Deconstructing the game: Bayonetta

As with the 1st DtG, I will only write one of these once I have beaten a game as a way to go back and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of a games playability, pacing, etc. These “articles” from now on will pretty much ignore what the game looks or sounds like because in the the end graphics and sound are usually far down the list for what makes a game “good” to me.

After buying Bayonetta on launch date, booting it up for a bit and then picking it up again several months later, I finally beat the damn game and I had a great time doing it. Bayonetta is a game that I bought with a bit of hesitance because I didn’t initially know how I was going to feel about it. With Devil May Cry 3’s horrific difficulty still fresh in my mind, I feared for the worst with this one, but pulled the trigger because I have a soft spot for Platinum Games’, well, games. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised with a game with a perfect default difficulty level that required intelligent playing to get better scores, but even when not at my best I could still manage to checkpoint to checkpoint my way through stages.

First, what I didn’t like about Bayonetta, or just found to be problematic.

Excuse me, I believe you have my gameplay sequences: It’s one thing when a cut-scene drags on and on, has terrible voice acting, awful facial animation, etc. but it’s an entirely different thing when cut-scenes feature action sequences that look more fun than the game you are playing. The amazingly over the top, high adrenaline, gravity defying cutscene fight sequences in Bayonetta sort of take the wind out of the overall amazing gameplay experience because as I am sitting there watching the sequences I’m just wondering “When do I get to play” or, “Wish I could be controlling that!” Even some less spectacular sequences, such as jumping between tanks in one of the stages made me wonder how much longer until I got to take over the controller, because it seemed like a fun bit of potential gameplay that I was missing out on.

I think I understand the purpose behind the scenes as so many directors seem to think showing the audience some really cool fight choreography will I guess get them hyped to keep playing the game but as we get further and further along in gaming, any time that the game is presenting something that looks like it would be fun to control needs to allow the player to interact with it in one way shape or form. This is an example of having a very targeted vision for fight scenes but perhaps missing the point that gamers are not here to be passive in the experience. There are already sequences that play out in a cut-scene-esque manner, so this should have been a no brainer to extend the formula to most of the scenes, at least in my opinion.

Also, because of the amount of wanting to tell story through cut-scenes, the game can at times (especially in the beginning) switch between cut-scene and short spurt of gameplay a little too often for my tastes. Thankfully that is not the norm for the remainder of the game.