Bayonetta 3 was a disappointment compared to the excellent first and mostly good second game. The notion of a new Bayonetta game that would follow it up only a few months after such a long and troubled development would make anyone skeptical, especially since it would completely deviate from its combo-based action roots.
When Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon was first revealed, most gamers were perplexed. All the complex combos, juggling techniques, and diabolical canceling were gone. In its place was a slow-paced adventure game with an inexperienced Bayonetta and an emphasis on puzzle solving where players controlled two characters.
Before she was “Bayonetta”, she was just Cereza. The storylines of these games are a complex web of time-traveling and dimension hopping. Somehow, no matter what, she is always the same- except when she was young. Does this spin-off prequel explain Bayonetta’s origins? Can it make up for the mess of Bayonetta 3? Find out in this Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon 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:
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon
Developer: PlatinumGames Inc.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: March 17, 2023
Price: $59.99 USD
Every gamer knows Bayonetta as a boastful and bodaciously sexy fighter who incorporates pole dancing and stripper routines into her fighting style. It is hard to imagine her as a kid, and yet- here we are with Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, showing her using ballet moves to cast black magic and summoning a demon.
Cereza has a lot of trouble fitting in with the other witches and is generally not very adept at witchcraft. It doesn’t help that her mother is imprisoned for giving birth to her by hooking up with a Lumen sage; making Cereza a pariah. If she hopes to free her mom, she is going to have to learn the Umbran arts from Morgana, an experienced yet also outcast witch.
To prove herself, Cereza will need to learn how to summon a demon, which is instrumental in freeing her mom. Taking inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlands, Cereza is whisked away to a magical and mysterious forest. She does summon a demon, but it possesses her stuffed cat doll and from that moment on, they must learn to work together if they ever want to escape the fairy realm.
The story of the characters in Bayonetta Origins is very fleshed out. Cereza’s arc is especially well-thought and fans of the last three games will appreciate the many call-forwards and tastefully done nods to her character.
Her growth from a scrappy and self-doubting apprentice to a confident and capable witch is earned through her relationship with Cheshire, her demon-cat summon.
In his demon form, Cheshire resembles what a langolier would look like as designed by Tim Burton. He is almost all teeth and has a gruff and nasty cadence like any demon would. Cheshire’s developing bond with Cereza is admittedly very cute and seeing him soften over time to become her dedicated protector is sweet and fulfilling.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is a one-player game that demands gamers control two distinct entities. Splitting joy-cons with a friend won’t make this an ideal two-player game because the gameplay requires Cereza and Cheshire to work as one.
The dual-character gameplay is reminiscent of PlatinumGames’ Astral Chain, but refined and more manageable due to a fixed camera POV. Controlling Cereza and Cheshire with the left and right analog sticks will put both brain hemispheres to work.
At first, expect to bumble around. Over time and with a little practice, playing as the pair becomes very natural. The face buttons are mapped to Cheshire’s various elemental forms and each one gets its abilities which can be used in battles or puzzles.
The experience unfolds in a metroidvania-style world where every area loops around and connects back in cheeky and surprising ways. As Cheshire grows more powerful, he will be able to assist Cereza in further exploring the enigmatic forest. Puzzles and hidden treasures are not that much different than the kinds found in any Zelda game.
Bayonetta Origins keeps the experience varied with many different kinds of obstacles and enemies that require some strategy. As effective of a killing machine as Cheshire is, he still needs Cereza’s black magic to stun foes that may use shields or evade his reach. Combat also expands as both characters get new moves from an ever-growing skill tree.
Battles don’t reach the outrageous spectacle of the mainline Bayonetta games, but you will be thankful that they aren’t. Combating fairies while managing two characters is tense and exciting. Cheshire may be immortal and can fight after running out of magic, Cereza is vulnerable. She can’t directly attack and acts as Cheshire’s support.
As the adventure unfurls and Cereza and Cheshire become more formidable, the action becomes second nature. It is not unlike mastering the combat in The Wonderful 101. Becoming proficient with such a unique gameplay style feels rewarding, especially since there are so few games like Bayonetta Origins.
Much like its unique gameplay, Cereza, and the Lost Demon‘s visual style is unlike any other game. Keeping with the Alice in Wonderland motif, the art direction is heavily inspired by Mary Blair‘s illustrations for the Walt Disney adaptation.
The graphics have lush and painterly qualities. Everything is rendered with very naturalistic textures that look like they were applied with traditional media. Shaders that have a pencil-like sketch texture are fully animated and colors bleed into one another like watercolor.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon not only is a beautiful artistic achievement for PlatinumGames, but it also looks amazing in motion too. Animations are very fluid and Cereza’s dainty movements contrast nicely with Cheshire’s wild and aggressive gestures.
It is disappointing that cutscenes are done in the style of the first two Bayonetta games where scenes have implied animation with motionless 3D models. Bayonetta Origins is going for a storybook aesthetic, so the imagery does come off as intended. It is too bad that this was probably a compromise PlatinumGames had to make to keep costs low.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon comes recommended to anyone who likes Bayonetta as a character or is interested in adventure games with unique combat and puzzles. The adventure does have a slow start, but the wait is worth it for the game opens up and lets players take full advantage of what Cereza and Cheshire can do.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon 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 Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is now available for Nintendo Switch.