If you have yet to play DmC or do not want to know about it’s ending, skip down a few lines. In brief, Dante is forced to kill his brother Vergil, who had begun to get mad (as in crazy) with his hunger for power. As one of the sons of Sparda, he was already quite powerful — but instead of using this good to preserve humanity, he was interested in using his might to rule, violently. He was also prepared to kill Kat, one of the main characters in the original story. After an intense fight, Dante mortally wounds Vergil.
Vergil’s Downfall begins with the wounded Vergil traveling to the grave site of his mother and father. Here is collapses, only to awaken in a dream-like state, limbo essentially. All six levels, or missions technically, take place in this sort of dream-like state. There were a handful of missions in DmC that were like this, but in the case of this DLC, all levels feature lots of floating and swirling objects and general uneasiness. Expect a healthy dose of traversals using the ability to teleport as well as pull objects into position. Vergil can also use his Swords of Illumination ability to temporarily bring something from limbo into existence, so that he can jump on it to get to the next area.
Anyway, each chapter sees Vergil “cleansing” his heart of good after he’s given “another chance” by a strange entity. His intention is to destroy those that he feels betrayed him, and you can probably guess who he’s targeting.
Playing as Vergil, at first, feels really slow. Instead of guns with infinite ammo, he throws bluish swords that pierce enemies. They cause a minor amount of damage, but they’re mainly there to be used to teleport Vergil over to the enemy for some close-up time with his katana. Throwing the swords is pretty slow, but that is something you can upgrade quickly. Additionally, after the first mission, Vergil picks up the ability to use Angelic power (L2). By pressing L2 and Triangle or Circle, Vergil executes very fast, multi-hit attacks with his sword. Later on, the Demon powers come into play, giving Vergil slow but very powerful blows in a move called Divorce, as well as a ground-pounding move called Volcano. There are also several abilities you can purchase with your Upgrade points that drain a meter (I forgot it’s name specifically) — Storm Swords is one such power, and it as well as the others in this group generate numerous swords that attack one or more foes. Finally, very late in the DLC, the Doppelganger ability is learned that allows you to clone yourself once for an extra aid in fighting. Also, I wasn’t sure if the “Trick Up” and the opposite “down” movements were new or not. These are executed by pressing just R1 or L1 with no directional button pushed; they seemed new, I don’t recall them from DmC. That said, I don’t think I used either of these while playing.
Ultimately, I found playing as Vergil satisfying and enjoyable, pretty much to the same degree as Dante, which is a plus. As this is DLC, playing Vergil’s Downfall is unmistakably just like the DmC campaign. Level design is simpler and more direct however, and two levels are nearly identical while another is just a boss fight. I thought that the level design could have benefited from more variety; as is, most areas feel very similar to one another. They’re also not that far apart visually either, and while Vergil’s Downfall upholds the solid art direction and smooth visuals of the original game, it doesn’t actually add anything noticeable, beyond of course Vergil and the new enemies.
I believe I am correct in that there are exactly two new enemies, the Wisp and the Imprisoner. The Wisp is a flying enemy that phases in and out, meaning you will need to hit him with your Swords of Illumination before you can actually attack him. The best way I found to do this was to use the R2+Square action, which pulls the enemy to you. The Imprisoner is a boss like beast that casts out long “fence lines” of painful brush that take a little while to disappear. It’s a slower, more lumbering creature, but during its invincibility phase, it can deal some damage if you aren’t careful about timing your evasions. There is actually a third new enemy, but it’s a boss, and I will refrain from spoiling that for any readers who haven’t played this yet.
I touched on this earlier, but the presentation quality is very good, but a little different from DmC. The first thing you will notice are the cutscenes, which have gone from the clean CG look to more of a “scratchy” hand-drawn style that is mostly in black and white. It’s likely a cost and time-saving measure, which is understandably given that this is a DLC pack and not part of the original release. Additionally, and perhaps this has as much to do with the darker mood of Vergil’s Downfall than DmC, Combichrist’s music is nowhere to be heard. Some may see that as a good thing, I’m just indifferent. Some instrumental tracks are included here that have a much more down-tempo tone to them, they work well.
At the conclusion of the DLC, players are invited back for the Sons of Sparda mode, which ramps up the difficulty and randomizes the enemy placements. Playing on Nephilm, aka Hard, the DLC took me roughly six hours to play through and that was almost exclusively steady progress (i.e., I didn’t have to load checkpoints much). With that, let’s get to the summary…