Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, released in Japan as simply Devil May Cry 3, is an action game that was developed and published by Capcom, released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 (also ported to the PC in 2006). The game is a prequel to the original Devil May Cry, and is the first game in the series storyline’s chronological order. Set in modern times in an enchanted tower named Temen-ni-gru, the story centers on the dysfunctional relationship between Dante and his 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. Upon release, Devil May Cry 3 was widely criticized for its high level of difficulty, but was praised for improvements over its predecessor, and a return to the challenging gameplay of Devil May Cry. A manga prequel to the game was first published in Japan in 2005.
Devil May Cry 3 opens in Dante’s as-of-yet unnamed shop as a mysterious man named Arkham appears to offer an invitation from Dante’s brother Vergil, in the form of a brutal demon attack. After Dante defeats the enemies 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 and to uphold her family’s honor.
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 his amulet, and departs. Dante’s dormant devil powers emerge as a result of this setback, and he takes 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 against his father’s power, Vergil reappears and the brothers work together to bring him down. 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. Vergil decides to stay behind as the portal closes, and vanishes into the darkness with his half of the amulet. Dante meets Lady outside the tower where she coins the phrase “devil may cry” while trying to comfort him 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 Vergil in the demon world, weakened yet determined, as he charges into battle against his father’s old foe, Mundus.