Variety in weaponry, move sets, etc.: The death knell of most action games/brawlers is the lack of something to break up the monotony in the gameplay. God of War 1 thought it was best to add in block puzzles and creeping on rafters… which were just boring devices that killed whatever momentum you had going. The folks at Platinum clearly understand how to make an action game right as variety is the name of the game here. Bayonetta keeps doling out new goodness around every corner. The very base of the combat mechanic has long combos and a wide range of ways to pull them off. You can extend the combat repertoire by buying new moves that give you even more versatility on the battlefield.
New, fresh feeling permanent weapons are added to your arsenal several times during the game to give you new ways to kill your enemies. On top of that Bayonetta can pick up some of her fallen enemies weapons! Taking a cue from oh, I don’t know, the late fucking 80s, Bayonetta can pick up angels weapons and every one of them is unique to use, has a mix of weak and powerful attacks and can be used several times (or just once for a really powerful attack) before having to switch back to the regular weapons. This aspect alone bumps Bayonetta to elite statues over a large chunk of the action hack n slash games of the last decade.
It’s something so simple, yet works perfectly and should be in EVERY game where you are fighting enemies who have their own weapons.
Also, you can attack enemies on the ground, how “X-men 1992” of them!
Speaking of enemies, there are quite a few types of angels and other minions sent from heaven to stop your progress. They all fight differently, take different tactics to kill (ala the fiery angels I mentioned before), have differing amounts of health based on class rank and just add that extra layer of variety to an already varied game. The difference between a good-mediocre hack and slash and a good-great one can often come from how many different classes of enemies you are fighting and how long it takes to kill them. Put too many grunts out there or put out too many of the same type of enemies with the same tactics, and what could be fun quickly turns into tapping a single button waiting for the enemies to die. Bayonetta avoids this at all costs.