Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon preview – The makings of a magical adventure

Daniel Megarry

Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is a very different Bayonetta game than what fans have come to expect, trading blazing-fast action and ridiculous boss battles for cozy storybook vibes with a focus on exploration and solving puzzles – and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Acting as a prequel to the main trilogy of games, Bayonetta Origins places you in the sensible shoes of a young and timid Cereza who’s still learning how to master her magic (there are no high heel handguns or sassy comebacks to be found here) with the help of an exiled Umbra Witch called Morgana.

Frustrated with living under the stern and watchful eye of Morgana, and determined to save her mother from years of imprisonment, Cereza ventures into the forbidden Avalon Forest in search of answers, following a mysterious white wolf and warding off faeries who want to feed on her soul.

The big ‘gimmick’ of Bayonetta Origins is the dual control system, which sees the Left Joy-Con assigned to Cereza and the Right Joy-Con assigned to Cheshire – a powerful and deadly Infernal Demon that’s taken the form of her beloved stuffed cat. These controls did feel a bit cumbersome at first, but I’ve gotten used to them over the few hours I’ve played so far and I’m becoming quite fond of them.

A screenshot from Bayonetta Origins

When exploring Avalon Forest, Cereza can carry Cheshire as a soft toy, or release him if they need to go their own ways, at which point you’ll control them both separately. There are rosemary bushes that only Cereza can pass through, while Cheshire is the only one who can reach high-up ledges or smash through thorns that block your path.

Much of the game is spent figuring out how to get both Cereza and Cheshire through to your next destination, and while the difficulty level is pretty low, the exploration-meets-puzzle-solving gameplay is really enjoyable – especially when you learn new abilities that let you discover secrets and alternate paths.

A few chapters into the game, Cheshire gets access to his first alternate form – a wood form – that lets him dish out different attacks and gives him new powers, like the ability to extend his tongue and grab objects in the distance or open previously locked doors. I’m assuming there are more forms to come, although I haven’t discovered them yet.

A screenshot from Bayonetta Origins

There’s still plenty of combat to grind through in Bayonetta Origins, but the battles here are relatively tame by comparison and there’s a bigger focus on getting Cereza and Cheshire to synchronize their abilities rather than using flashy, over-the-top special moves.

Most battles I’ve experienced so far have followed a similar format: Use Cereza’s magic to entangle an enemy in its place, then unleash a barrage of physical attacks from Cheshire. It works well, although it is a bit on the basic side and I have found myself missing the dramatic flourishes and complexities from the main Bayonetta games.

One area where Bayonetta Origins has really impressed me so far is its visual presentation. While last year’s excellent Bayonetta 3 was slightly let down by the Switch’s lack of power, Bayonetta Origins is right at home on Nintendo’s hybrid console – it runs perfectly, the Okami-like watercolor art style is beautiful, and it’s the perfect cozy game to snuggle up on the sofa with.

A screenshot of combat in Bayonetta Origins

It’s fair to say that Bayonetta Origins might not appeal to purists who want the bombastic action and risque diva attitude they’ve grown accustomed to, but it’s shaping up to be a great standalone adventure in its own right that could earn the franchise a wider audience than before.

I’ve only played a few chapters of Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, and I’m already won over by its storybook charm and unique mechanics.

Depending on how the story progresses and whether it manages to keep the gameplay fresh with new abilities for Cereza and Cheshire, this could end up being another brilliant addition to the Nintendo Switch library.