Bayonetta Review

Many gamers, myself included, prefer the Devil May Cry series to the God of War series. While Kratos has more epic adventures and more violent kill moves, Dante and company provide a ultra-cool, combo-heavy experiences that just suck us in game after game. Plus it draws inspiration from The Divine Comedy, so it earns bonus points.

I did not think it would be possible, but Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya and Platinum Games have created a sleek, fun, and flat-out crazy game that surpasses the Devil May Cry series in every way imaginable. If you like action games, or just video games in general, Bayonetta is one that you can’t miss.

Now normally this is the part of the review where I give you a quick synopsis of the story and set the stage for the conflict you will be dealing with the majority of the game, but the game has such an insane story that I just couldn’t keep up and figure out what was going on. The game’s events happen at such a fast pace and with so much action on screen that your senses are sure to go into a visual overload. An early example of this is that the game’s prologue begins with you and a fellow witch fighting angel-demons on a piece of a clock tower that is falling down a cliff face. It’s hard to keep up as the game beings to narrate the backstory during this crazy sequence. While I would normally berate a game for this kind of confusing narrative delivery, which happens throughout Bayonetta, Platinum Games still does a good job propelling you forward; the action, gameplay, and visual style of the game kept me so enthralled that I had nothing but fun with Bayonetta, regardless of narrative quirks.

Delivering some pain

Bayonetta‘s combat system is one of the smoothest and most satisfying systems in any action game I’ve ever played. It’s simple enough that those less skilled can just mash buttons until cool things happen, yet incredibly deep for the hardcore action fans who enjoy games like Ninja Gaiden and the Dante Must Die modes in the DMC games. Every weapon that you collect has numerous combos associated with it that can be canceled out of and re-entered back into. You can further customize the combo system by equipping different weapons onto Bayonetta’s hands and feet. Not every weapon can be placed on both of your extremities, but finding the right combination for your play style or for defeating a boss is a very satisfying feeling. I was having trouble with a certain boss until I experimented with putting a whip in Bayonetta’s hands and fire gauntlets on her feet, after which I breezed through the battle. This gave me a sense of discovery that led me to try more abnormal combinations. All of these moves and the feedback you get from them is so smooth and visually appealing. Giant boots and fists appear at the end of combos, smashing enemies, and the boss fights are capped off by massive climax moves that are like giant exclamation points on explosive battles.

Most of this is thanks to the game’s visual style, which combines a traditional anime aesthetics with a gothic, eastern European vibe. The city of Vigrid, where most of the game takes place, looks like an old world city that exists in the modern world. It’s a striking combination that really stuck out for me. The environments only get better from there, as you travel between Paradiso (Heaven), Inferno (Hell), and Purgatorio. How developers portray the afterlife in games always interests me, and I don’t want to spoil it, but Platinum Games has crafted hauntingly beautiful worlds that actually made me stop and look around… when I wasn’t killing enemies. Bayonetta herself is the highlight and is bound to join the ranks of memorable videogame characters. Her design is so well thought out and her movements are so striking that I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She moves with a fluidity that is missing from a lot of protagonists today, and even though she can border on cartoonish, her persona is incredibly likable and empowering.

Doing it for the thrill

Replay value is a standout aspect of Bayonetta. During my first play-through, I only found half of the weapons in the game. LP records are well hidden around the world and create new weapons for Bayonetta when discovered. Costumes, weapon upgrades, and numerous special accessories that have cool special effects can also be earned over the course of multiple play-throughs, as well as by reaching Platinum status on each Chapter. There’s a lot to do in Bayonetta and if you’re looking for a game to really dig into, this is it.

The game’s only sin is its own Japanese game design. Towards the end of the game, enemies become incredibly cheap or negate your Witch Time (a slow motion skill that activates when you dodge attacks), and start to deal massive damage while you only seem to be chipping away at them. They also can break your combos, while you cannot break theirs. The game even throws every boss you’ve managed to best throughout the adventure back in at the end of the game, which is incredibly frustrating. Fighting all of the bosses twice was cool when we played Mega Man 3 in 1990, but not now. There could have been more creative ways to end the game instead of the increasingly difficult boss gauntlet.

Bayonetta is a fantastic game. Aside from a difficult late game and a wacky, confusing narrative, it manages introduce a deep, fun combat system that is silky smooth and easy to learn. If you want a super cool and fun action game to play, Bayonetta is your girl.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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