- Publisher: SEGA
- Developer: Platinum Games
- ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
- Genre: Action Beat-Em-Up
- Pros: Great graphics and sound; catchy music; solid gameplay; lots of difficulty modes
- Cons: Awful story; camera issues; pacing; Angel Attack; cycle/missile levels
Bayonetta is a game starring a tall, slender, Sarah Palin-looking wtich named Bayonetta who may or may not be a stripper (where else could she have learned her particular style of fighting moves?) who has a British accent and a snarky attitude to match. The story is about light vs. dark, witches vs. angels, and spans more than 500 confusing years. Honestly, though, the story is completely awful but you keep playing because you like Bayonetta as a character and because the cutscenes and action sequences are completely crazy and awesome to watch.
One of my favorite features of the game is that there are multiple difficulty modes. If you’re like me and don’t particularly enjoy brutal, frustrating difficulty but want to actually get through the game, you can tone it down a couple of notches to somewhere you are comfortable with. The “Very Easy” difficulty, for example, makes it pretty near impossible to die while the highest difficulties will really put Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden fans to the test. I really appreciate that Bayonetta was made for everyone and not exclusively the hardcore (take that, Ninja Gaiden). The easiest difficulty takes about 7 hours to beat while the harder ones more like 10-12+ depending on how often you die.
The controls are surprisingly intuitive, but thanks to the sheer number of potential combos the game is also pretty deep. It is all just tapping out combos, but it produces such spectacular results that you don’t really mind that it is sort of simple and repetitive. Being able to switch out weapons and earn new abilities as you play through the game also definitely helps keep you interested.
Also, some of the missions designed to give the game more variety just fall sort of flat. Between each level you get to play an arcade-style shooter called “Angel Attack” where you move a cursor around the screen and try to shoot angels to earn bonus items. It is okay, but it controls pretty terribly. Likewise, there are a couple of main story missions I’m not particularly fond of. One features Bayonetta tearing down a freeway on a motorcycle, ducking under trucks and closing gates and stuff. And the other is a level that has Bayonetta riding a missile and shooting down enemies as they appear in front of her (plays exactly like Star Fox, just so you know what it is like). Neither one of these missions control all that well, and both of them last about twice as long as they should. Like I said above, I want more of the crazy over the top combat, not this goofy stuff.
Graphically, Bayonetta is a completely gorgeous game. The environments are all sharp and detailed and the characters look great. The animation is also downright spectacular. Even better, despite massive enemies, debris falling all over the place, and Bayonetta flipping around killing enemies, the framerate never drops and is silky smooth.
The sound is also very well done. The voice acting is decent, even if the story is awful, and Bayonetta herself is hard not to like despite the tough shell she tries to put up. More noteworthy is the music which is J-Pop and techno and some nifty remixes of themes from classic SEGA games.
Overall, Bayonetta is jaw dropping and over the top and worth playing for action fans. It looks and sounds great and plays amazingly well. Multiple difficulty levels also ensure that anyone and everyone will be able to see it from start to finish. It isn’t quite over the top and action-y enough for my tastes (more fighting and less cutscenes would have made me happier), but it is definitely a fun ride all the way through that I definitely recommend. There is enough gameplay here to warrant a purchase – particularly with multiple playthroughs on different difficulties– but you can play through it once during a rental and be more than satisfied.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy