The Bit-Witch is Back
Not too long ago the acclaimed Bayonetta series had a third title announced and coming to the Nintendo Switch. When will it be released? Nobody can say for sure, but at the same time a rerelease of Bayonetta 1&2 was announced with the option to buy the first title on its own for the eShop or get both titles for the price of one. The question is: after all these years, does the pedigree hack n slash adventure stand the test of time?
The actual reason for all the things that happen in Bayonetta is… hard to explain. The game is totally bonkers, it knows that and embraces this fact. The opening scene being our unlikely heroine fighting angels alongside Jeanne atop a broken clocktower that is plummeting to the ground, enemies clash against the two witches as they fight back and we are given nearly zero context for what is happening. When a game starts off like this you know you are in for a lot of spectacle. Riding missiles, gargantuan bosses out at sea, over the top finishing moves, and a lot more eye candy. There’s a lot of flash (..and I don’t mean Bayonetta herself), but the glorious thing about the game is that for as much spectacle it has there is an equal or greater amount of substance.
Without a shadow of a doubt, what makes Bayonetta an awesome title is the combat. This isn’t your typical mindless hack n slash where mashing a random button will get you through the whole game. The fighting system offers a variety of moves spread over a variety of weapon combinations. Bayonetta can attach weapons to her hands and feet and this opens up all sorts of crazy combinations. A sword in hand and a rocket launcher attached to her feet or perhaps a whip in hand and ice skates? There’s not a massive amount of weapons, but every one is so fleshed out that it makes it worth it. With that being said I did find the whip to be one of the weaker weapons.
Not only does she have access to a great arsenal of weaponry, but a awesome selection of techniques that will take you a while to remember all of them. The best and most frequently used of these will be Witch Time, if you dodge at the right time this will slow time right down and basically leave the enemy wide open to be beaten down.
Then of course we have to look at the enemies Bayonetta faces off against. An assortment of angels that start off as weak henchmen that gradually build up to offensive juggernauts that will keep the player on their toes. I did find the aesthetic design of the enemies to be a little disappointing as with them all being angels it simply boiled down to them having the same palette which made them quite bland to look at. With that being said in terms of gameplay there is a excellent selection of enemies to go up against where each different variant makes you approach differently and keeps you on guard.
With a title as over the top as Bayonetta it should go without saying that the boss fights are going to be on a massive scale and they truly are. You do have a number of fights against Jeanne throughout the adventure and these are great and a good test of skill as you face off against someone with the same skills, but the then there is the other side of the coin. Massive clashes against behemoths whether in a coliseum, out at sea, or in space these fights give a lot to look at. They can be a little frustrating at times, just due to the nature of them being full of huge set pieces, but for the most part they are good fun.
The Switch Version
Let’s be perfectly honest at this point you’ve probably heard how great Bayonetta is, but are simply wondering how well it holds up on the Switch. The answer is that it works great. Handheld mode works perfectly and I noticed no dip in performance as Bayonetta made the transition from the big screen to the on the go on the Nintendo Switch. Of course how many times you get to play it in public is another question as it certainly isn’t a title that is safe for work. Best to lay this one with your back to a wall with headphones on.
Bayonetta is a short game from start to finish, but offers a lot of replay value. Costumes, weapons, techniques and items to equip can all be purchased and unlocked after your first playthrough. On top of this you can go through to score that ever sort after pure platinum rank on each level. Higher difficulties mix up the levels as they change the enemies you face off against and really start to offer a challenge. This is what I found most impressive about the game, sometimes it can be a real challenge, but it never feels unfair. The story knows what it is meant to be, there’s no intricate and deep plot points to ponder, but a great fanfare of absurdity and comedy that you just sit back and enjoy as it comes.
Is there any flaw!?
Yes, I already mentioned that the design of enemies can be bland as well as the whip weapon being a bit rubbish. On top of this the game does have a tendency to reuse environments. I think it makes you fight in the same part of Vigrid about three times through the course of the title also there’s a motorbike section and shooting section on top a missile, but felt a bit lacking to me and I just wanted to get back to the combat. It is a minor complaint and that’s what all the issues with Bayonetta add up to. The final boss is a bit poor, it’s a grand spectacle, but a little lacking. Then finally just an extra chapter or two would’ve been nice.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: The reviewer purchased a copy of Bayonetta for this review.