Let me just start off by saying one thing, I like longer hair on a woman. It’s just my thing, OK? Now when a lady uses that long to hair open up some dark portal and summon a huge demon to eat and maim me, immediate mood killer. What brings on this little look into my life? That would be the lovely little release from Platinum Games and Sega called Bayonetta. From the same company that brought us the Wii‘s “hyper violent” MadWorld and the soon to be released Nintendo DS title Infinite Space, the Platinum Games dev team has created, what I think is, a great way to start off the year . Hideki Kamiya takes the lead on this title, I would hope that name sounds familiar (if not, smack yourself for never playing Devil May Cry or Viewtiful Joe), and with a great team behind him we are given this fantastic third-person action game that is well worth the time and money.
So I’m sure you want to know what the games about. Well stop being so impatient and I’ll tell you. Bayonetta takes us through the journey of an Umbran Witch who has awakend after a 500 year nap with no memory of what happened, her only memory being her name – Bayonetta. The game takes place in the fictional city of Vigrid, located in Europe, in what I can tell is a modern time setting. As the story of the city go centuries and centuries ago two great factions of warriors existed; the Lumen Sages and the Umbran Witches. The Witches drew their power from the moon and Inferno, think of it as Hell, while their counterparts the Sages draw their power from the sun and Paradiso, obviously Heaven. Each faction contained a treasure that allowed them to be “overseers of time”, now that didnt mean they could time travel or alter event in history, instead they described themselves as protectors of the time line so that nothing else could affect it. These treasures were called the “Eyes of the Universe”, the “Left Eye” belonging to the Witches while the “Right Eye” was in possession of the Sages. The two sides were in constant struggle trying to keep the other in check and as time passed the regular people of Vigrid started siding with the Sages and started the Great Witch Hunts, where Umbran Witches were hunted until 500 years ago when they all vanished. This is the back story that leads us into the start of our epic journey.
As the game starts up we find Bayonetta on a huge stone clock falling off a cliff. Random, right? She is accompanied by another Witch, Jeanne, who plays a role in Bayonetta’s development through the game. Your enemies in the game are Angels, though these aren’t the lovely little winged guys we think of when we hear the word Angels, they range from birdlike people to tricked-out cars and even flying boats!! It’s awesome, as you encounter new types on Angels in the game they are logged in a book where you can look them up at your leasure and learn a little more about them. To fend off these blessed bastards Bayonetta wields an assortment of weapons from guns, that she can wield in her hands and even latch a pair of pistols to her feet, to some swords and whips ect, ect….. Along with these weapons Bayonetta uses her witchy powers and hair to summon demons to give her a hand or foot. To do this Bayonetta uses her hair, you read in Antonio’s letters that most witches used their hair as a conduit to Inferno, which takes form of a few different demons. The most frequent help you will get is from Madam Butterfly, while we never get to see her full body most of Bayonetta’s combo attacks will end in her summoning a hand or spiked heel to deliver a powerful blow. But aside from the random battery of body parts the only other time you will see some demons is at the end of boss fights, but hey it’s worth it because to summon these demons Bayonetta has to use her hair, right? Well…. turns out her leather outfit is made from that same hair.. hehhe… flesh. Nothing too bad mind you all the more private bits stay covered but its still pretty funny to watch.
Now anyone who has played Devil May Cry will immediately notice that the gameplay style with Bayonetta is the same. Both use the same style of combat, third person action against multiple opponents at the same time with a lot of stuff going on all at once. The action is pretty in your face, with all the flashy movement Bayonetta does with her combos and all the enemies jumping here and there I sometimes had trouble seeing what was going on. I would look at my health meter and see that I was taking a lot of hits that I never even saw land which got pretty darn annoying at times. As far as dealing damage you got two options; you can button mash away and just beat the crud out of anything in front of you or you can take just a bit more time and use a quite extensive list of combos that Bayonetta is supplied with, and each weapon gets a few extra combo moves as well. The loading screens give you some time to practice these as well as a list to look through showing how many times you have used each combo. Special commands or actions are woven into events, finishes, executions, and unique “Torture Attacks” in which Bayonetta summons a variety of devices to deal devastating blows to her enemies. Such devices range from guillotines to iron maidens, a variety of devices that were used during the Witch Hunts. Another item in your arsenal is Witch Time, just think bullet time, if you can execute a dodge right before Bayonetta is struck you will engage the mode for a few seconds to help dole out some more damage (also later you find some enemies that can only be attacked DURING Witch Time.) The Witch Time ability is also used during some boss fights and plays a role is a few of the puzzles you will run into during the game, though there really aren’t that many.
