Sorry Juri, but I had to cancel your requested review of the Hatsune Miku game. I’ll make it up to you somehow.
Okay, so after suffering a bout of writer's block, I come back to my reviewing mood only to find out I can't think of anything to review. I originally was going to review a Silent Hill game, but I’m apparently a total pussy and chickened out of those. So here's my review of...*Swipes a random game off his shelf* Bayonetta.
Hey, it was either this or Grand Theft Auto 5, which was another review requested of me, and I don't like reviewing newer games. Although if you guys really want, leave some comments below asking me to review GTA V, and I may get around to it. But I don't particularly like reviewing games that have just come out.
Bayonetta is a button mashing beat 'em up from Platinum Games for the PS3. It stars a witch named Bayonetta, who fights against the angel servants of a goddess named Jubileus. I hear a lot of people talk about liking this game, and to be honest, I like it too.
I'm mostly writing this review for the sake of a friend of mine who is curious about the game. Well Fait, this one's for you. Consider this technically my first of the requests I'll be taking for a while.
So our story starts like any other story. Two leggy females fighting angels on a falling clocktower dropping off the side of the world's highest cliff. You're immediately dropped right into the action as a Tony Jay-Esque disembodied voice explains the backstory to you. That there used to exist two clans in Europe and-
Sorry, is this this guy's real voice? If so...dayum. He reminds me of the owl from Secret of NIHM crossed with Christopher Lee.
So anyway, awesome voice explains that the two clans were named the Umbra Witches, who controlled the elements of Darkness, and the Lumen Sages, who controlled light. These two orders worked together to keep the passage of time stable, and once had a respectful relationship with eachother. But something happened one day that changed all that. The two clans came into some sort of disagreement that currently isn't really explained, and a war broke out between them.
By the way, you are still fighting angels and floating dragon things, and all sort of holy creatures while this guy's explaining all this.
As you continue to fight, the Voice of God explains that despite the fact that the Lumen Sages had their God's blessing on their side, the Umbra Witches still triumphed in the war. A two headed angel dragon (Yes, that is apparently a thing.) appears to fight you as you're told that the Umbra Witches' victory was short lived. Humans rebelled against the witches and brought about the Witch Hunts. Driven by the will of Jubileus, they exterminated the keepers of Darkness.
"All but one."
As Two Headed Angel Dragon fires a blast that destroys the clocktower, you get a cutscene of the two witches plummeting to earth while they continue their battle with the angels. And the game cuts to black.
Just got to say...That? That is just the opening. If you like that, you're in for one hell of a game. One cool thing about this intro is that yes, while it is your typical expository opening, you're given something to do during it. You're left to enjoy fighting some enemies with the flashy combat system while being told the story, instead of just looking at it on a black screen or during a non-interactive cutscene. And yet, the action doesn't distract you from the story. The narrator's voice is loud enough to hear, and bold enough to stand out from the action happening in the background so you can understand him. This is a great way to start your game, if you must fill the player in on the story from the beginning.
So we eventually get introduced to Bayonetta, the last of the Umbra Witches, as she visits a cemetary. Using a dead body as bait, she attracts some angels and proceeds to kick their asses while the most goddamn catchy remix of Fly Me To the Moon plays in the background. We eventually learn that Bayonetta is amnesiac and doesn't remember her past. So yeah, kind of a cliche here, the whole thing is about finding out the secret of Bayonetta's past.
And here's my gripe with the game. Now, I know that amnesia is used as a tool for immersion in games. There's a real connection when you as the player are on the same page as the character, and when she finds out something shocking to you, it's shocking to her as well, making you feel like you're one with this character.
But this trope has been done to death. You all know the story, the amnesiac looks for the keys to her past, only to find out something shocking that changes the entire perception of the character's existance. And it's usually a tool for the villain's agenda as well. This never changes. I've never played a game with an amnesiac character where you find out she's just a baker's daughter or that she was a school teacher or some shit. So amnesia usually leads to a bit of predictability because we all know how it goes at this point, and the shock value becomes weakened by it. But I guess so long as the game can stand on its other qualities, it really doesn't bother me that much.
But that's pretty much the story as a whole. It focuses around Bayonetta's mysterious past, the war of the two clans, and this Jubileus. There's really not much more I can go into without a spoiler, but that's the plot in a nutshell.
But enough about the story, let's talk about Bayonetta herself. Despite the fact that she was clearly just made for sex appeal, having long legs, glasses, and the fact that for some reason, she becomes nude during attack combos, I've found a lot of people, male and female alike, really like Bayonetta as a character. She's sexy, but she's not a goddess. She's flirty, but she's not slutty, she can have a sexualized moment, but still seem like a dignified character. Her personality can extend past just being eye candy for the player. She shows a caring side, a badass side, a funny side, a silly side, she can show more than just her ass. You don't see this in a lot of females. They're mostly just there to look pretty, or to slut it up for the player.
