Bayonetta 3 – Game Review


Bayonetta 3

(Available for Nintendo Switch only)

Bayonetta 3 has finally come out. After being this fabled game shown off at 2017 Game Awards and seeming like it would never come out… It’s finally here and I have been dying to get my hands on it. I’m a fan of the previous games, and so I’ve been dead excited to see what Platinum Games would do with the Switch hardware in mind.

Platinum Games has been working hard on this, and they really need a big win on this, since they haven’t had a good year after their live service game Babylon’s Fall collapsed, to such an extent that the service will be shutting down in February, with the game having a very short lifespan, not even reaching one year of service…

Bayonetta 3, though, promised to be an excellent take on all of the action in the previous games, whilst also expanding on a lot of the ideas that have been going around action games. I definitely noticed when playing this that a lot of ideas had been borrowed from Devil May Cry 5, which was interesting since when I played that I thought that a lot of Dante’s gameplay and progression borrowed from Bayonetta.

If you liked playing the first two games, this one will be very familiar to you. The game is set up pretty much exactly the same, you play levels, complete verses – some of which are made very obvious, others are very out of the way and are more challenging. You earn medals that range from Stone to Platinum, and at the end you get a trophy.

The game is once again split into different difficulties, from Casual, Standard, and Expert. The combat remains largely unchanged, and you pick up different weapons to experiment with throughout the game. Starting off, obviously, with the basic guns, this time they have a different design. This time the guns are purple and are the avatar of the demon Madam Butterfly. Which introduces a new combat in the game, the demon slaying. This was advertised as being similar to kaiju fights, and they certainly have a similar effect to that. You can use the ZL trigger to summon them, with Bayonetta being motionless while this happens, but you can then use the various demons to use punches, kicks, and special abilities that they each have. For example, the frog demon that was shown in the trailers gets a singing based ability that allows her to rain poison onto the battlefield. It was quite hard to pull off in my case, so I never managed to attempt it.

Other than that, the game introduces two more gameplay styles. Some missions you’ll be taking on the new character Viola, a witch that joins Bayonetta on her training. There’s also some 2D side-scrolling stealth missions where you’ll be playing as returning character Jeanne. I’ll get into my thoughts on the new gameplay styles later on in the review.

With all that being said, what do I think of Bayonetta 3? Well, I really like it! I have a few gripes that I’ll go into detail on, but none of them held my opinion down that much. But if you think that this is going to be a major innovation to the franchise, it’s not really. At least not in the way that will appease many people. I personally thought that adding the demon slaying aspect was a major innovation in itself, since it’s a good way to introduce speedy combat.

I’ll say right off the bat – if you weren’t convinced by the first two games, Bayonetta 3 isn’t going to change your mind.

PROS

  • Combat and weapons

The combat is better than ever. For one thing, the witch time feels more well-handled than ever. My biggest problem with the first game’s switch port is that it felt like the witch time ability (where if you dodge attacks successfully, you can slow down time to get extra hits in) was a little finicky, but it was improved in Bayonetta 2. Three feels like the perfect combination. While I wasn’t able to trigger it whenever I wanted to, it certainly felt slightly more forgiving. I was able to get in some amazing combos while doing it, and I also thought that it was a good idea to add some extra visual cues to aid with that.

What’s more, the combat feels more fluid than ever. The control mapping is about the same as before, so if you’re used to the idea of A being Kick, X being Punch, and Y being Fire, etc, you’ll jump into this very easily.

The combat was so easy for me to get into that I had no trouble with it whatsoever. I barely ever died in this game, which is not something that I can say about the previous games- and I was playing on Standard difficulty. I haven’t tried Expert mode, since I don’t want to approach that until I get a Platinum Trophy on every single level, and so far I haven’t even achieved half of that. But they certainly did a good job of making it feel like there was a challenge while still feeling enjoyable.

The weapons that Bayonetta requires, however, not only have an interesting concept in terms of how Bayonetta receives them in the narrative, but they’re also really cool concepts in general. The other games had some weaker items, and I tended to only use a small amount of them. But in this game, I was jumping between all of them! This is the best selection of weapons that the series has had. Special shoutouts to my favourite weapons like the Trainsaw and the Fan weapons. The spinning disks were also amazingly good fun.

Bottom line, in my opinion, this game has the best combat and weapons of the series so far.

  • Replayability

This has got to be the most replayable Bayonetta game to date! The game obviously adds some extras in post-game, which I won’t spoil, but it does provide a good amount of challenge without being impossible. I felt the need to go back and retry levels with upgraded weapons.

