Alice Allusion: The Succubus is a gigantic slug creature that bears resemblance to the caterpillar from Alice In Wonderland. Her first words are "Who are you?", also the first words of said caterpillar.
Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: A lot of areas in Limbo, which are full of blown-out, super bright colors and equally trippy designs. Lilith's nightclub deserves a mention, though - a literally demonic night club crammed with flashing neon lights and jittering sound waves with colors even more super-saturated than regular Limbo.
Anti-Climax: A humorous moment where Kat warns you that you'll need to get through "five floors of hell" while ascending an office building. How do you do it? Walk into the elevator. The electronic display will then read a few random numbers, and then switch back-and-forth between the third and fourth floors above your starting position. All while elevator music is playing.
Dante: ...She was right. This is hell.
Anti-Frustration Features: Enemies will be less aggressive when out of sight, keeping you from getting blindsided too often. Still better keep your fingers on the dodge button, though.
Art Shift: While the game's overall look has a punkish, pop-art flavor, Dante's flashbacks are depicted in the style of Italian Baroque paintings with character-appropriate tweaks. Caravaggio, a 17th century artist, gets a lot of direct homage: seven-year-old Dante holding a demon's decapitated head is David with the Head of Goliath, Eva's death is posed similarly to The Death of the Virgin, and teenage Dante getting roughed up by police looks a lot like The Taking of Christ (except that Jesus wasn't trying to punch his captors' lights out). There's also the Pietà Plagiarism mentioned below. Later, the story of the angelic/demonic war, the love between Sparda and Eva, their sons, and Sparda's ultimate fate uses a series of graffiti murals, including a nod to Gustav Klimt.
Ascended Glitch: Lag Cancel has always been a mostly official Good Bad Bug in the previous games, but DmC is the first game in the series to actually show off weapon cancelling in official media. In particular, one of the loading screens shows off a neat weapon cancel with the Rebellion's Helm Breaker.
Asskicking Equals Authority: "Kyle Ryder" a.k.a. Mundus controls pretty much the entirety of Earth's economy. He's also pretty much invincible under most circumstances, and supremely strong under all others. He also seems to have a large degree of control over the chaos of Limbo.
Badass Family: Dante and Vergil, the sons of demon Sparda and angel Eva.
Bald of Evil: Both Mundus and Lilith, though the latter does cover herself with a wig.
Because You Were Nice to Me: Kat is loyal to Vergil to the point of near-worship because he once saved her from abuse and gave her a purpose. That is until the revelation that he was using her and wants to rule over the humans, at which point she chooses Dante, who has by then also earned her loyalty and regards her as an equal.
Bedlam House: Dante is seen moving through a demonic asylum in the very first trailer.
Big Bad: Mundus is a large-size businessman. He turns into a colossus when you actually fight him, though.
Big Brother Mentor: Vergil takes Dante back to their old home to help Dante recover his lost memories of his childhood... and to get some new powers, namely turning his sword into a greataxe or scythe at will.
Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: The utterly weird behaviour of Dante's gunfire can be waved off as a subset of his supernatural powers (as in the original continuity).
Bizarrchitecture: Limbo, being a demonic shadow of the real world, has some of this. Also, the city actively tries to kill you and otherwise impede your progress by squishing walls around you, tearing chunks of the floor away and revealing infinite space underneath, stretching rooms to many times their original length, demolishing environments until there's only floating chunks of debris left, and giving orders to the mooks.
Blade on a Stick: With the appropriate upgrades, Dante can turn his sword, Rebellion, into a greataxe, the Arbiter, or a scythe, Osiris.
Blind Mistake: The second time Dante meets Phineas, the latter hears him approach and assumes he's under attack again.
Blind Without 'Em: Phineas, a several-thousand-year-old prophet and inventor. He's completely blind in his flesh-and-blood eye, but his mechanical eye not only grants him sight, but some control over the chaos of Limbo.
Bond One-Liner: Another skill added to Dante's repertoire. It's especially notable during the boss fight against Succubus, where he gives one for every stage of her boss fight.
