PlatinumGames has been really knocking it out of the park these last few years. I’m not saying they’re a perfect game studio, because they have experienced a couple of f*ck ups. Like there was Star Fox Zero and its tilt controls purposefully made terrible because they were told by Nintendo to make use of the Nintendo Wii U’s hardware which led to an awkward development process. There were the three licensed games they were contracted to make and how all of them were unnecessary and aged poorly. Recently this year there was Babylon’s Fall, a multiplayer adventure partnership they had with Square Enix, and it’s not only considered the worst game they ever made, but also one of the worst games to come out this year. Can’t wait to see rank at the bottom of so many people’s Worst Games of The Year lists. Platinum isn’t perfect.
However, when they put out amazing titles, they truly are brilliant and PlatinumGames have set the gold standard on how to make action games. Have energetic stories and writing that carry the player the entire way through, and combat that is easy to pick up but complex to master. Encouraging players to replay their games and see if they can do better. The games they are most acclaimed for is what has earned them the respect of being one of the best modern Japanese studios the world has seen. We have received the fantastic Metal Gear Rising, Astral Chain, Vanquish, and Nier: Automata remaining to be my most favorite game by them. Yet, their golden gem franchise has to be none other than the Bayonetta series. This stylish, sexy collection which has cult status and is considered one of the best modern action game franchises.
The first Bayonetta came out originally in Japan during 2009 and was soon released worldwide a few months later during 2010. It failed to meet the expectations PlatinumGames had and sold poorly, but the players who did love the game absolutely raved on about it. Bayonetta was energetic, exciting, thrilling, and was exactly the type of game we needed since games at the time were starting to lean towards more gritty and depressing storytelling. I know the three words I used to describe Bayonetta mean basically the same thing but trust me when I say Bayonetta was starting to accumulate a fanbase excited to see what happened next. Chances of a sequel were originally low though, because a game as obscure and immature as Bayonetta wasn’t really going to be picked up and given funding by a major publisher. The thought that was going through their heads was, “Do we really want a pole dancer to represent our company?” So a majority of them went and f*cked off somewhere else, but Bayonetta would surprisingly get picked up by a major publisher and provided the money needed to get a full-fledged sequel. Enter Nintendo, the men behind Super Mario and…. wait why Nintendo? Out of all the video game companies that would have picked up the Bayonetta series, why Nintendo? The lads who own the cutest and family friendliest properties gamers know? Why would you want to introduce Bayonetta to an audience who mostly likely mainly grew up with your family friendly products?
Simple answer of course! They needed some third-party support for their generation console, the Nintendo Wii U, as it was being trampled by the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One during its time of release and continued to be beaten even after the release of a major PlatinumGames title being released on the hardware. Good grief. Anyways, PlatinumGames signed a contract with good old Papa Nintendo and was told to make the Bayonetta sequel exclusive to Nintendo hardware. Now, this exclusivity deal created some problems for Platinum as the first entry was available on all major platforms, mainly the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The reason why Bayonetta was on these consoles rather than the Nintendo Wii was because the hardware could handle the game and let the developers create detailed, complex sequences. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were showing what next generation hardware could do and the new creative possibilities, but instead PlatinumGames opted to go work with lesser hardware. Not saying the Nintendo Wii U isn't next generation stuff. I’m one of the few suckers who grew up with the Wii U and played gorgeous titles like Pikmin 3 and the HD remaster of The Wind Waker. It’s just why would you limit yourself and possibly risk making a worse looking game? Well luckily that didn’t happen.
Bayonetta 2, which was released in 2014 proved to be a next generation looking game, managed to be a serviceable sequel to the first game, and delivered more of what made Bayonetta great to begin with. More high-octane action, more awesome set pieces, and a continuation of the complex plot. Bayonetta 2 received high scores from numerous critics, was deemed one of the best titles on the Nintendo Wii U and was even nominated for Game of The Year by multiple outlets. Bayonetta 2 was deemed a perfect sequel that was unlikely to begin with. I just want to clarify a few things. The definition of a perfect sequel is anonymous. Nobody knows what exactly makes a good sequel and I myself have struggled a couple of times to define it. What makes a fantastic sequel is that not only does it give more of what we love but also tries to improve on the problems the first entry had. However, these expectations can be set high at times and players set themselves up for disappointment when the sequel doesn’t outlive the original. Personally, I just take things for how they go and even if the sequel doesn’t outlive, blah blah blah, I still find it to be a good game.
