Bayonetta oozes cool from the off, with the opening sequence presented in a mixture of stylish film-cell stills, great looking FMV and an exhilarating fight that you control against a bunch of angels on a slab of concrete hurtling through the skies.
This is a prologue, and with no tutorial or introduction to the game of any kind before the sequence kicks-in, you’ll just be button-mashing and having a great time while you’re at it. It seems like the perfect mindless opener to what could be a great mindless action game, but here’s where Platinum play their trump card to great effect. The reason Bayonetta resonates as such a surprising early contender for game of the year – from our point of view, anyway – is the actual story that provides the backbone to all of the action.
At first you think the game is just going to be an all out brawl with the story taking a back seat. Well..it kind of is, actually, but Bayonetta isn’t just a spineless ride through action town. The characters are fun, Bayonetta being as sassy and cool and is she sexy, Enzo a loveable doofus and Rodin a good ally, providing you weapons straight from hell to take on your foes.
You play as Bayonetta, a witch who was revived from the bottom of a lake 20 years ago. She doesn’t know much about herself, other than the fact that she’s a kick-ass witch who often has to fight tons of angels to prevent them from taking her away. Oh, and she’s a dab hand at wielding four weapons; two in hands, two attached to her legs. Just the usual, then…
Your accomplice; the rather humorous Enzo, tells you of a stone hidden in the historically rich city of Vigrid, which you believe to be relevant to your past. The place is deeply tied with witch folklore, and a perfect lead to get you on the path to discovering where you come from. While light at first, the story unfolds at a steady pace and acts as a great complement to ease you into the experience (between the not-so-eased, all-out action sequences, that is). It doesn’t take itself seriously at all, noticeably going over-the-top at every given opportunity; as if to poke fun at itself. But ultimately, the characters have personality and the unfolding history of the witches – gathered through the scattered entries of explorer Antonio’s notebook – is interesting to take in, painting a backdrop to the surroundings and adding significance to the chaotic battles that play out. (For example, his notes tell of statues that were erected for mysterious reasons by ancient clans, which then act as the catalyst for huge brawls to occur when you try to pass that point in another dimensional plane.)
When a game opens with the warning, “some sequences may trigger seizures without prior history of the condition”, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. That’s exactly what Bayonetta does, and exactly what Bayonetta is – one hell of a ride!
With Bayonetta, Platinum Games have created a game that plays out like the most pulsating roller-coaster at a theme park, and is possibly ‘the’ triumph of genre in this over-populated quarter of releases.
But, just like all the best roller-coasters, be prepared to put up with some pretty tedious waiting time first.