Brick Joke: In the first mission, a white wig lands on Dante's head and he shrugs it off in annoyance. A few fans interpreted it as a jab at their expense because it made Dante look almost identical to the original incarnation of the character, but it turns out that Dante's hair temporarily becomes white when he unlocks his Devil Trigger - it's an indication of overwhelming power. By the end of the game, not only has Dante developed into a more heroic character, his control over his supernatural abilities has turned his hair completely and permanently white. The original Dante's iconic look is, in effect, a badge of honour that this Dante had to earn, and that he was originally not mature enough to appreciate.
Bright Is Not Good: The real world is very muted and somber, while the demon world is full of vivid, over-exposed colors.
Dante's "Flock off, feather-face!" line in DMC1 is repeated here when he first meets harpies.
Also, the name of pretty much every trophy in the game.
Catch and Return: Implemented as a core game mechanic against almost every ranged attack.
Cluster F-Bomb: The Succubus boss fight sees the f-bomb used pretty liberally. Heck, the preceding cutscene just devolves into Dante and the Succubus having a bomb exchange. "Fuck you!" "No, fuck you!" "FFFUCK YOUUUU!"
Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Usually, blue enemies or obstacles can only be attacked by angel weapons, red/orange ones can only be taken down by demon weapons.
Colour Coded Timestop: Everything pulses into grayscale whenever Dante slows time using his Devil Trigger, but returns to its psychedelic Limbo colours after that. Usually.
Competitive Balance: The Demon weapons Arbiter and Eryx are both slow, heavy and used For Massive Damage, good for breaking blocks and defences. The Angel weapons Osiris and Aquila are relatively weak, but their attacks cover a wide radius and hit faster - in the case of Aquila, much faster - making them well-suited to aerial combos. Rebellion is somewhere in the middle in terms of damage and close to Osiris in terms of speed.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: If there are a bunch of enemies of the same type, they're going to be weak. If there's only one or two, it will be tough as nails. The Stygians versus the Dreamrunners, for instance.
Devil but No God: Vergil mentions that the angels and devils have been at war for thousands of years. You'll saw your way through hordes of devils, but the only angel you'll meet or even hear specific mention of is your deceased mother, Eva.
Don't Explain the Joke: After an instance of Limbo really messing with you by repeatedly lengthening a bottomless room of a church you're trying to escape from, which you escape using your grappling hook weapon...
Dante: Well, that just seemed to drag on forever! (beat and grin) Church!
Eldritch Location: Limbo City, which is full of demons and can transform and warp into completely new environments.
Empathic Environment: Limbo, which will actively try to kill by changing the terrain around you, verbally threaten you, occasionally exclaim "NO" if you make unexpected amounts of progress, and outright taunt and insult you: "FUCK YOU DANTE".
You were expecting the much-hyped succubus to be some kind of tantalizing beauty? No. Just... no◊.
Mundus' mistress Lilith, as well, especially once she ditches her wig. Oh, and it gets worse; you fight her as a boss while she uses her unborn child as a golem/shield, while the background music screams "Hey! You! What the fuck is wrong with you!?"
Fetus Terrible: Played with by The Spawn of Mundus. It may be a hideous demonic abomination that Lilith is able to bring out of her body so it can fight while carrying her rather than vice versa, and it quite eagerly tries to kill Dante, but there is no reason to believe that it is consciously evil; rather that it's an oversized infant with demonic powers that only understands attacking Dante is "play time."
Flipping the Bird: Dante gives the middle finger to demon news pundit Bob Barbas during their fight.
Foreshadowing: In mission 3, Vergil details the entire history of Sparda, who turned on Mundus rather than let humanity be enslaved. The betrayal he described plays out once more in the ending, but with Vergil in the place of Mundus and Dante in the place of Sparda.
Dante is the hot-headed Id, motivated mostly by strong, basic emotions such as anger and lust, and often doesn't think his actions through. That said, he is compassionate at heart; it's just been scabbed over with aggression.
Vergil as the cool, analytical Super-Ego, a planner driven by ambitious end goals he is willing to make fairly cold-hearted sacrifices to achieve. He thinks in the long-term and values control.
