Devil May Cry is a hack and slash action-adventure game developed and published by Capcom, original released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2 and later ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2019. Set in modern times on the fictional Mallet Island, the story centers on Dante, a demon hunter who uses his business to get his revenge on the demons after losing his brother and mother. He meets a woman named Trish who takes him on a journey to defeat the demon lord Mundus. The story is told primarily through a mixture of cutscenes, which use the game engine and several pre-rendered full motion videos.
The gameplay consists of levels called "missions", where 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 given a letter grade of A, B, C, or D, with an additional top grade of S. 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), how "stylish" their combat was, item usage, and damage taken.
"Stylish" combat is defined as performing an unbroken series of varied attacks while avoiding damage, with player performance tracked by an on-screen gauge. The more hits the player makes, the higher the gauge rises. The gauge starts at "Dull"; progresses through "Cool", "Bravo", and "Absolute"; and peaks at "Stylish". Repeatedly using the same moves causes the gauge to stop rising, forcing the player to use every move in their arsenal. The gauge terms are similar to the grades given at the end of the missions. When Dante receives damage, the style rating resets back to "Dull". Players can also maintain their style grade by taunting enemies at close range.
The player can temporarily transform Dante into a more powerful demonic creature by using the "Devil Trigger" ability. Doing so adds powers based on the current weapon and changes Dante's appearance. The transformations typically increase strength and defense, slowly restore health, and grant special attacks. It is governed by the Devil Trigger gauge, which depletes as the ability is used, and is refilled by attacking enemies or taunting in normal form.
Devil May Cry contains puzzles and other challenges besides regular combat gameplay. The main storyline often requires the player to find key items to advance, in a manner similar to puzzles in the Resident Evil games, as well as optional platforming and exploration tasks to find hidden caches of "orbs". Side quests, called "Secret Missions" in the game, are located in hidden or out-of-the-way areas and are not required for completion, but provide permanent power-ups. They typically challenge the player to defeat a group of enemies in a specific manner or within a time limit.
The game was originally conceived in 1999 as Resident Evil 4. Due to the staff feeling it would not fit the Resident Evil franchise, the project dropped its ties to Resident Evil and was made into its own story instead.