From the beginning of time, Lumen Sages & Umbra Witches watched over the world in an uneasy alliance, that is until an intermarriage started a war between them. Both sides were completely destroyed, except for Bayonetta. She awakes centuries later at the bottom of a lake with amnesia and is immediately attacked by angels. In the crossfire a journalist is killed. His son, Luka, blames Bayonetta as humans cannot see angels. But rather than sink to her level he decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and seek the truth.
Surprisingly there’s not a lot of tension between them, at least not the kind you’d expect. He follows Bayonetta around more like a love sick puppy than an investigative journalist. Although he does get pretty hot under collar when she inexplicably calls him Cheshire.
The story is surprisingly good but between Bayonetta’s salaciousness and Cheshire’s… I mean Luka’s own antics it never gets too serious, even when a little girl shows up claiming Bayonetta’s her… mummy!?
At one point Bayonetta claims that she sacrifices angels to stay out of hell, which is an intriguing premise. Unfortunately this is never followed up on, and collecting halos winds up just being a form of currency for you to purchase item, equipment, and new techniques at the aptly named “Gates of Hell.”
With the exception of the occasional throwback looking cutsence that shows the characters virtually motionless and framed in a cheesy film strip border, most of the cutscenes look great or maybe that’s just Bayonetta. You can make the cutscenes even better by changing into different costumes such as nun, cheerleader, even sluttier witch. Hell, I can’t even think of another game where equipment or costume changes were rendered during cutscenes.
More sexy moves than you can shake a stick at (thumbstick or otherwise).
What else would expect from a girl with handguns for heels! And like any girl, Bayonetta has lots of footwear: guns, rocket launchers, electric & fire claws (okay maybe not like any girl). Switching between them is aided by a hotkey for an alternate set of equipment. Even Bayonetta’s hair is weapon. It forms huge demons by spinning together with her clothes, leaving Bayonetta in her birthday suit.
In fact, there may be too many moves. Some are so similar that they’re practically tripping over one another. For example the technique Umbra Portal Kick is preformed by pressing b while holding RT but Breakdance is also performed by holding RT so the timing must be perfect because while Breakdance may look cool it’s extremely dangerous. Sure if starts off good, Bayonetta on her back with her legs up in the air but then she starts posing for the camera and it leaves her wide open for a pounding (and not in a good way). And that’s why I love that you can try techniques before buying them. First and foremost, it gives you a chance to see if you’re even capable of executing them before wasting your money but it also shows just how (im)practical they are.
This is one game where you’ll actually appreciate loading screens as you can practice moves, which are conveniently listed for you. An you can press the back button to enter Practice Mode indefinitely.
Pushing your buttons
I don’t know about the PS3 version but half the time you’ll think your XBOX 360 controller is broken. It’s not just the anally precised timing required for trigger events & Witch Time, sometimes the buttons just don’t work! Once enemies initiate an attack you are prevented from pausing to access the items menu so I suggest you always have your hotkeys ready to go.
Cheats are next to impossible. They’re done by counterintuitively standing nearing but NOT picking up telephones then inputting the codes with the D-pad, which can take many tries due to accidental double taps.
And who can even tell if Lock-on is working? At times the red target is barely visible, worse the camera doesn’t follow the enemy you’ve supposedly locked-on to.
The default camera speed is painfully slow, however that can be changed. What can’t be changed is view of the back of Bayonetta’s head during the motorcycle & missile riding stages. Luckily the occasional rear-ending won’t kill you. These stages are fairly easy and are more for fun than presenting any serious challenge.
A game for gamers
You might be misled into thinking such a sexualized game wouldn’t offer much of a challenge to serious gamers, particularly when it starts off with only 3 difficulties Normal, Easy (automatic) & Very Easy (automatic)! But even Normal is pretty hard and will take about 10-15 hours the first time around. Completing it unlocks Hard followed by Non-stop Climax mode (be afraid).