You’ll definitely want to try out some of these set pieces and enjoy them more once you know exactly what to do. Believe me, there are some cool moments in this game! The early portion set on a cruise ship gives the game a great starting point, and it just gets better and better before it ends on one of the most insane moments in the series.

I beat all of the levels in a few days, and while I didn’t think I was going to be doing too much replaying of the levels before doing the review since I wanted to get the review done before Sonic and God of War came out, I think I’ll be playing more of this in my downtime than I thought!

  • How the game looks

I didn’t really want to use the word ‘graphics’ for this section since there are a few issues in the resolution portion of this game, but I still think that this game looks amazing. It doesn’t really push the Switch, which at its best can do 1080p, but this game produces 900p in docked mode, taking a noticeable bump in handheld mode. I’ve played this game a lot on train journeys, and I definitely noticed that there was a visible downgrade. Not that it ruined the experience, I was still able to enjoy it (especially on the OLED screen) but I would recommend playing in docked.

However, in terms of its art style, I really think that this is a good looking game. It’s not a massive step up from Bayonetta 2, but I thought that that was a really good looking game also. I can knock Bayonetta 2 for many of the same reasons as 3.

MIXED

  • Story

I don’t have a lot of unpopular game opinions, but I might have one today. I’ve seen that the biggest criticism for Bayonetta 3 is its story, and I believe it has issues, but I’m a lot more forgiving than most people are. I think that the story is okay!

It centres around Bayonetta defeating man-made monsters this time around. It follows Bayonetta taking on a creature called Singularity that is creating Homunculi.

For me personally, the narrative succeeds in being a good character piece for Bayonetta (I’m sure people will be shocked at my opinion of that, but I stand by it), and I think that unlike the other two games, this one feels like it’s more concerned about following a three-act structure, which is something I felt like that games had lacked previously. It often felt like the narrative was more concerned about producing lore for the series than it was of telling a coherent story. Though as a whole, I think it works, but I think some people are disappointed that certain plot threads have been ignored.

I do think that the story fails in a few regards. Some characters feel a bit mishandled, and it doesn’t feel like there’s enough explanation for some characters. The villain, Singularity’s motivation is weak at best, and it’s mainly because the game doesn’t seem concerned about fleshing out many aspects of the villains. The only thing we know about them is that they want to collapse reality, but the game never really explains why.

That’s all I’ll go into for the story, but I’ll stand by my opinion that I think that story is fine. I don’t think it’s a terrible story that people have made it out to be, and I think that the ending was better than I expected, and it certainly made me excited to see where the franchise will go after this game!

  • Jeanne’s gameplay

I briefly touched on the premise of Jeanne’s gameplay, it focuses a lot more on stealth and puzzle-solving than combat. I personally thought that it was okay, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it. It definitely felt like there were a few moments where I screwed up because getting used to the perspective was a bit of a challenge. It felt like it intruded on the storyline when you first started the game..

It does have its strengths, however. There’s a fun arcade feel to it and the first portion of these segments are great, with some excellent set pieces.

The levels felt really quick though- almost too quick, it felt like there wasn’t enough time to enjoy them.

  • Performance and Resolution

I quickly touched on the resolution issues, particularly with the differences in docked and undocked gameplay (and I’ll stress that you should definitely play it in docked mode), that being said, the performance needs to be taken into account.

While the game is aiming for 60fps, it’s very rare that it will actually achieve that. There are definitely moments such as the boss fights where you’ll definitely notice the resolution, but even those have some issues. Probably due to the fact that they had to keep all of the demons on standby in the game’s memory (ModernVintageGamer on Youtube put that idea forward).

The game doesn’t have bad performance! I rarely ever had many frame drops, it usually performed at 42fps at worst when playing in docked. The combat still flows excellently.

The point I’m making with this is that if you’re used to counting framerates, you’ll notice the difference at 60-40fps. The average person playing this game won’t notice the difference and it definitely won’t impact your enjoyment of the game. I’m actually surprised that they managed to get the framerate as good as it is, since the environments are a lot more open this time around, which I thought was a good decision since it made it easier to explore and find the extra challenges in each level.

CONS

  • Viola’s gameplay

I like Viola as a character! She was one of my favourite parts of the game. I love her personality and her design. I just wish I loved playing her gameplay style! Her combat isn’t much different from Bayonettas, she wields a sword and throws darts instead of guns, but her buttons are mostly the same. Except now you use the R trigger to block using her katana. Your goal now is to block attacks to perform witch time instead of dodging, which took a lot of getting used to, and I found that the timing was very finicky.

