by the end of Bayonetta 3’s Chapter 3, it’s operating on a scale that dwarfs most video games. Buildings twist and crumble like plastic, giant craters dodge the earth, and mountain-sized creatures flatten entire cities; The culmination of an initial three-hour bombshell that feels like they’re running a mile a minute; A never ending barrage of stimuli.
It’s loud, obnoxious and frankly a little tiresome. And I was hootin’ and hollerin’ the whole time.
Bayonetta series has always been At its best when you’re slack-jawed staring at your TV, murmuring over and over again, “What’s up?” The series is extreme in nature in terms of violence, action and sexuality. The rapid and repeated combos lead into flashy, bloody and extravagant animations, all bookended by goofy cutscenes, where the titular witch flaunts her sex appeal, using it to distract, taunt and stun those around her. to encourage.
Bayonetta 3, of course, is no different. From its opening seconds, you’re thrown into massive battles that require you to battle multiple enemies at once while switching weapons, summoning giant monsters, and dodging attacks. And to that end, when you’re playing as Bayonetta, this is the best series ever. For over 12 hours, I never tire of his fighting, happily welcoming every new wave of enemies or tricky bosses.
This is largely due to how Bayonetta 3 changes the series’ formula. The game no longer removes the Infernal Demons (basically summons the big monster Bayonetta to fight alongside her) cutscenes at the end of a boss fight; He is a complete mechanic. As long as you’ve filled up your magic scale, you can summon one of these beasts, called Demon Slave, almost whenever you want and control them while fighting. Somewhat against their intended use, I mainly used mine as a finishing move. Kicking off a combo with a massive attack from one of my four equipped monsters always felt powerful and weighty and went a long way in leveling the odds against the game’s many, many bosses. For the entirety of Bayonetta 3, it’s constantly throwing Infernal daemons your way, and I loved testing each new addition. That said, outside of the gameplay-specific sections, I mainly went back to the first two games that game gives you, Gomorrah and Madame Butterfly, but that’s more a point of my complacency than the lack of viable variety.
Perhaps the defining feature of Bayonetta 3 is an absurd amount of options and variety. Equivalent to the massive amount of Demon Slaves are Bayonetta’s weapons, each with its own gimmick, strength, and damage. I mainly stuck to the lightning-fast, far-reaching Ignis Arnei Yo-Yo as my primary weapon, with the massive Dead End Express hammer-saw hybrid for slow but heavy attacks. Poke quickly with the former, dodge to trigger Bayonetta’s signature Witch Time (which slows everything but you), then hits enemies with my big hammer before summoning a demonic demon as a finisher. It was consistently entertaining to slam. Whatever it is, I wish there were more meetings. I often only drop most normal enemies after two big combo strings, leaving me on the run to defeat the next idiot.
Bayonetta 3’s 14 chapters constantly fluctuate between settings, sending you literally across the world and then some. From Japan to New York to Egypt, beyond the reach of space and time, every level has a unique visual palette and original conceit. I loved figuring out where in the world I was going next, but more than that, I loved the ending of each chapter, which featured a blustery, larger-than-life setpiece that resembles what you just discovered. Didn’t level the level completely. These include a massive kaiju fight (a personal favorite), a fight above the Earth’s stratosphere where a god-shaped one blows bubbles at his opponent, and a literal battle of operative proportions, among others. Some scenes are better than others, but they’re all a spectacle, so for some that don’t sound as good, at least they’re fun to watch.
It all moves at an unbelievable speed. Bayonetta’s pace is nearly non-stop, constantly throwing new enemies, bosses, and setpieces at you and asking you to tackle them. It’s awesome, and I loved it. Bayonetta 3 never wants you to get bored and does everything in its power to keep your eyes glued to your TV or Switch screen, no matter how tedious it may be.
For what it’s worth, Bayonetta 3’s story is one of the most understandable in the series. Which is to say that it is largely unclear. Bayonetta is engaging, as is most of the cast of returning characters like Jean, Luca, and Rodin, but the larger narrative is a rote multi-dimensional story. Some big bad guy is trying to control space and time on different dimensions. It introduces a number of different Bayonettas (a fun narrative way to give you those aforementioned different weapons), and has a late game twist that neatly changes the Bayonetta lore. For the most part, though, the narrative is largely forgettable beyond superficial entertainment value.
However, the story introduces the weakest parts of Bayonetta 3: not all levels in which you play as Bayonetta. At the start, the new character Viola is introduced, a young punk from a different dimension who needs Jean and Bayonetta to help save the Multiverse. This sends Jean on a mission to find a scientist to help the trio. Gene’s levels play out as a stealth-focused side scroller, though it’s never engaging beyond running from point A to B and occasionally fighting a boring boss.
Viola’s handful of levels are interesting mechanically but the landing wedge isn’t. Viola is a hack ‘n’ slash-focused character, and her witch time is tied to a parry rather than dodge. That parry window is incredibly tight and my early hours with the new Witch were frustrating until I finally got the hang of it, at which point it just got a little more fun. He has his own demon slave, a giant cat named Cheshire (a nod to previous games), which came in handy when I just wanted to make my way through the levels.
I like the idea of introducing new playable characters to the Bayonetta series, but Viola didn’t do anything for me. Cosmetically, he is estimated to be a punk rocker as an office worker, with more Spencer’s gifts than 924 Gilman Street. But still, he is dull and uninteresting. The game forces you to spend many hours playing as him, and I struggle to think of a single defining characteristic other than his corny mall punk aesthetic. Viola being dull and forgettable is unfortunate because, despite the series’ often lackluster storytelling, it always has incredibly funny characters. Considering the implication that Viola could potentially play a huge role in upcoming games, I’m disappointed that she doesn’t match Bayonetta’s charm.
But under a mountain of compliments it is a small complaint. Bayonetta 3, for most of its runtime, is an absolute blast. It is exaggerated, over-the-top, and extravagant for extravagance, leaving ruins, literally, in its wake. I’m already going back to each level to score better, and I have no immediate plans to stop. I may be hesitant about the future of the series, but currently, it’s the best Bayonetta ever.