Have you ever been on the subway minding your own business when suddenly you’re forced to fight a group of faceless Homunculi that burst through the windows just before your cart gets derailed and launched into the air forcing you to save yourself by summoning your Infernal Demon and controlling it as you slide down tumbling skyscrapers getting warped by time and space that eventually gets you to a demon rooftop brawl that ends with you and your demon buddy in a canal using yachts as jet skis to reach the flying behemoth destroying the city from above?
No? Just me?
That might be because I got to play a sweet demo of Bayonetta 3 during my trip to PAX West earlier this month. A neat opportunity, so let’s chat about it!
Bayonetta 3 is bonkers. But this is not news! Brutal takedowns, gruesome attacks, and twisted combat only possible in nightmares is what makes the Bayonetta series as iconic as it is. I mean you read my little intro above, right? That was the demo. All of that happened. That was no more than 10 minutes, if that. And I definitely skipped over the finer and more obtuse details! Honestly, if you’re playing Bayonetta 3 and something is not exploding or being ripped in half, you should be concerned.
Chaos aside, Bayonetta 3 has a deep combat system that rewards combos and quick thinking. At the start of the demo I was certainly flailing around getting spanked by not-demons left and right, but it didn’t take long for that Bayonetta rhythm to kick in. By the time I got done with the skyscraper sliding, which is indeed a real thing that happened, I was busting out the more powerful Wicked Weave combos and dodging to activate the time-slowing Witch Time effortlessly. Classic Bayonetta, great stuff!
Demon Slave. Gotta love the name. It’s a new ability that gives exciting power to an existing skill. Instead of Bayonetta stylishly summoning some grotesque monster to snap a foe in two during a cinematic, she now has the ability to temporarily control said monstrosity during open area fights. Giving Madama Butterfly a spin lets you take control of the elegant and slender demon for a few quick jabs with longer range. Summoning the dreadfully enormous Gomorrah gives you a moment to pack a slow yet incredibly powerful punch. The thing is so big it can’t even exit its own bloody portal. He tries, he really does.
Big spotlight on the Infernal Demons this time around. A second mechanic called Demon Masquerade lets you fuse with the demon nested within a specific weapon. Just keep following, it makes sense in this world. Each weapon has a different demon. Your classic pistols house Madama Butterfly and give a new set of combos to perform, along with the ability to soar over gaps using your colorful wings. A jumbo-sized club and rifle combo called G-Pillar houses Gomorrah. Fuse with this guy to throw out a few powerful punches, and more importantly, fuse with him when you want to run through an area with his very much appreciated speed.
These particular techniques felt a bit more limiting in terms of combos and skillful maneuvering through a battle, but they were still fun nonetheless. They all add some flavor and options to these battles, something you want and expect when you’re playing through the third game in a series.
Is there a story at play? Probably. When you’ve got 15 minutes of complete disorder and sensory overload, you don’t really pay attention to the “why” of it all. Does the city background look like a clump of colorless chocolate bars and do I fear for the Switch console as one too many buildings fall into a jagged mess on my screen? Yeah, I do, but only for a moment. When a lot is happening, Bayonetta is not the prettiest, but that was never the point of the game anyway.
Combos! Chaos! Carnage! If you like the sound of that, you’ll probably have a great time with Bayonetta 3. It’s exciting to think about the other cool new additions we’ll see in the full game, and I’m sure there are many out there that will be thrilled to see how Bayonetta ups her torture game too. We’re two years shy of having to wait a decade for Bayonetta’s return, and I’m happy to report that this third outing is looking to satisfy those who patiently waited.
Bayonetta 3 is set to launch on the Nintendo Switch on October 28.