I think I screwed up more when I was playing as Viola instead of other characters and it made her gameplay more testing at times.

When I got into a good flow of combat, but when I was expecting to perform witch time it was damn near impossible. She gets a good demon to wield, a unicycling cat named Cheshire, but as a whole I dreaded going back to her levels..

FINAL THOUGHTS

Bayonetta 3 is one of the best action games of the year. Even with some of my gripes, I adored playing this game, and this might now take the spot for my favourite action game outside of Devil May Cry 5. Rather like that game, both of them have a character that I struggled to enjoy (V in Devil May Cry 5 and Viola in this game).

That being said, in spite of the performance and resolution issues and some narrative issues that I’ve already gone into, I can’t knock this game too much. I had to knock it down for some technical issues, but if we’re going by how good of an action game it is, I never really felt the impact of these issues on my first playthrough.

I beat it in less than 4 days and I was keen to keep going. The game itself has a 12 hour campaign which is shorter than Bayonetta 2, but the content inside of it is worth it.

I didn’t even mention the soundtrack, which is another phenomenal one. I didn’t like playing Viola’s gameplay, but I’ll revisit any of her levels just to hear her battle theme. The boss fights are great, and the set pieces are fantastic.

If there’s one other complaint I have for the game, it’s that I wasn’t a massive fan of the kaiju fights in the middle portion of the game, but as a whole, Bayonetta 3 is one of my top games of the year so far. I really loved it and I think all of the new additions make it the best in the series so far.

FINAL SCORE: 9.3/10

Calvin
Director of Axia ASD Ltd.
Self-proclaimed Nerd Consultant
and Head of Axia’s Film Society.

Next is Reece’s review

My experience with Bayonetta 3 is that I have completed the game using my Nintendo Switch OLED model with gameplay split across both handheld and docked mode to compare them, so my experiences only reflect the game running on the OLED model of the Nintendo Switch and not prior versions.

Bayonetta 3 is the latest game in the Bayonetta action adventure franchise by PlatinumGames. The franchise started on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 before eventually becoming a Nintendo exclusive franchise from Bayonetta 2 onwards and is exclusive on the Nintendo Switch for now.

Pro:

Weapons.

This game features 8 weapons the player collects during the main story before the post game. These are easily my favourite choice of weapons in the franchise as they all feel viable and fun to use and are very distinct to each other. There are more weapons in the postgame to collect that are all extremely powerful and fun, so I highly recommend players to collect them all and experiment with them since they help the postgame content and missions.

While the player can no longer set 2 weapons to use at once like in earlier games where one was bound to the hands and the other was to the shoes. Platinum made up for it by giving each weapon itself a full and robust move set that can be expanded upon by buying new moves from the skill tree in this game instead of Rodin’s bar.

A new feature to combat of this game sees Bayonetta fusing with her weapon & Demon in the new Demon Masquerade system. This gives the player access to enough more devastating moves in combat as well as new traversal choices outside of combat for example with Madame Butterfly the player can now hover for a short while or with Gomorrah the player can use a new triple jump that propels the character a big distance away.

Demon Slave.

The most fun new addition to combat in Bayonetta 3 is easily the Demon Slave feature whereby holding the ZL button Bayonetta can fully materialise her Demons and control their movements precisely in combat if the player has enough magic left to do so.

As the player can equip 3 Demons at once (As well as being able to swap them out at any time with the menu) this essentially means the player has access to 3 more weapons at any time. The significant risk with using this new ability is that if the enemy deals enough damages to them then they can break free of control and attack everything including the player. This leads to a notable risk and reward system that punishes the player if they get too greedy and make the Demons very worthwhile to use.

The Demons are also used outside of combat for environmental puzzles that really expands the scale of the game and can lead to incredibly fun sequences as well as speeds up slower puzzle areas that would have dragged otherwise.

Scale.

The scale for Bayonetta 3 is easily the biggest it has ever been, as everything has been scaled up from the enemies to the environments in comparison to the prior games where the enemies were mostly the same height as Bayonetta with the larger enemies saved for mini bosses and the biggest bosses for big climatic boss fights. Compared to Bayonetta 3 they are fought more often and are fought every few verses in each chapter as both Bayonetta and Viola.

The most obvious scale up is the environments as now instead of small arenas most combat

scenarios take place in large open rooms or areas. This is probably due to the Demon Slave mechanic as players would need a large space to control the Demons.

The game also features large new scale set pieces where Bayonetta mounts her Demons and goes through giant chase sequences during the story and these all look amazing while feeling like something that could not be done in earlier games.

