A new age of character action games began to emerge when the first Bayonetta game was launched back in 2009, just as the genre was beginning to lose some of its luster. Developer PlatinumGames used a dark fantasy design that blended tongue-in-cheek horror with gothic European architecture and twisted religious symbolism to create a look of its own.
A genre that would regain popularity as PlatinumGames continued to produce similar games and many other developers tried their hand at this genre in the years that followed were greatly boosted by the titular dance heroine and her witches and demons-centered plot.
When the series released its second game in 2014, it seemed like a bit stale repetition of what made the first one fantastic, with no innovation in the gameplay, on top of being forced to run for around three years on the very unsuccessful Wii U device. Its remaster on the Switch platform enabled it to soar to greater heights, but it yet seemed like a weaker overall product than its predecessor.
After a lengthy 5-year development period, Bayonetta 3 was finally unveiled in 2017, causing many impatient fans to question if it will be worth the wait and live up to the series’ heritage. Let’s have a look to see how it compared to the other films in the series and to other contemporary films.
Since action and battle are the major focus of this genre of game, they are undoubtedly one of the most important topics to address. To put it clearly, Bayonetta 3 succeeds in this area. It feels like Bayonetta 3 did learn a lot from what DMC5 accomplished and was able to transfer much of it into Bayonetta 3’s own gameplay. While I and many others had considered 2019’s Devil May Cry 5 (the series that Bayonetta creator, Hideki Kamiya, also created) to be the crowning achievement of the genre that innovated and perfected what made this style so great, it feels like Bayonetta 3 did learn a lot from what DMC5 accomplished The fact that Kamiya himself was serving as the project’s executive director must have helped revive some of the uniqueness that made his games stand out.
Every player may customize the game to their own play style thanks to the very rich combat and controls, which include more choices, moves, combos, and skills than any action gamer could ever wish for. It also features a new playable character for a significant portion of the game in the form of Viola, a young witch with multicolored hair and a punk aesthetic who wields a sword and comes with her own unique play style and control scheme. Playing as Viola provides a welcome change from playing as Bayonetta for a significant portion of the game.
The game’s structure frequently changes what gameplay style you’re experiencing with a high frequency, making each scene or chapter feel different from the next. This gives the impression that the experience is like a rollercoaster that almost never repeats itself. The game’s standard character action mechanics work well and have a ton of variety among them.
This effectively addresses one of Bayonetta 2’s biggest flaws, which was the feeling of repetition setting in about halfway through the game. The gameplay effortlessly switches between standard Bayonetta action combat and driving mechanics, puzzles, shooting mechanics, forward-scrolling action (a la Space Harrier), shmups, arcade stealth-action, and so much more between all of its chapters. From beginning to end, its big set pieces and grandeur typically leave you in amazement and astonishment at the scope of everything you witness.
One of the most thrilling and intense action games in recent years is the result of all of these factors coming together. For the many hours of gaming, there is no doubt that it is enjoyable to play.
With a few minor exceptions, the overall art direction and aesthetics are also quite well-executed. Even if the majority of the original gothic mood that gave the first Bayonetta its hint of horror under the surface has been lost, all of the new clothes for Bayonetta as well as the new demons and locales are quite well-designed. With the exception of many of the opponent designs, the art is still stunning and aesthetically compelling to look at, despite having drifted more toward a high-fantasy style.
In contrast to the adversaries from the previous games, the normal enemy designs are rather uninspiring and often don’t provide you with much to look at beyond two-tone basic foes. Even while a couple of the adversaries from earlier games occasionally appear, they are few and far between, and the most of the foes are little more than bland fodder.
Being an over-the-top character action game, the plot is ultimately very unimportant to the game, but because you have to suffer through many hours of cutscenes on the first playing, it’s worth mentioning.
The package’s tale is undoubtedly one of its least appealing elements. To create a tale where nothing of real importance ever occurs and each significant development can be explained away with a banal “multiverse” explanation, PlatinumGames chose to regurgitate every lazy, low-stakes storytelling tactic from the contemporary Disney/MCU playbook. Aside from this, all of the characters seem like toned-down, play-by-numbers copies of their prior selves, while they previously had a little more individual style and flare to their conversation. In favor of appealing to the broadest possible audience and frequently sounding like generic superheroes, they have all lost part of their individuality.
Additionally, the voice acting that supports the narrative falls a little flat. The long-time voice actress of Bayonetta has been replaced, and as a result, she sounds somewhat artificial and wooden today. Newcomer Viola also sounds unprofessional for the most of her lines and has a lot of cartoony cringe. The plot sequences, in general, really left a lot to be desired, thus on future plays through, I skipped them.
Moving on to the technical considerations, there is plenty to discuss, beginning with the controls. Even though the Switch struggles to maintain its target framerate of 60FPS for this game, the controls manage to stay responsive and snappy the entire time, which is a testament to how much effort must have gone into the optimization here to get the Switch to output a game as visually impressive as Bayonetta 3 with what little power it has. While the camera occasionally places large adversaries or items directly in front of the camera, obstructing your view of the action, it doesn’t happen frequently enough to ruin the experience.
Starting with the previously noted erratic framerate, the game’s graphic performance is a very mixed bag with several limitations. Although the framerate in the game never actually drops below 30FPS, it might be unsettling when it frequently fluctuates between values in the 40–60 range. These problems are extremely common in both portable and docked modes, with just a tiny resolution difference between them, and although most typical gamers may not notice them, they can be a little annoying for those who are paying closer attention.
There were several visual compromises that had to be made in terms of the amount of detail in character and opponent models, surroundings, draw distance, visual effects, and lighting in order to achieve the performance, even as strong as it is now. Since speed is crucial in a game of this sort, the display resolution, object pop-in, and texture quality regularly switch between several degrees of quality in each scene to maintain things at an appropriate pace. It can seem downright nasty if you catch it at the wrong time due to the changeable resolution, which may take it to some pretty sad depths and make it start to resemble an early 2000s game with poor polygon counts and quality (including most screenshots.) While playing the game in motion, these dips aren’t nearly as visible because the image is refreshing at a respectable rate and fooling the player’s eyes, which is just another example of the effort put into making this game run smoothly on an antiquated hardware platform.
The experience is typically not negatively impacted by this because your eyes are usually cleverly directed elsewhere when the game is making most of its sacrifices. Instead, it just feels like a technical shortcoming that prevents the game from being as good as it could be from a technical standpoint. Though I’m not holding my breath considering that it’s published by Nintendo, I do hope that they’ll be able to distribute the game elsewhere at some time and give it the performance and quality it deserves.
In terms of material, there is a lot provided here, in addition to the different challenges and difficulty settings inside the main game. The main game is about 12 to 15 hours long (including cutscenes), which is a considerable time for a game of this kind. There are also unlockable characters, equipment, and extras. The variety of chapters and gameplay modes in Bayonetta 3 keeps it interesting from beginning to end.
Even while the game’s duration and the majority of its features are worthy of a premium price, depending on how much of a fan of the series you are, $60 may seem like a very pricey price for it. Since it is a Nintendo-published game, there isn’t usually a chance for a significant discount, therefore gamers who wish to play will just have to accept the price as is.
Overall, Bayonetta 3 drift boss is a great game in terms of gameplay, but it falls short of its full potential due to several poor opponent and plot design choices. The game isn’t completely destroyed by these flaws, though.
It’s a fantastic installment that improves on the previous ones in many ways and marks a much-needed return to form for such a cherished brand.