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Bayonetta Review: Crazy and Stylish Action Gaming from Japan

by: Simon Hill ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Bayonetta is a stunning, over the top, third-person action game which is simply dripping with style but is it worth buying? Find out more in this Bayonetta review.

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    Bayonetta PS3 Cover   Those pesky angels are up to no good and they intend to reboot creation which will lead to every man, woman and child on earth being cast into oblivion. A lone woman stands against them, a ridiculously sexy witch with pistols attached to every appendage and super hero abilities. This premise forms the backdrop for a breathtaking explosion of action, boss battles, combo multipliers and glitzy, stylish direction. Bayontetta is brash and loud and offers some crazy action packed gaming which is not for beginners.

    Plot wise this is a mixed bag with some fantastic characters. The dialogue is odd and the cheesy, sexy references are obviously tongue in cheek but they won’t amuse everyone. Bayonetta gets away with being overly sexualised (just watch the walk animation) because she is also super badass. Ultimately this is very Japanese from the corny humour to the wonderfully directed cut scenes but if you’re in the mood for crazy action gaming it’s perfect.

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    Gameplay

    All of the Bayonetta reviews have drawn the comparison between Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. That’s largely because the lead designer is Hideki Kamiya, the same man behind Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe amongst others. There are obvious similarities and even references to his earlier work but make no mistake Bayonetta is a completely different game.

    Bayonetta screenshot   The mechanics are incredibly fluid and the complex combat system, which allows for chains of combos and all sorts of special moves, is actually easy to get to grips with although it does take some time to fully master. The key aspect to the combat is learning to dodge which you can do with R2. If you time your dodge to be as late as possible you’ll trigger Witch Time which is effectively a slow motion opportunity to get medieval on your enemies.

    The basic combat against various types of winged angels is a lot of fun and you’ll leap around at terrific speeds pulling off some glorious finishing moves. The idea of unleashing old tortures that witches were made to endure on angels is a nice one and slapping one of them into an iron maiden or a guillotine as a finishing move is enormously satisfying.

    Boss fights are unfortunately also a big part of Bayonetta and you won’t go far in the game without encountering a three stage boss fight which necessitates working out the correct strategy before you get pulverised. There are also a few puzzles and challenges which offer new twists of gameplay for short sections. The overall effect is a varied game which never slows down but it is also very difficult in places and prone to causing mind bending frustration. Check out our Bayonetta Guide for some tips.

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    Graphics

    Bayonetta screenshot 2   The character design and animation in Bayonetta is nothing short of superb. The characters look fantastic and they have real personality. The visual effects than accompany Bayonetta’s every move, from the butterfly jumps to the half naked combo attacks, are of the highest quality. There are numerous bad guys to slay and the scale of some of the enemies is impressive. Visually speaking the highlight of the game is the direction. The camera direction in Japanese games is often amazing (lead designers are even called directors there) and Bayonetta is no exception. This careful camera direction makes the game feel incredibly cinematic throughout.

    The weak link visually is the environments which provide a somewhat dull backdrop to the larger than life characters. There are some nice touches here and there but since the screen is so often filled with fast-paced combat you won’t have time to stop and smell the flowers anyway.

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    Sound

    The sound effects in Bayonetta are spot on and the use of sound prompts to explain the action is also well handled. The voiceover work for the characters is relatively decent, allowing one or two weak links. The choice of music and the way musical numbers kick off is weird at times. The layered effect of a big brassy number with the flashing visual effects on screen can be garish and potentially fit inducing but it’s never less than interesting.

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    Replay Value

    Bayonetta screenshot 3   Bayonetta is a tough game. By the general standards of the industry it is exceptionally tough and it will take most people several hours to complete, probably at least 15. If you want to collect all the bits and pieces in the game and unlock all the Bayonetta trophies then you’ll need to play through it at least three times and that means playing it on normal difficulty to unlock hard and then completing hard to unlock Infinite Climax (seriously that’s what it’s called). There is plenty here to keep you amused for a long time.

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    Overall

    This is a title which is all about ridiculous, sexy, stylish and frenetic action. If you enjoy spectacular combos and endless boss fights and like to be rewarded with slightly odd comedic cutscenes then Bayonetta is for you. It is must be mentioned that the game was developed for Xbox 360 and ported to PS3 and it shows at times with slowdown and loading problems.

    As you can see from the Bayonetta pics dotted throughout the review it is a real visual treat and worth a look for that reason alone. The production values are very high and the character animation is some of the best work you’ll see. The game mechanics are also very intuitive and it has that feel where you surprise yourself at times by pulling off fantastic, fluid moves. It is a rich experience and there is definitely some substance under all that style.

References

  • All references, cover art and screenshots from Bayonetta for PS3.

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