing to say. Which is fine in a video game, the gameplay comes first and your story and themes come next, but the fact that anyone is trying to glorify it as anything more than asinine is really quite disagreeble. This is especially so when this ham-fisted vitriol so violently contrasts what Devil May Cry is really about – hunting demons and looking damn stylish whilst you do it.

    If DmC is meant to be some sort of example for other developers to follow, then I absolutely fear for this industry.

    • Danda says:

      Ninja Theory doesn’t need a solid rationale on why they are attacking those targets: they ARE the bad guys now. OK, maybe this is not solid intelectual criticism (did you really expect that from an action game? Who’s actually doing that?), but they are daring to do something that is definitely not the trend right now. Or did I miss any other games that dare to “fight the power” pointing to real targets and not a cliched evil organization?

      And of course they are not using real names, because you can’t do that unless you want to be sued for defamation. But you know pretty well who they meant anyway.

      • vondas says:

        Precisely, they’re cashing in on a peculiar ideological worldview built upon antagonism. This doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously any more so than, say, Left Behind, which tries to do essentially the same thing with a different audience.

        • Nettacki says:

          So why is it that people are taking the satire seriously? To the point of praising it like it’s some kind of revelatory thing?

          • vondas says:

            People would take anything seriously. Just read the article. :P

      • ffordesoon says:

        Um, well, Alpha Protocol had a ridiculously obvious Halliburton analogue, and Metal Gear has been attacking the idea of PMCs for a while now. I wouldn’t say it’s completely without precedent.

    • ffordesoon says:

      This, pretty much.

      Love the game, and I appreciate that there is at least an attempt at adding a satirical dimension to it. But in terms of actual quality and depth, the game is pretty much a Screen Gems remake of They Live. I can’t believe the same team that made Enslaved made this. It’s ludicrous, sleazy, silly entertainment with a vague satirical veneer draped over it. And that’s fine for a game that isn’t reliant on its narrative, but they shouldn’t be patting themselves on the back and claiming it’s anything more than that.

  19. JackDandy says:

    This shit reminds me of the ads leading up to the release of the game.

    “Fight the evil corporate demons…
    …WITH OUR BRAND-NEW iPHONE APP!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH2Niu9HC18

    The entire game and the premise behind it is ridiculous, and I just hope DMC will see a return to form some day.

  20. Mario Figueiredo says:

    If a billboard add changes to read “consume” or “obey”, it stops being a satire and it becomes blatantly obvious. But I guess that’s ninja theory.

  21. Gabbo says:

    As subtle as a punch to the face, but it gives me a reason to at least take interest in a game I’d have otherwise shrugged off.

  22. kael13 says:

    The game is good. It’s certainly a more interesting flavour of DmC than that which came before. The satire is not particularly clever, however it is more fun than nothing at all. Yanking out demon-eye CCTV cameras to boot them across the map fulfilled that particular fantasy.

  23. Neo says:

    I personally think everything about the story and characters is extremely juvenile and is just attempting to appeal to anti-establishment edgy 13 year olds. To each his own I guess though, maybe I’m just too cynical.

    What I really don’t understand is why this game is getting so much praise when the combat (judging from the console demo and word of mouth) is objectively more shallow than previous DMC games and there have been severe steps back in extremely important areas such as framerate. Cutting the framerate in half is completely unacceptable for a series like DMC.

    • Dominic White says:

      I rented the game today. I’m a few hours in, and while enjoyable for the most part (goddamn camera keeps getting caught on scenery!) the combat is just so much slower and simpler than previous DMC games. Reviews have praised it for its ‘accessibility’ – many of the same reviewers who never saw fit to praise Bayonetta for offering a lowest difficulty setting so accessible that you can beat it with one finger – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6nkc6GQ-B8

      It’s not a bad game, but it’s certainly not a great one – the genre has a very high upper bar set already, but a lot of critics seem to be praising this as above and beyond everything else, which is confusing. I can only conclude that it’s a wrong-headed backlash against the wrong-headed frothing fan-rage against the game. Two wrongs don’t make a right – it just makes both gamers and journalists at large look like plonkers.

      Ah well, at least Metal Gear Rising is out in three weeks.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_FCMCJiULw – I’ve been through the demo of it about 7 times now, and I’m still finding new stuff to do and see. It also has the same Easy Automatic mode as Bayonetta – if I were a betting man, I’d put money on the vast majority of reviews never even suggesting that the game is ‘accessible’.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      That’s my issue with it.

