Devil May Cry 4 is the fourth installment of the Devil May Cry series. The events in the game are located third in the chronological order of the series' plot, between those in Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2. It was announced in March 2007 that the game would be released simultaneously for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and later PC.
In the game, the player controls Nero, the game's protagonist, in addition to an appearance by series lead Dante, fighting demonic enemies in close combat using firearms, swords and a variety of weaponry. Characters Lady and Trish from previous games in the series make appearances, joined by new characters Kyrie, Credo, Gloria, and Agnus.
Gameplay in Devil May Cry 4 is similar to previous games in the series. The player must fight through levels called "missions", occasionally solving puzzles or gathering items. Performance in a mission is graded from D being the bottom grade through C, B, A, and S being the highest grade. Grades are based on items used, Red Orbs gathered, time taken, and the amount of "Style Points" accumulated. Each "Style point" grade has its own tag-word, for example the SSS grade shows up as "Smokin' Sick Style" on the side of the screen when achieved, and similarly, the D grade as "Deadly". Stylish combat is the focus of the game which is done through unbroken combos of varied attacks while avoiding damage. The player must avoid attacks enemies employ to keep the a style-gauge up, often through memorizing attack patterns.
Devil Trigger, a super state, enables the player to become more powerful with slow health regeneration. Devil Trigger is activated through the Devil Trigger gauge filling from the players either receiving or dealing damage during combat or through certain items. After a minimum amount is filled, the player may enter Devil Trigger at any time.
Some changes introduced into Devil May Cry 4 are the presence of two playable characters, Dante and Nero and a slight modification to the shop system. A new currency called Proud Souls is now implemented which are used to buy new abilities while Red Orbs are used to buy items. Proud Souls are rewarded at the end of missions, the amount of which varies depending on how well the player performs with S rank providing the highest amount of Proud Souls. Costs of abilities also increase with the purchase of other abilities, though they may be sold back if the player so desires.
Nero is played throughout most of the game. He starts and ends the game with his Red Queen sword, Blue Rose revolver and the powers of his Devil Bringer (his demonic right arm). The Red Queen features an "Exceed" Gauge that can be charged allowing for subsequent attacks that are more powerful than regular slashes until the gauge empties. The exceed gauge can also be filled by pressing the rev button at the peak of each slash which allows for more powerful combos, capable of breaking the opponent's guard. Nero also has the powers of his Devil Bringer, using it to pull himself towards enemies or vice-versa. The Devil Bringer may also be used for context-sensitive throw attacks, leading to high damage and various effects depending on the enemy. Nero's Devil Bringer also gains new abilities in the course of the game, such as being able to detect secret missions or caches of Red Orbs. Nero gains the ability to use Devil Trigger, which also increases his Devil Bringer's power, even changing his Devil Bringer attacks into more powerful versions with different animations.
Dante is played through seven missions, taking over about half-way through the game. His gameplay is similar to that of Devil May Cry 3, with him having access to multiple melee and ranged weapons—which he gains after boss battles—and being able to cycle through them freely in combat, being no longer limited to equipping two weapons of each type as he was in the previous game. Dante also starts with his four styles (Trickster, Royal Guard, Sword Master, Gunslinger), each of which grants him different abilities, but may now switch them at will with buttons or pads on the PS3 contoller or the X-box 360 controller, unlike in previous game Devil May Cry 3. He also gains the Dark Slayer style near the end of his section, which only has one style level and can be accessed by pressing a direction button twice. Styles do not level up through experience as in the previous game, but must instead be upgraded in the shop screen in between missions or at statues. Dante can also enter Devil Trigger, though this does not change his attacks to the degree that Nero's Devil Trigger does but allows him to use Triple Jump and Double Sky Star, while using the Trickster Style.