OK this is a really solid game. I get that it doesn't have the DMC1/DMC3 "feel" but still...
Combat: pretty darn cool. Honestly, I never liked the focus on "style" since it seemed to be saying "its more important to look flashy than do what works", something you don't find in other great games of the genre like Ninja Gaiden. The combat here seems to go out of its way to encourage you to use different moves and weapons depending on the combinations thrown at you. And it flows like a dream.
Platforming: so H&S games have been trying to incorporate platforming into their core mechanics forever and it ALWAYS feels horrible and tacked on. NGB's pointless platformy sequences, DMC's clunky mechanics, God of Wars spinning death towers *shudder*. This might be the first H&S game that made me excited for those sections. I think it broke up the fighting parts really well.
Level Design: Wow. Just wow. A match, at least, for Bayonetta and that's saying something. Some of those designs were brilliant, particularly the entire Bob Barkus sequence of levels.
Challenge: yeahhhh this is the big one. I finished DMC3 on DMD and honestly this game doesn't exactly LET you win, but that sense of overcoming challenges is just not there at all, even a little bit. I never once thought "damn it, im gonna be here all night" at any sequence and consequently the sense of achievement was lower.
Bosses: DMC3, those were some damn fine bosses. And some of Bayos. These bosses...well, they dont suck exactly (looking at you, bosses in Human Revolution), they're entertaining in their own way but its a little too completely straightforward how you have to beat them. The final boss is an exception but even that one has been done a LOT better before. So...not terrible, just not very good.
Plot: ok some people have hated on this but why? Voice acting and expressions were good, story was slickly told, I cared about the characters, even got to see a little depth to a demon king. The twist has been done before and you can see it coming but its handled quite well, actually. More tragic than "MUHAHAHAHAH".
So, what do you all think? I dont think it can take on DMC3/NGB/Bayo which remain the pinnacles of this kind of game (GoW doesnt really count its very different) but it makes a reallly good effort. Sure doesn't deserve the hate its been getting.