Fly me to the moon.
Bayonetta is a mad game, it’s one of the most intense, wild and ludicrous games I have ever played – and I loved it. You play as the titular Bayonetta, an Umbran Witch who uses the powers of the underworld and her hair to fight the armies from the heavens. This may sound a tad sacrilegious, but it’s all taken in good fun and there is never any kind of serious religion-bashing to be found, so for those that could be offended by something like that, don’t worry.
The story is more complicated than hell vs. heaven, or witch vs. angel as you are playing through the game to find out about Bayonetta’s past which literally keeps on coming back to haunt her. The plot that develops through the game is ridiculous, but great fun, but it is clearly not the main aspect of the game. Bayonetta is an action game, something of a hack n’ slash, akin to the gameplay style of the Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden series, it is fast, frenetic, over-the-top, stylish and difficult.
The amount of attack combinations and combos on offer is spectacular, but you do not need to learn them in order to finish the game on its normal difficulty (may need to know some combos if playing on hard though), indeed, if you are good at the basics you will probably get through the game alright, but not spectacularly. The game is split into levels, and you are awarded with a trophy in each one, ranging from “stone” all the way up to “platinum”, based on your performance, which includes damage taken, speed of completion and amount of items used. If you die, you will not get a platinum award for example, and on normal difficulty, it is really rather difficult to get a platinum award – I mostly ended up with “bronze” awards.
Whilst getting these higher awards doesn’t actively achieve anything within the game, it does offer something of an incentive for replay. Within each stage there are crows to catch, records to find and put together amongst some other smaller things, which, again give the game a little more replay value if getting one-hundred-percent in a game is your jam. The meat of the game is found in just playing through the stages however and each one offers action that is unparalleled in many other of its contemporaries.
Fighting regular enemies is fun, but when it comes to the bosses, wow, they’re just on another level. The intensity of the bombastic action goes up another gear and the difficulty is pitch-perfect, it’s never too easy or too hard; there’s nothing quite like having a fight against someone across the top of a lit-up city late at night – it’s stunning. Indeed, the amount of locales in the game is great, it sees you racing across a ginormous motorway, fighting your way through a failing aeroplane before it crashes into the ocean, going through an ancient town, etc… the variety of locales is brilliant and along with them comes some different gameplay options that freshen up the experience.
The choices in weaponry also freshen up the game, as there is the standard, a whip, a samurai sword, fiery claws, guns and lighting claws to choose from, and each choice offers a different fighting style along with new combos to learn. Also included in the Wii U version is the ability to dress Bayonetta up as four different Nintendo characters: Samus, Link, Peach and, you guessed it, Daisy. Each of these costumes gives you a unique weapon and throws in neat Nintendo nods like instead of the standard rings you collect, you get coins or rupees, it’s a neat little extra that adds to the experience greatly if you’re a Nintendo fan.
Graphically, the game is great too, despite little having been done to the graphics since the original release on the Xbox 360 and PS3. However, at times, the framerate can slow down and whilst it is never enough to ruin the game, it is noticeable; this doesn’t happen very much either. The game excels in music though; it’s got a fantastic soundtrack that is as mad as the gameplay, and emphasises the overall design of the game. Presentation and voice-acting however slightly dampen the overall experience, some of the characters just don’t sound great (Bayonetta herself does) and the presentation is good outside of the cut-scenes.
Bayonetta presents its cut-scenes in a “movie” style, with film reel moving across the top and bottom of the screen. This sounds fine, but the cut-scenes are often made up of still images, which just don’t look good, especially in a game that is so full of frenetic movement and over-the-top action scenes. These still cut-scenes take the pace out of the game, not enough to ruin it, but it definitely was an odd design choice in a game that was designed so well in every other aspect, not least in its characters. Bayonetta herself is a sultry witch where the game’s developers clearly had a lot of fun in animating her suggestive dances, poses, and lollipop sucking. The whole cast of the game is fun, diverse and a little bonkers, but it all comes together with the game’s general bombastic style perfectly.
A blast from start to finish, some dodgy voice-acting, slight framerate issues and strange cut-scenes don’t even come close to ruining the game. Combat in the game is excellent, it’s difficult, but not too difficult, it looks nice, it has a great soundtrack and the amount of combos for use in the combat is incredible – Bayonetta is brilliant.
A bonkers, brilliant game, Bayonetta is a must-buy.