When creating an iOS port of a console game, sometimes developers rush through it and leave you with a game that both fails to live up to the original and also lacks in portable enjoyment. While the graphics or the combo system may not impress anyone, Capcom somehow manages to mash together most of the highlights of Devil May Cry 4 into your iPhone or iPad to make Devil May Cry 4: Refrain a functional and fun action game experience.
The game contains ten levels consisting of missions throughout different worlds and areas. The game's level design is nothing special and you will be traveling from room to room fighting off monsters and demons until you make your way to the final room to complete the mission. Along the way, the game throws some simple puzzles your way, but the main action in the game involves pulling off strings of combos on enemies and disposing of them. The complex combo system of Devil May Cry 4 has been watered down and your combos will rely on simple button mashing to get things done. This get repetitive after a while, but thankfully, you can opt to walk away from some battles and continue onto the next room.
You would think a virtual joystick would be a bad thing, but Capcom has managed to get it right. Using your finger or thumb, the fluid joystick follows your touch allowing you to move Nero in every direction. To initiate an attack, you simply tap the attack icon to make Nero use his guns when he's far away or his sword when close to an enemy. There is also an option that separates these two weapons and lets you use each one when you want. I preferred this control scheme since it gave me more freedom with my attacks and combos. You can also tap the jump button to attack from the air and use Neros' Devil Bringer to grab enemies and smash them to the ground.
After the first few levels, the game starts picking up speed and you will notice different enemies and a bit more depth in the gameplay. While nothing special, the boss battles are fun mainly because they give you a break from repetitious room traveling. The presentation of the game could have been better, but the music and graphics do capture the stylistic aspects of the series, that is, if the series had debuted for PlayStation back in 1997. The only thing that was a bit boring was the cutscenes that play when you finish an important mission. These do not have voice work, so all you are left with are still images with subtitles.
The game rewards you for doing well in each mission and gives you a score based on your time, combos, and damage upon completion. The red orbs you find across the game also unlock combos and abilities that you can customize Nero with. For $1.99, any fan will appreciate having a few hours of Devil May Cry in their pocket. Capcom also has plans for a future expansion to extend the game's life by a bit, so stay tuned for that. Even if you're not a fan, Devil May Cry 4: Refrain, despite its repetitive combat system, is a fun little action game that works well as an iOS game.
A review copy of the game for iPhone was provided by Capcom. The game was played to completion and it took a little over two hours to beat.