Note: Reviewed on a self-bought retail copy of the game.
Bayonetta is a hack n slash action game that originally came out in 2009 on Xbox 360 and PS3, the game is developed by PlatinumGames and published by Sega. The game is a spiritual successor of the Devil May Cry series and features various similarities in tone and combat, however much more polished even more over the top. The sequel came out exclusively on Wii U and was published by Nintendo, the game gained a lot of critical acclaim and now both the titles have made their way to the Nintendo Switch. The third installment of the franchise was announced on The Game Awards 2017 and will be a Switch Exclusive. Check out the Bayonetta 1 & 2 Review down below.
Bayonetta follows the story of an “Umbra Witch”, Bayonetta, who awakens from her sleep after 500 years, little is known about her and her origins at first and she herself doesn’t remember the events that led to her slumber and who and what she really is. As we progress in the game, her memories return to her mainly due to her encounters with characters from her past. The main conflict is shown between two factions that keep the world in order, being the Umbra Witches of the dark side and Lumen Angels representing the light. The game is set in a fictional European city, Vigrid that overtime becomes a playground for Bayonetta who is equipped with an arsenal of devastating weapons at her disposal and various lumen enemies.
Throughout the game, Bayonetta encounters different characters, Luka, who believes that Bayonetta has taken the life of his father, Jeanne, who is a rival and fellow Umbra Witch and Rodan, who acts an NPC from whom you can buy various items, weapons and upgrades from.
While the story isn’t all that special, it’s presented in such an over the top manner, that you can’t help but accept it, for what it is, the number of memorable moments and encounters are a lot. For what it’s worth, you’ll be laughing out loud with some of the most ridiculously bizarre cutscenes and some cheesy as hell dialogue. The story isn’t entirely meant to be taken seriously, despite some moments and the game embraces its wackiness without breaking a sweat.
The story of Bayonetta 2 takes place shortly after the events of 1, Bayonetta is carrying out Christmas shopping for herself and is rudely interrupted in the middle of the city by angels, things take a turn for the worse when Bayonetta’s own demon betrays her and plays a hand in having Jeanne dragged to hell. Bayonetta goes on a mission that will take her to Heaven and Hell to rescue her friend and uncover a bigger plot.
The main game can be beaten in around 11 hours and there are a total of 16 chapters. There are other things like secret bosses and secret levels as well. The pacing of the game can feel a bit over the place at times, there isn’t a right balance to how most events transpire and how well characters motivations are portrayed, as you finish the game, most of the stuff makes sense but the execution can feel a bit bland, however, the final few chapters are out there in terms of scale and ridiculousness, that you won’t be getting them out of your head for quite some time.
Bayonetta 2 straight away picks up right off the bat as you fight on the back of fighter jets and then fight a massive demon atop the game’s version of the Empire State Building. Bayonetta goes through a number of locations, gets a variety of new weapons and now has the ability to swim in water by turning into a serpent. The game is a high-octane fueled ride from beginning to end.
As you explore the massive stages of Bayonetta 2 and bask in all the sights and sounds that the game has to offer, you will be motivated to go for a run with costumes whether you want to unlock them using Amiibo’s or by using the games conditions for unlocking each costume.
If you’re a fan of Devil May Cry games, or hack n slash games in general or even just action games, Bayonetta is quite possibly one of the best action hack n slash games ever made, it takes ideas from series like Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden, but introduces a great deal of polish that other franchises often fail to deliver. You are equipped with guns, in your hands and feet, which act as one of your primary attack buttons, you can also punch, kick and jump. Equipping different weapons including a demonic katana, clawed gauntlets, ice skates and more, can literally change your entire playstyle, however, with most hack n slash games, it is encouraged to master all weapons so you can switch mid-combat and execute insane combos, which Bayonetta has no shortage of. There is an unimaginable amount of depth in the combat, that even though easy to grasp by just about anyone who likes action games, can pick up, but super hard to master. The more you combos you perform, the more you are rewarded and like Devil May Cry games, your combat is constantly being rated by the game’s rating system.
One of the most important parts of Bayonetta’s combat is the dodging, it’s essential that you get a hold on this, executing it perfectly will make you go into bullet time, which is Bayonetta is “Witch Time”, all enemies are slowed down and you can execute devastating combos at your current speed, it’s amazing to look at and gives combat a whole new level of depth. It is also used in various puzzles throughout the game.
Bayonetta is given various abilities as she progresses, including shape-shifting into animals, for maneuvering and combat. As you keep combating various angels, your magic gauge fills up as well, which allows you to perform torture attacks, yeap you heard us right, torture attacks that let you summon various contraptions for angels to be locked in and brutalized. Bayonetta can also use her hair to summon demonic creatures, morphing herself into them and crushing enemies causing absolute carnage.
You can buy abilities, items, weapons and more from Rodin who works in Gates of Hell (a bar). These include combos, special moves, for example, there’s a move which allows Bayonetta to breakdance at the end of a combo and look at the screen with a camera shutter. The over the top nature of the game combined with an excellent combat and gameplay system is what makes Bayonetta a polished as hell hack n slash game.
Boss fights are massive in scale, with gigantic angelic entities in various environments are encountered. Most boss fights while straightforward are somewhat unique in how to beat, there can be platforming elements, quick time events, simple puzzles and more that make boss fights more than just one on one encounters. Bayonetta’s cheesy dialogues before and after each boss fight make the boss fights more entertaining and amusing than any other game.
