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Review

Bayonetta Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: January 4, 2010
  • X360

Bayonetta is simultaneously gratuitous, ludicrous, and marvelous, but that's precisely why it's such a wild and fun adventure.

From the moment Bayonetta's prologue begins, it's made abundantly clear that you're entering a world of pure wonder and spectacle. As the prelude unfolds, you control the titular heroine and stylishly dispatch an angelic host of enemies while standing on the face of an exploding clock tower as it tumbles end-over-end from a mountaintop. This brief and over-the-top sequence is but a first step on the long road of delightful insanity that will follow, with each and every moment pushing the limits of ridiculousness even further. But however ludicrous it may appear, do not make the mistake of dismissing Bayonetta as all style with no substance. Beneath its glossy facade lies an accessible but deep and intricately nuanced combat system that allows you to perform impressive feats and feel like part of the magically empowered. This high-octane hack-and-slash game is expertly paced and further enhanced by several subtle but brilliant tweaks to the formula. These include a powerful item concoction mode, a comprehensive scoring system with online leaderboards, and a loading screen cleverly disguised as a practice mode. Whether you believe in magic or not, Bayonetta is a truly bewitching experience.

Five hundred years is long enough for an entire world to change, which is what the woman known as Bayonetta discovers after awakening from her slumber in a tomb at the bottom of a lake. With her memory understandably hazy, Bayonetta remembers little more than that she is an Umbran Witch and looking for something called The Eyes of the World. On a tip from her informant, she heads to the isolated city of Vigrid where she begins to piece together her missing memories and learn about the downfall of her clan and its counterparts: the Lumen Sages. What ensues is a series of hilariously over-the-top moments--each of which somehow surpasses the previous--that loosely form a narrative amidst a plethora of sight gags, sexual innuendos, and gratuitously violent angelic deaths. Amidst all the absurdity is a coherent plot with some surprisingly sweet moments, but the main attraction is the combat, not the storytelling.

Having contracted with the demons of Inferno, who serve as a source of her power, Bayonetta is a mortal enemy of the angels of Paradiso who seem to emerge at every corner in Vigrid spoiling for a fight. Armed from the get-go with a unique set of four guns (two of which are attached to her high heels), Bayonetta punches, kicks, and shoots her way through the heavenly aggressors that hound her every step. Apart from the basics, she can also perform a number of stylish special attacks to punish her enemies in often mind-boggling ways. Bullet climax attacks can strike out at all nearby attackers with most or all of Bayonetta's creatively wielded guns; wicked weave attacks summon monstrous, demonic appendages in her hair for a magical sucker punch or heel stomp; and torture attacks that conjure pain- and humiliation-inducing contraptions out of thin air. You're able to dish out an incredible amount of hurt in Bayonetta, and it's hard not to be hooked after experiencing the sheer pleasure of performing your first outrageous combo which may or may not involve break dancing, ensorcelled guillotines, and dozens of bullets to bridge together your myriad punches and kicks. As you fight through the angelic choirs, a variety of new weapons, such as a cursed katana or an enchanted pair of ice skates, are unlocked through trade with the demonic barkeep/smith Rodin, enhancing your already impressive arsenal even further. Because both Bayonetta's hands and feet are her weapons, you equip both with your instruments of heavenly destruction and can even have two entirely different sets ready for action with the tap of a button. These two arsenals can be swapped midcombo, which offers a great deal of flexibility (particularly when fighting several different types of angels at once) and makes battle feel free-form and pleasing. Truly, angels will cry before you're finished with them.

Bayonetta rarely takes itself seriously, but that's all part of the fun.

From the very beginning of the game, dozens of different combo attacks can be performed with the right recipe of button presses and timing, but even more advanced techniques are available for purchase from Rodin as well. In an ingenious move, the between-level loading screens also double as a practice mode of sorts where you can play around with each of Bayonetta's attacks. Complete with a handy onscreen move list, this feature is invaluable for learning the differences between the many different combos and finding the ones that work best for you, and you can even turn it into a full-fledged practice mode at the touch of a button. Even with this helpful mode, though, it can be tricky to grasp the subtle nuances of combat. If complex combos or elaborate attack dances aren't your thing, Bayonetta's easy and very easy difficulties equip everyone with the means for performing even the most impressive of attacks almost effortlessly. But for those clamoring for a challenge, Bayonetta does not disappoint--on normal difficulty, even lesser angels can prove to be fatal, and there are two harder levels to unlock for the most skillful of players to brave.

