Bayonetta 3 Review
Developer: Platinum Games Inc.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 28/10/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
Exploring a New World
Bayonetta 3 is a stylized three-dimensional beat-em-up featuring the popular character Bayonetta. Despite being the third entry in this beloved series, this is my first encounter with the franchise, so I was both excited and curious to see what the hype was all about. Did the game justify itself to me? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Once I booted up Bayonetta 3 for the first time, I was shown an impressive cutscene explaining the current situation Bayonetta was facing and how it related to me. It was relatively straightforward, but nonetheless, I enjoyed it a lot. It immediately set the precedent and standard that the game would feature a high level of polish, but that the story was not the primary focus.
As I watched the story and progressed further through the game, the story content followed that same ideology. Bayonetta 3 explained things quickly and moved on. However, all throughout, I was constantly reminded how style and presentation impact Bayonetta’s personality. Even the cutscenes show her free-form movement, varied options, and overall confidence in her abilities. The cutscenes are empowering, especially for someone who is playing that character. Though the story did not move me narratively, the presentation of the simple story made Bayonetta 3 substantially stylish and exciting.
Another aspect of the story was that there were multiple timelines to explore. These altered sections of the world introduced new themes which made my surroundings and objectives throughout the adventure. Again, these hardly impacted the storyline itself, but the varied themes made the game more interesting. Overall, the story in Bayonetta 3 is not overly invigorating innately. Instead, it has multiple positive effects that ripple throughout other aspects of the game.
Specifically, I enjoyed how the way Bayonetta fought in the cutscenes was representative of the combat I engaged with throughout the title. Even when I was playing, I was dashing through the air, chaining hundreds of moves together, hoping to create something stylish. The combat was smooth and interesting. Still, Bayonetta was easy to control on the surface. I never felt overwhelmed by the additional combination attacks available. Plus, many of the levels could be handled without a full grasp on the mechanics. However, I needed to improve and focus if I wanted to make her perform at the top level. Bayonetta 3 features an excellent combat system, providing a rewarding skill ceiling without preventing less dedicated players from completing the game.
Further, the combat was expanded by the various different combat styles and weapons I could select from. Though I started off with only handguns, I quickly acquired more weapons. I liked this, as I could alter the pacing and my strategy before or after any section of combat. I felt in control of my actions. Plus, the variety helped me form a plan that best suited my playstyle.
Moreover, the weapons themselves were interesting. I particularly enjoyed playing with the Dead End Express, a chainsaw-like weapon that turned me into a train to rack up damage and move faster. Many of the weapons were like this though, wildly altering the gameplay style and practically making Bayonetta an entirely new character. I thought the weapons were one of the highlights of the game, and I enjoyed learning how to experiment and master them.
Bayonetta 3 also emphasizes free-flow combat with a concept called ‘Witch Time’. This, like the perfect dodge mechanic in No More Heroes 3, temporarily freezes the surrounding enemies, opening them up to attack. Learning how and when to use this mechanic is incredibly rewarding, and easily the biggest asset when trying to master the mechanics of this game. It also supplements the combination attack-focused gameplay extremely well, providing ample reward for what is potentially a significant amount of risk. It was fun to use, effective, and responsive. I liked the mechanic a lot.
The craziness does not end there though. I could even summon demons to fight on my behalf. Whether that be a giant dragon or a frog, I thought this was an incredibly interesting and fun way to add to the gameplay. Moreover, considering their size and impact on the level, I was impressed by how seamlessly they were added to the controls. Even though I had never played a Bayonetta title before, the mechanic was very easy to pick up. These demon summons worked well.
I also think these mechanics worked well because the game taught small pieces at a time. At the beginning of the game, there were a variety of brief tutorials that helped me get a grasp of the combat mechanics. It was clearly scripted, but I never minded, as they were brief and did not detract from the gameplay. There were also detailed controls in a menu as well which would have been helpful if I forgot the mechanics. It was very easy to get accustomed to Bayonetta 3.
With these combat mechanics, I was expecting formidable and threatening enemies. However, while the game features enemies, I did not find them overwhelmingly difficult. They were fair, and I never needed to face more than I could handle. Instead, the enemies gave me the opportunity to flourish and master my combat mechanics. I would constantly be dancing through enemies and taking them out with every aspect of my arsenal. It felt good. I felt powerful. The enemies were varied, telegraphed attacks, and kept the game interesting. Still, if I was not paying attention, I could easily be taken out even though they did not have the steep initial difficulty curve. Despite being different from my expectations, I was impressed and enjoyed fighting the enemies. Plus, there are additional difficulty modes if I wanted to adjust the level of challenge.
While the base level of challenge differed from my expectations, the developers instead incentivized me to perform at the highest level of my ability. After each wave of enemies, I was ranked based on my chained number of attacks, how long it took me to complete the segment, and how much damage I endured. It was a simple concept, but the metrics were explained, my character’s options facilitated greatness, and I knew that I could obtain any ranking I wanted. It never felt overwhelming or frustrating. I thought this made Bayonetta 3 a lot of fun. Plus, I could revisit each section once I had completed the game to prove my mastery. The ranking system added a lot to the game and made the initially simple enemies feel rewarding to take out.
More Ways to Play
In addition to the standard hack-and-slash sections, there were multiple different variations. There were two-dimensional pseudo-fighting game segments, top-down and third-person shooters, and a couple of bonus challenges with alternate objectives. These helped vary the gameplay and keep each minute of this game feeling new and innovative. They worked great as well.
Even the boss fights were a lot of fun. Unfortunately, many of the bosses were repeated a few times, but nonetheless, I still enjoyed fighting my way through them. They were quite tricky at times but none of them felt insurmountable. Each boss clearly telegraphed their attacks, dealt a justifiable amount of damage, and kept me interested by continually throwing out attacks. I had a lot of fun taking out these ferocious foes.
Moreover, at the very end of the game, I unlocked an endless arena mode. In this segment, I could play as three playable characters, one of which I had never been able to play up until that point. It was a fun addition, and I was excited to see that there was more content even after I completed the main campaign. Once again, Bayonetta 3 features plenty of excellent additions which further improve the already substantial playtime.
Sound and Style
The game is completely wrapped together with an excellent visual style. Each character pops from the background with a unique style and the visuals themselves look extremely impressive, especially for a Nintendo Switch game. Unfortunately, nearly every enemy had the same colour scheme, a mixture of light blue and white which I did not like. Though it is likely that I am biased because the colour scheme was not appealing, I did not like how nearly every enemy had the same colour scheme. It made each enemy look similar, even when the model and application were starkly different. This is a minor grievance, as I do not place a heavy significance on the visual style of a game, but I did find it notable enough to mention.
On the other hand, the sound was top-notch. It was lively yet somehow fashionable and empowering. I thought it both fit the themes of Bayonetta 3 and the combat style perfectly, keeping me engaged in the world and what I needed to do.
Though most of the performance in Bayonetta 3 was excellent, I did have one issue where I froze in the middle of a level and needed to restart that section. Though this was frustrating, it was only prevalent once.
Overall, each aspect of Bayonetta 3 resonated with me. I liked the charming story that does not focus on telling a tale, I enjoyed the high-octane combat, and most importantly, I felt good while playing it. Even playing it for multiple hours in a day never felt like a chore because I was enjoying myself. I had a great time with this game and can easily recommend it.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can purchase Bayonetta 3 on the Nintendo Switch eShop here
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