Along with the regular gameplay you are also given two little mini games to help break up the linear action. One of them being Angel Attack, a shooting gallery style game than you play after finishing each chapter, you shoot angels to gain points and buy smaller items like health lolli’s. The other is a series of bonus levels you can enter called Alfheim, in these you will have to complete a certain task to be awarded some currency and bonus items. Both are nice little addons that give you a break from ogling Bayonetta and let your eyes refocus from their jumping all over the screen. Though neither really add any more depth to the overall state of the game. The level designs are great, detailed and thorough, though like I said you don’t get to explore much of them. But what you do get to see is impressive and so is the design of the enemies you encounter in all these lovely places. There is a fair amount of variety when it comes to types of baddies you fight and each one is done very well, none of the different types look the same.. So your not just fighting angels in one level… and then the angels in blue suits in the next. Each type comes with its own myriad of attacks and since in each encounter you find a few different types you fighting style becomes very hectic. Dodging will be your best friend in the game and you’ll have Bayonetta bouncing around the screen more than a super ball. To my surprise this didn’t cause as much slowdown as I expected, in fact I can only think of two or three times in the game when I encountered any slowdown at all and even then is was only a second or two.
Along with some lovely visuals this game also makes your ears happy. The audio tracks throughout the title are great and most got stuck in my head for a while after playing. The game is full of upbeat jazzy numbers that honestly sound like music that was used in the original Charlie’s Angels TV show, which is cool alright… dont knock it (Farrah rocked!) It may just be me but I thought the music really complemented the character of Bayonetta. I think it seemed to match her personality very well, you can see her being someone who would listen to it, though I’m sure not everyone out there is going to enjoy the music like I did. Bayonetta gives you the option to use your own soundtrack though in case the down-tempo beats just aren’t doing it for you.
Another thing that stood out as I played this game was Bayonetta herself! The game is chock full of sexual overtones and nuances. Is that going to bother some people? Sure. Is Bayonetta possibly a stripper in her off time? Very likely. But the game doesn’t take it all to seriously, it’s not trying to be an NC-17 movies. Mixed in all the cutscenes and CG action shots are pretty funny moments. Bayonetta seems to think she is always on the stage and this is punctuated by her stopping in a pose and a spot light shinning on her, or unleashing an amazing flurry or attacks only to realize that the enemy had already been taken down. The sexual advances are more for a chuckle than anything else.
Overall I was happy that I chose to review this title and stand by my suggestion that this would be great game to add to your library. The fighting is smooth, though sometimes there is a bit too much going on at one time and the detail to the world and characters is well done. Platinum Games has done a really great job at putting a fresh spin on an already great genre. Some people are going to play this and think, “Ehhh just another Devil May Cry clone” and to that I say Nay! It makes me think of a Hideki Kamiya from back in April of 2009 in which he said “… it’s been eight years since [the first Devil May Cry (DMC)], so of course I wouldn’t create a game that hadn’t progressed from those days! Of course, if there hadn’t have been DMC, there wouldn’t be Bayonetta, which has evolved from DMC.” Are you going to tell him he’s wrong hmm? Are ya huh? So that’s my take on it all, maybe I planted the small seed of intrigue in your mind or maybe I just wasted ten minutes of your time (6 if your a quick reader.) Either way you should at least give Bayonetta a rent and if for no other reason then to watch a partially naked chick beat the crap out of angels with a sword. Who doesn’t want to see that?!??!
And we didn’t even get time for pillow talk.