Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat is not as bad as I thought it would be when I decided to download it.
It’s so much worse.
Even Dante could not fill this dark soul with light
Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat is, on its surface, a mobile game set in Capcom’s acclaimed Devil May Cry universe. However, to call Peak of Combat a Devil May Cry game is like calling Konami’s Pachinko machines the latest installment in Hideo Kojima’s stealth-action franchise. While it’s tempting to call gacha games like this trash based on the genre alone, Peak of Combat is a special kind of trash.
Yes, of course, this is a gacha game. Why wouldn’t it be? I’m sure that’s a disqualifier alone for 90% of you reading this. But let me assure you: the monetization hell goes even deeper than you’d think.
For full disclosure, I will say now that I’m not a huge Devil May Cry fan. I did enjoy the PS2 original back in the day, but never got around to the series since (mechanically similar games like Devil May Clive notwithstanding). I also did not “finish” Peak of Combat’s main story, but… well, we’ll get to why that is.
Peak of meaninglessness
This is the part of the review where I’d typically add a story synopsis, but… I legitimately can’t remember a single detail about the story I played. As of writing, this game came out two days ago, and I am struggling to think of memorable details. It starts you out pretty much immediately in the action when demons wreck the bar Dante is having a drink in, which I guess is nice. If an action game just foregoes its own story or treats it like a joke, I’d typically respect that.
Except Peak of Combat does try to tell a story, and it does absolutely nothing to draw you in. There’s something about… six artifacts, I think? Presumably to collect? Characters kind of pop in and out of the story; I think they add lore, but I’m not sure. I mean, maybe this all makes sense to seasoned Devil May Cry fans. Otherwise, this is the same excuse story you’d see in any other trashy mobile game set in the DMC universe. I don’t know if Peak of Combat is supposed to be canon, but if it is, I’m so sorry.
Furthermore, I’d say the dialogue here is akin to fanfiction, but fanfiction typically has more personality than this. Granted, the translation isn’t exactly great in Peak of Combat, so that doesn’t help. But there is such a void of substance here that I at least got a laugh out of some of the lines. During one conversation, in which one character mentions their brother, Dante responds with, “Brother? Ha! I happen to have a great relationship with mine!”
Beautiful. Extraordinary. Good job referencing the Devil May Cry lore. Shakespeare would be proud.
Peak of copying
As far as the combat goes, Peak of Combat is Honkai Impact 3rd. If you’re going to rip off anything in the mobile space, I understand picking MiHoYo’s seminal arena fighter. But for a game based on a beloved action franchise that has the words peak of combat in its title, the lack of imagination on display is actually funny.
In short, Peak of Combat has you bring a team of three characters into each stage. Each character has a basic attack, some kind of special attack, and an ultimate to charge. Characters may have a special combo or two based on mixing their basic attack and special attack or holding certain buttons instead of tapping them. Sometimes, if you jump or dodge at the right time, you’ll trigger a special attack. And if you switch your active character at the right time, you can trigger an additional attack. That is the entirety of Peak of Combat’s combat system.
Even that synopsis makes Peak of Combat sound more interesting than it is. In practice, combat devolves into spamming either your basic attack or one go-to combo and pressing the other buttons when they flash. It’s not even a particularly good button masher since your attacks lack any real weight when they connect with enemies. Heck, the game gives you such minuscule feedback when you take damage that most of my character deaths came as a total surprise.
To say Peak of Combat doesn’t measure up to Devil May Cry’s mechanics is an enormous understatement. Heck, if this were a Musou, Peak of Combat would still feel underwhelming. The fact that anything remotely positive about its battle system is lifted directly from MiHoYo’s work adds to just how pointless this game’s sheer existence feels.
Peak of not being fun-on-the-go
Now, I know what some of you might be thinking: of course Peak of Combat uses simple combat. It’s meant for phones, so at least it’s playable with touch controls. That’s where you would be wrong, my friend.
