in Review



One of my favorite PlayStation 2 games was Hideki Kamiya’s Devil May Cry. Kamiya went on to join Clover Studio, the developer responsible for a remarkable barrage of classics (Viewtiful Joe, Okami) in its short life. In the wake of Capcom closing Clover, Kamiya joined some of his fallen comrades in a new company, Platinum Games and landed a three game deal with Sega. The first of those games, Bayonetta, is a return to the crazy action that made Devil May Cry great, but with one of the most bizarre video game stories I’ve ever played tacked on too.

You play as Bayonetta, a badass witch who uses four guns, two in her hands, and two as high heels, to kill angels, who are evil for some reason. Gun high heels are nice, but Bayonetta’s real weapon is her hair. Most of the time, her hair just acts like her leather outfit and, well, hair, but when the time comes, she can transform it into giant monsters capable of decimating her foes. And of course she gets pretty scantly clad doing that, after all, can’t waste hair on clothes when you’ve got to make a giant dog head. The sexuality of Bayonetta is definitely among the strangest parts of the game, with the heroine constantly getting into compromising positions and performing what are essentially stripper moves. I guess you could say it’s a response to the hyper-masculinity of most video game main characters, but it still feels weird.

Anyway, so you’re killing angels. It turns out you don’t have much of a memory, so you’ve got to figure out your past too. And there are some other people. Honestly, despite having some painfully long expositional cutscenes, I never quite got a full grasp on what was going on in this wacky game. But that didn’t really bother me, because actually playing the game is quite fun. The combat is reminiscent of the Devil May Cry series, obviously, but it hasn’t felt tighter than here. The classic guns, quick and heavy melee attack controls return, but they’ve added some twists to keep things interesting. Most importantly there’s Witch Time, which triggers when you perfectly dodge an attack, slowing down time so you can get in a good combo. Bayonetta is exactly the kind of third person action I love to play.

The action is mixed up with occasional sequences that harken back to Sega arcade classics. As Platinum Games’ first title with Sega, there a numerous other references too. Bayonetta can turn into a panther and leave a trail similar to Amaterasu from Okami and the shopkeep occasionally says “What are you buyin’?” Stuff like that keep the game interesting enough for you to rush through the 10 or so hours it takes to beat it. After you finish up, there’s still plenty to unlock and rank up to keep you coming back.

Bayonetta is a weird one, that’s for sure. It seems targeted toward the people that like modern anime, full of wacky stupidity and awkward fan service. I was able to tolerate that enough to enjoy the great game underneath all the madness. If you think you can as well, by all means, take this bitch out for a ride.


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