      It’s just a bit slow and boring, all told. Even compared to the previous games, let alone the Platinum Game stuff.

  24. QualityJeverage says:

    I’m about halfway through the game. Really enjoying it so far, just ignoring the unbelievably heavy-handed “satire.” As has already been mentioned, it’s the kind of “fuck the man” attitude that is more often a punchline nowadays. I’m spending much of the game failing to believe they’re actually being serious with this, but I guess they are.

    But hey, I can’t think of enough great things to say about the gameplay, the cutscenes are nice to look at, I’m loving the game despite this misguided punk crap.

    *On another note, I keep hearing “controversy” that the game has you murder a child to succeed. I have not done this yet, it’s only been hinted at. I’m assuming that the child in question is the unborn child of Lilith. If that’s the case…I’m sorry, where’s the problem? I don’t understand how “Kill the queen of demons and her unborn demon spawn so you can save the world” is the same as saying “It is always ok to kill pregnant women.”

    Maybe the circumstances change, but from where I am in the game right now, it seems like a pretty justifiable act…

    **Also, as a hippie lefty douchebag, the boss fight against Bill O’Reilly/Bob Barbas legitimately made me laugh. So there’s that.

  25. DK says:

    If they wanted to preserve what makes DmC DmC and what makes Dante Dante they failed utterly. They made a ludicrously pretty game, with fantastic environments and a decent story. It has okay combat.

    It’s a good game. In no way is it a Devil May Cry game though, which have always been extremely hard, had perfect combat, and had DANTE – all of which are lacking from DmC.

  26. Screamer says:

    Ninja’d Theory…get ‘t?

  27. Valerius Maximus says:

    “Those corporate pigs are bad!! DOWN WITH THE MAN!!1 Now buy our game. Pre order at gamestop to recieve special store only DLC! Don’t forget to stock up on gamer fuel and dew it with MOUNTAIN DEW and a nice bag of Doritos!”

    Oh Tameem.

  28. The Random One says:

    Ugh. It amazes me how quickly satire overtook plot twists as the thing devs do to trick themselves into thinking their stories are clever.

    It makes my stomach churn to see how they dismiss every view that might make them own up to the views they claim to hold for the purposes of the game. Oh our villain are the big bankers but don’t mind that it’s just for fun. Oh our heroes are essentially Anonymous but that was just a coincidence and as it would not be completely and utterly safe to say the game concurs with their views I’ll add that we definitely definitely definitely have nothing to do with them.

    Jonas Kyratzes, won’t you come and save us?

  29. DGMockingJay says:

    “Our games are being played by intelligent adults, so there is no reason why we can’t treat them as such.”

    They are seriously claiming that the writing in the DmC game is something that can be considered as Intelligent?? REALLY?? The dialogues during the Succubus Boss fight was like written by some 12 year old XBL player. Seriously distasteful and stupid. And that happens during most of the games.

    Yeah, story is alright. DMC franchise was never known for the awesome story anyways. So nothing is lost. But the new DmC isn’t Deus Ex in terms of story/setting that RPS is making it to be. Its just alright.

    I mean, look at the story, the setting. So everything bad that is and happened in real world is being done or controlled by demons. Banks, the soft drink, cameras, everything. Its fan fiction tier if you ask me, not Shakespearean.

  30. Eddy9000 says:

    Every game contains political ideology in some form, as does every form of cultural expression, it’s impossible not to. Sounds to me like right wingers are upset because someone released a game with liberal/socialist ideology for a change rather than one about shooting up brown people. It’s fine to disagree with a games political perspective of course, but saying ‘hurr keep politics out of games’ is a duff argument.

    • Danda says:

      THIS. I didn’t see any outrage when BLOPS 2 transparently attacked the Occupy movement.

      Anyway, I honestly think political discourse is automatically dismissed when it’s placed on a game. For instance, in Assassin’s Creed 3 the British sidekick, Shaun, is quite aggressive on his views about the USA. Did people think it was just comic relief or something? Still, for most people AC3 is a jingoistic game because they believed that the solemn marketing campaign accurately represented the game’s message.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Well said. That’s exactly what’s going on.

    • DK says:

      On the other hand, we were spared the self-rightous outrage of the right wing when noone in the games media picked up that Red Faction Guerilla was essentially a Taliban simulator – with you playing as the Taliban.