Despite offering such little depth, Peak of Combat has an incredibly busy combat UI. There are a lot of buttons to keep track of, and knowing when things are off cooldown is rougher than necessary when your thumbs cover up the action. Also, there are things like waves of projectiles you need to jump over, so you want to have a full view of the onscreen action to avoid taking damage.
Now, Peak of Combat does offer controller support. And, surprise, surprise, playing this game with my Backbone plugged in made it much easier. But, again, this just reveals how aggressively mediocre at best this combat system is. The game’s in this terrible middle ground of feeling bad with touch controls but too simplistic for a controller. Don’t get me wrong, playing with a controller is the better option by far. But also, if you have a controller, why would you pick this?
Peak of pressing red dots
Okay, so, that combat system I just complained about? I’d call that about half the experience of playing Peak of Combat. And, unfortunately, it’s by far the better half. Because what would a trashy mobile gacha game be without several redundant progression systems? In this respect, Peak of Combat feels like a 2000-word paper written by a college student with only 200 words worth of meaningful thoughts.
All the standard gacha stuff is here, from weapons and characters you need to level up to accessories you need to mix and match. There are expeditions you need to send your heroes out on, a guild system you’re pushed to engage with, ranked battle arenas, a glossary of all the stuff you’ve earned (mostly through the gacha), it goes on. So, of course, whenever any of these subsystems needs your attention, you’ll have red dots over their respective icons staring you in the face. And when you’re starting out, I’d conservatively say that you’ll see those red dots appear all the time.
There is such a deluge of minutia for you to constantly maintain in Peak of Combat, even by gacha RPG standards. And for a title that tries to position itself as an action game, this level of upkeep feels especially egregious. It’d be one thing if it felt like you were making interesting decisions in these systems, but it all boils down to pressing buttons and making more numbers go up.
So much of this could be easily streamlined, either by reducing the bloat of systems or automating most of them. Except, I can practically assure you this is all deliberate design. All those red dots that get you new rewards or increase your stats are almost certainly attempts to trigger rushes of dopamine to your brain. Because, hey, look at how much stronger you’re getting! Good job, gamer!
Peak of Combat plainly has no interest in appealing to action game fans. It is transparently here to milk whales who want a false sense of power, which you can blatantly feel throughout every second of the game.
Peak of monetization
Now, let’s talk about that monetization. As someone who has been around the gacha gaming block an unhealthy number of times, I hope it carries some weight when I say that Peak of Combat is one of the most aggressively monetized games I’ve ever seen.
To set the stage, Peak of Combat works off the baseline systems that MiHoYo typically uses. You need to roll the gacha for new characters and new weapons on separate banners, with rates slightly more generous than Genshin Impact (a .66% chance of the highest rarity drops, with a pity at 90 pulls). MiHoYo already catches heat for their stingy rates, so I’m not going to spend much time here. Because, relatively speaking, this is one of the better systems.
Peak of Combat uses a stamina system, which, of course, it does. Not only do you need Stamina to play the main story, but the game is ridiculously stingy with this resource. You can maybe get about 30 minutes of the story mode out of a fully charged stamina bar, and after that, your reserves are empty. And this thing takes a long time to refill. You’ll recover one Stamina every eight minutes, and the average story stage requires thirty to enter. And those stages are typically just a battle arena you’ll clear in about three minutes.
Of course, there are multiple daily stamina packs that you can purchase, and the game is clearly balanced around dropping a couple bucks every day just to, you know, play. There are other game modes that don’t run off the stamina system, but it’s incredible just how fast the game squeezes you in this regard. Other gacha games typically let you get comfy with the game and its content at the outset, but Peak of Combat just wants you to drop cash from the second you start it.
Peak of misleading advertisements
Peak of Combat gives players so little to work with and treats its audience with such disdain that it can become outright comical. As gacha game sickos know, it’s common practice for dedicated players to “reroll” their account until they can start with a character or weapon they really want from the gacha. However, Peak of Combat deliberately ensures players can’t get enough premium currency early on to shut this down. It instead offers its own take on rerolling, which really sums up the monetization in a nutshell.
