XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Matt New­stead Pub­lisher Sega / De­vel­oper Plat­inumGames / for­mat Xbox 360, Xbox One / re­lease date Oc­to­ber 2009

“A perfect week­end dose of mytho­log­i­cal Ja­panese crazi­ness”

It never gets ar­du­ous killing demons. They truly are the guilt-free hack and slash tar­gets of choice when it comes to sat­is­fy­ing a dig­i­tal blood­lust. That said, it wasn’t un­til Bayonetta that I dis­cov­ered equal sat­is­fac­tion in but­ton-mash­ing an­gels and deities back up into the heav­ens.

It’s pos­si­ble I sim­ply lack sym­pa­thy and ba­sic re­spect for any­thing on-screen that isn’t me, or that the grace and poise Bayonetta dis­plays through­out the first in­stal­ment of her self-ti­tled pound-athon has me show­ing more com­pas­sion for the next in­tri­cate at­tack combo than the poor soul on the re­ceiv­ing end.

‘Late to the party on this’ may be un­der­stat­ing a touch, see­ing as Bayonetta pirou­et­ted her way onto the Xbox 360 back in late 2009, but it did give me plenty of time to cleanse the pal­ette. My last dive into the chaotic hack and slash arena be­ing Devil May Cry 4 back in 2008, which was ap­pro­pri­ately the model upon which game direc­tor Hideki Kamiya shaped Bayonetta both stylis­ti­cally and me­chan­i­cally. That is where most sim­i­lar­i­ties end how­ever, with Kamiya’s creation of the orig­i­nal Devil May Cry seem­ing lit­tle more than a rough sketch, with Bayonetta his true genre-defin­ing chef-d’oeu­vre.

Light re­lief

At a sur­face level, the game cen­tres on the an­cient the­o­log­i­cal strug­gles be­tween dark and light, or more ac­cu­rately, the angelic ‘Lu­men Sages’ and the de­monic pres­ence of the ‘Um­bra witches’, of which Bayonetta is one. I had to hold on tight to this plot point, for my nar­ra­tive com­pass be­gan go­ing hay­wire from all the crazy that lay be­yond. In short, the story is driven for­ward by Bayonetta’s de­sire to re­trieve an ‘Eye of the World’, one of which she cur­rently holds. These are pow­er­ful, elu­sive relics that she seems to not re­ally need given her abil­ity to sum­mon demons, fire pis­tols with her feet and Ger­man Su­plex angelic guardians with her ap­parel wo­ven from her own hair. But hey, we all need a rea­son to get up in the morn­ing. Com­bat it­self cen­tres around sev­eral ba­sic one-but­ton at­tacks; namely your stan­dard dodge, punch, kick trio. I can rat­tle off nu­mer­ous games that run a sim­i­lar ‘mash and hope’ sys­tem, but it’s the mo­men­tum and scale of these at­tacks that leave you feel­ing sa­ti­ated. A ba­sic combo can send Bayonetta flip­ping out of the reach of an­gels while a gi­ant in­can­ta­tion of her boot emerges from an­other realm to crush them into a fine red paste. Yet no mat­ter the in­ten­sity of bat­tle, Bayonetta al­ways seems cam­era-ready, as if she is con­stantly an­tic­i­pat­ing a swarm of pa­parazzi to de­scend upon her. Hon­estly, take a screen­shot any mo­ment she is on screen and you’ll feel a fu­ture in pho­tog­ra­phy beck­on­ing.

Ty­ing all this back in with a fan­tas­tic weapon and abil­ity up­grade sys­tem, boss bat­tles that echo the late game be­he­moths of the Dark Souls se­ries and a game world burst­ing with cre­ative in­san­ity meant that I had a perfect week­end dose of mytho­log­i­cal Ja­panese crazi­ness. I can list many hack and slash ti­tles that fake longevity and depth by hav­ing repet­i­tive en­emy fights drag on in a drab set­ting, while Bayonetta was the first I could re­call that of­fered con­sis­tent va­ri­ety in one form or an­other through­out the jour­ney while still man­ag­ing to in­te­grate sin­gle player re­play value. My next task cur­rently is to bring my woe­ful level rank­ings up wher­ever pos­si­ble. Yes, I could delve into one of the higher dif­fi­cul­ties I’ve un­locked, but I don’t quite hold the dex­ter­ity and pa­tient de­meanour re­quired for pur­su­ing that mam­moth en­deav­our. And yes, that is a dare…

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