Bayonetta 1 & 2
Game review on
Clinton Raethel / Mon 9th Apr 2018
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OVERVIEW The Switch has been getting more ports than new IP, but it's hard to be mad when the ports are this good. With polished gameplay that still feels fresh nearly 10 years on, the over-the-top stylised action of Bayonetta is still some of the best out there.
STORYLINE Waking after 500 years of slumber with no memory of her witching past, Bayonetta needs to make sense of the ethereal battle going on around her - a battle hidden in the real world. The first game focuses on her journey of self-discovery and her place in all this, with the second revolving around reclaiming her best friend's soul - only to end up back in the middle of the war that started it all. Both storylines are surprisingly deep, with extensive lore to uncover as you play through.
Bayonetta is a single player, third-person hack'n'slash with bullets. Interchanging melee, short and long-range attacks as you see fit makes for a huge variety of mechanics and combos for you to banish angels with. Throw in the now-standard quick-time events, executions and unique 'Torture Attacks', and you've got some very satisfying carnage. If you're like me and prefer to just button mash, don't worry - that works too.
Gameplay is broken into Chapters and Verses, with epic boss battles in both size and scope. You're given a rating at the end of each chapter for damage done/taken, time and the like, and there are even some Nintendo-themed costumes with their own unique abilities to mix things up. The main stories can be completed in around 10 hours each, but there are an easy 50+ hours per game if that's your thing.
This is an MA15+ game, containing the usual violence and language but also accompanied by aggressive sexualisation. Bayonetta seems to be very fond of having as much adult fun as possible, and seeing her embrace ludicrous poses and suggestive finishing moves puts forward an interesting conundrum: in today's day and age, it's very easy to say that this is a sexist game, objectifying women - yet Bayonetta herself is a strong, confident and talented protagonist. I personally enjoyed how it was embraced, but experiences will vary.
Maintaining a fluid 60fps on the Switch is no mean feat, but it comes at the caveat of being locked at 720p, even in docked mode. You won't be doing that often though, as it both looks and runs an absolute treat in your hands.
The world itself is full of detail, in spite of coming from an era when the colour brown was 'in'. Textures are crisp, animations are slick, and things seldom get lost no matter how hectic it gets on-screen.
AUDIO Nothing out of the ordinary here - solid voice acting and a very Japanese-y soundtrack are balanced well against effects and audio cues that provide context to the chaos.
Despite releasing nearly a decade ago, both Bayonetta and its sequel hold up very well. Gameplay is as fun as its always been, and still manages to feel fresh - demonstrating just how important good design is. The over-the-top sexualisation won't be for everyone, but there's no denying the satisfaction that comes from perfecting (or in my case, fluking) a huge combo and kicking a boss into the next century with your hair.
Review copy provided by Nintendo Australia