All of this feels even more fluid and amazing to witness on the Nintendo Switch as well, and quite honestly, having a hack n slash game on a portable console is the dream of any action game fan, especially when it runs so goddamn well.
Much like Bayonetta 1, players are capable of giving Bayonetta a variety of weapons to equip on their hands and feet to give them maximum utility when it comes to how they want to use their weapons and can mix and match for various situations, enemies, and bosses to make seasoned players feel right at home.
Without spoiling much, Bayonetta 1 sticks to the same great formula that made us fall in love with it the first time, offering some superb writing, amazing boss fights, and catchy music to complement the fast-paced combat.
As mentioned in the gameplay section, the controls of this game are super responsive, fluid and easy to grasp, there are basic mechanics that define a foundation for you to improve upon and with time, become better at executing insane combos. The Switch’s control scheme is easy to grasp, it’s very similar to previous schemes, everything is as responsive as you’d get expect from an action game.
The game operates as smooth as the original and the improvement also comes with the Switch supporting multi-touch over single-touch on the Wii-U, albeit I don’t think there will be many gamers who will use the touch controls over the joycons or the pro-controller, the game is a blast to play no matter your controller preference. Every punch and kick feels absolutely satisfying when tied together with wicked weaves and other attacks that make Bayonetta feel like an unstoppable machine.
Visuals and Performance
The game originally came out in 2009, then was recently ported to PC, last year with 60 frames and up to 4k resolution, the textures were improved and the game performed insanely well, now with the Switch, it’s almost same case, with a much better CPU and GPU the game looks excellent and surprisingly hasn’t aged that much, you can still enjoy the game thoroughly despite the fact that it’s a last generation title.
There have been improvements in texture scaling, bloom implementation, and subtle shading differences. While of course, the port isn’t going to look as good as the PC version, considering the hardware resources, Bayonetta run a 720p resolution with a consistent frame rate of 60 fps, the Switch is a massive improvement over the WiiU, Xbox 360, Xbox One and the PS3 version, even the disastrous loading screens are gone. There is no doubt that this is the definitive version to get.
Bayonetta 2 is a massive upgrade over Bayonetta giving players a more colorful and diverse color palette. While Bayonetta 1 suffers from very dull visuals, the sequel is bright, colorful and loaded with of plenty of vim & vigor. Whether you are exploring the cityscapes, the depths of hell or the cloudy blankets of Paradise, the game is a true splendor. Albeit the game is restricted to 720p, the game manages to look its best in the handheld mode which is my mode of choice.
With the addition of a new costume, bright and decorated weapons and so many more visual upgrades for the game make it the best entry in the series until Bayonetta 3 struts its heels onto the Switch. The devil is truly in the details when you come from the original game and notice so much more detail when you’re executing torture attacks and using weapons due to the brighter use of colors over darker tones in the original game.
Bayonetta has a combination of Jazz and Opera chorus musical styles. The battle theme especially is quite stellar and compliments the tone of the game surprisingly well, with the game’s bizarre and campy cutscenes, a good soundtrack is very important, which Bayonetta has no problem delivering.
Boss fights even though, don’t have any really memorable soundtracks, one of them especially stands out, but we won’t be spoiling that, you’ll have to play and hear it for yourself. Despite the game having a very decent soundtrack, I’d have appreciated a bit more variety in it, most of the OSTs are repeated throughout the game and while they do keep you hooked, it would’ve been nice to have more tracks.
The Sequel is truly a one of its kind. I haven’t been this blown away by a sequel since I played Dead Space 2. Bayonetta 2 is a game that I thoroughly enjoyed on the Nintendo Wii-U and now look forward to taking my witch mayhem on the move with me. This game is truly a masterpiece in the series and the constant replays that I am gonna be in for will only make me all the more wanting for Bayonetta 3 when it does eventually hit the system.
Here’s the thing, if I had to make a list of all the most influential and polished action games of the last decade, there is no way in hell that I’d dismiss Bayonetta, I’d even give it the top spot for how excellent, fluid and addictive the combat is. While the story isn’t the best out there, but that isn’t expected from a game with a character that wears her hair and uses the same hair to morph into gigantic demonic entities to torture angels by putting them into contraptions for the giggles. This is an action game, the most polished hack n slash game with the sexist, campiest protagonist out there.
And now you get to experience all of that on the Nintendo Switch, which means you take Bayonetta where you want, on the go. After beating the game once again on this device and comparing it to previous platforms, there is no doubt that this is the definitive version of the game.
Whether you hate it or love it, Bayonetta 2 is a bright and beautiful canvas ready to be decorated as you see fit. The game hits all the right notes when it comes down to visual, sounds, gameplay, story, replay value, and practically anything. The stellar presentation will only have you coming back for more once you finish a playthrough and with plenty of collectibles in the form of Raven Wings and Costumes to collect if you don’t have the Amiibo’s only helps in making you all the more confident about your purchase.
I wish I could give both the games a solid 10 for the pure value of looking at 40 hours of game time if you wish to 100% each game, but due to minor inconveniences which haven’t been fixed in Bayonetta 1 such as washed out colors, both the games running at 720p and no new unlocks for the Switch, I will still give the games a score of 9.5 since I know I can look forward to long road trips and office lunch breaks where I can enjoy the magic of Bayonetta away from the wired world of consoles or PC.
If you are a fan of hack-n-slash games and have been on the fence for this game or if you are put off by the overly feminine tone of the game, take my word for it, I am committing to getting 100% in both games before the 3rd entry in the series hits.
Let us know if you are also under the spell of the Umbran witch and your thoughts on Bayonetta 3.