Now that's not to say she doesn't have her moments. Some of her alternate costumes I will say are pretty tasteless, and it's really unbearable to most people, putting this otherwise likable and dignified woman in those weird japanese track clothes, or in a witch costume that seems fit only for some sexualized cosplay where the hat covers more than the rest of the outfit does. So yeah, there's a few moments where you could tell that the developers really couldn't help themselves, but she still comes off as likable and with an actual personality. And I will say that some of the sexualized moments come off as actually funny when you know that Bayonetta has done that situation of her own will, and the fact that her personality makes it seem actually believable that she would do something like that.
Bayonetta is a very playful, joking character who can find humor and fun in a situation, so it doesn't feel forced when she suddenly starts having a dance off with an enemy, or when she starts pole dancing with her weapon. She likes to mess around. Her character is built around being this corny, fun loving girl who can enjoy herself. So the sexualization works because it still melds with the essence of the character.
But still, if you don't like sexualization in a game, you're probably not going to like this one.
Some of the other characters are pretty hit and miss, however. The merchant, Rodin, is pretty cool and his cheesy one liners get a laugh out of me occasionally. There's this guy named Luka, who honestly? I think is a really stupid and pointless character. He persistantly chases Bayonetta because he blames her for the death of his father, but I honestly can't tell if this idiot wants to kill her or have sex with her, because his personality gets really inconsistant around her. He's really not there for anything but to be a foil for comedy, and little else.
And then there's Enzo. Who I can only say is obviously supposed to be Joe Pesci. But the thing is, the Joe Pesci character only works when they're actually played by Joe Pesci. Enzo is not played by Joe Pesci, so his character falls
Now, there are a few more characters, but the less I say about them, the better. They're supposed to be wrapped in mystery, and I don't want to give anything away.
Okay, that's story and characters down, let's talk about the big thing here. The combat.
I love the combat. Platinum Games has always nailed it on fast paced, free form combat. It's smooth, it's fluid, it's fast, fun, but maybe it's a little too fast paced sometimes. Sometimes you can't really see what you're doing and during the more hectic moments in the game, it's a little hard to tell where Bayonetta is on screen. She zips around so quickly that you often can’t keep track of her. But this I guess is only a minor issue compared to the good about this game.
The combat is pretty fun, and fuck, you have a million attacks in this goddamn game! It’s not exactly going to feel stale considering even just ramming the buttons randomly seems to get you a new attack animation you’ve never seen before. Aside from that, there’s not much to say, it’s your typical Devil May Cry fast paced action. If you’ve seen God of War or Devil May Cry, you know what the combat’s like.
There are two elements worth mentioning called Witch Time and torture attacks. Torture attacks are your typical finishing move, where Bayonetta spawns a torture device to finish off her enemies. Nothing really worth talking about here, they're more for racking up a score than anything. Although there's a couple of these that are a little...kinky.
And then there's Witch Time, which is essentially where, if you dodge an enemy attack at the last second, time slows down for everyone but you. Meaning you get some free moves in while enemies are too slow to block, dodge, or hurt you.
Enemies are fun to fight, and the boss battles are incredibly fun to challenge. All of the bosses are unique in their own way, and most of them are enormous. It's really fun fighting a boss that's so large, you're running around on top of him during the battle. They're fun, they're flashy, they're always over the top and ridiculous, it's a joy.
Although I can't really talk about the best two in the game without risking a spoiler, I'm afraid.
Now what about visuals? Are those good? Well...I'll admit, the environments don't really stand out to me. The towns are just typical towns, the two alternate realms you travel to, Paradiso and Inferno, aren't really that impressive. Paradiso looks pretty, but it's so-so since you don't spend a lot of time there. Inferno is a generic hell. So all in all, I can't say the locations are really that memorable.
One last thing worth talking about is that the enemy designs are pretty amazing. They share this angelic, elegant design, while still managing to look like monsters. There’s a use of whites, reds, and blues to make them seem almost gentle in appearance, but still comes off as enemies. I really like this design choice, and hope to see more like it in Bayonetta 2.
Well, I think that's about all there is to talk about...Although I might remember something else. It's a good game, over the top, fun, action packed. The story, I'll admit, I was not too impressed with, but I found the character worth sticking around for. I encourage you to play this game, and Fait? I hope this helps you figure out what this game is.
Final recommendation: If you like fast paced combat and silly stories, this game is just for you.