I recently replayed Bayonetta 2 which I haven’t touched since 2018, basically four years since then. I played the Nintendo Switch port, and I replayed this game because late last year I finally finished the first Bayonetta. It was flawed at times, but ultimately, I enjoyed the game and was excited to play the second and eventually the third which has been set to come out this year. Upon replaying Bayonetta 2, I can confirm that it’s still a fantastic game. Fans of the original will find themselves right at home once they hop in and there’s a lot of fun to be had across the seven-to-eight-hour runtime. Bayonetta 2 has certainly aged better than a lot of games that came out during 2014. Like seriously how many people still play Dragon Age: Inquisition? No one, the answer is no one. Bayonetta 2 is still good and there are times when it improves upon the original. However, I personally enjoyed the first game more and disagree with the opinion that the sequel is the superior game. Its second does a good job following up, but there weren’t as many memorable or exciting moments as the first game. Don’t let this statement fool you as this still gets a recommendation. I’ll try not to make this review too long, but today we’ll be talking about Bayonetta 2 and why it deserves your attention.
The game takes place a few months after the events of the first game. I’ll quickly sum up the plot of the first to the best of my knowledge, but if any of you haven’t played the first game and plan to, now is a good time to skip this short paragraph. Are we good? Okay. Bayonetta, one of the last of the Umbra Witches remaining on earth, is awakened from a coffin lying at the bottom of the lake with no memory of how she ended up there. She doesn’t even know the Umbra Witches and what they are yet. A tribe who practiced dark demonic arts and attempted to maintain balance with the Lumen Sages who practiced holy arts. Something happened for them to go to war, and all of sudden angels from the holy lands above came down to earth to wreak havoc on those who didn’t repent for their sins. When I say “angels” I don’t mean normal people with wings and halos. Have you ever seen a biblically accurate angel? Yep, imagine those in real life and sh*tting your pants out as they speak a language you can’t even understand.
Anyways, we cut to the present day where Bayonetta receives the aid of bartender/demon hunter named Rodin who tells her to journey to the City of Vigrid. Where the Lumen Sages and Umbra Witches once dwelled. Bayonetta does exactly that, fights off hordes of angels who stand in her way, and makes a rival by the name of Jeanne. Overtime we learn more of Bayonetta’s past, that Jeanne is actually her best friend whom she forgot after a devastating attack which led to her being sealed in that coffin earlier, and a child that was traveling alongside her named Cereza was actually her child self-brought to the present by a man named Balder the last of the Lumen Sages. Bayonetta brings Cereza (past self) back to the past and prepares to fight Balder who then reveals the gods created two artifacts, the Left Eye and the Right Eye of The World, and whoever holds them will be able to control life itself. Balder holds the Right Eye while Bayonetta holds the Left Eye, and he attempts to seal both of them in a giant statue which was supposed to be a vessel to resurrect an evil being known as Jubileus. Jeanne shows up, frees Bayonetta who defeats the giant Jubileus circling the earth, and afterwards lives their lives as normal human beings.
This brings us to where we are now. Bayonetta and Jeanne are busy doing some gift shopping for an upcoming Christmas Party until suddenly a couple of fighter jets start experiencing turbulence problems which cause them to fly lower than usual. Citizens in the streets view it normally, but Bayonetta and Jeanne are the only ones who see what’s actually going on. Angels have come back to bring chaos and the two friends soar to the skies to take them down. Bayonetta and Jeanne succeed in defeating the holy attackers and use a demon summon to eliminate a big one. All is well until the summoned breaks free of Bayonetta’s control and begins attacking the two Witches. Jeanne’s soul is separated from her body and is caught in the summon pool of the demon. Hands of hell begin to cling onto her body, and she is dragged down to hell. Bayonetta manages to kill the demon using one of her other summons and takes Jeanne’s body to Rodin to figure out what to do. Rodin states there are two realms of hell, and the second realm is when the soul is transported to a world beyond our own. Jeanne’s soul is still in the first realm of hell, but she only has a limited amount of time before she transcends. Bayonetta can journey to this first realm to retrieve the soul, but getting there isn’t easy. Rodin has the power to instantly teleport there, but Bayonetta has to go through a set of doors that physically lead to hell. These doors are located near the bottom of Mount Fimbulvetr, which is located at the secret city of Noatun which is a holy city similar to Vigrid. Bayonetta embarks on an epic journey to save Jeanne and soon reaches the shores of the city. She then meets a young mischief boy named Loki who has the ability to transform into a squirrel, throw magical cards, and is one of the few individuals in the city who can see Bayonetta. He claims he needs to get to the mountain, and in return he will help Bayonetta reach the gates of hell. Bayonetta agrees to help, but along the way they encounter more angels. They aren’t just after Bayonetta, but also Loki and claim he has committed a deadly crime. Not only that but a Lumen Sage stands in their way, meaning Balder wasn’t the only one left, and he claims Loki did something years ago to lead to the end of the tribe. Bayonetta’s knowledge slowly becomes twisted, but she stays vigilant and fights her way through the hordes.