The core mechanic that fuels Bayonetta's combat complexity is your ability to dodge enemy assaults: Pulling the right trigger at almost any time--including midcombo--will instantly cause Bayonetta to pirouette out of harm's way. Enemies hit hard and rarely drop bonus health, so it is in your best interest to exploit your dodging prowess as often as possible. Indeed, the combat system is not only built around the concept of avoiding damage altogether, but it also rewards you for doing so in more ways than one. If you dodge an attack at the last possible moment, Bayonetta activates a powerful ability known as witch time, which temporarily slows time down to a crawl for everyone else and allows her to thrash her foes and circumvent their sometimes considerable defenses. By making dodging so accessible and utilitarian, developer Platinum Games has transformed each battle into a fluid, continuous dance, with your performance graded and compared against other players via online leaderboards. This grading system judges your angel-slaying aptitude based on time spent in combat, combo damage dealt, and damage taken for each battle and stage. Obtaining the coveted "pure platinum" grade in a complete level or even a single encounter for your speed and skill is both challenging and rewarding. Going for them all is a great reason to replay and drive your scores higher and higher.

See that giant demonic dragon? Bayonetta keeps it inside of her HAIR.

Each of the 16 chapters in Bayonetta is broken down into a series of self-contained enemy encounters called verses. When not actively killing the agents of heaven, you maneuver your witch through Vigrid, as well as its surrounding areas, solving simple environmental puzzles, finding ingredients to concoct health and support items (all lollipops, naturally), searching for hidden challenge rooms, and watching as the pleasantly preposterous story unfolds one cutscene at a time. When the moon is full and visible--which happens more often than you might think--Bayonetta is able to witch walk on walls and ceilings to move about or fight. These situations are among the most memorable moments in Bayonetta, and being able to run across a collapsing wall to avoid an incoming wave of molten lava or leap from floor to wall to ceiling to continue a furious assault is not only freeing, but it also adds a new dimension to the genre. Action peaks when the most powerful of angels--the personifications of the cardinal virtues--appear and try to stop Bayonetta, and you'll need every one of the powers at your disposal to defeat these titans of heaven in awesome multipart battles. Each boss fight ends with an aptly named climax attack that summons one of the many infernal demons Bayonetta has contracted with (and seems to keep in her hair) to brutally finish them off and drag them down to hell.

With each moment spent in the world of Bayonetta, it becomes more and more evident that an incredible amount of effort was spent in making everything look as stylish as possible. The frame rate is crisp and smooth, with each of Bayonetta's ridiculous, hypersexualized poses expertly animated. Watching as she suplexes a dozen angels at once, defeats herself in a dance off, or jumpstarts a motorcycle by using her middle finger as a key is delightful, and the arena for each boss battle is a sight to behold. Even the more mundane actions are carefully detailed--Bayonetta doesn't so much bleed as she blooms roses, double jumps are assisted by the butterfly wings that sprout from her back, and so on. Angels have a fantastic yet grotesque art direction that blends together elements from classically beautiful Greco-Roman statues with avian, insect, or even technological bases to form unique designs. Some of them, such as the virtue Fortitudo--a twin-headed dragon whose central body is itself yet another inverted head--stand out more than others, but all are memorable. Though the dynamic camera generally does a fine job of ensuring that the action is front and center--particularly during witch walk sequences--there are a few enclosed areas where it seems unsure as to what to do. This is a rare occurrence, however, and overall, it's a minor annoyance at worst.

Matching the over-the-top action of Bayonetta is a suitably ridiculous soundtrack that is equal parts annoyingly catchy pop, epic chorus, and retro arcade synth. Like the rest of Bayonetta, the soundtrack is very tongue-in-cheek, particularly an upbeat remix of "Fly Me to the Moon" that is used throughout the entire game, and most often as you gleefully dispatch angelic foes in a whirling dance of death and display. Accompanying the soundtrack is an all-star voice cast, the real star of which is, of course, Bayonetta herself, who is voiced with just the right combination of sultry, sass, and self-confidence to bring her to life and keep her from devolving into the realm of stereotype and cliche. With nearly every ridiculous stunt, she delivers a double entendre in her feisty British accent (all the time with a wink in her eye), the complete spectacle of which brings a smile to your face.

