2018 Summer Backlog: Bayonetta

During the first half of the PS3's lifespan, Sony faced an epic backfire: their console's architecture was so complicated that multiplatform games tended to look and run much better on Xbox 360. Such was the case with Bayonetta, and to an alarming and well-publicized degree. So the game came and went, and after having forgotten about it, I noticed it one day on a store shelf, bundled with its sequel, this time for Wii U. But I just didn't see myself taking a 60-dollar plunge when I had Mario and Smash to save for. It'll go down in price, I figured. And maybe it did, but by that point the Wii U wasn't exactly a hot holiday item. But you know what was? The Nintendo Switch came out, and with it arrived that same Bayonetta bundle, now polished into the best console version out there. Well, I thought, it might go down in price, so just- no it won't; this is a Switch game! And so, here I am, digging my way into Bayonetta like a pair of ankle-shattering stilettos. 

The game is a cult classic, mainly because of its sense of style. Bayonetta herself is a modernized offshoot of so many old days sex symbols, and so she inhabits a world visually and audibly modeled after that 30’s-40’s time period. Add to this a neo-gothic overtone, and you have a recipe for personality. Butterflies, rose petals, guillotines - I mean, it’s all just fantastic. That’s not to say everything is perfect, though. Textures can be muddy in places, and the over-the-top vaudevillian character movement during cutscenes is just too much for me. The game as a whole, thus far, is a bit sillier than I was hoping for. There does seem to be a melancholic undertone creeping up, so that’s promising. 

I firmly believe that video games can improve dramatically in terms of immersion, storytelling, production value, and scope. But when it comes to certain specific aspects, in this case third-person combat mechanics, titles like Bayonetta suggest that the plateau has more or less been reached. The more I learn about how to fight demons, the more satisfying it becomes, and I just can’t stop. I love squeezing in that perfect dodge to slow down time, allowing me to turn around and just pummel my opponents. Power, grace, and so much style. That is the essence of Bayonetta.

If it’s not already obvious, I’m kind of having a blast with Bayonetta. Do I regret not playing this earlier? No, actually. It’s quite refreshing to play the definitive version of a game I didn’t already buy at some point in high school. There’s a point to be made about this bundle being a bit overpriced, especially considering that Bayonetta 1 (and presumably 2) uses button prompts leftovers from the Wii U version, but again, I never bought these before. I will definitely complete Bayonetta, and before cartoon dragons and nihilistic cowboys consume my autumn life, maybe even Bayonetta 2.