Developers: Platinum Games, Nex Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
One of the more original games of the decade, Bayonetta offers as much fan-service as can be considered non-pornographic while delivering an exciting gameplay experience.
In this game the player takes control of Bayonetta, a scantily clad witch who has a provocative affinity for guns and lollipops. Having woken up from a 500 year long sleep at the bottom of a lake with amnesia, she makes a literal deal with the devil to extend her lifetime indefinitely in return for killing angels. Assisted in this endeavor by her informant Enzo and her infernal gun launderer Rodin, Bayonetta moves through the fictional European city of Vigrid, regaining bits and pieces of memory along the way.
The story revolves around the histories of the clans of light and darkness, the Lumen sages and the Umbran witches. Before Bayonetta’s long sleep, a horrible conflict erupted between the two, leading to their mutual extinction. Now the last surviving Umbran witch, Bayonetta explores a world controlled by Paradiso, making angel hunting a relatively simple task.
Bayonetta herself is one of the reasons playing the game is so entertaining. Although this may be somewhat from her hyper-sexualized nature (the word climax appears at least once in every level), Bayonetta also has an un-phased and witty nature that is truly fun to watch. Moreover, the combat in the game can be so over-the-top that one cannot help but burst out laughing on occasion. Not only does Bayonetta fight with guns she fires from her shoes, but she can also create giant heels, fists, and demons with her hair. As an added bonus, it turns out her costume is made of hair and has to disappear quite a bit for the larger attacks. She also gains the ability to transform into several animals including a panther that according to Kamiya was another way to, “make her a sexy witch.” There are also “torture attacks” that use medieval torture devices (and one enormous chainsaw) to deal massive amounts of damage to enemies.
As the player moves through the game, more weapons can be unlocked both for her hands and feet, making the already extensive combo list change with each set. This allows the player to customize their character as the game progresses. There is also a rating system in each level starting with stone and going all the way up to pure platinum trophies. In combination with the unlockables, this creates a very good replay experience.
Enemies in the game are almost exclusively angelic, which is one of the aspects that make the game so enthralling. Each angel starts as the archetypal majestic feathered creature of light, but as Bayonetta smacks them down, each one becomes increasingly grotesque, many with extra eyes and pincers, etc. In other words, the game Bayonetta does a fantastic job of blurring the stereotypical lines between good and evil. Although as Bayonetta sacrifices angels to her infernal partners, there is no doubt that Hell is still not a very nice place.
Another great aspect of the game is that it is appropriately based in history and mythology, borrowing from Dante, Scandinavia and the English ballad “Scarborough Fair” after which her guns are named. As the player fights off angels, archangels, and virtues, each one is named and referenced, which can be great for those who are historically inclined.
The graphics accentuate every part of the game, from Bayonetta’s backside (one of the designer’s main focuses) to the splendorous scenery. Lighting effects are well done and one can tell that no one cut corners on the environment or the enemies to focus just on the action. The soundtrack, however, tops almost all else, as Bayonetta is probably the first game to cover Frank Sinatra music in sexy female voices.
Despite the well-deserved praises, Bayonetta does have several flaws. For one, the plot becomes very interesting and then very confusing until nothing really makes any sense. This would not be a huge problem if the player weren’t so invested into the story early on. Also, there are a few times where enemies are ridiculously overpowered and one unfortunate instance where the game becomes a rail-shooter. Nevertheless, this game is wonderful to play, replay, and show off to all of your friends that are legally allowed to see it.