Bayonetta 3 - Ready For A Wild Ride?
As a part of the Player2 team, I have reviewed various games. Many of them I have enjoyed, and a few of them I have not. One of the best things about reviewing games is that I have the opportunity to play games that I otherwise would not have experienced. In this capacity, I, a person who has never played either of the previous two games in the Bayonetta franchise, have been thrust into the world of Bayonetta 3. This is a world of Umbra Witches, Infernal Demons and innuendo that seems both crazy and confusing in equal measure. The reason for the majority of my confusion stems from the fact the game assumes you have played the previous entries in the series. That you already have an understanding of who Bayonetta, Rodin and Jeanne are. Here I was, a brand new player to the series making my way through the prologue and first chapter with no idea who these people were or why they could do the things they do. Where do their abilities come from? Why do Bayonetta and Jeanne have pistols attached to their feet? How the hell are they even able to fire them? I never really got an answer to these questions, but as I was confronted with a near-naked Bayonetta controlling a kaiju through the power of dance I decided I just had to let it go and embrace the craziness.
And so I embraced the chaos and ploughed forward through my journey in the world of Bayonetta.
Bayonetta and Co. find themselves confronted with a new type of enemy that they have never encountered before. Not of Heaven or Inferno, these new enemies have spread through the multiverse and are intent on destroying every version of Bayonetta that exists, by extension erasing the very worlds themselves. Luckily they have a heads-up on what’s happening thanks to Viola, an Umbra Witch from an alternate timeline and a new playable character. What follows is a journey through alternate worlds, each holding its own version of Bayonetta, as you search for the five chaos gears that will allow you access to the Alphaverse, the place from which the big bad, Singularity, coordinates their attacking forces. As with many interpretations of alternate realities, some of these worlds could exist alongside our world today, but there are also some fantastic worlds based on ancient cultures that I won’t spoil for you.
Each of the versions of Bayonetta you encounter is different from the Bayonetta that you control, and these differences don’t just relate to their appearance. All versions of Bayonetta wield a different weapon and utilize different Demon Slaves to fight their enemies. As you progress through the levels you will gain access to these as well, allowing you to find a fighting style that works best for how you want to play. Personally, I was a fan of the Ignis Araneae Yo-Yo, slicing blades imbued with flames to slice and scorch my enemies. As you may have guessed from the name, I could sling them out like a Yo-Yo, allowing me to reach enemies at range and keep my combos going that little bit longer. Each of the weapons is different enough that players will find one that suits their particular playstyle, and you can have two weapon sets equipped to quickly change them, even in the middle of a combo. Each weapon will also give you a Demon Masquerade that enhances your traversal skills. Some of these are more useful than others, with the Ignis Araneae Yo-Yo allowing you to turn into a spiderlike creature that can walk on lava, but the weirdest one by far has to be the Dead End Express, a Demon Masquerade that turns Bayonetta into a half-human/half-train hybrid. Don’t ask me how it works I’m still stuck on the power of dance mentioned above.
The combat is where Bayonetta 3 really shines through, with the combat feeling fast and snappy. There are a few moments during some of the boss battles where it seems a bit too plodding, and you will easily recognise these moments when you see them, but for the most part, these boss battles are exciting and intense. Whether you choose a weapon that is fast and close or one of the slower heavy hitters there are tonnes of combos for players to master and even more combo abilities to unlock as you fight your way through a wide variety of enemy types. If you are the sort of person that likes to truly master fighting and perfecting your combat performance there are plenty of moves for you to learn. If you are more like myself and tend to rely on button mashing then there are easy-to-perform combos that will take care of your enemies for you. They may not be as flashy as some but it does make the combat a bit easier. For those that need a bit of extra help, there is also an accessory that can be purchased that aids in combo generation. It is expensive and does come with a performance penalty to your combat score, but if you are thinking about getting it you are probably the type of person who prefers the narrative to replay the same fights over and over for that elusive pure platinum rating.
Speaking of replaying fights, numerous challenges throughout the different worlds will put your skills to the test. These challenges will have set conditions that you have to follow, like defeating enemies while only taking two hits or one where you are racing the clock to defeat enemies that can only be damaged in Witch Time, a bullet-time-like mode that is triggered by dodging at just the right time. There were times I wanted to rage quit some of these and only the truly committed will persevere to overcome some of the later ones. After spending an hour trying to beat one particular one I was done and gave up trying them, progressing through the rest of the story instead.
Despite being a completely new player to the franchise that had no idea what was happening, I enjoyed the time I spent playing Bayonetta 3. The gameplay is a mix of combat, platforming puzzles and mini-game-like events that keep the game from feeling too formulaic. There is a similarity in the progression of events as you travel to each new world, but they are also filled with big set pieces that hammer home how bombastic the game is. Despite my personal limitations, I was able to hold my own in combat and complete the main storyline in nine hours. As mentioned above, this is without some of the later challenges and there are bonus levels to unlock by collecting Umbran Tears of Blood that will give players even more time with the game. Of course, those who want to perfect their combat and get the top medals in every combat encounter will push that time counter a great deal higher.
As fun as the game was there were a few issues I found throughout my time with Bayonetta 3. The biggest was the voice work for Singularity. There was just something off with it and most of the time I had to resort to reading the subtitles to know what was being said. All of the other voice work was fine, it was only this one that had a problem. The other issue is one that just bugged me personally. Throughout the game, there are several collectibles scattered throughout the world to find. A lot of these are easy and will be tucked away in a corner or on a rooftop. The problem is I do not know why I am collecting them. Items such as card packs and figure boxes provide no discernable reward for finding them. If they unlocked character bios or models I could understand it, but thus far I have not been able to figure out why I have been picking them up other than like a crow, I am attracted to grabbing shiny objects. There isn’t a way to tell if you have even found them all within any one level either. I just find it weird.
While it took me a while to wrap my head around the crazy world of Bayonetta 3, the fast combat had me hooked as I made my way from one combat encounter to the next. The different look and feel of the alternate worlds broke made for some exciting set pieces and the game ran smoothly whether I had it docked or was playing in handheld mode. I am sure fans of the Bayonetta series will find lots to enjoy about this instalment, and while it may be confusing to new players, if you just roll with the crazy you will find plenty of enjoyment and replayability.
Bayonetta 3 was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with a code kindly provided by Nintendo Australia