Deconstructing the game: Bayonetta

Woo, now that that’s over with, onto what I liked or felt was exceptionally strong:

The Controls: The controls in Bayonetta are fantastic. Whether you are running on flat ground, moving between walls and ceilings or platforming (but not driving a motorcycle), Bayonetta never misses a beat. The game runs silky smooth (360) and the controls are mapped in a very effective and logical/genre standard manner.

Fluid, calculated combat: Bayonetta has an amazing combat system that is not only well flowing and deep but also feels very deliberate. It is a joy to engage some angels with some fists, dodge around an arena shooting at them, switching to a katana to slice and dice, launching with some fire/lightning claws and then pummeling them on the way back down.

The fighting in Bayonetta feels very in your face and not as remote as God of War which can at times feel like you are watching action that is on autopilot. The fighting really requires some thought against tougher opponents; especially in rooms that require you to dispatch a foe in 10 hits or less. Combos can be lengthy or short and sweet with equally punishing results. Also, no stupid QTE’s to kill certain types of monsters, unless they are bosses.

The game also brings back a feature I loved in Viewtiful Joe where a well placed dodge will slow down the world allowing you to go in and wreak havoc on all of your enemies while they are left floundering in slow-mo. Sometimes this mechanic is the only way to actually do damage to an enemy as there are some that are on fire and attempting to attack them when not in “Witch time” will only result in you getting hurt. This mode is also used to solve puzzles to allow Bayonetta to get her Jesus-walkin-on-water on, to great effect.

Another great aspect of the fighting mechanic is the crazy execution setup which is made available anytime you have enough magic saved up. A simple press of the Y button causes Bayonetta to conjure up a torture device and go to work on the enemy. You then tap the fuck out of whatever button comes up to do MASSIVE damage and gain a large chunk of points while strangling, maiming and torturing the faceless angels as they cry out in pain. It is a simple addition that breaks up the gameplay enough to keep it feeling fresh.

While similar in design to the God of War QTE executions, the executions in Bayonetta are not forced on the player and as such do not feel repetitive. It is true they aren’t really forced in God of War either, but they are highly encouraged in an obnoxious way. If you kill, say, a minotaur or medusa without a QTE, it takes forever and yields the player far less of a reward. In Bayonetta, executions can be used on any enemy (and different classes have different devices to use) and simply make quicker work of the enemy while giving you a higher score for your trouble.