There are also more varied end of chapter boss fights with new Kaiju inspired boss battles compared to earlier games where the player normally played as Bayonetta alone and faced off against building sized enemies but now can fight the enemy on a similar scale helping elevate the stakes.

Enemy variety.

The main enemy faction in this game is the Homunculus led by Singularity, in comparison to earlier games that feature the Angels of Paradise and Demons of Inferno.

Due to their nature as artificial lifeforms this leads to a lot more different enemy variety as they can be whatever form is needed for that situation. So this leads to players meeting a new enemy type in every chapter since they are artificially made to fulfil a certain purpose in combat.

As they range from small foot soldiers similar in size to Bayonetta to more animalistic homunculi that are larger than building, so they all fight and are countered in quite diverse ways with the larger ones promoting the use of the Demon Slave mechanic.

Multiple playable characters.

As shown off in trailer Bayonetta 3 features 3 separate characters during the story mode, with those being Bayonetta herself, Jeanne and newcomer Viola.

Bayonetta plays similarly to her past versions but with an even greater expanded upon move set who acts as the core character that players will be using most of the time.

Viola is the new character for this game who plays in a similar fashion to Bayonetta but is very

distinct as she uses only 1 main weapon, but her combat style is distinct as she can use more charge and flurry attacks. While she can also naturally move around and fight with her Demon Cheshire compared to Bayonetta who must remain static during the Demon Slave mechanic.

Jeanne has her own gameplay style in this game instead of being a swap of Bayonetta, as her

chapters features her in 2D environments doing side scrolling combat called “Elevator Combat” in similar games. Her chapters are noticeably short in comparison to Bayonetta & Viola’s but do not outstay their welcome as they are very action packed but fast paced.

Soundtrack.

This game features another great soundtrack like the prior games and features one of my favourite songs in the franchise being “Ghost” which is Viola’s theme and feels straight out of the 2000’s female punk rock like Avril Lavigne.

The rest of the soundtrack is great and some returning tracks are back from prior games with the orchestral with heavy piano and jazz songs all feature remixes to help them stand out and feel distinct than what came before. The player can listen to the full soundtrack at any time by using the Jukebox function in the menu when not in a chapter, so if the player finds all the hidden records in each chapter it is worth it since Bayonetta 3 features a decent size soundtrack.

Voice acting.

As most people are aware of now the earlier voice actor for prior depictions of Bayonetta, Hellena Taylor has been replaced by industry veteran Jennifer Hale, but I will not be getting into what happened here.

Hale does a fantastic job taking over the role and sounds great as Bayonetta being able to perform the same iconic accent and uses the same inflections.

The rest of the cast also does an excellent job with Anna Brisbin voicing the new character Viola, she holds her own considering this is her first game in the franchise and feels very distinct from the rest of the cast.

Collectibles.

This game is stuffed to the brim with extra collectibles to grab during a player’s gameplay.

As each level features 3 Umbran Tears the player must grab from the hidden cat, crow and toad in each level. Each animal needs a different method to catch with the cat being chased on foot, the crow being chased through the air and the toad being stealthy hidden in the level with its only clue being an audible croak the player must listen out for.

When the player collects all 3 in a chapter then it unlocks a new side chapter for the player, this can either be a short challenge to get a player upgrade (Health or Magic) or can even be surprise boss fights that reward the player with a new weapon if they can take it down.

The player can also fill out the new gallery in this game titled “The world of Bayonetta 3” this area in the menu features the jukebox to listen to songs from the game, 3D models of all the characters and enemies, concept art for the game and finally cutscenes from the story.

The player fills out this gallery by collecting hidden vinyl records in the stage for the jukebox to be expanded, collect hidden model kits in the stage for the 3D models and find card packs to unlock more concept art.

There is also the hidden journals in each level that reward the player with a short story when

collected to help flesh out the world building of each chapter, these are normally hidden in hard to reach area of require the use of the new time puzzle mechanic to rewind the environment to a time where platforms where available so the player can do a jumping puzzle to collect the journal entry.

So this game has great replayability and postgame content since players will undoubtedly miss most of them on their first playthrough.

Instant fail QTEs.

One of the most annoying problems I had with earlier games was Quick Time Events during bosses fights that if you missed or had issue with due to a disability would instantly kill the player and make you restart the boss fight again and give the player a massive penalty to the chapter score.

Thankfully, they were completely removed in this game, so I did not have to worry about my

Dyspraxia getting in the way of myself enjoying the frantic and high octane boss fights to then die over something suddenly I have little control over.