      So the fact that everything has a political component because we live in a political world hasn’t filtered through yet.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        Haha I came back on to make that exact same comment! Loved how an AAA game was basically a Taliban simulator and flew straight under the radar, probably the most clever, subversive move ever pulled off by a videogame.

    • Freddybear says:

      Every game? Do tell. What is the political ideology of Pong? Or how about Tetris?

      • Eddy9000 says:

        Cultural expression is always constrained by material factors, so yes, pong is far more limited in its ideological content. Nice straw man. Now the political ideology of a game created by someone raised in the USSR that centres around putting things in their right place, cohesion being valued over seperatiion and non-conformism but the game eventually being unsustainable and unwinnable? That’s easy.

        • vondas says:

          “Now the political ideology of a game created by someone raised in the USSR that centres around putting things in their right place, cohesion being valued over seperatiion and non-conformism but the game eventually being unsustainable and unwinnable? That’s easy.”

          …Sir, are you at all serious? I mean, this probably is some kind of tasteless joke, but I can’t really be completely sure.

          • Freddybear says:

            It’s like a Rorschach test. If there’s nothing there, they’ll project something into it.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            It was a slightly tongue in cheek example of how ideology can be found in the most obscure places. There is an ideological reason why so many western games are about shooting, why S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (developed in a communist bloc country) is set in a crumbling urban environment where nothing works that well, why Japanese games often present failure as a necessary route to improvement.
            I do a lot of discourse analysis in my job and if I was doing an analysis of say videogame development in ex-USSR countries and after analysis conformism was a theme featuring throughout them then I certainly would include tetris as an example, I’d also include that tetris could be seen as reflecting the valourisation of industry in the USSR through being a game based around building for example if several other games featured building of some kind.

            I don’t really see how the example was tasteless though, did you mean to say something else? If you’re curious about this approach then search for ‘Zizek’ and ‘toilets’ on you tube, Zizek gives an intentionally humorous example of how ideology is even expressed through toilet designs in western Europe.

            Freddy I would say that there is always something there, always thinking and hyposthesising to be done and always ideas to be had. Some people enjoy looking for meaning, some people are more comfortable denying it. There will come a time in your life when you’ll realise that rubbishing peoples ideas can only get you so far and that eventually you’ll be expected to come up with your own, I wish you the very best of luck with this.

          • vondas says:

            I rather doubt that Tetris is an expression of communism, though; more of industrialism in general, maybe. I’m having a hard time believing that an American could not have come up with it as easily as one of my countrymen. I won’t argue that STALKER example, but then, that’s rather more blatant than some blocks, isn’t it?

            As for conformism, I THINK that might have less to do with Soviet ideology (which I’ve seen endorse individualism as well) and more with collectivistic Russian village morality that leaked over into the cities. Can’t be sure, though.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Yeah, it’s a refreshing change of message even if it’s conveyed with all the subtley and finesse of a sledgehammer. Mirror’s Edge had a similiar thing going on.

  31. sharkh20 says:

    “Hey, let’s sell this consumer product to people in which we complain about consumerism.” Good work guys.

    • bladedsmoke says:

      So what are you saying? That all satire on consumerism should be free? You must know that’s utterly unrealistic and absurd. I suppose it’s a handy way of stifling ideology that differs from your own, I guess.

      Just because people might disagree with an overly-consumerized culture, doesn’t mean they want to go back to living on a fucking barter system. People criticized the Occupy protesters for buying drinks at Starbucks; but the reality is, when you exist within a capitalist system, you are forced to co-operate with it even if you disagree with it. And frankly, even if you do think capitalism is ultimately the best option, you can still *criticize* it and the effect it has on society, you can still criticize a global culture where bankers run the economy into the ground and are rewarded with massive bonuses, and where corporations are classed as people yet are above the law. Nothing should be exempt from criticism; even if the satire in DmC *is* particularly heavy-handed, at least it has something to say.

      • vondas says:

        Can you tell me what this thing has to say that has not been said before, though?

        Quite frankly, much though I admittedly dislike the anti-corporate protest culture, this particular game doesn’t even seem to be a part of it. It really just looks like an attempt to cash in on your movement by throwing around some nice-sounding buzzwords and cliches more than anything else. I’m not sure if I want to be proven wrong on this or not, though.

