Bayonetta Reader Review
An over the top Japanese action game from the creators of Devil May Cry 1, Viewtiful Joe and Okami. The heritage of the developers is clear in the design of the game and the design of the female lead Bayonetta (Dante as a woman, keeping the connection) is a focused sexy and stylish approach with an air of strength.
The story traces Bayonetta as she is trying to regain her memories and kick some angelic butt. As the story goes there was a great battle between the Witches and the Sages 500 years ago and they were all extinct, except for one. Or two, as Bayonetta sees herself being hounded by the witch Jeanne and her motives seem unclear and left open as Bayonetta fights her multiple times over the course of the game, Jeanne seemingly never giving it her all until Bayonetta has regained her powers.
The core of the game lies in the third person fighting engine, a machine set up for a massive amount of combos that utilize the arms and the legs in simple lists of punch or kick a couple of times and then finish off with a kick or punch. The combat system is directed and intelligent and is taking elements from all the best combat systems, utilizing combos that lets you juggle enemies in the air from Devil May Cry, timed dodges from Viewtiful Joe when successful lets the player attack slowed down enemies at full speed (learning this is key to being good at Bayonetta), and using fast and aggressive enemies that dodge and attack just as well as the player if not better (the best bit from Ninja Gaiden in my opinion).
Of note is an additional mechanic to the fighting where a combo can be offset in time while you are dodging that makes the combat even more technical.
Not forgetting the huge bosses and the QTEs that you have to trigger while you fight them which seem taken from God of War. The boss fights are games in themselves as you'll find yourself running on the actual bosses to bash their weak spots and even doing platforming puzzles as the fight is going to get in for the kill. Environments can be breaking down as the fight is going and everything is very dynamic.
Moving through the world of Bayonetta you'll move through stages similar to DMC, your progress being halted by visible barriers as enemies spawn in to attack you, the enemies coming in a huge array of different sizes and styles which makes the combat fun and challenging. The world changes dynamically and as you gain your memories you also regain lost powers and become able to run on walls and turn into a large catlike animal to run really fast.
These moving through world segments are the best parts of the game as you'll do a few puzzles, see the world and experience some nice dynamic environments and fight a lot of bad guys and generally enjoying the fighting system and you'll find yourself enjoying the Bayonetta theme songs as she's preparing for a fight in a cutscene (that are mostly just random jibberish with Bayonetta flexing her ass).
Sadly, there are bad bits to the game.
Firstly the QTEs during cutscenes, popularized by God of War, are abused in the game. They are used successfully as you are fighting enemies as you'll see triggers for special attacks and have to bash buttons to make the attack more powerful. However they fail miserably when they are used in cutscenes and result in game overs if you miss. Strangely they seem to have understood the failing of the QTEs in one of the last boss fights as there you are allowed to fail a QTE and instead just lose a little bit of health. It is a shame they didn't put in the same kind of punishment in all QTEs.
Secondly, all the minigames. There is no need or reason for them, they never become as refined and developed as the core game mechanic and since the core game is so much fun you'll see yourself wishing that they are over as soon as they start.
Thirdly, the segmentation of the chapters of the game. This is largely successful as you can replay any chapter that you've completed at any time. There will be secrets to find in them that award additional weapons and extra challenge areas where the focus is on nothing but the best part of the game (the combat). The problem comes when the segmentation is so that you have to replay chapters completely, which is a massive problem when a chapter can have a very long and awful minigame and then an excellent fight at the end.
Even with these problems the game is an excellent one that I would recommend to anyone enjoying the genre as it is truly the best one of this generation. It successfully blends all the elements that I love in fighting and they truly need to be rewarded for this. But with the problems I am forced to lower the score.
8 / 10