Kat is the human, mediating Ego, emotional but loyal to Vergil's higher ideals. She not only is between the brothers in temperament but acts as their go-between, and she tempers Dante's seething distrust and rage into a more sympathetic sense of righteousness. Unfortunately, she is revealed to have little influence on Vergil, which leads to the trio's split when he dismisses her as a mere human in announcing his plan to rule over them.
Generation Xerox: Two beings with a bond of absolute trust and loyalty stand at the precipice of conquering the human world. One, driven by affection for a woman, turns on his blood brother and defends the humans from his ambitions. Feeling betrayed, the defeated retreats to the demon world, swearing revenge. Now, are we speaking of Sparda and Mundus, or Dante and Vergil?
Genre Savvy: Mundus. During the introductory cutscene, he suddenly cuts off his revelling at the prospect of owning the entire world, concerned about a "loose end": Dante, the only living Nephilim, the only race potentially capable of killing Mundus. So he sends in a hunter demon, which messes with Dante's life for a bit and ensures that mission 1 has a boss fight in it.
Get Back Here Boss: Inverted by Poison and Mundus; you're expected to move between platforms during the fight, causing them to chase you. Succubus will retaliate by destroying said secondary platforms.
Half-Breed Discrimination: All the demons at least want half-breeds like Dante and Vergil dead. In fact, they mostly are. The twin brothers are the only two living Nephilim in existence; all the others were wiped out centuries ago.
Hero with Bad Publicity: The demon-run "Raptor News Network" regularly smears Dante on-air and labels him a terrorist (in reality, the destruction he leaves in his wake was caused by the demons trying to kill him).
Hero Insurance: Inverted. Dante here is outright accused of being a terrorist because nobody can see him battle the demons in Limbo, only his leaving behind a trail of destruction. Dante himself, helpfully, couldn't care less what people call him.
Hostage for MacGuffin: In a nice twist, it's the heroes who arrange the trade, demanding Kat in exchange for Lilith and Mundus' unborn child (admittedly after Mundus captured Kat and demanded Dante in exchange; the twins just decided to alter terms). Too bad Vergil has to go and kill their hostages before the exchange is complete.
Hotter and Sexier: The opening all but shows Dante having a threesome with two of the dancers of a strip club. That scene aside, however, the only explicit sexuality is between Lilith and Mundus.
Hybrid Power: This version of Dante (and also Vergil) is half-demon and half-angel, and thus wields "the power of both worlds".
I Ate What?: The soft drink known as Virility is made from the acidic vomit of a giant, deformed succubus monster.
I Call It "Vera": Dante's guns Ebony and Ivory. He also calls them "girls" and occasionally greets or praises them fondly.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The Final Boss is on the receiving end. Dante pretty decisively wins the fight by running Vergil through and pinning him to the ground. Vergil is resilient enough to survive, but only just, by Dante's mercy.
I'm Standing Right Here: Vergil almost completely ignores Kat when talking to Dante about how they, the Nephilim, should be ruling over the human race now the demons are gone because humans are weak, only paying her any attention when Dante makes him. It's really not played for laughs.
Invisible to Normals: Limbo. Those of inhuman origins can get dragged in, and Mediums can see it (albeit somewhat blearily), but to everyone else in the world, stuff that happens in Limbo might as well not happen. Except when it involves Ferris wheels or newscasters.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Vergil, after being defeated by Dante, goes from only briefly hesitating before running to help his vision of Kat, though he sees her as weak, to spitefully and remorselessly bragging about killing "Dante" to his vision of their mother.
Knife Nut: The Hunter's main weapon is a large knife.
La Résistance: The Order, a resistance group fighting Mundus and his demonic forces.
Mirror World: Most areas you move through in the "normal" Limbo City will transform into warped areas of the same environments in the "demonic" Limbo. At least once, the environment itself will be flipped 180 degrees - memorably in the approach to Bob Barbas.
Mook Debut Cutscene: Keeping the tradition of the old series (although the scenes are shorter and more plain).
