Bayonetta is an acclaimed action game starring the titular umbran witch. She's armed with guns on her high heels and magical demons shaped from her hair, humiliating her enemies with sadistic torture devices as she destroys them. Originally for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, this cult classic is also available on Windows and the Nintendo Switch.
Pro Unique enemy designs with angels that defy typical conventions
Angels in Bayonetta are far from how they are depicted in pop culture. Despite their bright glow and the religious music that you hear when they're introduced, they're hunched over, lumbering when they walk and fight in battle. They're designed in ways that definitely make them look like Bayonetta's enemies instead of entities that we're supposed to side with. The larger, gargantuan angelic bosses appear otherwordly and incomprehensible like Lovecraftian creatures, They're quite the sight to behold and make for interesting boss fights with cool set pieces, like Bayonetta surfing on a wooden plank as she fights a huge angel in the middle of an ocean.
Pro Excellent ports
Bayonetta was originally released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 back in 2009, but the PC version comes with improved graphics, 4K support and excellent performance. On the Nintendo Switch, you'll also get to enjoy the game at 60 FPS, though at a lower 720p resolution compared to the PC version.
Pro Bayonetta herself is unconventional and entertaining
Bayonetta is a character who exudes confidence and charm, and every aspect of the game's mechanics and design fits with her personality. She's over eight feet tall, wears a skin-tight suit that's actually made of her magical hair, and always fights with style and finesse. When you do a double jump, a butterfly's wings appear over her back, and when you use any type of long weapon like a lance, you can have her pole dance and quickly fire her guns in all directions. Since she's a sadistic character, her finisher moves are called Torture Attacks. After accumulating enough magic points through normal attacks, you can make Bayonetta conjure one of many types of medieval torture devices. She'll trap enemies inside and send blood everywhere, or she'll whip their backs with a flourish, doing more damage as you mash the button prompt on the screen.
Healing and buff items, instead of the usual potions, are different-flavored lollipops like the one that Bayonetta likes to keep in her mouth during some cutscenes. Upgrades to her jumping ability are also beyond the norm, letting you transform her into a black panther to run faster and jump higher. Overall, Bayonetta is independent and likes to have a good time, never missing an opportunity to strike a pose or dance in between pummeling and whipping her enemies into submission. If you see Bayonetta's sexualized moves and portrayal as the game's way of parodying other media, then you'll probably find her over-the-top presentation more entertaining than offensive.
Pro Fun and complex gameplay
Bayonetta excels in its combat, going above and beyond to entertain the player with the scale of its gigantic, angelic enemies and the depth of its gameplay. The tutorial teaches you the bare basics of punching and kicking, and then it's up to you to experiment with inputs and find the best combos to keep up the pain. Even on normal difficulty, the game can seem punishing for newcomers, but there are lots of skills you can pick up on to make things smoother.
There's a ton of depth to the combat, especially in how you have the potential to keep up limitless combos with punches, kicks, and gunfire. When you hold down your buttons, Bayonetta will freeze her punching or kicking pose while firing the guns from her heels or in her hands. In the middle of that pose, you can dodge offset an incoming attack and initiate Witch Time, which rewards you by making enemies move at a snail's pace while you get more hits in than you normally could. In other situations where you're surrounded by enemies and need some crowd control, you can have Bayonetta do some handstands while she fires her guns. Each new weapon you acquire, whether it's a katana or a huge lance you pick up from a downed enemy, gives you a whole new set of combos to master.
There's an incredible variety in the gameplay for you to play around with, whether it's with new weapons or Bayonetta's punches, kicks, and guns. You'll constantly find new ways to enjoy the combat as you play through the game, keeping things fresh from start to finish.
Con On-rails sections can be frustrating
There will be a few times where you'll play through retro-inspired sequences where you race down a highway on a motorcycle, or shoot missiles at enemies from an airship. You have to handle quick time event button presses on the motorcycle and deal with a bunch of enemies firing at you on the ship. These sequences are a huge change from the normal combat, and if you're not good at them, you may find yourself getting frustrated.
Con The story is nonsensical
While Bayonetta has some intriguing lore involving witches battling against a puritanical religion, you won't get to learn much about it. The storytelling is a mess, with sudden changes that don't make sense, and underdeveloped characters that the game expects you to care about. As long as you go in without taking the story and presentation all that seriously, you'll still be able to have a good time.