Bayonetta Review (Xbox 360)
Developer: Team Little Angel (Platinum Games)
Release Date: 5 January 2010
When Capcom shut down Clover Studio Hideki Kamiya (DMC, Viewtiful Joe and Okami), Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil Series, Godhand), and Atsushi Inaba (Former CEO and producer at Clover) started up Platinum Games. Platinum Games have released 3 games so far: A DS game called Infinite Space, Madworld for the Wii and Bayonetta for PS3 & Xbox 360. With Platinum’s next game Mikami is working on pushing forward the 3rd person shooter genre with Vanquish. With Bayonetta Hideki Kamiya returned to the character action genre he pushed forward with the 2001 PS1 classic Devil May Cry.
The character action genre is still one of the main game genres that Japanese developers are still considered the best in the world at. The Japanese focus on designing theses games to offer challenging deep fighting systems with hundreds of moves along with awesome action scenes. As you progress through the game your skills improve and this incentivises you to play on harder difficulties. The genre is very much like a mix between 2D fighters and brawlers of the past where the more you play and practice the better you get. You will need to continually learn moves and combo’s to improve you skills as these games are typically very hard even on the default difficulty. Unlike its western counterparts (God of War and Dante’s Inferno) the Japanese are better at designing games full of variety and customisation providing plenty of replay ability.
What Bayonetta does to reinvigorate the genre is to create a unique experience with ridiculous over the top action combined with including almost every good aspect of past games in the genre. It mixes gun and mêlée action seamlessly as well as including pickups of enemy weapons. Special abilities such a version of bullet time called witch time triggers if you dodge at the right moment. You have the abilities to transform into a crow for flight, leopard for speed, bat to evade and a butterfly for the double jump and these are very well-integrated in the battle system as well as out of the battles for the platforming sections. There are finisher moves called torture attacks which are enemy specific and look awesome as they are super violent and creative. There are different types of weapons that change the way you play and are all worth using, there really wasn’t a default set of weapons I stuck to.
The game is simple in terms of controls with a button for a quick punch/slash, powerful kick, evade, and to fire your gun. The simplicity comes with the moves mostly being button press combinations and not complicated analog stick movements. The item alchemy system is also simple but it’s inclusion is mostly token as most players won’t find a need for items other than health refills. Customisation also comes with other items that add abilities such as different methods to dodge (before the enemy attacks, the moment you are hit or a counter) and costumes.
The action in this game is on par with the best in any medium. For a while now in Japan a lot of talent and money has moved away from the anime industry into the video game industry, in particular CG for video games. The cut scenes in the game are amazing with spectacular fight scenes that are creative with a unique art style. The style and presentation of the game is a mix of everything, modern-day, 60’s, renaissance, cathedrals, ancient ruins and representations of heaven and hell. A lot of the cool action CG scenes in the game were done by U’den Flame Works who do movie and video game stunt choreography. U’den’s past works have been in Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Resident Evil 4. They have a great pedigree and did a fantastic job for Bayonetta.
The story is typically Japanese in that it has an indecipherable plot with weird characters. It is basically about a war between witches and sages who each have one half of an artefact called the eyes of the world, when they are joined it reunites the three parallel worlds Paradiso, Purgatorio, and Inferno. The only time only time I felt I couldn’t stand the story was the last chapter, where the longest cut scene in the game is. Other than that the other seemingly terrible parts of the game are definitely there on purpose such as the terrible voice acting (i.e Bayonetta has a fake sounding british accent) full of ridiculous one liners as well as the cheesy over the top feats (such as surfing an enemy while escaping lava, and the dance sequences). The story was written by Kamiya and it is clear that he put his heart and soul into the game. It was also cool to see that it was translated into English by one guy (or at least credited that way) which was probably why it kept the wacky charm.
This is the type of game anyone should pick up if they genuinely want to experience something different in action games. I will guarantee that you will at least enjoy the action scenes in the game whether or not you can handle the tough but rewarding game play.
First play through 30 hrs (involved replaying levels multiple times, probably a 15 hour game straight through)
Completed all levels on normal.
Beat all Alfheim portals (challenge rooms), collected all witch tombs and crows.