Games: the gameplay has endless depth and the aesthetics are provoking and incredibly
realized. Bayonetta forges its own unique path, deftly balancing humor, subtlety,
hyperbole, and unparalleled action. Legendary game director Hideki Kamiya (Resident
Evil series, Devil May Cry series, Okami) returns to the genre he helped hone and
perfect. His crackerjack Osaka-based team has left their indelible mark on the game
industry with the immaculate, uncompromised designs and systems of Bayonetta.
Its equal has yet be seen, and likely never will. Released in 2009 for Xbox 360 and PS3,
Bayonetta remains the zenith of action games today. This is one of the greatest games
in history, let alone this console generation. Bayonetta is a remarkable achievement in
gaming. Effortlessly cool, endlessly re-playable, and devilishly fun, Bayonetta delivers
constant thrills, and deserves a permanent spot in your gaming library.
the story in medias res, with the world crumbling spectacularly around you. Bayonetta is
the daughter of two rival covens of witches, the Lumen (Light) and Umbra (Dark), and, in
a nod to Dante (both of literary and Devil May Cry fame), her tale takes you through the
furious hordes of Purgatory, Paradiso, and beyond.
You wield pistols, swords, demonic whips, deadly ice skates, lightsabers, rocket
launchers, laser guns, angelic chainsaws, and more. Think Devil May Cry in stiletto heels.
You equip two sets of weapons at once: one set in your hands, and one on your feet.
Nearly every weapon set has distinct moves when equipped on either the hands or feet,
or both. Naturally, ice skates have to go on your feet, and swords must be held, but any
combination you concoct is a viable way to deal cosmic and divine punishment on your
The story mode (and its online ranking system) may seem barebones at first, especially
in light of how many games these days offer multiplayer or DLC, but there is prime,
meaty gameplay here. The story is meant to be replayed, both to find the wealth of
hidden collectables, but also to experiment with the combat systems.
Regardless of your videogame proficiency, Bayonetta has possibly the most generous
difficulty settings of any action game. The first two settings, Very Easy and Easy, offer
gamers a great chance to see how magnificent the combat can be without having to
worry so much about dying or combo memorization. On these difficulties, much like the
original Devil May Cry, Bayonetta automatically strings together the most impressive
combos. You still fight every boss and see every level, making these modes a great boon
to gamers intimidated by the combat’s depth.
On normal and easy settings, perfectly dodging enemy attacks results in Witch Time,
where time slows to a crawl and you can unleash literal hell on your foes. On the higher
difficulty modes, this mechanic changes and you can no longer slow time by precise
dodging. By the time you unlock Bayonetta’s final difficulty—the aptly and scintillatingly
titled Non-Stop Infinite Climax mode (!)—you will have a newfound respect for Platinum
Games’ obsessive gameplay mechanics. The expertly balanced challenge of Bayonetta
allows every gamer to appreciate its splendor.
Another feature that’s worth mentioning is the ability to replay the story with
everything you’ve unlocked—weapons, items, and costumes—at any difficulty level. You
could, for example, start at the easiest difficulty and play through the story upgrading
your skills and unlocking weapons, and learning the gameplay systems. You can then
start playing on harder modes with your upgraded, fully loaded Bayonetta. In other
words, you never have to start from scratch, even on the most challenging of difficulty
The audio is also distinctive, in its own odd way. Bayonetta’s theme song is an
interesting J-Pop cover of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” It’s absurd, but
catchy, and by the end of your playthrough you’ll either love it or hate it. After throwing
cars at misfit angels and riding missiles in high-heels, you can’t help but feel Bayonetta
has earned this peculiar theme song. The soundtrack is a blend of electronic, rock, and J-
Pop tunes, with the occasional throwback to old arcade classics. With Sega at the helm
as publisher, Bayonetta has some great geeky nods to Sega classics like Space-Harrier
Those unfamiliar with the typical narrative style of Japanese action titles may be
nonplussed by the over-the-top nature of the writing. The sexual innuendo, video game
in-jokes, and rampant vulgarity can seem trite, though the excessive, cheesy tone suits
the action and characters well. Though undoubtedly oddball, cutscenes feature some
spectacular action choreography that puts most other games to shame.
Proof-positive that Bayonetta has a heretofore-unseen level of depth is the official
strategy guide, which weighs in at nearly 450 pages. This isn’t a 200+ hour
RPG like Fallout series, which would typically warrant such a hefty guide, but rather a
single player game that can be completed in under three hours (with lots and lots of
practice). The gameplay mechanics are that intricate.
Bayonetta was not the commercial success Sega had hoped for, and this factor, coupled
with Platinum Games’ insistence on creating brand new titles (as opposed to sequels)
had spelled a bleak future for Bayonetta. However, it has been revealed recently that
Bayonetta 2 is currently in development exclusively for the Nintendo’s Wii U. This is
both exciting and confusing news, as the series still has life, though it is an odd choice to take a multiplatform title and bring it to a vastly smaller audience for its sequel.
Bayonetta joins the pantheon of action greats like Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, and God
of War, surpassing them, even. Pick up Bayonetta and try spending a few hours in her
demonic high heels. You won’t regret it.