Loading times.

Load times in this game are a lot shorter than earlier games, so the player will not be waiting as long for chapters to start of for stage transitions to occur.

One of the more impressive occasions of reduced loading times is when you enter the Chaos Rifts to enter Ginnungagap for story progression or hidden verse challenges for collectibles, as they load almost immediately compared to prior games.

Battery life.

One surprise I had when playing Bayonetta 3 in handheld mode was just how long the battery lasted with it.

In my playthrough it lasted longer than most other action games like Monster Hunter Rise Sunbreak, so if the player wants to play the game portably then they will not need to rush to find a charger after 2 hours.

Con:

Performance.

Bayonetta 3 claims to be able to hit 60fps during normal gameplay but during my gameplay it never was able to, with it being between 40 and the mid 50’s as it never felt completely smooth 60fps. This also was not an issue exclusive to heavy combat sections, but even when the battlefield is empty frames would still drop as it was never stable. Even in the completely barren later chapters where there is only a vast open area with no enemies and no buildings the frame rate still suffered.

Even strangely enough while the cutscenes are supposedly locked to 30fps like the earlier game, I found that even those could drop some frames during more intense cutscenes. Although this issue only happened when I played in handheld mode on Switch and not docked, so it could just be an issue with the handheld mode.

Screen resolution is also changed compared to Bayonetta 2 on Switch. Wherein that game was a constant 720p for its entirety whether in docked mode or handheld mode, compared to Bayonetta 3 has upped its resolution slightly in docked mode to 810p but handheld mode has now dropped to 480p, but these are dynamic resolutions meaning that they can drop lower as was my experience in handheld mode during intensive action scenes.

I would have preferred the choice to have all combat locked to 30fps to make the game feel a lot more consistent with the cutscenes, Kaiju fights and the chase sections.

Camera.

Due to the scale of everything being increased in this game it leads to the camera being extremely zoomed out during combat since this game features the greatest number of bosses and even giant enemies in regular combat.

The major downside is that now Bayonetta now is so reduced in size that it is more difficult to judge distance needed for dodges for Witch Time, and due to the scale Bayonetta now spends a lot of combat punching the ankles and legs of monsters leading to the camera clipping through the enemy

leading to a messy visual effect as the enemy fills most of the screen while Bayonetta herself is tiny in comparison to them and in previous games.

When the camera does clip through enemies there is no longer a good looking Alpha Transparency filter on them like with previous games and instead uses a Dither Transparency, this leads to a worse looking effect due to the game culling half the pixels of the object making it look like a screen door filter and this is normally used in other games on underpowered hardware like Super Mario Odyssey.

Unlike that game though the effect is much clearer in this game as it is almost always on screen on any given time as it happens whenever something clips into the camera or in the overworld on environmental hazards like the mist.

Lighting.

The lighting engine appears to of taken a significant hit from the prior 2 games, as now objects are highlighted with an almost constant dull shine making them appear to be made of wet rubber. This happens across multiple objects in multiple chapters and not confined to just one chapter. As even objects and surfaces that are supposed to be in shadow or away from light sources still shine with wooden floors to stone walls.

Art style/Textures.

Compared to Bayonetta 2 on Wii I and especially on Switch, the textures in this game appeared to be less detailed and blurrier even when the approached expecting the textures to fully render in. The colours in this game are also more muted compared to 2 but still more colourful than Bayonetta 1, so it does feel like a step back compared to where they were on the Wii U.

Even the Demons like Gomorrah have become more muted during normal gameplay as compared earlier games as now they are now a deeper purple on its body with red highlights across it and it is claw, now it is more a pale purple/black

Object pop-in.

A problem that does not happen too often but is noticeable when it occurs is the amount of pop-in that can happen even up close to the player during gameplay.

It happened the most during my playthrough during the city based levels as debris had suddenly appeared in front of me as I was dashing through the environment impairing movement during the level.

No full key rebinding.

While the game does feature the ability to swap between certain button layouts for each character, it still does not allow the player to freely customise all the buttons at once to create your own custom configuration.

For example to use Viola’s Witch Time the player must parry an incoming attack using the R button, this contrasts with Bayonetta who triggers her Witch Time by dodging an incoming attack, but her corresponding button is on ZR. This led to me on multiple occasions confusing the buttons and would have suggested both characters use the same button by default to trigger their Witch Time, but instead they are both separate buttons until you go into the options to change the button layouts using one of the pre-set button layouts.