      • sharkh20 says:

        It’s one thing to go out into the world and preach something. It is something completely different to go out and sell your preaching for money.

  32. bladedsmoke says:

    So many comments from world-weary teenagers and twenty-somethings, trying desperately hard to be cynical by declaring social criticism illegitimate. Newflash: If you call this game “propaganda,” you have no idea what propaganda actually is.

    You can tell that punk is dead. I’m glad there’s so many people willing to vehemently defend the poor downtrodden bankers and corporations from being criticized in a video game.

    • RakeShark says:

      Remember to kick it over.

    • vondas says:

      I agree that most people who talk about propaganda don’t seem to know that it isn’t a bad word, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t propaganda. Or for that matter, that it is extremely shoddy propaganda, quite regardless of its intent.

    • neska says:

      Propaganda is a very appropriate insult to describe this game’s attempt at social commentary, though. The “satire” (note the quote marks) and messages the game have are not executed in any sort of meaningful or balanced way – the writers picked a side, found as many real world analogies as they could, then threw them all in without a hint of thoughtfulness. Not even a lick of dissenting opinion is within the game itself to let you form your opinion, it’s just hammering in that “these are the bad guys and they’re REAL!”

      And actually, that’s fine if you acknowledge that it’s crappy filler for your game. But RPS and Ninja Theory alike seem to have a really high opinion of it- which, as I said, is not referencing They Live as much as almost plagiarising it. They genuinely think it’s Shakespearean and Meaningful. It really isn’t. I’ve been replaying Devil May Cry 3 recently and I was taken aback by how surprisingly well made the story of that game is – it’s formulaic and comprised of only a few “acts”, but the themes of family, fatherhood and accepting parts of yourself you’d rather ignore are very nicely portrayed. In contrast, DmC’s “great story” falls even flatter than it already did.

      It does no credit whatsoever to argue about freedom of expression in regards to something of inferior quality, when the last thing anybody wants is to censor it – they just demand recognition that it is poor, as opposed to incomprehensibly gushing praise for mediocrity.

      • bladedsmoke says:

        I never played DMC 3, so I can’t comment on that. But like I said, I acknowledge that the satire in DMC is heavy-handed. Quite frankly, however, I’m not sure what kind of subtle, revolutionary social criticism you’re expecting from a game about fighting foul-mouthed demons with twin guns and a big sword. Would you want the game to occasionally pause and have Noam Chomsky read you an essay in a cutscene? It would be educational, perhaps, but not fit the tone of the game.

        Heavy-handed satire *suits* DMC. If people are criticizing it, I can only conclude that they’re doing so because it’s heavy-handed satire which also happens to challenge their cultural conceptions in a way which other video game satires – e.g. BLOPS2 – do not. I’m concluding this because not only does the heavy-handedness inform and reciprocally thrive within the tone of the game, but because that’s been the slant of 90% of the complaints in this comment section.

        Frankly, the fact that this satire has got so many people up in arms shows that it’s still relevant.

        • vondas says:

          It may be valuable to note that most people who lashed out against it are not defending the beauty and glory of corporate advertising, though. What is disliked is how blatant and poorly-made this social message is, regardless of whether one agrees with it or not.

  33. Grayvern says:

    It’s weird I’ts being called British satire when it’s closest compatriots are actually American and Dutch by way of America, John Carpenter and Paul Verhoeven respectively.

    The real problem I have is the assertion that satire is at it’s best when it’s subtle or that British is best in the face films like Robocop and Network.

    If DmC isn’t good satire because it’s banal then I’m not sure how people can simultaneously assert this and decry it’s bombast, which I think comes from a lack of understanding of context, many satires held up today were filled with extreme hyperbole that’s mellowed as we’ve essentially gone there.

    Not that I’m claiming DmC is good satire or a paragon of storytelling, or that it ever wanted to be, and I’m not sure there is anything wrong with that.

    Also some really bizarre assertions up thread ”it’s extremely unprofessional to take sides where the realm of satire is concerned” which seems weird given that a lot of satire is motivated at least in part from the understanding of the world though broadly defined political lenses, as clearly evidenced by the work of George Orwell.

    • Baal_Sagoth says:

      “If DmC isn’t good satire because it’s banal then I’m not sure how people can simultaneously assert this and decry it’s bombast, which I think comes from a lack of understanding of context, many satires held up today were filled with extreme hyperbole that’s mellowed as we’ve essentially gone there.”