When surrounded by angels, you can always breakdance gunfight your way out of trouble.

With the fluidity and flexibility of its fighting engine, innovative use of bullet time and wall-walking mechanics, and the competitive online scoring system that is weaved into its very fabric, Bayonetta isn't so much a sister to other combat-oriented action games as it is an evolution of them. Its battle controls are silky smooth from the very first moment you experience them, and the magic remains throughout the entire journey; whether you're throwing a bus at a boss or hitching a ride on a ballistic missile. Chock-full of often silly but always memorable moments, Bayonetta is hard to get out of your mind even after you've stopped playing it. More than anything else, almost everything about Bayonetta feels just right. Its host of hidden items and secrets, multiple difficulties, competitively balanced scoring system, and charismatic heroine make it a game that will be revisited time and time again. This is one action game that you absolutely must not miss.

The Good
Fluid, flexible, and fun combat system
Witch time and witch walk add new dimensions to battle
Fantastic, memorable boss fights
Intuitive scoring system with online leaderboards
Superbly animated
The Bad
Some minor camera issues
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews
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Discussion

30 comments
ladyblue
ladyblue

Amazing game. Waiting for B2. :cool:

CleitonMagno
CleitonMagno

Awsome!! Just waiting for the Bayonetta 2

daviz88
daviz88

bayonetta is a good game not a great game but a good game.bayonetta as far as i am concerned it didn't reach my expectation.what i found cool about the game is the combat system, the combo list is very vast and the fact that there is different combos for different weapon gives the game replay value to master them.apart from combat the game lack story,the characters were uninteresting  graphics weren't top notch and some of the enemies were darn right silly.combat is good but too much button mashing and lacks precision and bayonetta herself just seems very shallow in fact the only character i really liked was jeanne. in the end bayonetta just come out corny and unserious.other people may like this game but it just doesn't sit well with me.

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

Such an amazing game. Cautiously looking forward to Bayonetta 2, though I'm a bit upset that I won't be able to play it. No, I'm not about to lay down $200+ for a system I have no interest in. Game-pads are a thing of the past for all I care.

TheKrustaceox
TheKrustaceox

Shit. Got only PC and cant play this. I love underated gems :(

DaBu
DaBu

Really wanna pick this game up. I've heard so much praise! I take it I could find it in a bargain bin somewhere?

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

This game is over-rated.

 

Besides being too easy thanks to a couple of poor implementation choices, the unprogressive, QTE-based gameplay really couldn't hold a candle to the absolute precision of an older game like Devil May Cry 4 or 3 for example, and yet people are praising it like it's the first game to ever have this kind of combat system, and the story etc. are just plain garbage, also the cutscenes have got nothing on DMC or NG.  I didn't like the "style" at all, it was ridiculous and over-the-top in a bad way.  It didn't take itself seriously, but then asks *you* to.  I found I just couldn't care.  The only really impressive thing about it was its visual production values, not technically impressive, but creative and polished.

I really don't know how this got a 9.

push88
push88

I'm ashamed to call myself a gamer knowing that I haven't played this game yet.  So, I just ordered it from ebay for about $10. 

Jebril
Jebril

It's alright the movies are forever though and I don't want to skip them. Other than that it's pretty funny a lot of mashing in order though.

EzcapeTheFate
EzcapeTheFate

Good game. Just found it brand new at Walmart for 10 bucks.

Fist-of-Fury360
Fist-of-Fury360

This game is absolutely INSANE! Extremely replayable over n over & very memorable!

Keithyboy25
Keithyboy25

I just don;t 'get' this game, it reminds me of Too Human... same repetitive gameplay, similar mythology. I know a lot of people love it, and I'll play it to the end (just completed level 5), but for me it doesn't really have the 'just one ten more minutes' factor

H4num4n
H4num4n

 @naryanrobinson I like it how you compare this game to DMC and say that DMC is the better one...really funny. Maybe you should know that the father of the DMC series Hideki Kamiya is also the creator of bayonetta. And i think that he disagrees with you on the opinion that DMC is the better game;)

H4num4n
H4num4n

 @naryanrobinson I like it how you compare this game to DMC and say that DMC is the better one...really funny. Maybe you should know that the father of the DMC series is also the creator of bayonetta. And i think that he disagrees with you on the opinion that DMC is the better game.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

 @H4num4n  What a surprise.  Creator of game says his newest game is better than his other games.

