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Saturday, 4 April 2015

Bayonetta.


Bayonetta.



Well, I said we do things backwards at steady intervals here at Fission Mailure, and we do. This steady interval is slightly longer than most, but nevertheless, it's high time that, having looked at Bayonetta 2, we take a look at its predecessor.

Bayonetta tells the story of Bayonetta, an ancient witch awoken in modern times, whose job it is to kill angels. Knowing little about herself except that she owns one half of the 'Eyes of the World', Bayonetta heads to Vigrid, a city rumoured to hold the other half. There, she encounters a horde of angels, another witch, and a mysterious young girl who may hold the answer to Bayonetta's questions.

I did not remember Cereza looking this scary.

In terms of gameplay, it - it is much like the second game, only less. Everything is less well-implemented, less streamlined, less optimised, but apart from that, they're nigh-identical. That's not surprising - this gameplay was never innovative, it was always Hideki Kamiya emulating earlier Hideki Kamiya works, namely the Devil May Cry series, and that's fine. Kamiya and his team are very good at the stylish action adventure, and they're not ones to change things up unless there's a very good reason to do so. Bayonetta plays smoothly, is easy enough for a casual gamer to get into but deep enough and with enough challenges for a - uncasual gamer (that is a thing, even if it maybe shouldn't be) to still enjoy themselves. Its gameplay does lack some variety, though, which doesn't help with the general sense of aimlessness during the second act, and could have done with being changed up a few more times.

(Then again, maybe it just isn't meant to be played in its entirety in a single sitting, but in fairness to me, it's not a long game. It was six to eight hours when I first played it, a tiny wisp of a game that isn't necessarily deserving of a £40 retail price.)

Most of the issues come with the plot. It's not terrible, by any means - as with the second game, it's connective tissue to get you from one ridiculous set piece battle to another, but the first game has noticeably fewer set pieces and a noticeably less fun plot. Much of that is that Bayonetta, being an amnesiac who wants to get back her memories but doesn't seem too fussed about it, lacks any kind of emotional investment in the plot. The introduction of mysterious, affable child Cereza gives Bayonetta some kind of emotional tether, but Cereza's plot relevance is kept hidden until near the end, so I as an audience member was still left wondering why I should care about any of the 'Eyes of the World' guff. 

Whee, petals.

That wouldn't be so bad on its own - as implied earlier, I'm not really playing this game for the story - but the game has a second act that just drags. With your only objective in it being 'make your way through the city', the storyline has nowhere to go, and so the game just kind of lobs angels at you without giving you any kind of storyline to connect the different parts of your journey to one-another. It utterly kills the pace of the game, and by the time it picked up again in its third act, I was exhausted, ready for the game to end. 

(Again, playing this game all in one sitting may not have helped with this.)

I do like Sapienta's design.

The graphics are good, and although they look a shade dated now, the fact that they could remain mostly unchanged for the second game is a testament to how shiny and nice they were for the time, the soundtrack is good, the voice acting is extremely hammy but in a way that at least borders on the charming, especially if, like me, you enjoy people chewing on the scenery.

Overall, Bayonetta is a very fun game, and while I would always recommend Bayonetta 2 over it for anyone who wants to get into the series or just the genre, it's nonetheless a very well-crafted video game, and I'm looking forward to what Kamiya does with the franchise in the future.


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