Mr. Fanservice: The below-mentioned Naked First Impression is a wonderful opportunity to examine Dante's muscle tone in detail, at length, and from several angles, for those inclined, as is any time he removes his jacket to wander around in a singlet.
Mundane Made Awesome: In the opening, Dante gets dressed in epic fashion while under attack by a 15-foot tall demon, using a series of acrobatics in the process.
Dante's hair turns white and his clothes red when using Devil Trigger.
All the Cosmetic Award examples are quotes of characters from the original series, most of them from Dante, but a few from other characters as well.
In one of the first small scenes, an explosion causes a long haired white wig to land on Dante's head, making him look like the previous design of the character (which was used in all previous instalments of the franchise). After a pause to examine his reflection, he says "not in a million years" and shrugs the hairpiece off. At the end of the last cutscene, his hair has turned totally white and grown long enough to have bangs covering his eyes like the original incarnation, though he still retains his shaven punkish style.
Naked First Impression: Kat first meets Dante when she knocks on his trailer door and he opens it without bothering to put anything on. He then proceeds to hold a brief conversation with her, still naked. It's also, apart from the preceding montage of him having a threesome, how he is introduced to the audience.
Not so Fast, Bucko!: Much like the old continuity, some bosses don't stay dead once you've defeated them. In the case of the Succubus, however, her second fight is more of a platforming sequence with some nice atmosphere and one-liners.
Orphanage of Fear: Dante was raised in various demon-run orphanages and institutions.
Our Demons Are Different: The most glaring example being the Succubus: succubi are usually portrayed as very attractive, winged demonesses, while this Succubus is a vulgar, disgusting and multi-armed caterpillar monster.
Pietà Plagiarism: The flashback of Eva's death has a shot where Dante cradles his mother's corpse. Also count as an inversion seeing as a Pièta usually involves the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus (ie. mother cradling son).
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Dante's color is red, Vergil's is blue. Dante is impulsive, brash and emotional, while Vergil is a cool-headed, cautious thinker.
Brains and Brawn: Vergil is both brilliant and educated, but it's Dante who goes out to smash the demons.
Force And Finesse: Dante wields his two-handed sword pretty haphazardly, but his superhuman strength and speed carry him through battles. Vergil carries a katana and has a refined, graceful combat style.
Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Dante is an alcoholic, extremely foul-mouthed, prone to violence, a wanted criminal and has a boisterous, goofy demeanour. Vergil is well-read, shows no signs of vice, conceals his activities and existence from the authorities, and has a much more understated personality.
Posthumous Character: Eva. She has several lines, appears in flashbacks, gave the twins their matching amulets to help them find each other, was personally murdered by Mundus in front of Dante, and left messages to help guide her children to unlock their powers. Her presence in the story is actually felt more than that of Sparda, who gets name-checked once or twice and gave the twins their signature weapons, but makes no active appearance and has no dialogue at all. Even his face is unseen, unless you count the family resemblance in his sons.
Post-Modern Magik: On one side, Demons are trying to take over the world via banking, news pundits, CCTV, club scenes and soft drinks, and on the other, the human resistance has a witch who carries her Eye of Newt in spray cans and magic symbols printed onto stencils, and on two different occasions, powerful magic spells are linked to computer servers.
Pregnant Hostage: In an unusual twist, it's the heroes who take Lilith hostage specifically because she's pregnant with Mundus's Enfant Terribleso they can trade her for Kat. They don't bother being nice about it either, since both she and the Fetus Terrible are clearly monsters, but Dante's mildly uncomfortable with it whereas Vergil kills them both in the middle of the hostage exchange to provoke Mundus.
Dante: (after a boss gets churned to death in a mixer) I think you're all mixed up.
Puzzle Boss: The boss fight against Vergil is a straightforward, skill-dependent battle until the boss's health bar is down to its final dregs, at which point the boss bunkers up and counters all damage, blade or bullet, with his doppelganger. Spend too long pounding away uselessly at the defences and the boss will charge back into the fight with renewed health. How do you win? Activate Dante's Devil Trigger, allowing Dante to tear through both the doppelganger and Vergil's remaining health with one slash.