As you go through the layouts though the player will find that they are leaving the attacking buttons alone as you switch between layouts, so if you want to change up the buttons for the light and heavy attacks while changing the Witch Time but then you cannot.

All these problems would have been fixed if instead of multiple different button layouts that players can choose from that instead there was just one choice that allowed you to fully customise the buttons however you wished and would allow players to find a configuration that best suited them and their play style.

Story.

The story of Bayonetta 3 is the weakest in the trilogy as the story this time relies on either not

explaining the plot being explained to the player or by burying it deep in the codex, so players are kept in the dark about most of the backstory for the new key storyline figures and even some returning characters. This could be seen to cut down on the heavy narrative based cutscenes in the past but winds up leaving casual players who do not read the codex lost and confused during the story.

I will not say spoilers but my major complaint with the story is the fact that players end up repeating the same story beats 4 times in a row. This became clear to me the second time it happened and when I finished the game and looked back it did make the game feel more repetitive than it needed to be. As both prior games did not feature this issue because with Bayonetta 2 you felt the natural story progression as you climbed through Fimbulventr, and you could chart your progression through the story as you keep climbing up the mountain so each locations flow much better than in Bayonetta 3 as they are jarringly separate with little flow between them.

Overuse of one boss fight.

Without spoilers one boss fight is repeated 4 times throughout the story mode, and the boss fight itself is mostly the same every time. It feels too much, and it also happens to be my least favourite boss to fight in the game due to their moveset and how much damage they can quickly rack up if you are not prepared by upgrading your health bar before the fights.

Conclusion:

While a technological step down from Bayonetta 2 on Switch in every aspect, Bayonetta 3 is still a fantastic action game that when it works is a fun time.

Unfortunately Bayonetta 3 feels restrained by having to work on the Nintendo Switch and would be a much better experience on Nintendo’s successor console, because as right now Bayonetta 3 feels held back from what it could be and perform like on superior hardware. This is clear in the new Switch ports for Bayonetta 1 & 2 since they perform at a near solid 60fps with only some no frame rate dips compared to Bayonetta 3 which is very inconsistent dependent on what chapter the player is playing and whether you are playing docked or handheld mode.

Overall if you are a fan of the series and heavy action based combat games in the same vein as Devil May Cry then Bayonetta 3 is worth picking up as it is a fantastic addition to the franchise.

Score: 8.9

Reece Imiolek
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

And finally Elliot’s review

If there’s any genre of game that I would probably consider my favourite it would easily be, what I guess is now known as, Spectacle Fighters, which are essentially Hack ‘n Slash games with the combat of traditional fighting games. And if you ask me (and if Devil May Cry didn’t exist) nothing does this better than the Bayonetta series. Bayonetta 3 has been a long time in the works, announced all the way back in 2017 during The Game Awards, and it took until 2021 for us to get a second look at the game, needless to say the wait was excruciating. But then, after five long and agonising years, we finally got the game on the 28th October 2022. And thus leaves the question, was it worth the wait?

Compared to the other games, Bayonetta 3 has a much grander scope when it comes to story. It starts off with Bayonetta in the city of New York, when the city is attacked by a new threat that doesn’t seem to be from either Paradiso or Inferno. After fighting off the threat and taking refuge in the Gates of Hell, they meet a woman named Viola, who reveals that these beings are called Homunculi, creatures created by someone called Singularity to try and destroy all universes. She recruits Bayonetta to hunt down items called the Gears of Chaos and Jeanne to find a scientist named Dr Sigurd to open a portal to the Alphaverse and to stop the Homunculi’s rampage throughout the Multiverse. This is probably my favourite Bayonetta story so far, it increases the stakes exponentially and actually gives context as to why Bayonetta’s design changes so drastically in each game. 

Graphics wise, I’d say it looks pretty good, admittedly it’s only slightly better than Bayonetta 2, but in all fairness that game looked damn good already so I can’t really complain. One thing that is noticeable however – and has been heavily talked about online –  is the performance issues. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s unplayable, far from it even, however when comparing this game to the others, you can’t deny that the second one does run the best. Bayonetta 3 does dip in framerate on occasion, especially in handheld mode, but it’s never to the point where it affects gameplay. It’s nothing major, just a little disappointing. Another thing that’s changed is the voice cast, with all characters having the same actors with the exception of Bayonetta herself, having the recently made controversial Helena Taylor leaving the role and getting replaced by Jennifer Hale. While I can understand some scepticism going into it, I can happily say that all doubts have gone to rest. She absolutely nails the role, mimicking her speech patterns and voice near perfectly, to the point where if it hadn’t been pointed out that it was a different voice actor I wouldn’t have noticed the difference. Finally is the music, which I really like. Just like the previous games, Bayonetta’s battle theme is a remix of an old song – this time being Moonlight Serenade by Frank Sinatra – which once again really works, and Viola getting her own song which is unironically my favourite song in the entire series, it’s honestly the best part of playing as her. 