Time to put your metal to the test now!
Bayonetta 2 plays exactly the same as the first game, but more of the same is not always a bad case. All of the Soulsborne titles play similarly to each other, but no one got tired of the series as it had a formula that worked really well. Same for me with Dishonored and how the second game still feels refreshing despite being similarly designed as the first game, Bayonetta is more of that hack n’ slash action the first game was renowned for. This series is in the same vein as the Devil May Cry series or the older God of War titles, and if you don’t know how these games work then let me break it down quickly. You have your player character, a multitude of attacks and combos to use, and you use these attacks to defeat a variety of enemies. These enemies have different quirks and sometimes it’s to optimize opponents during battles, but the real challenge is efficiency. You could use your most basic attack combos and still get through the game, but you are given more rewards and benefits for chaining combos and using stylish moves. Keeping up the pace and eliminating foes with efficiency. You are ranked at the end of each combat scenario for your performance, and this leads to an end stage grade, and the higher the grade is the more rewards you get. These rewards come in the form of some currency to purchase upgrades, items, and maybe even new attacks from a shop. Okay, I think that’s all the basics I had to say.
Bayonetta 2 is more of this style of action-packed combat. Bayonetta has two types of attacks. A punch deals lighter damage that can be dealt in quick succession and a kick which is slower but can deal out heavier damage and potentially stun foes easier. The combos you have can allow you to transition between punches and kicks easily, and sometimes it’s best to use kicks after landing a series of punches. You have the ability to dodge and the amount of I-frames, otherwise invincibility frames, offered during a dodge is plentiful. Meaning as long as you dodge at the right time even into an attack you will negate all damage, and this is heavily encouraged as the game has a mechanic known as Witch Time. For about two to three seconds the world will slow down and Bayonetta can easily catch an enemy off guard and wail away at them. The more you perfectly dodge and land hits the more your power meter grows. This meter allows you to power up your attacks for a short time dealing more damage while also making staggering really easy. You can also save the meter up instead to perform Torture Attacks. These gory maneuvers where if they successfully instant kill an enemy, they will drop their weapon for you to use. These weapons can only be used for a short amount of time but can dish out heavy damage.
At the end of most stages you’ll encounter a boss, and these are absolute colossal units. Taking numerous hits to beat and if you can’t stay on your toes, they’ll cut you down easily. As long as you quickly pick up on their attack patterns it should all be fine. You even get these cool quick times events where you mash away at a certain button and if you do it enough you get a bonus. This bonus being more Halos, otherwise the main currency of the game and what’s rewarded for reaching higher grades/rankings. Halos can be spent at Rodin’s bar, The Gates of Hell, which is conveniently named, and they can be spent on numerous items from new attacks, cosmetics, and even Lollipops to use during battles. Lollipops can be found throughout the world, but if you don’t have any you can at least purchase one from Rodin. These lollipops can fill up your power meter quickly or refill your health when it’s low during battles. When your health runs out you are taken to a game over screen with the choice of continuing from a checkpoint with the downside being it will affect your end level grade. One item you can purchase is a Blood Shot, this syringe that can resurrect you if you fall during the middle of battle without having to use a continue and respawn from the last checkpoint. One last thing I want to mention is that you can find Vinyl Records. At times they will be in fragments, but if you successfully bring one to Rodin he will give you a new weapon to use in the field. These weapons give Bayonetta new fighting styles and combos to mess around with. You’ll get these dual blades, a bow, or these two pistons which shoot fire and ice. These weapons are cool, but you can still stick to the starting gear if you like. The game is still beatable no matter what playstyle and weapons you use. Other than that there really isn’t much else to bring up. Hopefully you can reach hell, save Jeanne, and figure out what exactly is going on with the side plot which somehow connects to the original game.
Don’t you dare be messing with the best now!
