Boosting Your Style Meter
One of the most important aspects of Devil May Cry's combat system is the style meter. When you use attacks, you will notice it appear in the upper right corner of the screen. The meter ranges anywhere from D to SSS, with the S-ranks being the better range. Your goal in most combat situations is to get this meter as high as you possibly can, since that will give you more Style Points at the end of a mission, which in turn will net you more Proud Souls to spend on abilities.
There are a few different factors to getting a high Style ranking, which we'll talk about here.
Don't Get Hit: A single blow to your character will knock a couple of letter grades off of your style meter, so if you want to get up high, you'll have to ensure that he doesn't get hit throughout the combo. This is mostly a matter of being familiar with the enemies you're fighting against and being sure that they don't get a chance to impact you with their weapons.
Vary Your Attacks: After you perform a special attack or a combo, it ceases to count towards your style meter for a short period of time, so spamming out the basic combo for a weapon isn't going to get you very far up the ladder. If you want to max the meter, you'll need to use all of the combos and attacks for a weapon, while being sure to switch melee weapons occasionally for extra variety, if you're playing as Dante. Dante has an easier time of getting a high style meter on a single enemy, since he can switch weapons easily, but Nero can nab some decent style points from his Buster attacks.
Keep The Pressure On: If you stop attacking, your style meter will start dropping, so you'll need to keep up the heat on your enemies if you don't want it to fade away completely. You can afford to rest a bit and reposition - the meter will stick around for a while - but you can't go too long without attacking if you want to keep the combo going. DMC4 is a lot more forgiving in this aspect than DMC3 was, and in fact even if the meter disappears off your screen, you won't have to start all the way over with your next attack, unless you went through a screen transition or took an absurdly long time to hit your next foe.
Attack Multiple Enemies: By far the easiest way to get up to S or SSS rankings is to hit multiple enemies simultaneously and rapidly. There are plenty of rooms that offer you opportunities to hit multiple Scarecrows or other weak enemies, but your opportunities to hit multiple enemies here are somewhat diminished as compared to DMC3, mostly because the weapons that are available to you are more focused on single-enemy attacks. That said, if there are a few Scarecrows standing next to each other, simple sword combos that hit all of them will boost your style ranking quite a bit.
One thing that the game allows you to do to compensate for the difficulty somewhat is purchase healing items and continues from the Divinity Statues scattered throughout the game, or in between missions. Here's a list of the purchaseable items:
|Item||Effect When Used|
|Vital Star S||Restores a small amount of health.|
|Vital Star M||Restores more health than a Vital Star S|
|Vital Star L||Restores your entire health bar.|
|Devil Star S||Restores a small amount of your Devil Trigger gauge.|
|Devil Star||Completely refills your DT gauge.|
|Holy Water||Damages all nearby enemies.|
|Blue Orb||Adds one bubble to your life bar.|
|Purple Orb||Adds one orb to your Devil Trigger meter.|
|Gold Orb||Allows you to continue when you die from the spot where you died, with full health. Handy for tough boss fights.|
Of these items, the ones you will want to spend most of your red orbs on are the Blue Orbs and Purple Orbs (which become unlocked a few missions into the game), both of which will constantly be useful. We managed to play through all of Devil Hunter difficulty without buying (or using) any healing items or Gold Orbs, but your mileage may vary.