Bayonetta - game review

Date: 2010-01-08 01:58:00
The review was based on the X360 version. Also applies to the PS3 version

If you value realism in games, if anime and Japanese atmosphere arouse your dislike, if you are looking for serious stories, Bayonetta is not for you. However, if you love to let your imagination run wild, laugh and just have fun, and action games are your favorite genre, get ready for one of the most crazy, comic, sexy and bloody adventures of your life.

At first glance, Platinum Games seems to be a clone of Devil May Cry with a woman in the lead role. Indeed, every enthusiast of Dante's adventures will surely find numerous references to his favorite series, such as the combat system, allowing the use of both pistols and a sword, as well as certain similarities in the appearance of opponents. It is hardly surprising, however, since Bayonetta is responsible for Hideki Kamiya, creator of Okami , Viewtiful Joe and the first Devil May Cry . That is why I get the impression that the latest work of Platinum Games is not so much a copy, but rather a spiritual heir to the iconic games considered by many. It does not use only known solutions, but creatively develops them.

Let's meet Bayonetta, a woman who gives a new meaning to the word "witch". Let's forget about the black cat, cauldron, stooped figure and inseparable flying broom. The slim heroine with feminine curves emphasized by the tight overalls does not deal with casting spells. Equipped with two pairs of pistols, one of which is attached to his legs, he fights for lives daily with hordes of angels. She is athletic, flexible, agile and extremely strong. She moves with the grace of the models, but she swears like a shoemaker. What's more, he can summon giant demons from the depths of hell, which can easily smash even the biggest opponents. The element channeling her power are hair, which help in the manifestation of demons, and in breaks they form a suit. However, they cannot be in two places at the same time, so when we summon a hellish ally, we reveal the heroine's body at the same time. Madness? Of course, but how it looks!

However, the appearance does not end there. Fighting is the heart of the game, and it has been developed perfectly. It cannot be called innovative, but I have not encountered such well-balanced and intuitive mechanics of striking. Everything is based on two buttons responsible for attacks with weapons held in the hands and those attached to the legs. In addition, the right trigger also plays an important role, which is used to dodge. However, this is not all. If we manage to use it in the moment immediately preceding the enemy hitting us, it is enough that we will not receive any damage, we will activate the so-called Witch Time, or slowing down time to deal with enemies before they know what's going on. Without mastering this skill, there is nothing to think about defeating the more difficult opponents, especially at higher levels of difficulty.

The blows are inflicted in a specific rhythm, which is quite easy to learn. When this happens, we launch attacks almost intuitively. They look stunning, and their effects are often very bloody. When during the game we find access to other types of weapons (including shotgun, whip and sword), real experimentation begins. Each weapon can be assigned to arms or legs. We have two configurations at our disposal, between which we can smoothly switch in real time using the left trigger. Let's add to the fact that in a special store (run by a demon, and how) you can buy an additional copy of each weapon. Taking all this into account, we get an impressive number of combinations to try.

However, this is not the end of attractions. Bayonetta can also take the form of an animal: a fast leopard or a black crow. It can also fall into a cloud of bats, thanks to which it eliminates the damage taken. The opponents' special finishes look particularly effective with the help of the torture tools invoked from hell, which the Inquisition used. For example, we can kill an enemy by sending him inside an iron maiden, slamming the door with spiked doors, hanging on a chain or crushing like a vice.

The creators apparently decided that the extensive combat system alone is not enough and made sure that players were not bored. That is why, apart from standard clashes, we take part in a crazy car chase, ride a motorbike, surf the rough sea, and even, like the baron Münchhausen on a ball, we fly, riding a rocket.

No less interesting is the world itself in which we have to fight. The game is set in the fictitious European city of Vigrid. However, as it turns out quickly, we don't spend a dozen or so hours here exploring the historic streets, due to alternative worlds occupying the same space. It sounds a bit complicated, but it boils down to the fact that heaven, hell and purgatory overlap our reality. Heavenly armies are not visible to ordinary mortals because they are in Purgatory most of the time. This in turn looks just like our world, with the slight difference that magical creatures are perfectly visible in it, while living people appear like transparent ghosts.

As the game progresses, the boundary between the real and the unreal disappears. We travel between worlds, permeating from one to another. We use the power of the moon to mock gravity and run along the walls as if they were a floor. In Heaven, we often have to traverse locations that remind us of the paintings of Salvador Dali. When we discover that concepts such as up and down do not matter, and the terrain that until recently was under our feet is above our heads, we will feel the power of imagination of the creators of Platinum Games. Some locations are simply breathtaking, whether we travel the celestial paths, climb the top of the skyscraper, or find ourselves in a cosmic vacuum, fighting the mighty god.

Bayonetta, although as a witch theoretically represents the forces of hell on Earth, is not an antihero. He struggles with the heavenly hosts, but often they have a more demonic appearance than the monsters she summons. In addition, our protagonist does not stumble on behalf of the Darkness, but on her own. Of course, this does not affect the balance of Good and Evil in the universe, but it takes a long time before the heroine discovers how extremely important role she has to play. The plot is not as original as the gameplay or visual layer, but it is followed with extreme pleasure. The cutscene scenes are perfectly directed. Acting is at a high level, although sometimes long sequences of fights make you think only about finally being able to make use of the rain.

There was also something for insightful players who like to follow all types of cultural references. The most important are the opponents themselves, who were classified according to the heavenly hierarchy dating back to the Middle Ages. Platinum Games has also prepared something for players who remember the old days. During the game we will find not only numerous references, but also entire gameplay sequences referring to the known titles of the SEGA company.

It takes a dozen or so hours to complete the game the first time (with scrolling cutscenes around ten), but according to the genre's tradition, in order to get everything possible out of the game, you have to end it many times. So don't be surprised if you don't see Hard mode at first. This one appears only after finishing the game on Normal and is actually difficult. Platinum Games has shown that, unlike many modern developers, they have not forgotten what balancing the difficulty level is. Bayonetta is one of the last games in which Easy is really simple, Normal is a challenge and Hard requires a lot of combos.

Graphic design may not be of the highest quality, but it makes up for the smoothness of the animation (constant 60 frames per second), location and character design. Bayonetta moves with cat agility, and the transition between blows are extremely natural. It's nice to see how the heroine creates a portal through which she transports over the opponent. Then he knocks him down, then jumps into the air and turns into a crow, who kills him with levitating blades, and all this takes place in just a few seconds. In most locations, we can move the camera, but it is taking place at such a sluggish pace that it is better to rely on the default settings for a significant part of the time. In some moments, the camera automatically accelerates to intensify emotions thanks to its dynamics, unfortunately it often ends in temporary distraction, which can negatively affect the heroine's health.

Finally, it is worth mentioning music, because it also impresses with its diversity, although it is not exactly what we would expect from an action game. Of course, there are pompous sounds in the style of God of War, there are angel choirs emphasizing the surreal atmosphere of paradise domains, but there are also songs that are difficult to classify, including a rather fascinating rework of the popular jazz hit from years ago, Fly Me To the Moon, in j-pop arrangement. I have to admit that some water passed before I got into the specifics of this music. Over time, I realized that I could not imagine this game in a different sound setting. It's weird, crazy and diverse, just like all Bayonetta

The work of Platinum Games surprises and amazes, making us rub our eyes with amazement every now and then, burst out laughing or clenching our teeth, trying to find a way to defeat the huge boss. The combat system, humor, unconventional heroine and breathtaking locations can be addictive, and after watching the end credits the finger directs the knob on the New Game button.

Artur "Metatron" Falkowski