When you get naked, do your expended, voluptuous under-garments manifest into a giant dragon? I didn’t think so.
Prepare to enter a world of witchcraft, gunplay, and gratuitous skin: enter Platinum Game’s Bayonetta.
You really haven’t played an action game quite as extreme as Bayonetta (the good extreme, not “XTREME” extreme). For starters, Bayonetta the character is insanely original, and stylized to the max. Every time she lands, purple butterflies pop out, her double jump sprouts butterfly wings, and she sways from side to side when she slowly walks towards her enemies. Just when you think it can’t get any better, the sultry English heroine starts talking, and spouting camp lines straight out of Austin Powers (insert gratuitous use of the word “baby”).
My favorite defining characteristic of Bayonetta had to be the dodge system, which would trigger “witch time”. Instead of other, plebian action games that encourage you to block enemy attacks, Bayonetta rewards you for living on the edge, and dodging at the last possible second. If you’re able to pull this off, the entire world slows down to a crawl, which allows you to blow enemies out of the water before they know what hit them. While it seems like this would get old, it really doesn’t. Not only will you find it quite hard to properly dodge the lighting quick strikes your enemies make, but the slow motion is quite fluid, with a stylized dark/white gradient for effect.
Attacks are more fluid in comparison to most action games, and Bayonetta is always on the offensive, given that she has guns on her feet, and her clothing is a weapon itself. Another very original feature is the ability to pick up fallen enemy’s weapons for limited-use, similar to a beat ‘em up, or Power Stone’s weapon system.
Another defining aspect is the “verse” system, which seamlessly breaks up each level into different “sections”. Instead of being given an “F-SS” ranking at the end of a level like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta gives you a bronze-platinum medal based on your performance in various sections of each level. In my opinion, this helps you become a better player than a simple end-game score, because it pinpoints the exact part of the stage where you “went wrong”.
The demo starts out with, of course, a loading screen. Normally I wouldn’t bother to mention this, if it weren’t for the fact that you can actually practice your moves while you wait. A side-bar will pop-up, showing all possible button combinations and abilities. You’ll start off in a modern ruin of sorts, and you’ll immediately be thrown into a battle with 5 Anubis looking enemies, including a mini-boss.
As long as you’re not getting hit, a “torture meter” will start lighting up (a segmented bar similar to Devil Trigger in DMC): once it’s all the way full, you can press Y and A simultaneously to use a torture attack. This is where it gets even more ridiculous. Bayonetta slams the enemy into either a guillotine or an iron maiden, and constantly beats them up (prompting you to mash a button for extra effect) before finally ending their life. While torture attacks will not kill a mini-boss outright, and is not usable on big bosses, normal enemies will be obliterated.
It’s time for the first boss fight! An incredibly easy to beat statue-esque colossus rises from the gwave[sic] to beat you down. The only catch: he has a giant pulsing red gem on his back that’s rather susceptible to attack. After slashing this for about 30 seconds he goes down, and we’re prompted to use the aptly called “climax” finisher. Bayonetta’s clothes immediately start whirl winding their way off of her body, and into a giant intimidating shadow dragon. Hilariously, the shadow almost taps the colossus on the shoulder before it grabs it in its hulking teeth. Like the torture attacks, you can also mash this for more points.
The demo is actually quite long, and features another colossus battle, and a duel with a rival witch. Although we didn’t get much backstory, the female foe is seemingly your ultimate rival. When the battle starts, a prompt pops up and says “as long as the moon is shining, press A to use witch-walk, and stick to walls”. Even though the camera is a bit off in places, witch-walking is incredibly well-done, and doesn’t feel tacked on at all. At any time, you can click the left-stick and cancel a witch walk, which is convient. The actual fight very much reminded me of the epic battle between Dante and Vergil in Devil May Cry 3, but with wall running and ceiling sticking action.
Long story short, Bayonetta is the most over the top game ever created. While Dante would surf on fallen enemies, Bayonetta will surf carcasses on a wave of molten magma. Dante might be able to turn into a devil that flies and shoots lighting, but Bayonetta summons a full-size dragon from her hair. If there are enough extra modes and difficulties to warrant multiple purchases, it will be a must-have for all action fans.