Deep Dives

Stylish Action: The Hints of Devil May Cry in Modern Gaming

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Devil May Cry is one of those franchises that sticks out due to its unique style. Emphasis on which carries over to many games it influenced.

The world of video games has thousands of entries. Among them certain franchises gain special prominence, inspiring video games for years to come. This includes Devil May Cry, an action game of incredible speed and style.

What makes Devil May Cry stand out?

Devil May Cry is a long running series which started in 2001 and recently released its newest installment in 2019. The games quickly distinguished themselves with a unique mechanic, the style meter. Style meter increases for each action you do in the games, be it dodging or attacking. Increasing exponentially faster if different moves are mixed together. 

With this one mechanic, the game becomes not only about eliminating enemies but maximizing your style meter with fresh moves. It discourages button mashing and rewards experimentation. 

Of course, style meter isn’t all there is to Devil May Cry. Over the top fights, campy charm, and a large amount of tools to experiment with are all important ingredients to the fun of the game.

The impact of the Devil May Cry franchise can be felt across gaming at large. However, some examples stick out more than the others. Carrying the style and energy of the series across many genres.

Final Fantasy XVI

A screenshot of final fantasy XVI. The player is attacking a winged enemy and there are sparks flying around them
Image: Square Enix

Let’s get the one I have the least time with out of the way first. Final Fantasy XVI was on my radar ever since it was revealed the combat director from Devil May Cry series will be working on it. Final Fantasy games always felt perfect for stylish combat with their elaborate designs and immaculate animations. I guess it’s no surprise that a series as experimental as this would eventually dabble in action of this caliber.

Final Fantasy XVI doesn’t only have a style meter in it. It has combos, jump cancels, multiple attack options, stagger, and all the good stuff DMC players cherish. A cherry on top are epic fights with Final Fantasy staple giant fantasy creatures. These are sometimes in standard action combat and sometimes take a gameplay on their own.

Bringing in the over the top nature that enhances Devil May Cry to a series that, arguably, didn’t need much help with it considering the amount of Gods killed in the Final Fantasy series.

Choice of weaponry is fine, with multiple magical spirits to switch up your abilities. This allows for a simple but elaborate system with only a few buttons doing all the work.

Magenta Horizon

a screenshot of the game Magenta Horizons. It's a sidescroller platform view. There are strange alien looking creatures, some look like Emus and the other a giant toad.
Image: Hellfire Railway Interactive

Another recent addition to the family of DMC inspired games, Magenta Horizon is a fast paced 2D indie game. With additional, tense platforming and an interesting setting, Magenta Horizon is a really fresh experience.

The 2D nature of the game translates the general speed and complexity of DMC games quite well. With ample movement options, some defensive ones, and a fair amount of offensive ones you’re free to craft devastating combos on the fly. Bumping up the style meter until it reaches those beautiful S ranks. 

Rather than giving you more melee weapons, the game includes a skill system which can alter the way abilities interact. The skills can be found or purchased from an NPC, after which they can be slotted into a skill slot. 

The game takes its own twist to the whole formula with a unique healing system which has you tag enemies and hit them to get health back. With certain skills making the healing ability act as combo extender and a source of stagger. 


a screenshot of the game ULTRAKILL. A first person view, a person holds a gun in one hand and a blue skull in their other hand. They're shooting a demon like monster and there is blood everywhere. It's low-poly graphics, like ps1 grapics.
Image: Arsi “Hakita” Patala

Released in 2020, with demo available since 2019, ULTRAKILL has been a smash hit FPS that brought a new spin to the stylish action. Developed by Arsi “Hakita” Pakala and published by New Blood Interactive, ULTRAKILL provides an eclectic delve into Hell.

ULTRAKILL provides its own style meter that does up to ULTRAKILL rather than the usual triple S. It's no less exciting to hit the max style rank though, so it's fine. Mixing up alt fires and maximizing explosions is bound to get you to those ranks quickly

ULTRAKILL boasts five distinct weapons, each with multiple variants that change their alt fire. The alt fires have different properties, benefits, and interactions. Interactions are really the sticking point. While you can blast through the game using standard fire, finding out how to best exploit every ability will yield a more bombastic experience.

An early one you’re taught is that your melee attack, a punch, can parry enemy attacks. However, the game quickly teaches you that this extends to your attacks as long as they count as a projectile. Shotgun is the prime target for punch combos but the latter weapon unlocks a new, hilariously powerful option too.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Noting every unique interactivity in the game would take a whole book. Personal recommendation is that you experiment and figure them out yourself. Or check out the community for some incredible tech.

The Future of Stylish Action

Both indie and AAA spaces have recently bolstered the ranks of this particular playstyle. Aiming to not only beat the level but do it with maximum style is an art people will gladly spend hours on. After all, there’s nothing more satisfying than S ranking that difficult level. Well, nothing except doing it again on a higher difficulty.

ULTRAKILL and Magenta Horizon are yet to receive their last batch of levels but even at their current state they showcase what a strong understanding of the genre and dedication to a concept can produce. As communities of both games grow we can only expect more buzz in the genre of stylish action.

Final Fantasy XVI hasn't been out long but, considering the immediate burst of sales, it has proven itself as a successful experiment. Hopefully, a high profile game like this succeeding will lead to more studios experimenting with the concept. If nothing else, the sheer girth of Final Fantasy XVI is bound to keep people playing for a while, which keeps it in the video game zeitgeist.


Since the inception of DMC, its popularity has only grown. With such an unique approach to action, it’s no surprise. The hints of the game can be found inside of numerous others nowadays. And with the way its progeny is doing in critical acclaim, it would be surprising if the genre slowed down with new additions.

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