Starting out, you’ll see a feature called “100-Summon,” which might make you think that’s 100 free gacha pulls. Except, while you do “Summon” 100 times via this system, you only get to keep one of those 10-pulls. And then, only after you complete those summons, you see that actually keeping your choice of 10-pull costs $59.99. Yes, for the privilege of rerolling and keeping that one rare character or weapon in the lot, you have to pony up more than the price of Devil May Cry 5.
And, to be clear, that exact system has appeared in competing games as just, you know, a feature. The ill-fated Yoko Taro gacha SINoALICE opened with a similar system for free, and that let you roll the dice as many times as you wanted before you started. The fact that Peak of Combat flashes “90% OFF” on the banner for this makes me almost think this entire game is a bizarre postmodern art project. Maybe they just put that there to clarify they’ll take away 90% of your pulls.
But then again, for a game that lets you buy its in-game currency in increments of $999.99, maybe $59.99 is just chump change for its intended demographic.
Oh, and did I mention that it literally has a clock that will take those pulls away if you don’t buy them in 12 hours? I know this seems like I’m honing in on this one feature, but if I described all the ways Peak of Combat makes moves on your wallet I’d be here all day. The 100-Summon just does a good job of showing that there’s no tactic this game won’t use to make you part with cash. High prices, FOMO, misleading advertisements, it’s all on the table, and it’s everywhere.
Peak of greed
Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat is so utterly terrible that I have a newfound appreciation for games like Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis. As hard as I tore into that game, it at least offered minuscule value to the Final Fantasy 7 superfan. Meanwhile, I genuinely cannot imagine a single Devil May Cry fan who would ask for anything Peak of Combat offers.
And in truth, Peak of Combat clearly wasn’t made for fans of the series. It’s the same concoction of pay-to-win mechanics and aggressive FOMO you’ve seen in the most desperate mobile games, all parading around in the skins of Dante and Vergil to trick mobile gamers into thinking this title comes from a trusted, reputable source.
The kindest thing I can say about Peak of Combat is that it’s… I guess technically competent? It’s visually above average for a mobile game, at least, and it didn’t have any real performance issues. I’m sure that, if you really wanted to, you could spend weeks with this game and clear the main story. Heck, you can presumably do all that for free! But for me, playing a handful of main story chapters and unlocking the core gameplay features was enough to see where this is going.
I’ve been in the free-to-play mobile gaming space long enough to have a high tolerance for what most would consider unplayable garbage. So, I feel confident in telling you what Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat will become by its endgame. You’ll grind for a myriad of different resources to advance the game’s many progression systems, fight the same monsters and bosses over and over, engage in modes with nearly identical gameplay, and the flow of free resources and stamina will become even more scarce than the pitiful trickle it is now. Whales will dominate PvP, the guild system will push you to play every day, and the game will announce its End of Service the nanosecond it stops making enough money.
Peak of Garbage
Even if you could strip the game of its monetization and tedious progression systems, the core gameplay would be mediocre at best. Heck, if you want this style of game, just play Honkai Impact 3rd. And if you don’t like Honkai Impact 3rd, wait for Zenless Zone Zero. Or, if you just don’t like MiHoYo, play Punishing Gray Raven. I’m not saying you should play any gacha games, but there are so many titles that are categorically better than this.
So, congratulations Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis, you’re no longer my go-to punching bag when I want to point to bad mobile games. I can barely even believe Capcom agreed to let the Devil May Cry branding go on this title.
Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat is one of the most joyless games I’ve ever played. Its combat system doesn’t even come close to living up to the Devil May Cry legacy, and any entertainment that could have come from it is buried under its overwhelmingly aggressive monetization. It is, at best, functional and, at worst, utterly devoid of any value. If this is the peak of combat, I’ll just hang out at base camp.