Yes, Bayonetta. No other game has brought me as much sheer joy and Bayonetta did this year.
*Warning: Spoilers Ahead*
It is, for me at least, the perfect action game. The flawless mix of high speed, reflexive combat and the slow motion mechanics of it's "Witch Time" make each and every battle fun, regardless if you're facing a simple pawn angle or a massive, two headed dragon. Speaking of two headed dragons...
The boss fights.
So many games have them. So many games try to make them feel epic, but the majority of them come off feeling forced, contrived, or sometimes downright unfair. Bayonetta strikes the perfect balance, and it had better, because there's a lot of them. However, each and every one feels completely different from the rest. Different tacticts are used, different environments are fought in. You're on the vast ocean, surfing on a sheet of metal of a downed ship, while a sea monster that dwarfs you dives up and over you, crashing into the water next to you. Then, you're fighting on a crumbled piece of a stone tower, hurtling through the air, as a massive, two headed dragon reaches for you with both sets of jaws. Then, you're fighting against a god himself, high up in space, desperate changing form from your Woman Witch self to that of a Panther, a Bird, and a flock of Bats, avoiding his deadly techniques as he changes the ground beneath you, trying to suck you into oblivion. It's constantly fresh, constantly frantic, and constantly fun.
Once you down a Boss, you get the pleasure of finishing them off with one of the Demons Bayonetta has taken control of. There's a giant eagle that claws and pecks at the boss, ripping off their flesh and leaving them full of holes. There's a dragon that chomps down on them, tearing them apart before finally swallowing them whole. There's tons more, but I won't ruin all of it. It's just too much fun.
Hey, look, it's that dragon I was talking about.
The combat is the best I've ever experienced in an action game, surpassing even Devil May Cry. You dance and weave your way through your enemy's attacks, attacking then with Katanas, Fire Claws, Whips, Rockets, Ice Skates, good old fashioned guns attatched to your ankles (seriously, who doesn't have those), Lasers, and oh, yeah, a friggin Lightsaber. At any time in combat, after a certain point in the game, you can morph into a panther for a deadly burst of speed, a bird that summons blades out of midair, or even match your dodge with the exact moment an opponent makes contact to scatter into a flock of bats and reform a second later, negating any damage. Dodge a split second before the opponent makes contact, and you'll slow down time itself, entering "Witch Time". While your opponents are slowed to almost a standstill, you can take advantage of the momentary collapse in time to pound on them with whatever you've got. Then, finish them off by summoning a Guillotine, an Iron Maiden, or a deadly, spiked wheel that tears them to shreds.
There's also a chainsaw.
Also, you can attack them with giant fists and feet that are spawned from your suit. Which is made of her hair. Yeah, it's awesome.
The setpieces are spectacular, ranging from racing down a collapsing stairway as a panther while a giant, ball shaped enemy chases you attempting to crush you, falling down hundreds of feet, avoiding giant tentacles and flying dragons, fighting atop cars on a high speed chase down a freeway, and even racing up the remains of an ancient tower that leads to space, all while it collapses beneath you.
You also ride a nuclear Missle.
If all this hasn't been enough, it helps that there's replay value. You can blow through the game in less than 10 hours easily, but beating the game on Hard mode unlocks Infinite Climax, the ultimate challenge for a Bayonetta fan. I completed it, it's not impossible, but it's definitely a rough go. Collecting golden records unlocks new weapons for you to unleash against your enemies, and collecting the Halos they drop will allow you to purchase new outfits, variations of previous weapons, and new combos to use during battles. Collecting notes will clue you in to the story of Bayonetta (which really isn't that important), and there are portals that take you to optional side challenges, each abiding by it's own set of rules. There's a lot of content here, and it never gets boring.
Pow, right in the kisser.
So there you have it, my personal GOTY, Bayonetta. It's fast, it's intense, it's funny, and most importantly, fun. Pick it up if you haven't yet, you won't regret it.