Published on November 6th, 2022 | by Paul Stuart
Bayonetta 3: Switch Review
Summary: One of the best games of the year and in Switch history, Bayonetta is a gameplay experience not to be missed.
The Witch is Back
In the rarest of instances, a game is released that is truly an interactive experience. Legend of Zelda comes to mind for old school, also newer to include the original Assassin’s Creed, Last of Us, Uncharted 2, and God of War, to name a select few. What these games share is the omnipresent sensation that around every turn is another amazing thing to experience, and – thanks to some incredible game development – is simultaneously and seamlessly meshed into a playable actual game. Consider Bayonetta 3 as part of this select company.
While Bayonetta was already a strong series, PlatinumGames made it spectacular in Bayonetta 3. It’s a rollicking roller coaster of mayhem, laughs, sexuality and sincerity that make every minute truly count. The addition of Demon Slave summoning is pure genius, an amazing wrinkle to the Bayonetta formula which allows Cereza to call upon a giant magical compatriot to wreak havoc on bad guys for a limited time (determined by a magic meter). Actions by summoned demons are performed by – of course – Bayonetta gyrating near naked in the background. If Bayonetta takes damage during these attacks, the demon is returned. Too much damage to the demon…will either kill it or send it in a rage to then turn on Bayonetta. There’s a clever chaining system to queue demon attacks with Bayonetta ones, and it pays dividends as the game progresses.
Speaking of near nakedness, there’s a lot of sensuality in this game. Cereza pole dances to slow down time, gyrates around select weapons, and there’s boobs and butt everywhere. Sure, you can tone a lot of this down via a single setting…but this lunacy is a great deal of the fun inherent in a Bayonetta title. The new Bayonetta voice actress, Jennifer Hale, does a terrific job in her role. Sexy, quirky and flat out badass.
As stated, Bayonetta 3 is so original and clever, it’s near impossible to put down. Stages are separated by battle segments called ‘verses,’ with an array of battle goals to achieve, also things to unlock as the game progresses. There’s also hidden items and challenges aplenty, and Bayonetta 3 mightily rewards exploration in currency to purchase upgrades to Bayonetta, her weapons, also Demon Slaves. So many hours in, I’m not even sure which weapon or Demon Slave I like the most. They’re all so over-the-top, truly different from each other, and cool to explore, upgrade and execute.
If the improved Bayonetta 3 formula wasn’t amazing enough, PlatinumGames doubled down on randomly inserting even crazier stuff into the mix like an Elevator Action esque spy sequence stage with Jeanne when she can become a lynx or an eel…a giant Kaiju battle (after Bayonetta literally rips her heart out to summon and become the monster)…upgrades delivered by a demonic pizza bus driver-slash-weapons dealer (Rodin), and the ability to play as Viola, an entirely different gameplay experience. None of these are half-assed, with it clear PlatinumGames put oodles of time into each to ensure all special.
Thus, around every turn is something completely unexpected, incredibly entertaining, also extremely challenging. Bayonetta 3 is anything but an easy game on normal difficulty levels. Expect to die a lot…which isn’t always helped by wonky jumping mechanics and occasionally frustrating environment interaction on speed-oriented sequences. Finally, Bayonetta 3 isn’t always clear on when standard versus shooting strikes are mandatory against particular bosses.
There are cheap hits aplenty, but most can be interrupted via well times dodges to trigger Witch Time (that slows down movements) and quickly recover. Also, Bayonetta caters to those who master enemy sequences and timing, with – except in select moments where enemies must be defeated in chained fashion in a select timeframe – even the largest of baddies can be taken down without demon help.
Presentation-wise, Bayonetta 3 is gorgeous. Every visual aspect of the game is perfectly polished, to include stellar cut scenes, terrific menus that organize a complex system into one very accessible by the player, and every witch and demon action are on-screen gorgeous. I adore how new bad guys, demons, and the like are introduced in very cool fashion via scrolls and books which can subsequently be accessed/further explored in menus. Bayonetta 3 is so damn polished and well thought out.
Similar kudos for the top-notch soundtrack and voice acting by the entire cast, making for a truly immersive experience. The games shines on both handheld and docked, with no glaring hardware challenges even when things heat up. The only letdown is that enemy characters are not visually exciting, even at their biggest. This is more a philosophy of what the baddies are (hybrid human/demons, ‘Homunculi’)…and the color schemes/viscous presentation they embody (to indicate they are literally fluid across planes of reality).
Plot is perhaps the weakest component of Bayonetta 3, which is a bit convoluted for something seemingly simplistic. The big bad (Singularity) is trying to merge worlds/alternate realities to create one (Multiverse) where his bad guy buddies reign supreme. A neat nuance of this plot is there alternate Bayonetta’s in each, all unique in presentation, power and personality. Sometimes you assume them in defeating bad guys, other times assume their powers following their death other Bayonetta observes. The reality that Bayonetta and Jeanne are alive in one world, dead in others, yet to be discovered by them and/or Viola (who hunts down Bayonetta and Jeanne through time to stop Singularity) remains foremost as the game unfolds. Even more so as our heroes go after the largest of bad guys with reckless abandon. The plot, again, is not Bayonetta 3’s strongest suit…but the game’s always crazy execution means said plot doesn’t bog anything down. And the dialog more than handily carries the plot across the finish line.
Another light criticism lies in the traditional Bayonetta combat system which can feel a bit robotic after a few hours in. Lots of shoot, dodge, slice…x 1000s. Related, advanced moves can be finicky also not always intuitive in execution. In all fairness, Bayonetta 3 recognizes this, and allows a purchased ‘cheat’ to semi-automatically execute these advanced moves with a single button press. Yes, there are clear upgrades from Bayonetta 2 in the fighting scheme. But even Bayonetta 3 can feel mildly dated here.
These criticisms are minimal, however, and do little to reduce from easily one of the best games of the year and top 1% in the history of the Nintendo Switch.
Bayonetta 3 is a generational title, and easily the best of the series. It’s originality, execution, and overall fun factor make this a must-buy for Switch owners. Bayonetta fans old and new will adore this masterpiece.