As explained before, Bayonetta 3 is a Spectacle Fighter, where you fight a myriad of different enemies by combining light and heavy attacks to string a series of combos together and gain a large portion of points. Just like with the previous games you’re judged on three factors in a fight (which are called Verses in this game): how many combo points you accumulated, how fast you finished the fight, and how much damage you took, you’ll receive a grade – ranging from stone to platinum – for each of these factors and these will determine an overall grade for the fight. What you received in each fight will be rounded up and will determine your overall grade at the end of the chapter. Personally I really like this, it gives the player incentive to do better in a fight and encourages them to come back and try again. Though it can also be a crutch to the player as it makes the game more of a pain for completionists and has led to me restarting the fight multiple times because I felt like I took too much damage, which more than likely doubled my overall playtime. 

Like in previous games, Witch Time makes its triumphant return as one of the best and most useful mechanics. Like in other games, Witch Time is performed by dodging an enemies attack at the very last second, this will slow down time for a few seconds giving you an opportunity to strike at your enemies without resistance. Once again, Witch Time continues to be one of this game’s best additions, it encourages the players to learn enemy attack patterns and rewards you greatly for doing so. 

A new ability that you have access to is being able to summon Infernal Demons (or Demon Slaves as this game calls them). First of all, like in Bayonetta 2 if you’re able to successfully pull off a full combo, you’ll get a prompt to summon one of your Infernal Demons for one last strike for heavy damage. This isn’t the best part of these demons however, as in this game you’re able to summon them to fight in any Verse you wish. When they’re summoned you’ll gain complete control over them and will use them to do all the fighting while Bayonetta stands there vulnerable to attacks. It’s a balance of risk and reward with this, as while you’re able to deal a truck load of damage and make some of the biggest threats easier to handle, losing control of your character can become a big hindrance, especially if you’re not paying attention to the other enemies in the area. You’ll gather more of Demon Slaves as you progress through the story and you can equip three of them at a time. Be careful though as these Demons can die if taken too much damage, in fact there are some bosses that can one-shot them.

Like with pretty much all Spectacle Fighters, you’ll obtain a variety of weapons as you progress through the game. However, there’s one main difference with this game compared to the previous ones when it comes to weapons. In those games you often have to work for those weapons by finding pieces of records spread throughout the game, you were given one as a freebie at the very beginning, but after that you have to hunt them down. In this game on the other hand you’re just able to unlock them as you progress through the main story. I much prefer this compared to the last two games, it’s a lot less of a headache to just get the weapons naturally rather than having to hunt them down. These are also in my opinion the best weapons in the series so far, yes there are some that I much prefer to use than others but I found them all to be a lot of fun, which isn’t as common as you might think it is in these kinds of games. Easily my favourite weapons were the Simoon (the fans), I thought they had the most flashy combos and I really like the wind attacks you could perform with them. 

Unlike most Hack ‘n Slash and Spectacle Fighter games not every fight will be found along the beaten path and will have to go out of your way to find, they’re not too difficult to track down but it is recommended that you hunt down as many as you can as failing to find them will affect you ranking at the end of the chapter. The most obvious of these hidden Verses are the ones that are accessed by rings of light. The more well known of these are accessed by stepping into a ring of purple light. These kinds of fights are nothing new to the series, they’ll send you to another realm (in this case the Chaotic Rift) and have you play out a Verse with some extra requirements. These will include having to fight using only your Demon Slaves, not being able to take any damage, and it being impossible to damage an enemy unless Witch Time is active. Completing these challenges in the allotted time will reward you with a Witch Heart Fragment (which will increase your overall Health when four are collected), or a Broken Moon Pearl (which will improve your max magic metre when you find two). To say these Verses are difficult would be an understatement, some of these took up a majority of my time in some chapters, easily taking me around thirty minutes to beat at times, sometimes even more. The rewards are worth it, but take the plunge at your own risk of sanity. 

The other kind of hidden verses are accessed by stepping into a ring of gold light. Doing so will summon a bundle of Angels from Bayonetta 1 & 2 for you to fight. Defeating them won’t give you anything as big as the purple ones will, they’ll just reward you with a bundle of Halos – which was the exclusive form of currency in the previous games, but are somewhat secondary in this one. I actually really like these battles, a Bayonetta game feels a little hollow without the inclusion of Angels, so it’s really cool to be able to fight them while using techniques and weapons from this game. 

