Bayonetta. She’s more than just a pretty face: she’s a kick-ass Umbran Witch who’s started off the New Year with a bang for the action genre. Designed by Hideki Kamiya — director of the original Devil May Cry — the game takes the action genre to a completely new level. Forget any action game you’ve ever played before, because Bayonetta is of much higher standards.
Bayonetta is an titular Umbran Witch, simply said. After a five-hundred year sleep, Bayonetta awakens with no memory of her past and is determined to find answers. Thanks to a tip from a Danny Devito-esque Enzo, Bayonetta searches for the ‘Right Eye’ – one of the two ‘Eyes of the World’ that will help Bayonetta recall her past. So she sets off, killing all the angels that step in her path, because she’s sexy and she can do that. Obviously, her journey is not what it seems to be, as she runs into the likes of Luka – a man who claims Bayonetta killed his father – and Cereza – a child who resembles Bayonetta greatly and will not stop calling her ‘mummy’ – and learns that what she’s looking for may be greater than she imagined. The characters, although mimics of common stereotypes, end up being lovable in the long run, as well.
The sexy Umbran Witch wears a body suit made of her own hair — which releases off her bear body when performing many of her standard combos — and a gun on each of her limbs. Bayonetta has a lot of combos. There are games out there that wish they could see the possibilities of combination that can be performed in Bayonetta and I don’t blame them. Your basic attacks only really consist of three buttons but using them strategically together and throwing in a little arrow or shoulder-button movement can add up to a long stream of attacks. Although, it’s not always easy to keep it going.
Even on Normal difficulty, Bayonetta offers quite a challenge to players. Every few steps brings on a wave of new enemies, many with mini-boss-like health bars. It’s not every once in a while, either, but in fact very often. Each chapter presents a death toll count up to five, and – while you can die more than five times – five is the limit displayed. I have at least five deaths on almost every chapter in Bayonetta, as sad as it may be. Maybe I’m bad. Maybe the game is just kind of hard.
To make the game’s difficulty level easier, your local dealer Rodin — straight from the depths of Hell — is there to provide you with weapons and items in exchange for your precious Halos. These Halos can be used to purchase other things such as new techniques, ‘Broken Witch Hearts’ to increase your maximum HP, and new costumes for the sexy Bayonetta to try her fitting at. Bringing him Angelic records found in the game’s various chapters (usually after a big fight) will give him what he needs to drop down into fiery Hell, craft you a weapon, and bring it back for Bayonetta to get her mitts on.
Speaking of chapters, there’s a lot to be played in Bayonetta; the game is surprisingly long. For comparison’s sake, I beat Devil May Cry 4 in around 11 hours on normal difficulty; Bayonetta on the other hand took me around 20 hours. Out of the 16+2 chapters (I say this because there is a Prologue and and Epilogue), there are a few that will take you over an hour to play through. That’s nowhere near a bad sign, though, as longevity in action games can sometimes be a problem, so it’s welcomed.
An action game’s most important feature is combat. Bayonetta steps up to the challenge and takes home a gold medal. I touched on this a bit earlier, but let’s get more into detail. Bayonetta’s combat system offers plenty of ways to fight her angelic enemies thanks to the many combos available to the player; on top of that, the ability to buy additional techniques will always give the next chapter something new to look forward to. The first new technique I purchased was called “Breakdance”, where Bayonetta gets on the floor and starts doing a windmill while all four of her guns fire off. Each new technique you purchase adds to your set of combos; each one can be jumped in or out of at any time, as well. A lot of what Bayonetta performs on screen is unbelievable to witness at times and sometimes you’ll be surprised it’s actually you pulling off those (sexy) moves.
Bayonetta has more than just guns to perform those moves with. As I said before, Rodin’s shop allows Bayonetta to try on some new weapons. There are very many that do their duty to make gameplay with each a completely different experience. Equipping a sword will give players a completely different combo set then equipping a gun – you catch my drift. Enemies drop weapons too, which can only be used temporarily, but can do massive amounts of damage when used. So when an enemy drops a long staff or a pole to dance on, do yourself the favor and dance.
Dodging an attack right before it hits activates “Witch Time”. This is a move exclusive to Umbran Witches that allow them to slow down time for a brief moment and score a few hits on their enemies as fast as possible. With difficulty increasing all the time, you’re going to find yourself doing this a lot, and sometimes you’ll have to if you want to get a hit or two – especially on those bosses.
Every so often, you’ll run into a boss fight. Boss fights in Bayonetta aren’t anything to frown upon. These are epic, large-scale angelic beasts that in some cases can take you a good half-hour to kill. In other words, these are ginormous boss fights that you don’t want to pass up. They’re immensely fun and the unique designs of each makes them highly memorable. There is usually a quick-time event or two involved in these fights, but nothing to drastic as to take away from the gameplay actually coming from your fingers.
Bayonetta’s level design is very linear. Whether it’s the city of Vigrid or Route 666 on the highway, there’s one set path for Bayonetta to follow and no puzzles or diversions to be solved. The pattern goes like this: walk, open a door, walk, fight, walk, fight, jump through a portal, fight, go down some stairs, etc. Many of the creatures that Bayonetta fights are even re-used – wait until you see the second to last level of the game. If Bayonetta didn’t have so much great action to make up for it, then I’d be pretty upset. Luckily it has the action. That sweet, sweet action.
That action in total is what makes Bayonetta such a great game. Other than starring a flawless beauty, the game offers an amazing combat system, a great story, challenging difficulty, epic boss battles and an overall memorable experience. I’ve got to hand it to Platinum Games, they certainly know how to make an action game, and certainly know how to start off a great reputation. Bayonetta is over-the-top action and hands-down one of the best action games I’ve ever played. She’s damn sexy, too.
Sexy references aside (I’m know, I know – I apologize), Bayonetta is pure gold. You want this game.