*grabs face in shock*

I bet you thought you'd found a nugget there XD

Axl124
Axl124

 @H4num4n  @naryanrobinson not to but into your argument fellows but I can say after playing DMC 3-4 300 hour each and playing bayonetta for about 75 hours, bayonetta is an absolute jem of a game. Skillwise it is equally challenging at harder levels. Bayonetta's enemies are ridiculously quick. So even though she might be overpowred in some places over dante, you still need tobe hella good to take out bosses and enemies. I myself was dismissive about Bayo being a DMC fan but really bayo is a gift to all DMC fans. It is a close cousin to DMC and an absolute delight to play. Don't rob yourself of a fantastic experience. 

H4num4n
H4num4n

 @naryanrobinson OK if you want.

"I believe there are QTEs in Bayonetta because there are... (?)  Or do you not know what a torture attack is?"

These are no QTE's please read up what a QTE is supposed to be.

 

"but in Bayonetta I was happy enough to just dodge at the last minute and mash away in slow motion on the hardest difficulties."

You can't have played it on the hardest difficulties then as i have written above.

 

"And yeah it essentially is button mashing, sure you're more stylish if you mash them in cycles, but that's all.  It's not more deep because it has more insane spectacle to stare at."

Thats the biggest Fail of your missinformed opinion.

 

I'm not gonna list every detail of the game and explain it to you like a child. Like i wrote before give it a try(you clearly haven't played it) and you will see.

 

You know nothing about Bayonetta...:)

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

 @H4num4n That didn't even make sense.  I've just realised how ignorant you are, that's all.

Your next comment won't get read, so try super hard to say something clever for once, cause I'm bored of your lack of intellect.

H4num4n
H4num4n

 @naryanrobinson You mean that you finally informed you about Bayonetta and realized that almost everything you wrote about it was not true? OK then:)

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

 @H4num4n Yeah OK I think this proves more than anything that this argument is over for you.  You're not worth the effort.

H4num4n
H4num4n

 @naryanrobinson LOL Why i'm even arguing with you? You don't even know was a QTE is...and AGAIN you know NOTHING about bayonetta cause on the hardest difficulty you don't go into slowmo after dodging;)

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

 @H4num4n I believe there are QTEs in Bayonetta because there are... (?)  Or do you not know what a torture attack is?

And yeah it essentially is button mashing, sure you're more stylish if you mash them in cycles, but that's all.  It's not more deep because it has more insane spectacle to stare at.

You can say I've only played for 5 milliseconds on super-noob level if you want, I don't care.  It doesn't change the fact the potential of DMC4's combat system leaves Bayonettas in the dust.  Getting away with mashing in DMC3 isn't so easy, even on normal.  Sure it can be done, but in Bayonetta I was happy enough to just dodge at the last minute and mash away in slow motion on the hardest difficulties.  The equivalent in DMC4 is Royal Guard mode, which takes absolute precision timing, but master it and you're practically invincible, and enough in a row gives you a devastating attack.  Once again, Bayonetta takes the more obvious, easier road for flash value.  Slow motion, the staple of action move ever, is the chosen mechanic.

It's the same story over and over.

In the end the difference between the average and the elite in DMC is far greater, and the cohesion between attacks/movements is visibly superior.

 

 

H4num4n
H4num4n

 @naryanrobinson "DMC3/4 rewarded you heavily for absolute precision, jump up and try an ariel combo with Dante without knowing the buttons/attacks from sheer muscle memory, along with a healthy dose of creativity, and you won't be in the air/point maximising for more than a second or two."

The exact same thing can be said about bayonetta. My statement that you now nothing about bayonetta stands. Further i don't know why you beleve that there are QTE's in Bayo and that you can simplay "mash away" at enemys. I think you only played the demo or just once trough the game on normal difficulty. The thing is you need multiple playtroughs to get all the weapons and gadgets to see what this gem really has to offer.

I can play trough DMC on the standard difficulty as well just mashing away at the enemys. I also played trough DMC3 on PC with mouse+keyboard cause i got no controller at that time. It was a chore but absolutely possible. I highly suggest you REALLY play Bayonetta as a whole, then your opinion will change.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

 @H4num4n That's what I expected you'd say.  "You know nothing about Bayonetta".

 

Bayonetta's gameply isn't truly as varied, it's just more visually extreme, that's all.

