Bayonetta Updated Hands-On Impressions

We delve into the first four chapters of Sega's upcoming action adventure and get bewitched by the sassy British heroine.

The first 30 seconds of Bayonetta are quite a ride. You'll fight a pack of demons on a broken cliff face plunging at rapid speeds down a mountain side, wildly pushing at random buttons trying to figure out what's what. But that doesn't mean it's not a carefully orchestrated beginning. In fact, the opening scene of the game is exactly what Bayonetta seems to be all about: spontaneous, crazy, and fun. There's never a dull moment or an enemy with just one head, or arm, or leg. But Bayonetta is fast proving to be a little bit more engaging than your average over-the-top action game. With the game's release just two months away, we had a chance to delve a little deeper into the game's story, combat, and gameplay with an updated hands-on demo that took us through the game's prologue and its first four chapters.

Those who have been following our previous coverage will already be familiar with the heroine of the game--Bayonetta is a leather-clad modern-day witch with some pretty remarkable powers and a sassy British accent. Found in a casket at the bottom of the sea 20 years ago, Bayonetta remembers nothing of her former life and is constantly haunted by memories, which she must piece together throughout the game. The game's opening sequence serves as a little teaser to Bayonetta's past: we see her fighting angelic-like demons side-by-side another witch named Jeanne, whose relationship to our heroine we won't discover until later. The game's prologue is set during the present day where Bayonetta is working with a muscle man named Enzo (think Danny DeVito) under the influence of a spiritual-leader-cum-crime-boss called Rodin, who looks and sounds suspiciously like Laurence Fishburne. What exactly Bayonetta does is difficult to determine--the only clue we're given is that she's searching for a stone for her necklace, which will somehow help her uncover her past.

The first combat sequence takes place during the prologue in a cemetery where you're finally taught how to fight. Bayonetta has a wide and varied combo library at her disposal, which you must slowly learn to master if you want to keep things interesting. You'll start off easy with punches and kicks, as well as a move that triggers "witch time." This is a slow-motion sequence that lasts about three seconds and makes all your enemies move slower while you remain in real time. Witch time is triggered by pressing R1 at the very last possible moment to dodge a blow before it is delivered and is relatively easy to master. Bayonetta also has guns (and oh, what guns!) equipped to her hands and feet. Holding down kick or punch will unleash a torrent of bullets (automatic aim) while rotating the left thumbstick before holding kick or punch will see Bayonetta spin around on her head (a la break dancing) and shoot her enemies with her feet. These moves will serve as the base for all the combos, the majority of which are unlocked from the start of the game.

Because there are a lot of combos, the game gives you a chance to practice them during the loading screens. While in combat, you'll only be able to remember four or five combos (six if you're mentally acute), but the rest will come as a result of trial and error and button mashing. This is both easy and satisfying, especially when you stumble across a previously unknown combo. Bayonetta can also pick up and drop weapons lost by her enemies, but be wary: the bigger and more impressive a weapon is, the longer it will take to swing it, which leaves Bayonetta open to attack.

Bayonetta finishing moves often result in a large, hairy boot.

Chapter One shows us that Bayonetta is a woman prone to serious and frequent flashbacks, in which she is an active participant rather than a passive observer. After receiving some new information about the location of the stone she's seeking, Bayonetta travels to the European citadel of Vigrid, where, predictably, she fights some bad dudes. Whether Vigrid is part of the real world or an imagined one--or even another dimension--we're not sure yet. Not even Sega can answer that question at this stage. What's known for sure is that Vigrid is infested with The Lumen Sage--evil angels and monsters guarding treasures, mountains, and passageways, which you will have to make your way through.

Here, we're introduced to the game's shop, subtly called "The Gates of Hell" and run by Rodin. You can enter the shop in between chapters or by accessing portals as you play. Each time you slay an enemy, you'll collect halos, which transform into currency for purchasing weapons, new moves, and accessories. These include magic charms and spells to increase vitality, as well as items such as health boosts. There are also treasures, which include new books that give you information about Bayonetta, her past, and the world she inhabits. You can assign items to the D pad for your convenience, as well as collect treasures, charms, and items in-game. The end of this chapter sees us fighting our first boss--the giant dragon demon with the face of a Botticelli cherub that we've seen in our past previews.

Chapter Two treats us to a bit of background information on the relationship between Bayonetta and Jeanne via a playable flashback. We also bump into a promiscuous young man named Luka, who Bayonetta insists, despite his protests, to call Cheshire. Luka is connected to her past somehow, but we'll have to wait until later to find out more. We then enter an area of Vigrid called Purgatorio (which is not actually the Purgatory). Because Bayonetta is fighting at nearly every turn, it's easy to imagine that the combat sequences could quickly become somewhat of a bore: the same combos, the same finishing moves, the same demons. But this is not at all true; in fact, one of the most engaging aspects of the gameplay in this demo was the varied and immersive combat. You're encouraged to be as creative and stylish as you want when you're killing dudes; the more flair, the more handsome the reward. The spectacular and over-the-top demons also represent different eras in the mythology of the game. For example, you'll fight demons that represent virtues and dominions, and others that represent principalities. Not that you'll be able to tell: though some are made of flesh and others are made of steel, they're all extravagant, weird-looking, and, as mentioned before, have various limbs.

