Bayonetta 2 may be one of the best action/adventure games that has been released all year and most likely, we will find it will eclipse next years as well.
(Unfortunately due to issues obtaining a copy of Bayonetta 2, we were unable to provide a review in a more timely manner. Thank you for your patience.)
Nintendo has somewhat developed into a rather daring publisher as of late. Considering their relationship with Valhalla Game Studios on development of the exclusive Wii U shooter Devil’s Third and of course, with Platinum on Bayonetta 2. It’s not long ago that Nintendo was considered the safe option you would buy your children so they wouldn’t be exposed to naughtiness and extremes of violence and language. It’s nice to see that they have adopted a looser series of content guidelines that are affecting their current policies that allowed games like Bayonetta 2 to exist.
The tales of the saucy Umbra Witch Cereza, or Bayonetta, have never been more visually satisfying, so dazzlingly executed and sumptuously presented before. Every scene in Bayonetta 2 is a treat for the eyes and ears. Whether you’re in stunning Mediterranean inspired locales or crystalline structures between dimensions, Bayonetta herself never ceases to be compelling. As a character, she’s interesting for her sheer disregard of everything. Superficially, nothing seems important to her, however from time to time you see a glimmer of empathy and humanity shine through and it’s surprising. Strangely, she could have been an incredibly grating, miserable character which such a flippant attitude towards everything that comes her way; you find yourself constantly charmed though. Whether its her innuendo or her little insights into the lore of the universe, she is more than the sum of her parts. Bayonetta may be one of the most promising characters to come out of the last generation of gaming and bleed into the next one.
Gamers joining her adventures from the original game will find Bayonetta controls with a comforting familiarity, but now leaps and pounces with a ferocity and grace that feels much more fluid and dynamic than before. Witch Time, the dynamic that allows you to slow down time with a well timed dodge, returns and is as addictive as ever. Witch Time is probably one of the most frustrating and enjoyable mechanics I have ever found in a video game.
It’s a weird dance you find yourself engaging in one million times over the course of the game, with only 50% of those steps working for you. Enemies will telegraph their attacks with a step or a sound or a light cue that is intended to help you dodge in time, however it doesn’t always end up this way. Sometimes you will dodge and they will still hit you, even if you’re dodging before they are attack. That is because only parts of animations will hurt you and it is the part of the attack that hurts you that seems to trigger Witch Time. You eventually get the hang of when Witch Time will trigger on an enemy but it’s not always guaranteed.
When Witch Time does work, it’s an absolute treat that allows you to spread your enemies guts all over the beautiful environments unmolested and it is very possible to complete a boss fight completely untouched because you get into the Witch Time rhythm. It’s incredibly satisfying when you manage to pull this off.
This time around Bayonetta can equip weapons to both her feet and her hands in order to do this, which is inspired and makes for some visually dazzling combos. Equipping flame throwers to your feet while you hack an enemy up with scimitars looks absolutely incredible and makes you into a very formidable challenger. When you combine great weapon combinations with accessories like a brooch that surrounds you with protective butterflies, you end up finding the real depth behind Bayonetta 2. Making the right combinations work for means you can adapt the game to your own game play style, instead of having to necessarily mould to its paradigms. This elegant freedom makes the game stand out from other action adventures, which may provide weapon upgrades or additions to your arsenal, but don’t provide real combination variety.
Bayonetta 2 really feels like more of an adventure this time as well. While Bayonetta did a decent job of hiding things away, new abilities like being able to transform into a water snake allows for some fun environmental challenges that require you to traverse significantly more open environments. Whether you’re re-assembling witch graves or hunting down hearts or LP’s, you need to keep your eyes open for little nooks hidden away and use all of your abilities to find them. In addition to more variety in pick ups and the way you acquire them, you can also engage in mini-challenges hidden around the game called Muselpheim. These challenges are similar to the Anheim from Bayonetta, in that they task you with fighting enemies with only your guns or without Witch Time etc. While some of these challenges are great, others give you barely enough time to finish them and are quite irritating.
There is so much to do in Bayonetta 2 that it’s ridiculous. You’ll want to go back and complete all of the levels again to get Platinum and Pure Platinum medals (good luck with that) and then there are the birds to collect and not to mention the online multiplayer. Additionally, if you get the Limited Edition, you can get the original Bayonetta as well on a disc in a case to sit next to it on a shelf. That is really great fan service and I applaud Platinum for giving the game away with the sequel.
Bayonetta 2 looks absolutely stunning. I can excuse some slightly spotty incidental texturing, such as when attacks cause damage to the ground for the sheer imagination and polish on environments and characters. Enemies look like organic machines with unnerving designs, or huge organic monstrosities that gorge themselves on you and then hurl you away if they catch you in their titanic grips. Animation is stunning and incredibly fluid with a frame rate that matches the sheer sheen of the graphics in its astounding stability with so much detail on the screen at one time. It makes one wonder what the Wii U has under its hood left to show when you have beautiful, crystal clear textures with an incredibly slick frame rate while enemies and yourself are bounding around the screen with particle effects exploding everywhere. I for one am actually really interested in seeing it. Kudos Platinum.
Bayonetta 2. I don’t think any action/adventure this year or even next year will eclipse the sheer nirvana of leaping, controlling time, finding the sweetest combinations of accessories and weapons and penetrating the deepest depths of Hell in order to save your sister. There is little negative to say about Bayonetta 2 that isn’t quibbling about balance in executing Witch Time and completing Muselpheim challenges. Any Wii U owner should give Bayonetta 2 a try, as we are lucky enough to play one of the best games of the year.
+ Incredibly fluid combat.
+ Addictive customization and combining weapons.
+ Long but not overplayed, multiplayer and collecting will absorb you.
+ Stunning graphics.
– Witch Time can be patchy to execute.
– Muselpheim will occasionally enrage you.