Real Time Weapon Change: DMC1 allowed switch between two weapons, DMC3 between four weapons, DMC4 between seven. DmC between eight. To elaborate, on one hand you use the triggers to switch stances, on the other hand you use the D-Pad to change the Angel weapon (left), the Demon weapon (right) and the fire-arm (up), Rebellion being the default melee weapon when you're not holding a trigger.
Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Virility mascot is a cutesy-looking slug with four anime eyes. Becomes amusing when the Succubus it represents shows up.
Rule of Symbolism: When in Limbo, most of the real world is hard to see through all of the fog and twisted landscape. What's left that's easy to see? Gambling machines and carnival rides. Apparently your addictions really will follow you into hell. Similarly, every major plot cutscene get visual symbolism all over the place - look at what's behind Dante when he wakes up in the opening level, or where Vergil and Dante are located when in front of a painting depicting half demons and half angels.
Sarcasm Failure: There is no opponent in the face of whom Dante will not pun...except when he's fighting Lilith's spawn, when he abandons his typical Trash Talk in favour of sounding alarmed and disturbed.
One of the first things Dante says when he learns Ophion Demon Pull is "Get over here!"
Sequel Hook: Several are set up at the end. WE HAVE AWOKEN - Limbo is merged with the human world and demons and humans co-exist, laying bare all demonic manipulations. The world is forever changed and chaos almost certainly lies ahead. Vergil leaves after the battle to places unknown (and does so again after Vergil's Downfall). And Dante has now sworn to protect humans and developed his powers further, as indicated by his hair becoming totally white in the end scene like his Devil Trigger, but he has not yet reached his full potential, whatever that may be.
Ship Tease: Kat and Dante. Although the close friendship that develops between them never becomes explicitly romantic, they share several moments that can be perceived as romantic (and are by some fans). It would, however, be in poor taste to give Kat a romantic arc with a guy she's just met, in light of the revelation that she was abused.
Sibling Rivalry: A friendly version. "I'm stronger", "I'm smarter", "I'm better looking", "I've got a bigger dick".
Simplified Spellcasting: To cast a spell to affect Limbo, you can spend hours mixing ingredients, researching, combining and painting the symbols to get them just right...or you can prepare the ingredients in an aerosol can and spray it through a stencil.
Dante:(looking at a long haired wig reminiscent of classic Dante's hairstyle on his head) Not in a million years.
Take That, Audience!: The boss fight against a mother and her unborn...ish child. The background music constantly repeats the line, "Hey! You! What the fuck is wrong with you?!" Though it's ambiguous just who is in the wrong here.
Dante chews Vergil out for shooting Lilith and her fetus in the middle of exchanging her for Kat, while Kat's still in the crossfire and again when he announces his plan for them to rule over the weak, subservient human race, right in front of Kat.
Mundus also calls Dante out for the above incident, never mind that he killed Sparta's wife and has been trying to kill his children ever since. Dante, despite having plenty of ground to claim innocence or point out Mundus's hypocrisy, instead taunts him about it - though his specific motivation was to make Mundus angry, not placate him.
When All You Have Is a Hammer: When all you have for platforming is a medium-range grappling hook and a double-jump, if you're stuck, there's a good chance that you just need to look up.
The SWAT team that storms The Order's base shoot Kat in the shoulder as soon as they enter the server room, even though she has her arms raised in surrender and no way to defend herself.
Vergil has no issue gunning down a defenseless Lilith and her demon child.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Dante gets a moment of this. Stuck in Limbo, he tries to make the best of a panicked, helpless Kat by giving her step-by-step instructions on how to peacefully surrender to a SWAT team so that they at least don't shoot her. Then they bust through the door and shoot her.
Yin-Yang Bomb: Dante and Vergil are Nephilim, who are hybrids of and thus have the power belonging to both demons and angels.
You Remind Me of X: Phineas notes that Dante isn't just like Sparda; he also bears resemblance to his mother, Eva.
You Will Not Evade Me: The Devil Pull and Angelic Lift skills, which bring enemies to you and you to enemies, respectively. You can accompany these skills with a kick or an uppercut if your timing is right.