Whatever you do, don't make this woman angry.

The best way to finish a combat sequence is with some of Bayonetta's finishing moves, which include a torture combo and a terribly fun move playfully titled “the climax combo”. The former is triggered by a meter under your health bar, which you can build up by damaging your enemy's health while not sustaining any hits yourself. Once the meter is full, you'll be prompted into a quick-time event that, when executed successfully, culminates in an impressive and gory stage show that has Bayonetta throwing her enemies into coffins or cutting their heads off with a guillotine. The climax combo can only be used on bosses and is activated when you're nearing the end of the fight (and you're winning). After the quick-time event, Bayonetta's hair will come to life and transform into a giant creature--be it dragon, vulture, or sparrow--which will proceed to tear apart what's left of the boss.

During our demo, we also discovered that Bayonetta can walk up walls, but she can only do so when the moon is out. Surprisingly, we weren't taken back to the modern world but kept a path through Vigrid territories that became darker--fire, lava, rain, and hail--until we reached the last boss fight of our demo. We'd encountered this pesky dragon before, but now that it had managed to get on Bayonetta's nerves, we had to finish it off. It wasn't exactly much to look at, and even Bayonetta remarked on its offensive physique: a Buddha-like form consisting of two dragon heads and a giant, upside-down Roman head not unlike the ones you find in the antiquities section of a museum, plus some chains and pudgy baby arms flailing about. The entire fourth chapter of the game is taken up with this boss fight, which is epic in every sense of the word. We had to use every combo we could remember to keep one step ahead of the dragon and, one by one, decapitate its heads until the climax combo finale.

The last thing we thought we'd mention is the subtle humour that seems to be abundant in Bayonetta. The game's music, design, and dialogue seem to be a pastiche of different styles. Cutscenes have a habit of switching between normal and film-reel-style stills, while the game's music is reminiscent of both the "Pulp Fiction" and "Charlie’s Angels" themes, Japanese anime, and the electronica you get with old-school fighting games like Street Fighter. Bayonetta herself is a charming and hilarious character, sounding like a schoolteacher at one moment and Austin Powers the next ("Flock off, feather face"). Finally, the game likes to mix things up: after each chapter you’ll have to participate in a shooting minigame to earn more halos; in another instance, you’ll have to face off against three bosses in a row in the middle of a chapter.

If you happen to forget the large number of combos available to you, simply swinging your sword back and forth often works well.

No matter which element of Bayonetta you're most looking forward to, it seems there's something in it for everyone. Stay tuned for more Bayonetta coverage before its release in January.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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105 comments
aldzik89
aldzik89

played the demo just now... cant wait for this game .. wow... just wow...

volpert
volpert

It's bad that for now the ps3 have some issues like the frame rate and loading, but thanks god the are doing a patch to make things just fine. If they really correct thing this game will be a must for everyone who enjoys fast paced games and action.

alphared1
alphared1

Played the demo. Very fluid fighting system and the game itself looks beautiful. Not to mention the star herself, she is gorgeous. I am a big DMC fan and if you are too, this game will be right up your alley. Looks fantastic. Can't wait to buy it.

5Jedi5diah5
5Jedi5diah5

all the good pts everyone can see, so whats the bad? IMO: the combos are alot but when faced with so many vicious foes at one time i panicked and forgot all about beautiful combos, my hands are really tired after completing the demo. my most dislike is that the characters look so blend into the background esp the smaller foes/humans i had problem spotting them. the flashy highlights are not enough to make it stand out at such a high paced game. lastly the ps3 demo shows obvious lag when the big boss slams on you. it didn't annoy me much as i am frantically trying to avoid the attack doing witch time. no lag i feel on witch time though.

Cillerboy
Cillerboy

is this anything like ninja blade?

Vasot
Vasot

The PS3 version of Bayonetta has framerate issues according to Famitsu !!!

Memoryitis
Memoryitis

This game owns ass, Ima buy this game

VXLbeast
VXLbeast

Sounds wild and odd. If it can pull of that quirky charm they seem to be aiming for, then I am sure it will be great.

HappyApryl
HappyApryl

just checked out the demo for this game...omg....DMC anybody???? beings how its designed by the same person thats cool with me....I've been waiting for DMC5....but this'll tie me over just fine...I absolutely love the over the top graphics and action. gonna preorder yep yep...!!!!!

rugripper40
rugripper40

this game is kool as hell...why did gamespot cut up on the ps3 version of this game...freaking game runs perfect..i think gamespot needs a real hd tv that run fast...no jitter,blur,ghosting,etc on my tv...then again i have a samsung superflat 8500 series led,runs at 240 mhz and has 2 ms response time...this tvs made for ps3 play i guess...lol

Dark_Infinite
Dark_Infinite

just played the demo It is simply amazing. so fun and addicting. to me its a serious contender for DMC

HoshiN
HoshiN

Guys, I've got this game here in Indonesia...and I must say, this game kicked ass...You can pit her against Kratos,Dante or other character that you know, and they will drool all over her awesome moves. It's a must have game!!!...PS: People who've watched Equilibrium should like the way Bayonetta shoots when you rotate the LS and press the Y button) GOD!!!It's slick. FYI (Spoiler Alert) : Purgatorio is a world in the middle of Inferno (hell),Paradiso(Heaven), and our world.

