Analysis of Bayonetta 3, the multiverse of blows

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I hold the Bayonetta Saga’s combat in such high regard that I’d rank it in the top five combat systems of all time, right up there with the Devil May Cry, God of War, Ninja Gaiden, and Batman Arkham games. It’s amazing to look at, feels just as amazing to play, and is packed with opportunities for style and creativity thanks to the wide assortment of wild weapons at your disposal. Bayonetta 3 does nothing but consolidate its legacy, and it comes with a surprising sequel in which it risks changing its established formula in an effort to reinvigorate a combat system that has only slightly evolved between the first two games. Fortunately, those risks pay off. Bayonetta 3 is a vigorous sequel, with new ideas that enhance its 13-year-old combat system, an impressive amount of variety throughout its 10-12 hour campaign, and more of that Bayonetta signature sexy style that makes that the franchise is unique.

While the first two Bayonetta games are directly related in terms of their stories, Bayonetta 3’s story is largely self-contained, and the only knowledge needed is the superficial details of who the main characters are. So if you’re worried about jumping right into Bayonetta 3 without having played the originals, don’t – you’ll learn everything you need pretty quickly. That said, Bayonetta 3’s story is the weakest of the trilogy, which is especially disappointing because its start is so promising. It opens with a surprisingly dark prologue chapter that introduces a mysterious and powerful new villain.

However, the mystery surrounding the villain never bears fruit: his motives remain largely unexplored, and the interests that were established early on seem meaningless in the grand scheme of the game. Bayonetta’s journey as she jumps between all sorts of different multiverses, interacting with different versions of herself, is at least a fun game, but the overall story involving the whys or hows never quite curdles satisfactorily.

Despite her looks, Viola is really endearing.

One of the high points of history is Viola’s introduction. She’s our second playable character and she looks like a thug protagonist straight out of an action game with a completely different character, in a spiked leather jacket with too many buckles on her belt and a samurai sword slung across her back. However, what I like most about Viola is that she, despite her looks, she is endearing. This makes her a great counterpart to the cool and confident Bayonetta, and they have great chemistry that results in some wonderful moments between the two.

Pure Combat Platinum

Bayonetta 2 was very much an iterative sequel that made no effort to fix what wasn’t broken, Bayonetta 3 is much more ambitiousas it introduces sweeping changes to everything from Bayonetta’s main combat abilities, to how she finds and equips new weapons, to how she gains new techniques and abilities for those weapons, and even how she uses her magic.

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Let’s start there, with the excellent new mechanics of the Demon Slave. Instead of using his Demonic Summons as finishing moves, Bayonetta can now freely summon them in battle by holding Left Trigger. The drawback is that while summoning, Bayonetta is locked and vulnerable as she dances to keep the summoning up, depleting your magic meter and allowing you to freely control the demon with the left stick while using the buttons to punch, kick, fire an attack ranged or use the demon’s special ability.

It’s a hell of a power, and my first reaction to using the Gomorrah beast to effortlessly take out enemies that would have taken me about 30 seconds to defeat was that this seemed pretty overkill. But Platinum does a great job of keeping the power of the summons in check as the campaign progresses. For one, it takes just one hit from Bayonetta to cancel the summon, and it takes a lot more magic to re-summon than it does to sustain a summon. Your summon can also die if it takes too much damage, and there are even enemies that can directly destroy it with a single move, putting it on a cooldown timer before you can get it back. A specific type of enemy will multiply if killed by one of your demons, another type will nimbly dodge all attacks thrown at it. However, you must be careful with your summon’s rage meter: if it reaches the maximum, it will turn on you and you will have no way to nullify the summon. It’s a high risk versus high reward situation.

Platinum does a great job of controlling the power of summons as the campaign progresses.

What I like most about this demonic system is that you can queue up to two orders at once, and while you can’t move while summoning or issuing commands, once the commands are queued, you’re free to move, attack, dodge, or do whatever you want. So if you’re multitasking and can balance your own offense while taking a second to quickly issue another order to your summon, you can fight alongside them for a long period of time, which adds another layer of depth to the already insanely deep combat in Bayonetta 3. One of my favorite things to do is summon Baal, who is able to sing for his special attack: if he can sing four verses without getting killed, he will summon a rain of blood that deals massive damage. massive attack on each of the enemies in the room, often finishing the fight on her own.