Most of the game involves relearning your abilities, none more so than Witch Time, which momentarily slows time. Witch Time is activated by dodging the instant before you’re attacked. Sounds easy right? WRONG! It’s not the instant the enemy begins his attack but the instant before you’re about to get hit by it, and when I say the instant I mean the “instant” (I’ll stop saying instant now). Mastering Witch Time isn’t just crucial for defeating certain enemies like Jeanne, who has all your powers by the way, it’s required for completing challenges called Alfheims, hidden throughout the game. Just finding them is a challenge though, some don’t appear until you’re halfway through a chapter and then you half to go back to find them! How anyone is supposed to find these without a cheat guide is beyond me.
Successful attacks & taunts will fill your Magic Gauge and allow you to perform what are known as Torture Attacks, which summon unique torture devices based on the enemy. My personal favorite being a BDSM wooden horse Bayonetta uses on Joy (video right). But getting the chance to do them can be a challenge. If you get hit your Magic Gauge drastically drops and 2 hits depletes it altogether.
But don’t worry there are plenty of accommodations for casual gamers. You can buy (or gather) lolly pops that will give you health & magic, even momentary invincibility. However using items reduces halo bonuses and awards, and if you want to unlock Jeanne as a playable character you need platinum on every stage (normal or above). Thankfully you can replay stages to improve these without having to start over.
Perhaps the biggest help for people who are struggling is the accessory Immortal Marionette, which allows you to perform complex attacks by simply mashing buttons. You can purchase it after beating the game on either Easy or Very Easy but using it on any level above Normal cuts your combos in half. It’s the games way of saying play me night & day until you don’t need items and accessories, and it’s very persuasive.
If you like your gaming hard but your women easy, Bayonetta will bewitch you.
12th Alfheim is insanely hard. Not only do you have to defeat a 4 waves of enemies within the time limit, you also have to perform 5 torture attacks. Oh yeah, AND just 3 hits and you’re dead. So what’s my advice? GIVE UP! Even if you do beat it (and the other Alfheims) it just unlocks the “Lost Chapter” which is more of the same except you fight 50 consecutive Alfheim battles WITHOUT the use of items between battles to replenish your health. And if you eventually beat that it will unlock the not-so-sexy demon Zero. So my suggestion is that unless you have mastered your skills or are prepared to spend hours learning to master them, skip the Alfheims altogether and just cheat and spend the 5 million halos to unlock Zero.
But if I still haven’t dissuaded you yet, here’s how I beat the 12th Alfheim! (gasps) First and most importantly, Torture Attacks only count IF they finish the enemy off (gamefaqs doesn’t mention this important fact), that’s not a problem for the weaker enemies early on but if you don’t get those 5 torture attacks off the first 2 waves of enemies, you’ll need to make sure you sufficiently weaken the remaining enemies before performing the torture attack. To get as many torture attacks as you can on the first 2 waves I suggest you use the whip as you don’t want to finish them off so quick that you can’t fill your magic gauge. If you perform a torture attack on the 2nd wave (Harmony) you’ll get the Chainsaw as a weapon and as awesome as a chainsaw sounds it actually sucks, especially against the fast enemies (Grace & Glory) you’ll face in the next wave. If you don’t hit your them they can hit you while you’re chainsawing air. Even if you hit them they recover faster than you so you better off dropping the chainsaw (push LS). Instead use your sword preferably during Witch Time. Try to have a full Magic gauge for the 4th wave (Fairness & Fearless) and either prepare a charge attack as they materialize or just swinging furiously at the warp in point from behind (they always appear facing the entrance). Then perform a Torture attack on Fairness (on left) before it has chance to turn around that way you don’t have to worry about get immobilized by his roar. If you’re short on time (and you probably will be) keep swing like a madman while tapping LS toward it for invincibility, assuming you have the Moon of Mahaa-Kalaa accessory (oh yeah and you should probably buy the Moon of Mahaa-Kalaa accessory).
If you you’re like me and you like “bad endings” then you might be tempted to crash the giant final boss into the Earth rather than the Sun like you’re supposed to, don’t bother. Nothing special happens, just the regular death screen.