By April Carlson
In general, games that focus on T&A aren’t very good. Far too often, when a game features a beautiful and sexy lead, the game is rife with bad controls, a terrible story and a female character who is might be better in bed than in combat. But Bayonetta is a game that breaks the mold and that generalization. It’s an example of the use of sex in a game without the sacrifice in gameplay.
Bayonetta is the newest IP from SEGA and Platinum Games, directed by Hideki Kamiya, the man that brought us the Devil May Cry series. The game’s hyperactive gameplay is also paired with gorgeous graphics and crazy storyline.
You play as Bayonetta, a beautiful and sexy witch who has been asleep for 500 years. Your memory of the past comes back to you in pieces as you progress through the game. You don’t really know if you are a good guy or a bad guy and, quite honestly, it doesn’t really matter. Bayonetta is an Umbra Witch, a sect of witches who fight for the darkness against the Lumen Sages, who fight for the light. She has made a pact with the devil and must attack and kill angels or be dragged into Hell. Angels drop halos which you collect in the game to purchase techniques, weapons, items, and accessories. You also collect a ton of other items like the Baked Gecko, Mandragora Root, and the Unicorn Horn which you can use to concoct healing items and other enhancements in your cauldron. There are items that will increase your attack strength or make you invincible, which will come in handy in some of the crazier boss battles. You can also purchase these items and more from Rodin’s store.
Bayonetta is equipped with Scarborough Fair, a set of four guns. She holds two of them in her hands, while the others attached to her heels. You can unlock other weapons throughout the game like a sword, a whip, and demonic fire/lightning claws. At first, you start out with the basics like kicking, punching, and shooting using a handful of relatively easy combos. Some combos end with a “Wicked Weave” attack, which is when her hair acts as a conduit to summon forth a demonic entity. Madama Butterfly is the most common Wicked Weave, which conjures up a gigantic arm or a gigantic high heel to physically pound the enemy. The game relies heavily on you mastering some of these combos, so button mashers beware: If you don’t have a few of these combos under your belt within the first few chapters, the later chapters will become increasingly difficult.
Other attacks include Torture Attacks, where Bayonetta can summon various torture devices that were once used to against witches. The torture attacks hold nothing back. Some include a guillotine to some kind of horse torture device. The attacks are brutal and gory, but they get the job done.
The last, and most powerful attack is when she calls forth an Infernal Demon. These are usually called forth at the end of an epic boss battle, and even in some of the mini-boss battles. Keeping with the over-sexed theme of the game, this attack is referred to as the Climax. She does a chant and a dance, her hair-clothes come off as her hair takes the shape of one of the Demons. You unlock different types of demons as you progress through the game.
The game uses quicktime events during combat and during some of the cutscenes as well, keeping players on their toes at all times. Failure to react in time will result in a lost combo attack or oftentimes death. On top of the many combos, one of the more important moves in the game is “evade.” Evasion is the best way to avoid damage and get an advantage over your foes. If you dodge at the very last moment, you can engage Witch Time, where the game slows down to give you the advantage. You move at hyper speed, allowing you to attack and cause some major damage to the enemy. Witch Time is useful for other things in the game as well, so keep your eyes open.
The game play is mostly combat-oriented. In addition to your basic ground combat, you get to engage in motorcycle combat, missile combat, and even some surfing warfare. At times, you will be able to walk on walls and ceilings, which add another dimension to the fighting. There are a few puzzles here and there, but most of them are very easy and are a welcome break to the incessant fighting in the game.
The characters are of a unique design – the angels aren’t what we typically imagine. They are really a light version of darker demons, sporting cherub faces and animal bodies. I’ve never seen characters like these and there are a lot of different angels in this game, all equally unique.
The bosses are epic in size and in battle. The scale of some of the enemies is incredible – akin to Shadow of the Colossus and the upcoming God of War 3. There is a different way to kill each enemy, and most bosses have a tiered life meter meaning you have to break it down three, four, and sometimes five or more times before killing it.
The game’s plot is filled with twists and turns and is as challenging to keep up with as some of the gameplay. However, there are a lot of ridiculous, over-the-top, moments of humor in the game that need to be seen to be believed.
The game’s graphics are incredibly crisp and beautiful. The soundtrack is a little cheesy, with Bayonetta’s theme song being “Fly Me to the Moon” sung by a woman, J-Pop style. Bayonetta’s stance is undeniably overly feminine, and when she walks, it’s with more of a sexy, hip-swaying swagger. There are a ton of crotch shots and an acute focus on her voluptuous figure, but for some reason it felt less about exploiting her “sex” as it was building her character. The style was so consistent from beginning to end, and the gameplay was so engaging, that her hyper-sexuality was never an issue. In fact, she has become one of my favorite female video game characters.
There are a ton of unlockable items that cannot be unlocked in one play-through, which increases the game’s replay value. Upon completing the game on Normal difficulty, you unlock a Hard Mode. I played the game on Normal and I barely scratched the surface of unlockable items and there are a lot of things in the game that I have not experienced, only read about. The game features no multiplayer and there are no plans for DLC as they claim that everything is available on the disc. However, there are leaderboards, so you can see how you fare against your friend’s list and the rest of the world.
As someone who was not a fan of the Devil May Cry series, Bayonetta is a stylish and refreshing action game that features a female game character who I absolutely love to play every time.
PS3, Xbox 360
Rated M for Mature