 

As for the ariel combos, it's essentially the same story.  They are more like what I'm expecting them to be like in DmC.

I didn't say DMC was "more about ariel combos", I said Bayonetta didn't make "full use" of them.  Sure have a combo in the air, just jump up and mash away at whatever you like, preferably different buttons each time.  Potential untapped.  If the controller had more buttons maybe, but they made the trade off to match the theme of the game.

DMC3/4 rewarded you heavily for absolute precision, jump up and try an ariel combo with Dante without knowing the buttons/attacks from sheer muscle memory, along with a healthy dose of creativity, and you won't be in the air/point maximising for more than a second or two.

Truly master jump-cancelling on the other hand, and you can do unbelievable, potentially endless things in the air things when coupled with your existing knowledge, including taking out entire areas/bosses without touching the ground, despite DMC being essentailly a ground based game where the protagonists aren't nearly as proficient at gravity-bending as Bayonetta.  The end result is incredible if worked at, even though the moves on their own are relatively simple in nature compared to the endlessly insane display Bayonetta hands you on a platter.

Bayonetta simply took advantage of it's ridiculous premise and just took the crazy approach on everything.

H4num4n
H4num4n

 @naryanrobinson You seem to know a lot about DMC and nothing about Bayonetta. For example as you pointed out that DMC is more about aerial combos is plain wrong. Maybe you should give Bayo a try and get all hidden weapons and gadgets, then realize how drastically they change the gameplay try that all out and then come again and tell me that DMC had more varried gameplay.

There is even a special challenge in the game where you have to kill all enemys in the air and lose it when you touch the ground;)

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

 @H4num4n Bayonetta is far from perfection.  There's a lot of moves, and they link together solidly, but

 

1.  There's not as many moves as DMC4, which I think had a better combat system than DMC3's already great system.  The only reason people hated 4 so much was because by the time they finally got to using Dante, they suddenly found the combat system overwhelming, and not as accessible as DMC3s, or indeed Nero's.

 

2.  The combos in DMC4 are more varied and more creative, making heavy use of ground and ariel based attacks and imaginitive linking systems between the two, precision timing on charge shot/lucifer sword after-explosions and the tacfully enhanced as opposed to outright changed abilities you had in devil trigger mode.  Bayonetta didn't make full use of ariel combos, and the moves set wasn't specifically made to link together.  Sure you could do every move after every other move, but that didn't look as smooth on screen despite the above average animation values, and required less finesse and skill which brings me to the third point.

 

3.  A mixture of QTEs, slow motion, easier dodging a shallow, hyper-sexualised main character and potentially blasphemous enemy design/story made Bayonetta's combat and gameplay generally seem more edgy, complex and deep than it actually was.

What it actually was, was a dumbed down, easier, but sparklier version of DMCs (which itself made use of slow motion on occasion, but wisely resisted the temptation to use it as a core gameplay mechanic).  Yes you could keep a combo going for longer and that made people feel like they were more awesome, but ultimately it wasn't as refined.

The personal satisfaction gained from mastering DMCs gameplay far exceeded Bayonettas.  DMC is built from the ground up to try to get you to a Dark Souls level of trail/error punishment/reward mindset using a cleverly engineered progression system which is far from it's destination by mission 20, and it always has the mechanics to support such an endeavor.

It's something a tiny fraction of the players are willing to put in the time for.  Bayonetta just wants you to think you're cool.  Just look at videos of someone who is fantastic at DMC4, and then someone who is fantastic at playing Bayonetta. It's the difference between a veteran spoons player and a concert pianist.

H4num4n
H4num4n

 @naryanrobinson "I bet you thought you'd found a nugget there XD"

Indeed i thought so! Would you mind to back up your opinion with facts why DMC is the better game? I played trough NG1+2, DMC 3+4, GOW2+3 and of course Bayonetta AND from all this games only NG Black comes close to the perfection of Bayonetta. But i'm sure you can tell me why the gameplay is so much better in DMC;)

Bayonetta More Info

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  • First Released
    • PS3
    • Wii U
    • Xbox 360
    Action-adventure story in which Bayonetta, a reborn witch, will have to battle angels with unique "witch-like abilities" and guns equipped to her hands and feet.
    8.4
    Average User RatingOut of 5388 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Nex Entertainment, Bee Tribe, PlatinumGames
    Published by:
    Sega, Nintendo
    Genres:
    Open-World, Adventure, Action, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes