Bad camera functionality and cheap deaths keep this game from being "superb"...
By "technical inefficiency", I'm referring to the horrible camera in this game! More times than not, you will find yourself battling several enemies in a confined space. This becomes a problem when there are 5 or 6 enemies on the screen but you can only see 3! The in-game camera's zooming functionality is almost non-existant and the line of sight must be manually adjusted during a fight to see all the enemies you are fighting! Now imagine having to constantly do this with DMC-like gameplay. Essentially, you're trying to pull off a series of combo attacks while not getting wailed on by a series of them yourself and have to simultaneously turn the right analog stick to make sure nobody is nearing an attack on you. Yeah, it can get as frustrating as it sounds. Also, the choice in button mapping left me puzzled, if not annoyed...specifically when it came to dodging and animal transformations. Around the end of the second chapter or so, Bayonetta gains the ability to transform into different animals depending on whether she's on the ground or in the air (at least 2 of the transformations have to be bought using the in-game currency). In addition to this, she also has the ability to slow down time (known as Witch Time) when she dodge an attack right before it lands on her. The abilities work great in themselves (the Witch Time almost becomes essential) but it all becomes a problem when the execution of both are mapped to the same exact button on the controller! Imagine every time, you attempt to dodge an enemy's attack to slow down time, you instead transform into an animal? Here's the punch line...the only thing to stop this from happening is to not move the left analog stick (which is used to move Bayonetta) when attempting to enter Witch Time. Sounds simple right? Well, it is until you may want Bayonetta to dodge in a particular direction, coupled with trying to adjust the camera with the right analog stick which in turn increases the natural temptation to use the left analog stick to move while trying dodge an attack!
Now on to the cheap deaths. They mostly all rely on the element of surprise. So lets say, you're fighting a boss and chugging away at his life, when without any warning, said boss completely destroys the room you're currently fighting in and a timed button prompt pops up to stop a wall from falling on you (all of which happens in a 5 second time frame). Now imagine similar "surprises" happening like this throughout the duration of the game with a performance grading system similar to the DMC series'! If you aim to achieve the "S rank" (or in the case of this game, the platinum rank), these will be a HUGE obstacle in your way and will manage to piss you off time and time again. I'm no achievement whore, but this even managed to piss me off quite a bit. I guess its just the principle of being on a roll and having your rhythm thrown off by cheap and unexpected deaths. I highly advise the use of a FAQ if you're going to attempt to "platinum rank" every chapter on the game, so you know where all the surprise buttom prompts pop up at.
Despite these drawbacks, if you can bare with it, Bayonetta's good does outweigh it's bad. From a gameplay point of view, the game is a carbon copy of the DMC series...which is not a bad thing. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it a clone, however. Battling is very similar with the exception being able to equip 4 weapons at once (melee and gun based), be able to make your own items, and being able to perform hair based finishers on enemies...leaving a few more tricks up Bayonetta's follicles than Dante's. However, the game takes a much more straight forward approach with less empathisis on exploration and more on fighting. So, you'll hardly ever find yourself lost without knowing where to go or due to having to find an item to unlock a door or something...which was a plus for me. One thing that I can say about the game which I enjoyed is that it rarely takes itself to seriously, from the story, upbeat choice in music, wacky characters, down to the obnoxious battles. Also, the central character had great sex appeal wasn't necessarily a bad thing when playing through the game. The game has a habit of genre swapping as well. One level, you may go from a 3D action game, to the next being a flying based shoot'em up which then out of the blue turns into a 2D side scrolling beat'em up. Yeah, pretty insane stuff but fun and charming non the less.
The details of the plot can get a bit confusing the deeper you get into it but I like how they contrasted Bayonetta to Dante. Bayonetta hunts angels as opposed to demons...from the minions to bosses. "Angels?! Really?!", you ask. I know, it is kind of hard to grasp but actually kinda makes sense in the context of the game's story and I'm trying to make this review as spoiler free as possible.
- Beautifully rendered visuals
- Fun characters
- Sexy central character
- Plenty of insane combos to pull of
- Insane finishing moves to land on enemies and bosses
- Decent amount content to unlock to highten the replayablity
- Great ending and bonus content
- The story can get a bit confusing
- Cereza is so annoying it makes me want to reconsider having kids one day!
- Odd looking character models. Why are everyone's limbs so long?
- Major camera issues
- Very questionable button mapping
- Cheap and hard to avoid deaths that rely mostly on the element of surprise.
In all, Bayonetta has its set of issues that will stand out if you play long enough but if you also have the patience to work through them, it is a very fun and rewarding experience.