Set in modern times in an enchanted tower named Temen-ni-gru, the story centers on the dysfunctional relationship between Dante and his older twin brother Vergil. The events of the game take place just as Dante has opened up the Devil May Cry agency, and before Dante's demonic heritage has reached its full potential. The story is told primarily through a mixture of cutscenes using the game's engine with several pre-rendered full motion videos. A manga prequel to the game was first published in Japan in 2005.
In 2012, the game was included in an HD compilation, alongside the original Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2, ported to the PlayStation 3 and later to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in 2018.
Gameplay in Devil May Cry 3 consists of levels called "missions", in which players must fight numerous enemies, perform platforming tasks, and occasionally solve puzzles to progress through the story. The player's performance in each mission is graded from D at the bottom, up through C, B, A, with top ranks of S and SS, which have the strictest requirements. Grades are based on the time taken to complete the mission, the amount of "red orbs" gathered (the in-game currency obtained from defeated enemies), "stylish" combat, item usage, and damage taken.
"Stylish" combat is defined as performing an unbroken series of varied attacks while avoiding damage, and is tracked by an on-screen gauge. The longer the player attacks without repeating techniques and evades damage, the higher the gauge rises. The gauge starts with no grade, becomes "Dope" after a minimum number of attacks, and peaks at "SSStylish"; if the character receives damage, the style rating resets. The game's battle system allows the player to chain attacks together, with each weapon having a number of unique attacks. Although the game mainly focuses on an aggressive approach to battle, the player must employ some strategy as the enemies have a wide variety of artificial intelligence tactics, and will respond to a number of events.
The Devil Trigger ability enables the player's character to change into a demonic form. This alters the character's appearance, increases attack and defense, slowly restores health, and enables special attacks. The Devil Trigger state lasts as long as there is energy in the Devil Trigger gauge, which is refilled by attacking or taunting enemies in the normal state, and decreases when using the Devil Trigger transformation or other abilities which draw on Devil Trigger power (such as the Quicksilver and Doppelganger styles discussed below). Devil Trigger mode is not available to Dante until one third of the way through the game, while Vergil (who is playable in the Special Edition) has the ability at the outset.
The major difference from previous Devil May Cry titles is the combat system, which allows the player to choose one of six different combat styles with different special techniques related to the style's focus. Style selection is available at the start of each level, as well as during gameplay at checkpoints. The styles available are: Trickster, for dodging and agility; Swordmaster, with extra abilities for swords and other melee weapons; Gunslinger, which has more techniques for firearms; Royal Guard, which allows the player to repel attacks with a properly-timed button press, and thereby charge energy for retaliation; Quicksilver, which slows down enemies while the character attacks at normal speed; Doppelgänger, creates a shadow double that fights alongside Dante. A second player can also control the shadow double by pressing "Start" on a second controller. A two-player mode, similar to Doppelgänger style, is accessible while fighting against Arkham. In the special edition of Devil May Cry 3, the character Vergil has one style called Dark Slayer with techniques similar to Trickster.
- Arkham - (fought as "Jester" in Special Edition)
- Agni and Rudra
- Gigapede - is a giant tapeworm-like demon who entered the Human world through a time-space rift. Relentlessly strikes down foes with a high voltage attack.
- Mundus - (cameo)
Chronologically-wise, Devil May Cry 3 is the earliest game in the series' timeline order.
The game opens in Dante's as-of-yet unnamed shop as a mysterious man called Arkham appears to offer an invitation from Dante's brother Vergil, in the form of a brutal demon attack. After Dante defeats the monsters inside and outside his shop, an immense tower erupts from the ground a short distance away. Sensing Vergil atop the structure, Dante takes the situation as a challenge.
At the tower's entrance Dante encounters Cerberus, defeats him and claims the monster's soul, which transforms into a new weapon. In what becomes a recurring game mechanic, the souls of some defeated boss monsters are transformed into new weapons for Dante's arsenal. Dante is then attacked by a woman on a motorcycle, whose name later becomes Lady. It is revealed in subsequent cutscenes that Arkham is working for Vergil and they plan to take Dante's half of the amulet their mother gave them, and use its power to reactivate the tower's ability to connect the human and demon worlds. It is also revealed that Arkham is Lady's father, that he murdered her mother, and that she is pursuing him to seek revenge.
After numerous battles, an encounter with a being calling itself Jester, and another run-in with Lady, Dante attains the tower's summit and battles Vergil. Vergil soundly defeats Dante, steals Dante's amulet, and departs. As a result of his defeat Dante's dormant devil powers emerge, and he sets off in pursuit. He eventually catches up in the control room located in the tower's basement, where Vergil is having no luck reactivating the tower. The brothers battle again and seem evenly matched, until they are interrupted first by Lady and then Jester. Jester reveals that he is in fact Arkham, and has been manipulating them all to reactivate the tower. Arkham's plan is to cross over to the demon world and steal the Force Edge, the dormant form of Sparda's original sword which contains the bulk of Sparda's old power, and use it to rule over a demon-infested Earth. The tower then transforms as the spell is broken, carrying Arkham upwards to the summit, while Vergil vanishes in the confusion.
Dante battles his way back up the tower, and eventually fights Lady for the right to pursue Arkham. Dante wins, and Lady lends him her most powerful weapon. Reaching the summit once again, Dante crosses over to the demon world and catches up with Arkham, who has assumed Sparda's demonic form. Overwhelmed by the power, Arkham transforms again into a blob-like creature and battles Dante. Halfway through the fight, as Arkham is gloating that Dante has no chance, Vergil reappears and the brothers work together to bring down Arkham. Arkham is thrown out of the demon world in a weakened state and lands atop the tower, where Lady kills him. In the demon world, Dante and Vergil battle over ownership of the Force Edge and the amulet halves. Dante is victorious. As the portal closes, Vergil decides to stay behind and vanishes into the darkness with one half of the amulet.
Returning to the human world, Dante meets Lady outside the tower where she coins the phrase "devil may cry" while trying to comfort Dante over the loss of his brother. They form a friendship and the beginnings of a partnership in demon-slaying, and he names his shop "Devil May Cry". A scene after the credits reveals a weakened yet determined Vergil, still in the demon world, where he charges into battle against his father's old foe, Mundus.
Following the mixed reception that Devil May Cry 2 received, Capcom decided to develop Devil May Cry 3 in a manner closer to the successful first game. Gameplay elements such as the size of environments and the game’s battle engine were reconsidered. Other criticized aspects of Devil May Cry 2, such as Dante’s character and the game’s difficulty, were brought more in line with the first title.
The game's production was handled by Capcom Production Studio 1, the same studio that developed Devil May Cry 2. According to a pre-release interview with the game's producer Tsuyoshi Tanaka, the thrust of the game's design was the creation of a new battle system allowing the player to control weapons in new and "stylish" ways. This went along with the design of a new type of in-game camera designed to keep the character in focus to avoid disorienting the player in crowded battle scenes. According to Tanaka, the difficulty of Devil May Cry 2 was toned down to get wider acceptance in the Japanese market, but this move made the game lose support in other markets. To deal with this situation the Japanese release of Devil May Cry 3 had a lower difficulty than the North American and European releases. Dante’s attitude was emphasized to reflect a younger and more arrogant character than in previous installments.
Capcom promoted Devil May Cry 3's release with a multi-million dollar television campaign, as well as with prominent ads in video game magazines. The marketing campaign focused on the game's plot and its multiple fighting styles.
The Devil Trigger forms for Dante and Vergil were designed by Kazuma Kaneko, who previously worked on Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne and Persona. Conceptual artwork was handled by Daigo Ikeno.
The PC version of Devil May Cry 3, with slight graphical changes, was developed by SourceNext and published by Ubisoft on February 1, 2006 in North America.
Devil May Cry 3: Special EditionEdit
Capcom also produced a second version called the Special Edition, which was released on January 24, 2006 in North America. The game modes were shifted down, so that the Special Edition's Normal mode is equivalent to the original's Easy mode, and a new Very Hard mode was added to replace the original Hard mode. The Bloody Palace from Devil May Cry 2 was also added, though it ends at the 9999th floor instead of restarting, and beating it with either character allows them to obtain their first Super costume. There are also optional boss fights against the Jester, and the option to play the game as Vergil.
When Vergil was made playable in Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition, Capcom had to remove some of his moves due to space limitations. They still tried keeping the moves he uses when being faced as a boss in Dante's campaign. His moveset was made to reflect his calm personality that contrasted Dante's cocky character. When making the characters, Vergil was made stronger than Dante but harder to control as the player learns more moves. Vergil became a popular character within the game's development team with Hideaki Itsuno noting he was also popular in the United States because several characters from Hollywood films wield katana. His popularity resulted in Itsuno discussing with his producer ideas for a game focused in Vergil.