I always believed in the mantra of “good things happen to those who deserve it.” In the world of the cruel video game industry, great games don’t sell too well and while not so-games seemingly to go on to sell gangbusters. The original Bayonetta deserved so much more success than it did upon its original run. It delivered a tight and refreshing action adventure with a unique style and a strong hit of charisma. It was a hidden gem that no one played and its future was left in the realm of uncertainty with Sega disinterested in future iterations. Fortunately, the sultry witch was given a lifeline with Nintendo stepping to fund the development of Bayonetta 2 for the Wii U and subsequently rejuvenating the series into an adoptive Ninty franchise. With the popularity of the Switch, a perfect opportunity present itself for more gamer’s to experience the pleasure of the series with the upcoming third installation developed exclusive for the hybrid console and more immediately with the Switch port of Bayonetta 2.
Bayonetta 2 stands among the best games this generation has to offer. It is a sleek action adventure offering an abundant amount of epic set pieces, a fluid combat and providing non-stop thrills. In my honest opinion, a game of the same genre has yet to come close to even touching the class and caliber of the goddesses second adventure. The Switch version is a true imagination of the original release and the definitive version of the title.
The narrative kicks off fairly straight forward with Jean (Bayonetta’s BFF) being dragged down to hell and Bayonetta tasked to save her. A simple story with a few twists and turn as the adventure progresses. The story isn’t going to win any awards for writing, nor is it going to pull your heat strings, however, it is serviceable giving enough motivation to see the end credits and provides context to all the action. Sadly, I wasn’t a fan of the manner that some cut scenes are delivered. Often you are shown still images with voice over layered on top. It’s an odd choice as it lacked the same visual impression of an in game cut-scenes and it does comes off as a cost saving measure. Fortunately, there are a good number of flashy scenes that are simply a joy to watch and highlight the style of our beloved witch.
While it is certainly true that Bayonetta is predominately about the core gameplay, however, i do believe kudos should be given to the characters. The supporting cast all have a likeable quality about them and I thoroughly enjoyed their interaction within the story. Bayonetta herself is perhaps the most underapprectiated and poorly understood heroine. On the surface she is overly sexualized female protagonist, however this description does not accurately represent the deeper complexities of he character. She is confident and dependable, willingly to walk into any battle no matter how adverse without fear. She is a deeply loyal friend that would literally go to hell and back to save a friend. Bayonetta even has a caring side, displaying great concern for those she holds dear and a protective nature. She is exemplary and I feel not many give her due credit. In my humble opinion, Bayonetta is a admirable portrayal of a strong female protagonist, someone we should absolutely be championing
The backbone of Bayonetta 2 is the robust and fluid combat system. Deceptively simple at first glance, it offers a level of complexity and skill ceiling that will appeal to action game afficionado’s. The standard affair is all present here, a button for punches, kicks, dodge and jumps. There is even a long list of the combo’s provided to you to practice. What differentiates Bayonetta’s combat system is Witch Time. Dodging at the very last moment slows down time allowing the sultry witch to go town on enemies. It is a risk-reward system that encourages skillful play. While it is certainly true that you can tug along with button mashing and on face value the combat systems appears to be simple, however it is far from it. Pulling a long string combo, performing consistent witch times and learning attack patterns of enemies requires a great deal of skill and god-like reactions. The system is nuanced and rhythmic which is a joy to play. It is a game that both the casual and the hardcore can enjoy, and the balance it achieves to cater to both is masterful.
What I most adore most about Bayonetta 2 is how richly rewarding the experience is. I felt a sense of growth in skill when I could consistently pull off a long string combo, or could accurately read enemies attack and come on top after battle unscathed after a difficult battle. Bayonetta 2 itself has a reward system that assesses your performance after each segment. From a Stone trophy given for participation to a Pure Platinum rewarded to a flawless and perfect performance. Admittedly I was regularly receiving Stone and Bronze trophies, but towards the second half I was consistently achieving Gold and Platinum trophies. It was gratifying going back to replay sections in order to beat my previous performance. Setting myself goals to achieve Pure Platinum trophies for all chapters provided motivation to improve and continue on playing. In this sense, Bayonetta 2 has addictive quality to it; a game that is difficult to put down the controller.
To compliment the fast paced action, Bayonetta 2 runs at a rock solid 60fps even in handheld mode. As far as I can tell, the game runs at the targeted frame rate consistently and I did not notice any moments of dips throughout my entire playthrough. The visuals are crisp and vibrant, the grey and brown tint that dampened the first game is scrapped for a more vibrant color palette in number 2. Everything looks clean and vibrant which is a testimony to the polish. The consistency in frame rate, the crisp visuals and the epic set pieces result in some of the best jaw dropping visual spectaculars that that the industry has to offer. I won’t go into details in risk of spoiling the moment for prospective players, Bayonetta 2 features one of the best boss battles in terms of eye canding and visual stimulation.
Where Bayonetta 2 improves upon its predecessors is it’s tighter, focused and refined pacing. Bayonetta 2 keeps the superfluous fluff to a minimum in order to deliver thrills and action consistently. The pacing is carefully thought out to keep your engagement. Action set-pieces appear one after the other, new enemies introduced in regular intervals to keep on your toes and epic bosses come aplenty. Bayonetta 2 isn’t a confused a video game, it isn’t facing an existential crisis incorporating multiple genre style to appeal to as many audiences as possible. No sir, it is a no bull action game, certified to provide high octane thrills and delivering it in emphatic fashion.
The campaign lasts around 10 hours or so, about par for course. Mileage is dependent on how much time you are willing to invest post game. I suspect for the hardcore and avid gamer, many will revisit the chapters to earn high scores and Pure Platinum medals. If that doesn’t sound too appealing, you can go offline or pair up online to take on challenges in Tag Climax. There is a respectable amount of content here for those willing to give it a whirl.
Bayonetta 2 for the Nintendo Switch rekindled the dormant feelings I had for the game during it’s original release. Bayonettta 2 is simply magical. Packed with large scale action set-pieces, it is deeply rewarding and satisfying and most importantly a joy to play that will put one large grin on your face from start to finish. If you missed out during its original release, now is the perfect time to play this cult classic.