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The other big change in combat from Bayonetta 3 is the fact that You can no longer equip specific weapon sets on Bayonetta’s arms or legs. Instead, when you get a new weapon, it works as a set that has its own unique attacks for both punches and kicks. However, it doesn’t bother me that you can’t mix and match different types of weapons, especially since Bayonetta’s arsenal is so vast. There’s Ignis’s versatile Yo-Yos, which hit faraway enemies with punches and nearby ones with kicks; the Dead End Express, which is, I kid you not, a demon train that Bayonetta can wield like a chainsaw or ride like a locomotive to ram enemies; and the Ribbit Libido, a microphone stand with which he can kick like a rock star and sing a little quip to boost his attack or defense. And that’s just a small sample. By the time I was done, I had an arsenal of 10 weapons and nine demons to play with, all of them with their own skill trees with upgradable abilities. Bayonetta has historically had some of the wildest weapons in all of video games, but I think it’s easy to say these surpass even her own previous games.

Bayonetta’s arsenal of weapons is insane and extensive.

And then there’s Viola, who doesn’t have access to Bayonetta’s insane array of weapons and summons, but still manages to be a bomb in combat. Viola fights with her samurai sword, and instead of using a variety of summons, she is able to throw her sword and transform it into her extremely powerful jovial cat demon, Cheshire. Cheshire behaves autonomously, but while she’s out of it, Viola must fight with a limited set of moves using her fists, and she can’t use the series’ staple, the Witch Time.

Witch time, of course, is the temporary slow motion triggered by dodging an attack at the last second like Bayonetta; but as Viola, instead, you need to time a block with her sword just before the attack hits her. There’s definitely an adjustment period to remember to block, not dodge, like Viola, but once I got used to it, I ended up really enjoying the Viola chapters as a small break from the traditional Bayonetta chapters, full of demons.

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A witches brew

Bayonetta 3 is more than just its combat, and in fact one of the things it does better than its predecessors is mix your playstyles in the blink of an eye. Never fall into the trap of many action games, which is to go from one locked fight to another until you reach the end of the level. There are plenty of open sections where exploration is the focus, rewarding hidden quests that provide valuable life or magic boosting items, fun and silly stealth side quests starring Jeanne, rhythm game boss battles , and there’s a huge handful of legitimately awesome action sequences that put you in command while all sorts of chaos is going on around you.

But many of these wild scenes come at a price. Bayonetta 3 performance on Nintendo Switch is not very good, which is surprising, since while its characters are as cute as ever, the environments and background elements seem to be a generation behind what the Switch is capable of. But while it’s always frustrating when the frame rate drops, Bayonetta 3 sticks to 60fps during most fights, and major performance issues only show up when the action gets too ambitious. Like, for example, when you have an intense fight on a cruise ship in the middle of a catastrophic tidal wave, while the New York skyline crumbles in the background.

Jennifer Hale manages to hit the nail on the head in all aspects of the character.

And finally, while the absence of Bayonetta’s original voice actress, Hellena Taylor, is a shame, it has to be said that Jennifer Hale does a phenomenal job in the role of the main character. In this game we see a lot more facets of Bayonetta, not to say we just see a lot more Bayonettas, and Hale manages to nail every aspect of the character.

Platinum Games has long been considered a leader in the character action genre, and Bayonetta 3 is an excellent example of this.. It’s fast, reflex-heavy, and features challenging combat that allows for a lot of creativity and expression when it comes to ways to take down your enemies. Both its story and its performance on Switch are less than ideal, but neither issue is significant enough to hinder its top-tier combat, out-of-this-world array of weapons, and inimitable style. This is a much more ambitious sequel than its more iterative predecessor, and that ambition pays off. The new demon thrall summoning system and other changes to how weapons work help reinvigorate what remains one of the best combat systems ever.