In the other games, new techniques are normally bought from the Gates of Hell, which is accessed either on the Chapter Select Menu or part way through a Chapter. While this bar is still available for you to purchase from, skills aren’t available there. Instead you’re able to unlock them from the pause menu. You get a different menu for each weapon and will consist of attacks for both Bayonetta and the Demon Slave that weapon is associated with. These aren’t bought with Halos or with the more commonly found currency Lotus Seeds, but are instead with Red Orbs, which are earned by performing a long string of combos in fights. 

This time ‘round, Bayonetta isn’t the only playable character. In some missions you play as Viola who plays somewhat like our favourite Umbra Witch but with a few differences. For starters, she only uses one weapon throughout the game, meaning that she only has one skill menu to upgrade from. She only has one Demon Slave, which acts on its own rather than having you control it, though you do change to fighting with your bare fists rather than your sword. And finally, the thing that makes her a chore to play, her Witch Time is based on how well you can guard against an enemy attack instead of how well you dodge it. I cannot stress how much I hate this change, not only does it make it more likely that you get hit as Viola compared to Bayonetta, it feels like I can only guard against enemies directly in front of me instead of those all around me; it makes enemies that wouldn’t normally be too much of a struggle as Bayonetta become an absolute pain as Viola. And I’m constantly getting the timing wrong as well, good enough that Witch Time activates, but because it’s not perfect it only lasts for half a second, barely enough time to land a single hit. The only way I can guard perfectly is by spamming the guard button, but then there are attacks that are linked to that button as well, so I’ll just end up doing a launch attack while in the middle of spamming because I had the nerve to push the control stick forward while doing so. It honestly reminds me of Strangers of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins where a single mechanic completely ruins how a character plays, granted it’s not nearly as bad as in that game, but it’s still very infuriating. 

Though it’s not just Bayonetta and Viola, you also play as Jeanne in a few missions that are so vastly different that they might as well be in an entirely different game. It almost plays like if Metal Gear Solid was a Metroidvania, where you wander through a base, sneaking past enemies and trying to get to the end. You get weapons that can one-shot enemies like a shotgun or a rocket launcher and it even comes with its own set of collectibles, which are four different types of food (which includes toilet paper for some reason) that you can find spread throughout. These levels feel like a tonal shift compared to the rest of the chapters, but I must admit that they are kind of fun. They never last too long and can serve as a break from the constant button mashing and combo chaining. 

One thing that surprised me is the vast number of collectables for you to find. One that returns from the previous games are the Echoes of Memory, small books that contain lore related to the section they were found in. One that I find to be quite fun are the Figure Boxes, finding these will unlock some in-game art for you to look at as well as figures of characters and enemies from the game, these are found all throughout the Chapters and can be purchased for fairly cheap from The Gates of Hell. The more pesky collectables that you can find are the Umbra animals, these can be found in every Chapter you play as Bayonetta or Viola in and consist of a Cat, a Toad and a Crow. The Toad is the easiest to find by far as you only have to look out for its croaks, the Cat and Crow on the other hand are a bloody nightmare, they’re very quick and have their own ways of avoiding you – the Cat crawling through small spaces and the Crow’s ability to fly. Collecting all of these will unlock a hidden level on the Chapter select (levels that I am still yet to beat, play them at your own risk).

The thing that I find most tragic about this game is that it’s so close to being perfect. Bayonetta herself has never played better, the battles are an absolute joy and so many other factors lead to this being the best game in the series. The one real downside is Viola, her usual combat is fine, but her Witch Time almost completely ruins her and almost makes me dread playing her. That being said though, almost perfect is still pretty damn good, I had an amazing time with this game and would happily say that it’s a must play for anyone with a Switch (as long as you’re the right age, naughty children), it was absolutely worth the five year wait. Fingers crossed Metroid Prime 4 isn’t too far away.

9.6/10

Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

Share This Post:
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Posted in Game Reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

The Next Axia10th July 2024
12:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Calvins Tweets

    Sorry, no Tweets were found.

Choose Category

Submit Guest Content

Submit your own "Reviews" or "Guest Content" by clicking on the icon, or click here.

Subscribe to Our Monthly Round-up

Get in Touch

To find out more, ask a question or book a consultation, get started by filling out the short form below:

Follow Us

If you are experiencing difficulties with the functionality of our website, please let us know by clicking the image above.