After eight long years, everyone’s favorite high-heeled Umbra Witch is back in business, with Bayonetta 3 delivering more over-the-top action than ever before in a sequel of magnificent proportions.
Bayonetta 1 and 2 are considered to be shining stars in the hack-and-slash genre, mixing blazing-fast action with show-stopping boss fights, stylish visuals, and a unique sense of humor. They pretty much guarantee a good time.
The good news is that Bayonetta 3 continues this tradition while adding enough new features and twists (as well as a suitably ridiculous storyline) to elevate the franchise even further and become a superior sequel in every way. Worth the wait? Absolutely.
Bayonetta 3 key details
- Developer: PlatinumGames
- Price: $59.99 / £49.99
- Release date: October 28, 2022
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Bayonetta 3 trailer
The Umbra Witch is back
After an ominous intro cinematic plants the seed of what’s to come, it’s full steam ahead with the classic Bayonetta action that fans have come to expect: Flashy beat-’em-up encounters, towering boss battles, and a little bit of exploration in between. The first chapter begins as Bayonetta and a few familiar faces witness a giant tidal wave approaching the city, with a new type of enemy causing chaos.
It turns out these creatures aren’t from Paradiso or Inferno – they’re man-made bioweapons known as Homunculi who want to wipe out this Bayonetta’s reality for good. I say this Bayonetta because, as it turns out, there are a bunch of realities out there with different variations of everyone’s favorite Umbra Witch and her companions. That’s right, gang, Bayonetta 3 is taking us to the Multiverse.
This sequel’s big baddie is the Singularity, a powerful being who’s discovered the existence of the Multiverse and is seeking to destroy all other realities to turn his own world into the one true ‘Alphaverse’. Viola, a new character who’s already witnessed the death of Bayonetta in her own reality, brings warning of this impending doom as well as two important tasks; help track down the Chaos Gears – the key to beating the Singularity – and find Dr Sigurd, the only person who knows how to use them.
So, if you were hoping for a more straightforward story this time around, you’re out of luck. The good news is that the plot feels slightly less convoluted than previous Bayonetta games, and if your memories of those are a little hazy like mine, you’ll be glad to know there’s not really any prior knowledge required to enjoy what’s on offer here. As Bayonetta, you’ll need to travel across different realities while collecting Chaos Gears and tearing through the hordes of Homunculi that stand in your way – and there are thousands of them to defeat.
While they may look quite similar, all exuding an electric blue glow, each Homunculus has its own attack pattern to learn. There are basic henchmen with predictable moves, floating jellyfish that split into two when attacked, and rhino-like beasts that charge on sight. On a few occasions, you’ll come face-to-face with a time-turning Homunculus that strips Bayonetta of her powers, but get close enough to push it over and you’ll be able to use its power to change the environment around you. Just when you’ve learned the best way to dispatch each enemy, another one comes your way, keeping you firmly on your toes.
Bigger is better
There’s always something new to encounter in Bayonetta 3, always a more elaborate enemy to defeat or a more breathtaking set piece to destroy. During the game’s first chapter, you’ll battle a Kraken above a private yacht that’s surfing on a giant tidal wave. Later, you’ll swing about Tokyo’s skyline as a flaming spider-human hybrid while chasing down a giant flying dragon. It’s absolutely exhilarating, but also exhausting. I often found myself having to put the controller down and step away from my Switch just to get a break from it all, before returning for just one more chapter.
Of course, this more-is-more approach is exactly what’s made Bayonetta such an endearing franchise – and for anyone wondering, it’s definitely not a case of style over substance. While it’s easy to resort to button mashing, Bayonetta’s combat has a huge amount of depth, with a seemingly endless list of combos and special finishing moves to discover, as well as her signature Witch Time ability that can slow down your enemies. One of the biggest problems I’ve had with other hack-and-slash games in the past is that combat ends up feeling a little monotonous, but that never happens with Bayonetta 3 as the game constantly hands you new ways to eliminate your opponents.
When traveling across the Multiverse, you’ll meet several alternate versions of Bayonetta with their own elaborate outfits and, more importantly, their own weapons. This is how the game expands your loadout; while you start out with familiar dual-wield pistols, you’ll eventually be gifted a whole range of unique weapons to deploy. These include the G-Pillar, a hulking caliber rifle that doubles as a slow but powerful club; the Ignis Araneae Yo-Yo, a set of four spinning blades that are perfect for players who value speed; and the chainsaw-like Dead End Express, all of which can be switched between on the fly. Using a brand new technique known as Demon Masquerade, Bayonetta can merge with each weapon to gain traversal advantages like wings to glide and spider legs to climb walls. Each weapon feels truly unique and figuring out which one works for you is part of the fun.
