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Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening is the third instalment in the Devil May Cry series. It serves as a prequel to the series, following a younger Dante as he races to stop his twin brother Vergil and the mysterious Arkham from breaking the seal between the mortal realm and the Underworld.
Devil May 3: Dante's Awakening is a hack & slash video game, using a fixed third-person camera. Like its predecessors, the game is split up into levels called "missions", in which the player must complete puzzles, platforming challenges, and battles with enemies to progress further. At the end of each mission, the player will receive a score based on their performance: a D grade is the lowest, followed by C, B, A, S, and SS. This score is determined by the time taken to complete the mission, the number of items used, total number of "Red Orbs" gathered from enemies, damage received, and stylish combat. The game features an on-screen meter to measure the style of the combat: the meter will raise the longer that Dante attacks without receiving damage or repeating moves. The meter will first display "Dope" after a few attacks, followed in ascending order by "Crazy", "Blast", "Alright", "Sweet", "SShowtime", and "SSStylish". The player can equip up to two melee weapons and two firearms at a time. Compared to its two predecessors, Devil May Cry 3 puts a greater emphasis on stylish combat.
During the game, the "Devil Trigger" is unlocked. In this state, Dante deals increased damage, moves quicker, and regenerates health. To access this state, the player must fill the Devil Trigger meter by dealing damage to enemies: this meter can be expanded.
Devil May Cry 3 introduces "Styles", each of which offers different movesets and gameplay. The player starts out the game with four possible styles: Trickster increases evasiveness and agility; Gunslinger increases firearm techniques; Swordslinger increases the moveset of melee weapons; and Royalguard, which emphasizes countering enemies and redirecting attacks. Two additional styles, Quicksilver (which allows for limited temporal displacement) and Doppelgänger (which allows the player to make copies of themselves), are unlocked during the main story. Only one style can be equipped at a time, and players can only change styles at checkpoints or before beginning missions.
The game takes place several years before the events of Devil May Cry. Soon after purchasing a new base of operations, Dante is "invited" by a man named Arkham on behalf of his elder twin brother, Vergil. As Dante fights off a group of demons summoned by Arkham, a massive tower, referred to as the Temen-ni-gru, emerges from the ground, eclipsing the surrounding city. Interpreting this as a challenge from Vergil, Dante heads to the tower to fight his brother. It is revealed that Vergil and Arkham are working together to sever the barrier between the human and demon worlds, and intend to take Dante's half of his mother's amulet to do so. Meanwhile, Arkham's daughter Mary, whose mother was murdered by Arkham in his pursuit of power, heads to the tower to get vengeance.
Dante fights his way through the Temen-ni-gru, gaining new weapons from the demons he fights along the way. He also encounters a mysterious being named Jester. Eventually, he confronts Vergil atop the tower, and the twins duel. Vergil emerges victorious and takes Dante's half of the amulet. However, Dante's dormant demonic powers awaken, and he chases after. Dante reaches Vergil in the tower's basement, where the latter is unsuccessfully attempting to reactivate the tower. Their resulting duel is interrupted by Mary and Jester, the latter revealing himself to be Arkham. Arkham reveals that he has been manipulating all three of them in order to reach the demon world and take the power to rule the human world for himself. As the spell separating the realms breaks, the tower transforms again: Arkham rises with the tower into the sky, while Vergil disappears in the resulting chaos.
On his way to the top, Dante runs into Mary once more, and the two fight for the right to stop Arkham. Dante wins, and Mary lends him her strongest weapon. Dante pursues Arkham into the demon world. The latter uses the Force Edge, the dormant form of Sparda's legendary sword, combined with Dante and Vergil's amulets, to take on Sparda's power, mutating into a grotesque monster in the process. During the fight, Vergil appears, and the brothers put their differences aside long enough to defeat Arkham. Expelled from the demonic world, a weakened Arkham is confronted by Mary atop the Temen-ni-gru. Mary renounces her name, renaming herself "Lady" before killing her father. Meanwhile, Dante and Vergil fight a final time for the Force Edge and amulets, with Dante finally emerging the victor. As the link between the realms begins to close, Vergil disappears into the demon realm despite Dante's efforts to save him. Taking the Force Edge and his half of the amulet, Dante returns to the human world.
Dante and Lady meet on the ground as the tower returns into the earth. Lady coins the phrase "devil may cry" in an attempt to console Dante over the loss of his brother. The two become friends, forming the beginning of a demon-slaying partnership. Dante decides to name his shop "Devil May Cry".
In a secret after-credits scene, a weakened Vergil is seen confronting the demon Mundus, foreshadowing the events of Devil May Cry.