      Good point in my opinion. I wouldn’t define satire as neccessarily subtle or humorous. I think it even needs to be blunt and potentially hurtful in many cases to achieve its disruptive effect. It should have an almost anarchic and definitely aggressive stance towards the ideologies it attacks (whether that’s cleverly hidden or blatantly open). DmC being a commercial game with silly DLC tactics doesn’t immediately negate its potential satirical effect either. Now, I have merely seen some gameplay footage and thus posses no hands-on experience to judge DmC’s merits for myself but I thought the article made an interesting point that’s well worth exploring.

      Seeing the excited comments as well as Astatine’s interesting interpretation below I can’t shake the feeling Ninja Theory might have done a decent job. Maybe in that sense the pathetic ‘teen rebel’ Dante actually works in the game’s favour? Maybe he’s the part that’s supposed to signify they’re not giving the ‘ACAB/ Fuck the System/ Trust Nobody’ crowd a pass either? Because for the game to be interesting satire (to me) it would have to actually disrupt idealogical stances and chastise both sides for their doctrines. If it ended up just taking a piss on conservative stereotypes that would be lacking and a bit sad. I guess I’ll have to see for myself at some (price) point.

  34. vondas says:

    I wonder why Western media seems to persistently associate marriage and reproduction with evil corporate brainwashing? I mean, I guess I understand the rationale is probably “the companies merely wants to have more and more consumers!” or some other demagogic rubbish like that, but it still seems like an odd fixation to me – almost as though said media is unaware that people have biological instincts that work to the same effect. Were those put in there by vile media too?

    Along similar lines, very nice of them to be frank about what this kind of worldview is. You indeed need to put on some pretty thick ideology sunglasses to start seeing all of mass culture around you in such reductionist terms.

    Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of satire in general. Especially this kind of dated satire that is trying too hard to seem relevant.

  35. RakeShark says:

    From what I’ve seen of DmC, it just doesn’t seem punk enough. Where’s the jimmy-kicking? Where’s the spray-painting? Where’s the song quoting? Where’s the barely reigned-in hooliganism? Where’s the crass uncultured spit remarks for anything anyone says to the guy?

    Is it that easy to forget the Sex Pistols and Dead Kennedys?

  36. vondas says:

    Okay, I have to ask this. Why do you people – most of whom are presumably from relatively well to do, first world, Western societies – hate consumerism so much? To me it simply seems like one of the surest marks of a SUCCESSFUL society. Furthermore, this entire hobby is in itself rooted in the virtues of consumer society, making those who attack it come across as hypocritical. I feel there is something I don’t understand here. I WISH we could have this level of consumer society over here.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Because its not actually helpful for the majority of people. Corporatisation (which markets consumerism to sustain itself) relies on the centralisation of resources and power, increasing inequality. Where before you might have owned a small grocers, now you work behind a counter at Sainsburys, making shareholders richer through an amount of the profits of your labour going to them instead of you.

      Do I have a single fact to back that up?

      Number one: In 1945, corporations paid 50 percent of federal taxes. Now they pay about 5 percent. Number two: in 1900, 90 percent of Americans were self-employed; now it’s about two percent.

      ;-)

      • vondas says:

        So by consumerism, you simply mean the propaganda (Spanish for advertising) of big corporations? Shouldn’t you be opposed to the big corporations themselves rather than their advertising campaigns, in that case? :P The former is a reasonable stance; the latter just makes you look like a fussy puritan, especially since consumer culture is not something that is exclusively propagated by big companies. It’s a much more varied phenomenon that involves and interacts with myriads of smaller companies, creative intellectuals and indeed the consumers themselves, and there is certainly nothing evil about it by itself. It has existed back in the 1950s as well, and in 1920s Russia too.

        It’s like attacking religion because you disagree with a church; you may well have reasons to disagree with religion in general, but the connection between the former and the latter is well-known to be quite limited. It looks to me like a sign of extreme ideological confusion.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          It’s more about how centralised capitalism has become, corporatism is centralised capitalism. To use your analogy it’s like thinking religion can be helpful but disagreeing with how much influence the Catholic Church has.

