The original Bayonetta from 2009 is an indelible classic. It stands as one of the great action games that not only established PlatinumGames as a developer moving forward, but as one of the defining releases of the seventh gen consoles.
The 2014 Nintendo published sequel further expanded the story, added more weapons and the action grew more over-the-top. Bayonetta as a character became synonymous with extravagant and boisterous action; mixing outlandish martial-arts, gunplay and demonic summoning magic!
After a long and terrible development hell, Bayonetta 3 has finally come. After two wild games, how can a third entry be bold enough in a franchise made up of constant climaxing? As it turns out – we can climax a lot higher. How much higher? Find out in this Bayonetta 3 review!
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the below:
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: October 28, 2022
Price: $59.99 USD
Being in a constant state of a peaking climax inevitably becomes exhausting. Bayonetta 3 understands this by bookending its bombastic combat and gimmicky set-pieces with stretches of relaxing exploration.
This is nothing new to the Bayonetta games; each title has a formula of exploration, combat, and sometimes a stage gimmick. Bayonetta 3 takes each of these pillars and blows them up to extreme proportions- almost to a sickening scope where it borders on being unbearable.
This is the biggest and most jam-packed entry yet and it’s also the longest by a substantial margin. Environments are still linear, but are as wide as Oprah Winfrey on an IMAX format. Areas are so large that it can become easy to get lost in the vast sweeping plains or dunes of the vistas.
There is a lot of reasons to explore the environments in Bayonetta 3. There are lots of hidden collectibles, treasures, pleasures, and extreme measures when discovering an Alfheim portal. Bayonetta is going to need everything she can get if she hopes to brave the evil forces of the entity known as Singularity.
This mystery foe isn’t set on using time travel to achieve creation through destruction like past villains Balder or Aesir. Singularity is not even relying on the forces of Paridiso or Inferno – he is using created homunculi and is invading parallel worlds to achieve his goals.
The only ones who can stop Singularity are Viola, a scrappy punk, Jeane, and Bayonetta… and her alternate dimensional counterparts. The player will meet different Bayonettas from other universes: like the Chinese Bayonetta and her doom train or Egyptian Bayonetta and her deadly fan weapons.
There is a Bayonetta for every situation. The new weapons and demon slaves are by far the most bold additions to the franchise. The magic system is also completely revised and wicked weave attacks cost nothing but get a nerf for balance.
Magic is infinite, regenerates gradually, and is used for demon summons – which are now player controlled like the Legions in Astral Chain. The demon slaves come in many varieties and can be used in all kinds of creative ways in and out of combat.
The train demon has players draw the tracks on the floor and can set moves as it rushes through foes. Phantom, the massive lava-spider, can crawl on walls and has large sweeping fiery attacks. Bayonetta 3 even has a few hidden ones tucked away to be discovered and there is not a single stinker among them.
The Bayonetta games are known for their fluid combat systems with endless potential for combos and Bayonetta 3 is no exception. Stringing different attacks together and following through with a demon slave attack and chaining juggling strikes to keep a foe in the air not only feels good, but it looks cool too.
Players are given more options than what anyone thought could be possible in a 3D stylish action game – at times it can be overwhelming with the infinite options. It’s a problem you want to have because it encourages replayability and also nudges players to be resourceful and adapt while in the much harder modes.
Sadly, not everything works out as it should in Bayonetta 3. Some of the worst aspects from Bayonetta 2 have made their way in this latest adventure and they are magnified.
Oversized-enemies in arenas several acres too large, are some of the worst moments in Bayonetta 3. Battling these dweebs becomes a war of attrition due to how difficult it is to gauge the distance between Bayonetta and her target, and the camera can barely contain everything as it gets lost like it was swallowed by the fat folds of Orson Welles.
These moments happen way too frequently and it is compounded when the enemy designs are extremely ornate and have very busy patterns and intricate moving parts. Having multiple enemies like this getting in the way of the view makes battles seem like a crapshoot and comes off as very sloppy design on the developer’s part.
Not all encounters play out like this, but there are enough to sour the experience. These horrible bouts are typically bookended with long and empty stretches of running to the next fight with some optional challenges peppering the map.
Other times the stages may have necessary puzzles to progress. While it is appreciated that Bayonetta 3 has all kinds of gimmicks to keep the experience varied, having to use the bird-demon slave to move objects on a scale in repeat playthroughs is tedious.
Even worse is the stage gimmicks like the multiple varieties of rail shooters. These are guaranteed to make gamer’s hair turn white from having to retry them over and over while trying to earn a pure platinum rating.
Other gimmicks like the kaiju battle is a really slow moving version of rock-paper-scissors, it’s brief yet overstays its welcome. The Jeane stages that emulate Elevator Action are a light and amusing distraction, but there are so few of them that they barely leave any impression at all.
The absolute biggest disappoint in Bayonetta 3 is Viola, the punk-rock witch. Everything about this character is lame: from her combat style that feels too slow and unresponsive, to how much of a joke she is in cutscenes.
Viola gets no other weapons, can’t use any other of the demon slaves, and her move-set is extremely limited. By the time the game comes to a close, everyone who plays Bayonetta 3 will utterly hate this loathsome butt-monkey. Her role in the story and everything she stands for is insulting.
Viola’s character is such a dated concept that reeks of 2016s sensibilities- a tell tale sign of Bayonetta 3‘s stalled development. From her repugnant hairstyle, to the way the game obsesses with the multiverse, and how there is noticeably less sexy camera angles than ever- it is hard to ignore how Bayonetta 3 has lost its sense of creativity and style.
This was a game that suffered a long and troubled development and it shows in many ways. The graphics engine is the same one PlatinumGames has been using for over a decade now and the developer’s ambitions far exceed what it can do without making significant drawbacks.
While character modeling is still impeccable as ever, with a lot of attention given to facial expressions and detail- the environments have taken a hit. The stages in Bayonetta 3 are massive, but lack detail. In some angles, it resembles a PlayStation 2 game with its low poly models and muddy textures. The draw distance is laughably low and there is no dazzling veneer to the sweeping landscapes.
The framerate rarely meets its 60fps target, making Bayonetta 3 border on running like the laughable PlayStation 3 port of Bayonetta. The battles with these kinds of chaotically designed enemies descend into a choppy bedlam where there is barely enough time to react to anything.
Jennifer Hale is the new voice of Bayonetta and while she does try her hardest, she does not sound like Bayonetta. Hale is a Canadian actress and has to fake an English accent, while she also has a more nasally voice than Hellena Taylor. She ends up sounding like her Naomi Hunter voice from the PlayStation version of Metal Gear Solid, than Bayonetta.
Bayonetta 3 disappoints due to its sloppy design that may have been a result of a troubled development and while also being a victim of the COVID scare. It lacks the polish from prior entries and the developers went overboard with bloated stage gimmicks.
While Bayonetta 3 is the weakest of the three, it is still a very good game that will give fans a lot of bang for their buck. There is enough changes and experimentation to justify this sequel and the rating system is the most forgiving than ever for neophytes, while also providing enough high level challenge for veterans.
Bayonetta 3 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by Nintendo. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Bayonetta 3 is now available for Nintendo Switch.