Few games in recent memory have put a permanent smile on my face the way Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and The Lost Demon have. This prequel to the Bayonetta series rewrites their mature-rated stylish combat within the whimsical pages of a storybook, spinning an endearing thread of a young witch fighting to prove herself while forging an unlikely friendship Is. The result is an engaging, unexpectedly dense adventure with more charm than it knows what to do with.
Despite coming out only a few months after Bayonetta 3, Cereza and The Lost Demon doesn’t feel like a throwaway side project Platinum Games slapped together. This top-down action-adventure game is a grown-up romance that follows 10-year-old Cereza, who is still training to become a full-fledged Umbra Witch. She seeks to gain enough power to free her captive mother and ventures into a forbidden fairy forest in pursuit of an alluring vision promising power. Serezha can only manage to summon a demon, Cheshire, to safety, whom she ties to her cat doll. However, she does not yet know how to return him to the hellish realm of Inferno. Thus, the reluctant partners are stuck together and must cooperate to survive in the wild.
Bayonetta Origins’ story is my favorite in the entire franchise. It’s heartwarming, humorous, coherent (especially a welcome addition coming from the last game), and has the emotional depth to provide substance to its eye candy. I loved watching Cereza and Cheshire’s relationship blossom over the course of the adventure as the insecure witch tries to prove her worth to the skeptical ogre. The plot takes some unexpected but well-earned turns, and the performances – especially Sereza – are wonderful. I especially loved the narrator; Her warm delivery and smile-inducing impression of the gruff Cheshire rekindled the long-forgotten pleasure of reading a funny bedtime story. If you’ve combined the lore of Bayonetta with the whimsy and heart of a Winnie the Pooh story, you’re never too far from what Cereza and the Lost Demon has to offer.
I enjoyed navigating both through the well-designed platforming and puzzle challenges. You control both characters simultaneously, Serezha with the left stick and Cheshire with the right. It’s cumbersome at first, but it soon becomes second nature. Also, you can make the doll remember Cheshire at will, so I mostly explored alone until I needed her. The tag-team-focused obstacles challenged my thinking, reflexes, and dexterity without ever becoming too complex or tedious. Funny challenges and setpiece moments include Cheshire running on hamster wheels to propel Serezha across platforms or using him to step on blocks that jump across a gap while being chased by a death trap. reveal a hidden path. These sequences only appear once, making me excited to see what the game will come up with next.
Combat is the centerpiece of Bayonetta, and while you won’t be executing dozens of one-hit combos and screen-filling special attacks, Origins’ battle system makes the most of its relative simplicity. Cheshire executes single-button combos, while Cereza can only bind enemies using magic vines. Navigating two characters across a busy battlefield sometimes left me cross-eyed, but I like the unique strategy of dodging enemies in order to tie them down before ripping them to shreds. Unlocking each character’s skill trees adds small but meaningful layers that deepen combat by adding executions, counters, defenses, and long combo strings that rely on button timing rather than combinations of inputs. The action develops at a nice pace without going mechanically overboard.
Additionally, the inclusion of Cheshire’s elemental transformation abilities, such as the use of a grass form vine to shoot down aerial targets and a water form that fires powerful streams, is a blast. Although I grew tired of the small, random encounters, the large arena battles that spawn multiple enemy types with different weaknesses kept me engaged. A sprinkling of grand boss battles, including the titanic final bout, evokes the chaos of the main series in a good way without making you break a sweat. In fact, I hardly ever used health and magical potions for most of the experience. I’m okay with that, as there’s enough spice in the difficulty without compromising on Origins’ more relaxed vibe.
Simply looking at Bayonetta Origins is a colorful treat, thanks to its painterly art direction that evokes games like Okami. The jungle looks fabulous, and a sweet soundtrack filled with beautiful melodies, cute sound effects, and Zelda-esque piano jingles makes this world feel even more magical. I enjoyed revisiting parts of the massive map to unlock new areas and use Cheshire’s abilities to solve simple but satisfying puzzles.
It can be easy to get lost, unfortunately, but the game compensates by having clearly marked collectibles and even guiding lights to save points. The lost souls of departed children, collecting dozens of Wasps became my favorite pastime because of the lovely individual bios you unlocked for each one of them. Even small interactions, like playing rhythmic mini-games to grow flowers, smash crystal dandelions for currency, or shake bushes for potion ingredients, feed into a playful atmosphere that almost makes the jungle feel like a toy. Makes it happen
Like Cereza herself, Bayonetta Origins doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but I smiled more and more as its potential bubbled to the surface. It’s an extraordinary and refreshing change of pace for the franchise, and you don’t even need to be a fan of the series or the action genre to enjoy it. Don’t underestimate what this pint-sized wizard and his demonic companions have to offer.