      • derbefrier says:

        of course to believe that you would have to ignore the fact that the USA and its capitalist ideals have created the highest standard of living the world has ever seen. Even our poor have cell phones and cars and air conditioning. Many argue(I being one of them) the recent recession is in fact not because of conservative free market policies but the fact that congress and government has gotten too big and bloated and has embraced more extreme liberal ideals(more taxes, more control over private citizens, etc..) Now don’t interpret that to think i want no government oversight, I am not a proponent of Anarchy, but I do believe it has gone too far and its incompatible with a free market economy which is why we are having so much trouble.

        The worst thing about satire and propaganda is it never tells the whole story and is generally no more truthful than the worst example of extreme right or left wing propaganda you can come up with. case in point how many of you young liberals get most of you political information from the Daily Show? While I enjoy the show myself its obviously very left leaning and full of one sided propaganda and satire much of which relies on the viewer just believing whats said rather than providing facts and statistics to back it up(as is the case with much of liberal media). I wonder sometimes how many people are aware of this. They can easily point out extreme right leaning propaganda whenever it pops up but then seem oblivious(willingly or not) to their own sides attempt at the same thing.

        Sometimes i don’t know what side to believe. I grew up being a hardcore liberal but when i actually started looking into these issues myself I found myself actually disagreeing with much of the liberal philosophy. It appeared their propaganda isn’t representative of how they actually act or believe but just filled with buzz words and slogans like “rich people are evil” and crap like that which for a young idiot in college like me, was more than enough to get that emotional rise out of me. And before you all start calling me sean hannity jr. know that while i do share some conservative principles when it comes to governments role in the private sector. I am very liberal minded when it comes to social policies. I don’t just blindly follow what people say. I inform myself to the best of my ability and make a decision which is more than I can say for the majority of American voters…..I mean it, discussing politics among my peers is rage inducing. I can handle a difference of opinion what irks me is when I question that opinion the only way you can rationalize it is by repeating liberal bumper sticker slogans. That in my opinion is the definition of ignorance and a person who has been turned into a sheep. Which is basically what the person i responded to did. And could you provide context to those facts? I believe I could Google something similar to support my view just as easily. The numbers by themselves mean nothing.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          I would say that capitalism has created a good standard of living in its early, decentralised form. However the increasing centralisation of wealth and power through corporatism is creating vast social inequality. In the UK the average life expectancy between the lowest and highest social groups is >10 years. I’m not sure if a homeless person or someone living below the poverty line or being exploited for below minimum wage labour might take much comfort in being told that they are part of a system that provides the highest standard of living ever.

          If you’d like to get back in touch with your liberal side (or have some well formed arguments for your right wing side to constructively disagree with) then you might be interested in a book called ‘the spirit level’, it’s accessible but from an academic perspective so not pop-liberalism or anything. Amazon might even have a ‘look inside’ preview.

    • Freddybear says:

      It’s because we (well, some of us anyway) have been conditioned by decades of Marxist propaganda to believe that success can only come from exploiting others. In other words, the west is only rich because we made the rest of the world poor. And so we must feel guilty about our prosperity. If we could only take away all the stuff the rich people have stolen and give it back to the poor, they wouldn’t be poor any more.

      Of course that’s utter nonsense, so we have these orgies of hypocrisy to try to drown out the cognitive dissonance.

      • vondas says:

        It’s really quite disturbing for me to see such sentiments have currency in the West. Though it does imply to me that there are some real problems that popularity of Marxism is a serious and grave symptom of.

    • Jim Dandy says:

      Vondas, you’re really missing the point here. People exchanging their work for stuff they like isn’t intrinsically evil. Other people stealing that work to make themselves richer is. Your knee is probably jerking like a teenage boy, but hear me out:

      Lots of people seem to think that spending the majority of a lifetime in indentured servitude to a bank is a necessary trade-off for our silky lifestyles. It’s not. Since the 1950s, the US has seen inflation of 800% and a productivity increase of 400%. If that increase in economic headroom was applied to the average American, she’d be able to achieve a 1950 standard of living with an eleven hour working week. Where has all that capital gone?

      In Britain, for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor is growing. America is riddled with dead and dying suburbs. Even middle class schools are using ten year old textbooks and telling kids to bring their own bog-roll, but the pricks who own the companies that will (or won’t) eventually employ those kids are quite literally shitting in golden toilets. I suspect that anyone who thinks that’s a reasonable state of affairs is, at the very least, mildly sociopathic.