Before we discuss why I personally enjoyed the first game more I will say that I still recommend Bayonetta 2, and it does a good job giving us more of what we love. Whatever compliments I have with the last game can be applied here, and there are some improvements to be found. I always like strategic and thoughtful combat more like in Dark Souls or the recent God of War more than the button mashy combat from these style of action games, but Bayonetta still has some really fun combat. It can be challenging at times due to what enemy types you face, and every attack feels impactful and contains enough weight to feel satisfying. It’s exhilarating to keep up successive combos and be rewarded with a high ranking. Showing you are getting better at the game and motivating the player to fight harder. All of the weapons and fighting styles are fun to use, but what I like about Bayonetta is that even though it offers you all these choices you don’t have to use them all. You can still use the starting equipment and beat the game with them. You don’t have to buy all the attacks in Rodin’s shop and instead focus on buying other things like upgrades to your maximum health. You can save up even more Halos by naturally finding upgrade fragments by going off the beaten path, and Bayonetta rewards players and challenges them further for going off the beaten path or looking in places they normally shouldn’t!
Another compliment that carries over is that the art direction is still wonderful and with the more advanced graphics and engine of newer hardware, Bayonetta 2 is gorgeous despite not looking as graphically detailed as other games. Sometimes you don’t need realism, but instead something that is interesting. The city of Noatun is glistening with bright colors and I love how more of the locations in this game are better lit than the first game. I really like the redesigns for the characters, especially Bayonetta’s redesign as I find it more iconic and recognizable. Not because it was used in Smash Bros, but because it has a brighter and more stylish look. Bayonetta is still an amazing female protagonist and remains to be one of the best. I know there was the whole controversy of her feeling like a sex doll being marketed towards a general audience, but I beyond that Bayonetta really is a great character. She has a really interesting background, and an energetic personality that keeps us engaged with her overly complex journey. I love protagonists like Emily Kaldwin and Aloy, but I do have to admit video game protagonists these days have been getting really boring and it’s nice to see a character that is positively written.
Other compliments are that they improved the healing system of this game. Enemies drop healing items more often meaning you won’t be as screwed for future fights. There aren’t as many annoying enemy types as the first game, and when a quicktime event happens on screen there’s some actual signaling for it. If you fail, you are respawned at an earlier point, and it doesn’t count as a cheap death which devalues your end stage grade. Bayonetta 2 is fantastic, so why do I like the first game more? I think it’s mainly due to the story. Games like Bayonetta or DMC are really good at keeping up good pacing. Making sure one event doesn’t occur too long and you move on with the next one. It’s all here and there are some really intense cinematic moments and scripted sequences. It’s more like comparing the plot of the first game to the second. I’m seeing a Horizon Forbidden West and Persona 5 Strikers problem again, where the first game does a good job setting up the origins and the background of the main protagonist, but the sequel struggles to serve a continuation of the plot as we already got the interesting info out of the way. Not saying the plot of Bayonetta 2 is bad, but I can’t recall certain story beats or important moments like the first game. I won’t spoil it, but the sequel connects back to the lore of the first game and rearranges it in a way where it’s more confusing than it should be. By the end of the game, I was just sitting there with a blank look on my face going, “Whaaaaaaaat!?”
My other problem is that some elements just feel thrown into the plot. For example, Luka, a character from the first game was here for the sake of being here. His background was already fully explored, and he doesn’t do much for the plot besides being here. I mean I love the guy and love the fact he’s voiced by the same actor as Ryuji Sakomoto, but he doesn’t contribute much to the plot besides serving as fan service. Then there’s certain cinematic sequences and how they affect the gameplay. There are moments where you fly around a skybox and fight these colossal enemies, but it doesn’t feel good compared to fighting on the ground. There’s a moment where you fight in mech, while really cool, felt really out of place even for a Bayonetta game. Look, I said I like the art direction and the certain cinematic moments, but I do feel there are times when too much stuff is happening on screen. The amount of actions and activities going on can be confusing to look at and distract you from the actual enemy you are trying to fight. Leading to some really cheap hits you would have been able to avoid. I do want to say that even with the amount of stuff going on Bayonetta 2 runs really well especially on Nintendo Switch. No bugs, framerate drops, or performance issues. Excellence the entire way through.
Bayonetta 2 left a good impression overall, but there’s this empty feeling I had upon beating it. As with Horizon Forbidden West it wasn’t disappointing and gameplay wise it’s great, but I do feel like the game could have done more with the story. The game lasts roughly around seven to eight hours long, and even though it costs fifty dollars these days I think it’s mostly a good purchase. There’s a ton of replay value, side content to unlock, and knowing most people they’ll have the thought of doing better the next time through. Bayonetta 3 is coming out later this year and I do hope PlatinumGames fixes some of the problems I had with the last two entries and brings a fantastic end to this franchise. I enjoy the Bayonetta series and personally I like it more than Devil May Cry. In the end I am giving Bayonetta 2 an 8.5/10 for being pretty good.
This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!