Bayonetta 10th Anniversary Review- Insane Action at 60 FPS

Posted February 21, 2020 by Thomas James Juretus in Video Games

Developer: Platinum Games

Publisher: SEGA

Release date: February 18, 2020

Available on: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One

When Bayonetta was released in 2010, it was a technical mess, primarily on the PS3. Long load times (mitigated only by the fact that you could practice your move set while waiting) and frame rate slow down were commonplace, and marred an otherwise outstanding action game that had a similar over the top story line as any game in Capcom’s Devil May Cry series and a cheekier (sometimes literally) heroine in Bayonetta that would make a perfect foil to Capcom’s demon hunter Dante. The Xbox 360 version ran a bit better, as did the Wii U version the released in 2015 packaged with its Nintendo produced sequel. Now, with the game reaching its 10th anniversary, Platinum Games has remastered Bayonetta, releasing it in a bundle with its sci-fi action game Vanquish, giving it a new graphical sheen and running at a smooth 60 FPS.

Sadly, the remaster of Bayonetta is bare bones, without any real bells and whistles. There was no DLC for the original release, so the story of the Umbran Witch who, after being asleep and under a lake for 500 years, wakes up and needs to find the key to her mysterious past remains unchanged. There are no new scenes, and the control scheme will be familiar to those who played the original. The controls work fairly well, though know your right hand will get quite the work out pulling off Bayonetta’s stylish combat moves. Boss battles can be longer affairs, especially on the harder difficulties when it becomes more important to be precise in your button choices (button mashing on the easier levels of difficulty works up to a point). The action is fast and completely insane, with some highly inventive torture finishing moves to use on your enemies.

Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from humanoid angelic beings to kaiju sized monstrosities. Bayonetta’s hair comes into play, transforming into gigantic demon forms to finish off foes. It’s a touch of silliness that looks cool and adds to the over the top feel of the game. The story is filled with plenty of snarky humor and a decent type of mystery involving the Umbran Witches and their adversaries, the Lumen Sages. The ending is a wild affair, and players should stay tuned through the credits and your final save for an entertaining video segment. Defeating the game on the easier difficulty levels (including normal) unlocks the harder difficulties and a gallery to view artwork.

There are a couple of collectibles to seek out in the game, but these are unchanged from the original. Books found give you the lore of Bayonetta’s world, and record albums allow Rodin, the keeper of the shop/bar called Gates of Hell, to make you some special equipment. Bayonetta uses guns and melee weapons in combat, with melee weapons being acquired from fallen enemies. They’re not as personalized as Dante’s weapons in Devil May Cry but they are as effective, especially since Bayonetta has four guns to use (two for her hands and two attached to her shoes). The game is short by some current titles standards (the 18 chapters in the story can be completed in around 10 hours or so), but it’s a perfect length for a game of this type. Replayability comes more from challenging increasing difficulty levels or besting previous records. There is no New Game + or alternate game modes. Thankfully the game is entertaining enough to revisit, but the $25 (USD) asking price may be a bit high for a ten year old game for some (it’s also available in the $40 10th anniversary bundle with Vanquish, which is a better deal).

In all, Bayonetta is still an enjoyable action game after a decade, and it holds up well. The visual improvements show themselves better in some cut scenes and during gameplay, though in other spots the game definitely shows its age. The controls may feel a little awkward to some players, but for returning fans it doesn’t take long to get back into the swing of things. The biggest improvement is the elimination of load times for the PS4, though I did miss a little bit the opportunity to practice my moves (the trade off of keeping the game moving and not interrupting the pacing was worth it). Frame rate is steady and smooth, always important in such a fast paced action game where reflexes and timing matter. While the sequels may be locked onto Nintendo’s console, at least PS4/Xbox One owners get to revisit this outstanding title in a more polished form, and that’s a good enough reason to add this to your playlist on current gen consoles.

9/10 stars

About the Author

Thomas James Juretus