      • vondas says:

        Alright, you and your 4chan-hating comrade have made your points. I see that you are good, decent distributists rather than scoundrel socialists. Now, how does demonising corporations and those who work for them and glorifying marginal extremists help do anything about this? :P

        I mean, for God’s sake, evil corporations and heroic rebels in Western games are dime a dozen.

  37. vondas says:

    Serious discussion aside, though, having thought about it, they did do what they claimed to want to do. This is basically a hyperbolic, but internally consistent caricature of what a certain left-leaning portion of the American population considers “evil”, without actually exploring it any further. It’s a bit tempting for me to say “THIS IS WHAT LEFT-WINGERS ACTUALLY BELIEVE”, but, to be honest, I kind of hope it isn’t.

    • neska says:

      I’d actually say it better represents the thoughts of the tin-foil conspiracy theorists on the far right – “the damn guberments out to get me!” etc.

      Essentially, DmC and They Live alike peddle the paranoid philosophies of the worst aspects of both extreme sides of the political spectrum into one annoying package. It makes for enjoyable 80s cinema, at least.

  38. abuzor says:

    “Regardless of how Ninja Theory intended this to be read, it’s refreshing to play a big budget game which plays with contemporary political themes”.
    You meant comforting, I guess.

    Talk about the system integrating its own reaction (see Baudrillard circa 1970: The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures).
    Valid political questions being integrated to create consumables attending to those urges.
    I see nothing better here than in pop-culture “rebellion” superproductions such as The Matrix or V for Vendetta: “rebellion is hot with the kids now…wow, gotta make an action movie!”

    The fact that DMC still plays as an entertaining slasher, and still uses all its usual crappy elements (focuses on girls asses, sex, etc) while indulging in that kind of “criticism” is just sad.

    I guess Spec Ops: The Line remains the only valid blockbuster carrying a critical discourse on itself…the fact that it is a very dull game plays a big part in that.

    Dmc just wants to have the cake and eat it.

  39. Thoric says:

    For the most part I found DmC’s “satire” neither humorous, witty or self-aware. Just grotesque, heavy-handed and occasionally downright stupid. The Bob Barbas and Lilith sections were perhaps the biggest highlights, and they were still very shallow.

    Though by far the most cringe-worthy moments of the game were those of Dante trying to come off as the cool anarchist. Badly written lines, combined with the most shit-eating grin to be ever mo-capped. Thankfully his interactions with Kat and his brother seemed to be written and produced by entirely different people – Dante showed genuine emotion and stopped being an immature twat for a few seconds at a time.

    There was more of those moments towards the end, and I was really surprised to see Dante’s character pulled out of the nihilistic gutter, and injected with some pathos. Getting rid of the consumerist dystopia was also a big plus, as it gives me hope a DmC sequel might explore more exotic themes.

    So as far as DmC’s story goes, I’d say that’s the only thing that deserves praise – that in its death throes it somehow managed to set up the stage for a very different follow-up, truer to the DMC series. Generally publishers don’t go back after pressing the reboot button, so I hope they’ll keep at it here rather than sending the franchise back into limbo.

    And fix up the gameplay, seriously.

    P.S: Would’ve been far better if Mundus was a beloved president and not a thug banker.

  40. Kefren says:

    I wasn’t interested in the game until I read this! I will look out for it now.

  41. Holdthepickle says:

    DMC’s writing is juvenile and ham fisted.
    Its bad and you should feel bad.

  42. mudcrabs says:

    Not only is the gameplay stupid and awful compared to any other character action game (especially those within the same series), but the writing is terrible, juvenile, and contrived and I’m absolutely appalled that anyone would defend it. Adam Sessler was spot on about the story and writing even if he also does not understand the character action genre. This game is just another modern cinematic roller-coaster that rewards the player for accomplishing nothing that is inventive or difficult, and barely even tries to add any depth to its combat mechanics or cleverness to its encounters.

  43. draglikepull says:

    How dare a video game attempt to comment in some way on themes that are relevant to the lives of its players?!? I ask you, does any other art form aspire to communicate such nonsense as “themes” or “ideas”?!? Is there no medium left where one doesn’t have to be confronted with such troublesome notions as “differing opinions”?!? Where is a spoiled first worlder who wants nothing more than to live in peaceful ignorance of the world around them to turn in a time such as our own?!? Give me my pablum, I say! GIVE ME MY PABLUM!!!

