Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon preview – PlatinumGames’ storybook adventure

The last time we saw Bayonetta, was in the third game where the plot seemingly wrapped up her story. Little did anyone know, there was a hidden slice of an upcoming prequel spin-off hidden in Bayonetta 3 and it proved to be a drastic departure in every way imaginable.

The full title is Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon and it explores Bayonetta’s character in her preteen days when she was known as Cereza, her actual name. In this demo, gamers will get to see how different she used to be and see connections that would lead to who she would eventually become.

The first thing anyone who is a fan of the Bayonetta games will notice is the fresh and lush storybook art style. The franchise has always had a somewhat gaudy presentation by design since that is also a facet of Bayonetta’s personality, but in Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, the visuals are more understated.

The character proportions are also redesigned from their usual exaggerated aesthetics to be cuter and less bombastic. Everything is more dainty and delicate as if the visual style is a representation of Cereza’s state of mind and character.

There is a wealth of natural-looking textures and shader effects to make the world and characters look hand-made. Brushstrokes and pen-like etching give this iteration of the Bayonetta universe a crafted quality. The mix of watercolor blending and light, easy-on-the-eyes pastel hues makes the graphics very pleasant to look at.

Cutscenes rely on the low-budget method of using still 3D models in key poses as seen in the first and second Bayonetta games. This technique pays off more effectively in a storybook aesthetic than it ever did in those games and the use of narration gives the impression of the experience of a child’s imagination making the pages come to life.

The story depicts Cereza as very inexperienced. Her mom, Rosa, was a powerful Umbran Witch. Due to her siring Cereza with Balder, a Lumen Sage, she was imprisoned. Cereza wants nothing more than to see her mom free and to do that she needs to be trained like the other Umbran Witches.

Cereza is seen as a pariah from her conception and the only way to learn the ways of witchcraft, she must seek tutilage from an outcast Umbran Witch, Morgana.

Fans will instantly recognize that Morgana is the source of many traits that Cereza would pick up when she becomes Bayonetta. She is different enough that she is her own character; Morgana is a much more stern woman, but she is also a tremendous snob.

Much like the imagery, the gameplay is also a major departure from the norm in Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon.

Some fans may not appreciate the change from a dynamic 3D stylish action game to a restrained puzzle action-adventure experience with fixed camera angles. If you are willing to accept this premise, then Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon promises a good time.

In the preview build, Cereza can’t battle like she can in the main series. She is too inexperienced and clumsy and her only hope for survival is Cheshire, her demonically possessed stuffed cat. Cheshire can be summoned and is controlled with the right analog stick, like how some of the demon slaves were in Bayonetta 3.

That game was sensory overload at times and being able to use similar mechanics in a more relaxed setting does wonders for the concept. Cereza is still getting into scraps with threats (bloodthirsty fairies in this case), but now the encounters are more focused.

Fighting incorporates some Warioware-style timing minigames for using Cereza’s magic and bitings or clawing with Cheshire. Using both characters in combat in the preview showed some promise for some exciting battles, but the real star is how the heroes will circumvent environmental puzzles.

Some areas are not accessible for either character and getting them to work together evokes memories of the gameplay in the Lost Vikings games. The preview kept these moments simple, but there is potential for them to get very cheeky.

Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is going to be an interesting experience when it finally comes out. It is a far cry from the sort of experiences that PlatinumGames is known for but despite that, there are clear signs of their panache all over it.

Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is set to launch on Nintendo Switch on March 17, 2023.
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A youth destined for damnation.

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