FF_fan2004
FF_fan2004

The 2nd picture, the one with the dragon, it's more like "Beware: PMT". This game is definitely on my list of games to get.

Cabaji_Ec
Cabaji_Ec

its about time they make another plataformer...im really getting sick of shooters...i was really in need of a change and this action game looks fantastic....OHHHH SOMEONE MAKE GOD OF WAR FOR XBOX 360

killip
killip

Im getting sick of ppl judging this because it looks like DMC. It might look abit like it, but DMC is no where near as fast and fluid as this. This is gonna be an essential purchase for me next year. :)

Castlevania1986
Castlevania1986

Boring, I got sick of DMC after the 3rd game and didnt even bother buying the fourth. Ninja Gaiden proves to be a much better action game than anything Capcom throws out or Sega. My only issue with NG was the crappy difficulty gets annoying sometimes and the final Boss in NG2 was by far the worst, because you had to shoot him with arrows...Lame.

Odnomiar
Odnomiar

this game is my number one purchase in jan... can't wait!

gayguy
gayguy

At jimboi2008 It looks like DMC because it is made by DMC creator.

carter101
carter101

I bet its going to feel a lot like DMC but with a Castlevania like move switching and stuff, anyway I loved sega (PSO sonic etc) and still do(V chronicles, and random games: Fzero gx?), but Bayonetta looks sick and i hope it results in ultra sick.

KzJoe
KzJoe

This will never amount to DMC

MattHopeKids
MattHopeKids

I agree, it's DMC with a woman instead of a guy.

Rhonen84
Rhonen84

looks flashy but not impressed.

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

it looks like a fun, over the top action game that Devil may Cry fans will like.

McMJ3
McMJ3

@NND1 Have you ever heard of Valkyria Chronicles?

NND1
NND1

The first and major issue is that its from SEGA and they have had a bad track record as of late....

five01st
five01st

@Duncan908 (and others) Well considering Hideki Kamiya, the director of Bayonetta, created the first DMC, I'm not surprised it has a similar feel to the style.

starbright_2012
starbright_2012

I'd like to clarify...PS3 is region free, not Xbox360

starbright_2012
starbright_2012

I got my import copy from Play Asia last week ( it's English written and spoken) and I cannot express how simply amazing this game is. It's like the comprehensive guide to the most memorable boss fights ever...all covered in a big helping of cheese. I love this game, worth the 90 bucks to overnight import.

risbo_23
risbo_23

I can imagine that some of you like this kind of games, but I don't see how this is gonna work for me. I'll pass..

Fumanchu2
Fumanchu2

Her head is too small and her limbs are too long. If they were trying to go for sexy, it didn't work...

morgonstjarnan
morgonstjarnan

Looks pretty bad, and so cheesy. You're playing some slutty witch out to kill angels? Wow, the Japanese really do take other cultures seriously. I'm looking forward to the game where we can play a geisha running around decapitating Shinjo ancestor spirits in Kyoto. Great fun for all!

Jag-T1000
Jag-T1000

This will be the first game I purchase in 2010!

PesmergaYuber
PesmergaYuber

I agree also that it's reminiscent of Devil May Cry but it seems much more vibrant, and strangely enough Castlevania comes to mind as well

brow3458
brow3458

looks like its gonna be a good game

tu2pac
tu2pac

I must admit I was wrong. Last week (at least I think) I posted a message belittling this game .... well I got the demo from the Japanese online store (it's in English so you might as well do the same)and the game is pretty great ... makes devil may cry look like watered down ....

th0s3
th0s3

its dante with boobs?? how else cant check it out!!

Spriggan89
Spriggan89

Although this looks quite stylish, it's just an even more womanised Dante with a couple of new tricks... Not bad, but not that great for me. In my mind, brutal characters in this sort of games look more organic and in their right place... Maybe this is why I wasn't a fan of DMC. So for me, GOW 3, Darksiders and D.Inferno are more preferable games. But still this one will find it's fans.

CoreoVII
CoreoVII

I'm afraid a lot of people won't be buying this. Too dumb to remember all the combos available to them. Stick to modern army game 2 please. lol This is a Day 1 Purchase.

cocomacoco
cocomacoco

tried it yesterday and gotta say iis a beauty this game, combat is fluid, gorgeous graphics

DuncanM908
DuncanM908

Anyone else getting a little Devil May Cry nostalgia?

Doolum
Doolum

this looks like a game to be had.

Psyafu
Psyafu

best game ever played. it feels like the dmc series.