Normally I would try to start out a review with a brief summary of the game. But Bayonetta is not going to make this easy. I really have no idea how to summarize this game. It sort of defies rational explanation. However I’m going to give it my best shot so bear with me as I try to describe the thoroughly baffling Bayonetta.
In Bayonetta you play a witch who is at least nine feet tall (six of those feet are probably pure leg) and sports a pair of librarian glasses and a suit made of her own hair. Of course like any good suit of hair, this one has the ability to help you out in combat by morphing into giant hands, feet, dragons and jets. Of course this leaves Bayonetta naked for several seconds as she strikes a pose.
Hair suits are meaningless without torture devices and stripper poles to back them up, and thankfully Bayonetta has the ability to summon those as well. This is all in an effort to kill angels and giant monsters with baby faces (really…they have the face of an infant) that occasionally will throw a church at you. Oh and some of the angels have glowing crotches.
The overall goal of the game is something about rescuing a child or finding a giant statue’s left eye or figuring out why you have amnesia or sleeping with this journalist guy or maybe traveling through time. And there’s another witch and a dude who sounds like Joe Pesci but he’s barely in the game after the opening scene. Oh and you like lollipops and riding missiles.
And that…that’s Bayonetta. I really don’t think I can explain it any more clearly than that.
So as you can no doubt see, Bayonetta is a touch strange. It’s not like it’s a little strange. This game relentlessly throws the crazy at you from the very beginning straight through until after the end credits roll. I always like a game that can keep me surprised throughout the whole experience and for this, Bayonetta is a resounding success. Actually, there are few categories in which Bayonetta is NOT a resounding success.
I don’t think anyone who read the opening of this article will be surprised to hear that the story in Bayonettadoesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I’m sure there is people out there with 17 page word docs that detail exactly what was happening, but myself, I had no idea. I paid attention to each and every cut scene and I still walked away with no idea what the hell I just witnessed. I was never bored, but I was never not confused either.
The great thing is though, you could skip every single story sequence and it wouldn’t affect the game at all. The story is almost an obstacle that gets in the way of the fantastic gameplay.
Now I played the 360 version of Bayonetta, so I can’t comment on the apparently lower quality of the PS3 version, but I can say that this one of the fastest games I have probably ever played. The action moves along at a relentless pace and the frame rate keeps up with it the entire way. I can’t remember a single instance where the game was affected by slowdown, which is crucial in an experience such as this. Even a hint of choppiness would ruin damn near everything, so if what they say about the PS3 version is true, definitely stay far away from that version.
The game definitely plays similar to Devil May Cry (same creator) and anyone who is familiar with that franchise will feel at home pretty quickly here. However Bayonetta manages to feel both deeper and simpler than Devil May Cry at the same time. There are a TON of moves in Bayonetta but none of them are particularly tricky to pull off and with some practice you will be pulling off some truly incredible combos. Everything flows great and makes for a fighting system that is quite easy to learn and is consistently satisfying.
I think my favourite element of the combat is “Witch Time” which yes, is this game’s version of Max Payne’s slow motion “Bullet Time”. Here though the only way to activate it is by dodging an enemy attack at the very last moment. Then you have a few seconds of slow mo to do some real damage. It makes the combat that much more intense as sometimes this is the only way to take an enemy down so you have no choice but to let them attack you.
You would think the gameplay would start to get boring eventually but as I said earlier, Bayonetta is always throwing surprises at you. I don’t really want to say anything since it’s better to experience everything yourself but there are some truly unique touches here, especially in some of the later levels.
I do have one slight against the game – the music. In particular, this one track that plays throughout the game. I guess you would call it Bayonetta’s theme song. The song itself isn’t that bad, it’s the fact that you will hear it at least three times during each level. Damn near every fight you go through has that song going in the background. I often found myself trying to get through fights faster purely so that song would stop! Of course it would always be right there waiting for me in the next fight so there was never any escape from it.
That song aside, I really don’t have a single complaint. Bayonetta is, simply put, a fantastic game. It’s so delightfully fucked up and fun to play that it’s almost a shame when it ends since who knows when we will get another game that is this unique.
Attention all 2010 releases, Bayonetta just became the game to beat. Let’s see what you got!