    • draglikepull says:

      For the record I think some of the criticisms of the game in the comments here are thoughtful and relevant, particularly the ones which address whether or not DMC actually *succeeds* at communicating what it attempts to. But I’m pretty depressed by the volume that basically amount to “LALALA DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANYTHING I DISAGREE WITH!”

      • Holdthepickle says:

        You seem to be under the impression that people don’t like this game because they disagree with its political message.
        When in reality they hate it because its a poorly designed game with the horrendously written characters/dialogue/story.

        • draglikepull says:

          “You seem to be under the impression that people don’t like this game because they disagree with its political message.”

          A number of people here have explicitly said that.

          • Nettacki says:

            But not all of them. In fact, I’ve seen more people saying “the message is written terribly” than “I hate it because I disagree.”

  44. Astatine says:

    *boggles at the comments*

    I’ve played DmC through. I enjoyed it. I thought the way the demons were a banker and a soft drinks magnate and a TV news channel was funny, in a subtle-as-a-brick kind of way. I also thought there was a political comment in there, but it’s not the same one you lot saw…

    –BEGIN SPOILERS–

    So Dante, the (beautifully acted) late-teenage rebel, sets out to destroy these bugbear institutions and their demons because he can, and he manages it. But — shock horror! — when he slays the final demon, the demon dimension of Limbo collapses into Earth. With evil old banker no longer there to stop it, the demons and the humans end up in the same place, and thus, the actions of Dante change the lives of everyone in his world, and probably not for the better (humans don’t get to run around with an overpowered sword called Rebellion slaying everything in sight, but demons damn well like tormenting people!)

    And to ice the cake, when his just-as-qualified brother Virgil says that the two of them should put themselves in charge to protect humanity from said demons, Dante the anarchist refuses, beats his brother and chases him away!

    Now what does that mean?

    Well, let’s see. The evil of the bank and the soft drinks corporation and the TV station are portrayed as unsubtly as a sledgehammer — or the proverbial bugbear, the monster under the bed, or — hey — a demon. A demon’s pretty unsubtle. They’re reflections of Dante’s unsubtle interpretation of the world: the notion that banks and soft drinks corporations and TV stations are inherently evil, just because they have done bad things, like make rich people richer, or make people fat, or persuade gullible people that propaganda is truth. And in his unsubtle way, Dante destroys them, and in so doing, wrecks a greater ill upon the world.

    So isn’t the real message this: that humanity *needs* banks and soft drinks corporations and TV stations, because even though they do bad things if you let them, they’re part of the fabric of our society. So, dear radicals, anarchists, and well-meaning but unsubtle rebels, don’t destroy them entirely, lest you let the demons loose upon all of us?

    –END SPOILERS–

  45. mudcrabs says:

    The issue with games is that games no longer expect anyone to become game literate, and they no longer reward struggle but rather success – a problem with American society in general starting in school. Games journalists have no idea what makes games actually good and only base their reviews on the superficial appearance of games which are simply roller-coaster rides designed to make you feel good via power fantasy instead of being designed to make you think or gain something from the gameplay experience. It’s telling that most game journalists spend way more time on the story and cinematic experience of games than on articulating gameplay critique, or actually studying the genres they review to see how good a game is within its actual genre. Games will never be taken seriously even as games as long as game journalists and developers don’t.

    • mudcrabs says:

      I would even argue that because game developers and journalists are trying to raise up games as a narrative art-form, that the mechanical quality of games has plummeted, due to the influx of designers who focus on narrative and “cinematic experience” rather than gameplay. The thing that makes games stand out from other media are their ludological content, not their narratives, and to focus on narrative and the surface “experience” rather than deep gameplay mechanics – and what they teach and express – is to stop taking games seriously.

  46. Xander77 says:

    If you ever get a chance to talk to people from team Ninja, please ask them to explain the subtle political commentary in the sniper rifle abortion scene.

  47. Zerbin says:

    I find myself longing for sincerity rather than satire, winsomeness rather than wit, subtlety rather than sharpness, and honesty rather than humor. Leaves me out in the cold, unable to do much at all to relate to it.

  48. bill says:

    I was going to post about how I couldn’t believe a game developed in Japan was doing anything like cultural satire… then of course I discovered it was made in the UK.

    I’m not sure Japan has any cultural satire. Or cultural commentary.

    I haven’t played it, so I honestly wonder how Japanese people consumed this game. Would they have understood it was satire? Or would they have taken it as simple truth?

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