Infernal Demons are the true stars of the show here, though. When battles call for more than just Bayonetta’s sleek combos, you’ll be able to summon one of these terrifying beasts using Demon Slave to assist you in defeating your enemies. Their time on the battlefield is limited, and Bayonetta is vulnerable while they’re summoned, so there’s definitely some strategy required here. The Godzilla-like Gomorrah is great for dishing out devastating close-range damage, while Wartrain Gouon can target multiple far-off enemies as you place train tracks for it to follow. Just like acquiring new weapons, Infernal Demons are unlocked as you travel around the Multiverse, and trying each one out is probably the most exciting part of the game.
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With such fast-paced action, chapters often go by in a flash, but there’s plenty of incentive to go back and revisit them once you’re done. A score and medal are awarded at the end of each verse, which is the name given to every battle in a chapter, to measure how well you’ve performed in terms of combos, time taken, and damage received. There are also loads of secrets to discover like time trials, hidden chests, and Umbran Familiars – these are black cats, crows, and toads that open up new paths when caught – meaning there’s often a lot more on offer than you realize.
One of the biggest gameplay elements that separates Bayonetta 3 from what’s come before is that this time around you’ll play through certain chapters as Viola, the reality-hopping character we mentioned earlier who has slightly different gameplay mechanics. As well as dodging enemy attacks, Viola is able to block them. Her weapon of choice is a katana and she launches darts instead of bullets; and while Bayonetta has access to multiple Infernal Demons, Viola has just one oversized ally – her trusty Cheshire Cat, who will fight by itself as you continue to dish out damage. There’s not a world of difference between Viola and Bayonetta’s play styles, but it’s nice to switch it up and witness some of the story from another perspective.
Alongside these main chapters are side chapters that see you take control of Jeanne, Bayonetta’s long-time fighting companion, for some classic Metroid-inspired side-scrolling action. You can sneak through facilities by hiding from enemies in vents and cubicles before dishing out stealth takedowns, or choose to blaze through them with the powerful weapons you’ll pick up along the way. These weren’t my favorite sections, I’ll be honest, but they don’t last too long if you’d rather get back to the main event.
Most of the time I was glad when Jeanne and Viola’s sections were over as it meant I got to return to playing as Bayonetta, who’s undeniably more fun. But I do appreciate that PlatinumGames have tried something new to make this sequel stand out from the pack, and it’s yet another example of the huge amount of creativity and imagination that’s gone into crafting it.
As far as dialogue goes, Bayonetta is camp as ever, regularly cutting enemies down to size with scathing comments that border on cheesy – which of course is all part of her charm. She is a gaming icon after all. For those who prefer their Bayonetta with a little more flair, you can purchase color schemes and customize her hair, costume, and glasses frames. It’s not a massive amount of character customization, but I appreciated the ability to play as a pastel pink diva, and it’s something else to spend your hard-earned collectibles on alongside healing items and extra moves for each weapon.
I do think that some people will be left a little disappointed when it comes to Bayonetta 3’s graphics. While the game runs smoothly and does the best it can visually with the Nintendo Switch hardware, there’s not that much of an improvement compared to the previous game – and considering that was released eight years ago, it’s hard not to notice. Again, I’m aware that this is most likely down to the console it lives on, but it’s still worth pointing out. The art direction is brilliant, it’s just a shame that the graphics don’t always let that shine.
Bayonetta 3 is by no means a bad-looking game, though, and if you’re firmly in the camp of ‘gameplay over graphics’ then you should have no problem here. It does everything a sequel should do: Stay true to what’s come before but build on it with more, more, more. Combat is refined and expanded upon, boss fights are outrageously enjoyable, and there’s always something bigger and badder lurking around the corner to discover. It’s another stunning addition to the Bayonetta collection.
The Verdict – 9/10
Everything about Bayonetta 3 is ridiculous – from the dimension-hopping storyline to the devastating finishing moves and the Infernal Demons you can possess. But that’s exactly what fans have come to expect from the franchise, and it makes for an exhilarating experience that only Bayonetta can deliver. It’s hard to see how anyone could leave disappointed; just remember to take a breather every now and then.