Bayonetta 3 preview: Whipping us into a frenzy - MrLiambi's blog


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Monday 17 October 2022

Bayonetta 3 preview: Whipping us into a frenzy

It's been eight long years since Bayonetta 2, with merely Switch re-releases of the first two games to tide us over since the last outing for PlatinumGames' now-iconic bullet witch.

After an endless wait, though, Bayonetta 3 is finally around the corner, and we've gone hands-on to preview it just a few weeks out from its long-awaited release. Here's how the bombastic title is shaping up.

She's back, baby

The plots of the first two Bayonetta games were pretty close to bedlam, with heavenly forces clashing with Umbra Witches, hellish demons on the loose and a time-travel wrinkle that got things more than a little complicated at times.

In short, while we can't discuss many particulars right now, Bayonetta 3 picks up that mantle and runs with it, opening up a new plot full of weird twists and returning characters, with an amusingly straightforward approach to everything.

Things don't make sense, per se, but they do flow absolutely relentlessly, and after a short cinematic introduction you'll be back in the groove of exploring levels, periodically fighting groups of enemies and collecting a score based on how well you do in that fight, before moving on.

As always, the joy is in how PlatinumGames one-ups itself, with ever more massive and intricate enemy designs popping up out of the woodwork to oppose you, often with a glaring weakness in the form of a new power or demon summon that you've just unlocked.

It's a great template, and we're intrigued to see just how stratospherically silly things can get as the game hits its second half. The levels we've played, after all, would suit the final moments of most other action games, with how deranged they get.

Amp it up

That maxim of "more is better" applies to Bayonetta 3's combat, too - very much the heart of the game despite a dalliance with platforming between fights.

You start off with a familiar arsenal and access to Bayonetta's signature guns - two in her hands, two attached to her (very) high heels - resulting in some outrageously contortionist combos that see you swapping between punches, kicks, gunshots and more.

Throughout, you have access to demonic summons, from the huge dragon-like Gomorrah to the svelte (but also huge) Madama Butterfly, each augmenting your attacks with final flourishes and moves.

You can also choose to summon these beasties for longer stretches, leaving Bayonetta herself vulnerable to attack. The juggling act between offence and defence that this offers up is a welcome new twist on an already accomplished combat system.

Once you start unlocking new weapons, things start to really get involved, with move lists that are frighteningly huge to a casual player.

For enthusiasts, this will mean the battle for top scores on individual fights (called Verses) will be feisty, but Bayonetta 3 once again manages the clever trick of being great fun to play even if you're just relying on a few satisfying combos most of the time.

It shares that trait with historic greats like Devil May Cry, and also takes a leaf from that series' book by again adding a new playable character. Viola, a short-haired sword-wielding punk, is a bigger departure than Bayonetta 2's Jeanne.

Playing as her means timing blocks and parries, and while it's a change of pace we honestly just wanted Bayonetta back for the sections we've tried so far - no great failure, given how long Bayonetta's own combat has been being honed for.

Eclectic's the word

If the combat and the story are peak Bayonetta, then, the visual and audio side of things match that capably, with a look and feel that's very familiar to those who've played the previous two games.

The big benefit comes in the form of way more sharpness than in previous titles (even the Switch versions of Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2, to our eyes), and a sense of scale that is improved, too.

Those games both had big fights, after all, so it's not as if Platinum is only now being able to explore the limits of what it can fit onscreen, but things do feel like they've been stepped up.

All the returning characters have had some redesigns, too, to varying degrees, with Bayonetta herself getting a particularly detailed makeover. Her proportions are still completely fictitious, but she's got a new braided hairdo and a slightly more laid-back look.

She's also now voiced by Mass Effect alum Jennifer Hale, who's having fun with the saucy innuendo that defines basically every line delivery, and the scenery-chewing camp of it all is very much maintained.

All of this is topped off by a fun and funky soundtrack (never better than when chorals announce a new enemy type) that can get high octane but also slow down for some smooth jazz when things are calmer and you've got upgrades to unlock.

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