The Bayonetta series is always a refreshing installment in the sparse landscape of titles that truly scratch the itch that Devil May Cry had created in the center of our gaming backs years ago. With Bayonetta 2, we were met without as much iterative gameplay as many of us would have liked, but it kept us entertained. When Bayonetta 3 was announced, many were eager to see what Platinum Games, a game developer known for great titles like Nier: Automata, Astral Chain, and Vanquish, would be doing with the new installment, especially since it has been several years (pre-COVID) since we heard about Bayonetta 3.

A Story on Its ‘Heels’

The story itself is a fun and crazy ridiculous spectacle. In games like these, you must embrace the craziness similar to spending time on the Las Vegas strip; everything is ridiculous, and nothing needs to make sense. Without revealing too much, I found it incredibly amusing that the game opens with a world-ending disaster while you fight on top of a sinking mega yacht as some of your friends drive massive hot rods off ramps to help save your butt. These moments keep us returning to Bayonetta and her world of ridiculous ‘heels with guns’ fighting techniques.

There are some new characters this time around, however. Viola and her pal Cheshire cat wrangle in new abilities and gameplay opportunities while also adding amusing comedic moments. Not that Bayonetta needs much comedy if you look at the whole game as a big cliché making fun of clichés. And truthfully, at the beginning of my playthrough, I found myself cringing at each cut scene as the story was set up. Later, even though the meat of the story is somewhat lackluster, I was so amused that I kept pounding baddies into the ground verse after verse.

Verse by Verse

Truthfully when jumping into this game, the story sits behind the gameplay for me. Platinum has a reputation for creating engaging combat from its previously developed titles, and Bayonetta 3 is no different. The game itself iterates off the previous entries separating the use of weapons per limb. You don’t have to assign certain weapons to feet or hands but instead can instantly pause the game and switch to a new weapon. That may seem tedious, but I found myself sticking with certain weapons for multiple chapters and not switching from engagement to engagement, as one might think. Combine this with the newly revamped demon summoning mechanic, and you’ve got a recipe for combat that is both spectacular and a little overwhelming for new players.

The demon-summoning mechanic deserves high praise for its unique implementation and well-balanced nature. By pressing the left trigger, you can summon one of three demons you’ve assigned on the d-pad. From there, Bayonetta dances to keep the summoning going while you set up combos and attacks to annihilate any enemies on the battlefield. It’s an interesting mechanic that helps mix up the monotony that can wash over an action/combo-based game like this. While playing, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some connection between this and the dual character action of Astral Chain that may have influenced this gameplay decision. Regardless, the mechanic is enjoyable and adds a plethora of demons to queue up in your d-pad hotkeys. Demons range from a giant spider, a large humanoid demon lady, or even an actual demon train that lays tracks on the battlefield to slay enemies. When the train is revealed, there is a fantastic pun Bayonetta says on its’ entrance for anyone still wondering if the script is as funny as previous entries.

The Final Verdict

One thing I did find myself wishing for was removing the medals system. Walling off areas and encounters feels like an ancient piece of gameplay that needs to be iterated upon to feel fresh again. Combine that with the lacking graphics of Bayonetta, most likely due to the Switch’s capabilities, and you feel like you’re jumping into an early 2000’s game, but not in a good way. The system itself works well, and it does entice you to go back and retry chapters for full completion, but as someone who likes being immersed in the game world, nothing takes you out of it more than a shiny medal coming across the screen and a timer telling you how fast you were.

Aside from that, playing Jeanne and the newer character Viola were great change-ups in the overall experience. I honestly feel Viola deserves a game of her own, and I found her personality and move set to be more my style. Hers differs from Bayonetta in that Bayonetta dodges while Viola blocks. Dodging leads to some frantic and annoying camera issues, especially when holding massive weapons like the G-Pillar. I found keeping track of onscreen enemies easier when slowing down to block with Viola.

The whole game itself is a very linear experience. If you want to clear every secret area, earn all platinum medals, or farm more currency, opportunities to replay levels are there. I found myself moving forward more than going back, which was my preference. Weapons are what kept me going forward, combined with the weird change-ups in playable characters’ stealth. Even sequences of being a massive demon monster in a quasi-fighting game are other enticements to see the following verse in each chapter of Bayonetta’s book of crazy action sequences.

Overall, I still wish this game had better graphics. Bayonetta felt flashier and smoother in previous installments, with the hardware being what it was and the systems it was playable on. However, the Switch being what it is, feels like it may be holding back Bayonetta from doing grander things. Thankfully Platinum Games has polished and refined its techniques to ensure each step in high heels is as outrageous as the last.

Bayonetta 3 Review
  • Strong gameplay
  • Crazy story beats
  • Amazing action
  • Graphics are sub-par
  • Older gameplay tropes
8Overall Score
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