Outrageous, truly, truly, truly, outrageous...
The original Bayonetta was a fast-paced action game built around outrageous angelic character designs, fluid combat, and its sexuality driven protagonist, the titular character herself, Bayonetta. While it followed in the footsteps of what made the Devil May Cry series so popular, the game found its own voice and rhythm, setting it apart from what Capcom had delivered numerous times via their own established franchise. While it took a few extra years for Bayonetta to arrive on a Nintendo console, it did so with the shocking revelation that the series would be exclusive to the Nintendo platform and that Nintendo themselves would help fund the development of Bayonetta 2, a sequel so good that It might very well be the greatest action game of all time.
In terms of raw functionality, little has changed since Bayonetta's first outing. While sporting a new and I have to say, far more attractive hairstyle, Bayonetta sports improved animations, more impressive special attacks, and some killer new weaponry. It also helps that visually, Bayonetta 2 far surpasses the original mostly due in part to a richer and more vibrant color palette. Bayonetta 2 is everything you want from a sequel as it doesn't try to reinvent itself and opts to just improve upon what worked before. Whereas I thoroughly enjoyed the first Bayonetta, despite a few minor flaws, I absolutely love this fresher and just insanely more impressive sequel, and its weird to think it's all because Nintendo believed in the adventures of a half-naked witch who weaves demons out of her hair.
For those new to the franchise, I would strongly suggest playing the first title as Bayonetta 2 currently is bundled with it via a digital code printed on the inside of the Bayonetta 2 case. Each game runs close to around the 10-hour mark as the story continues from one to the other and the ending of this sequel will satisfy, and possibl confuse, fans of the first game. Let's just say, my jaw dropped at that final scene.
Whereas the first title revolved around the origins of Bayonetta and the revelation of what she truly was, Bayonetta 2 is a rescue mission that starts to dig far deeper into the demonic powers she wields. When the soul of Jeanne is stolen during an early team-up, Bayonetta has a precious few hours to track it down, before Jeanne is lost forever. Bayonetta 2 features only a few new characters along the way as Enzo, Rodin, and Luka all return alongside a deadly new foe, a masked Lumen Sage, a mysterious young boy, and a blast from Bayonetta's past, a team-up I really didn't see coming. I found the story here to be far better written and genuinely more coherent than the previous title and the timer on saving Jeanne meshed remarkably well given the fast-paced nature of flying through level after level, with the action never letting up.
If you are familiar with the combat of the first Bayonetta, then you'll feel right at home with this sequel, as fundamentally, nothing much has changed. That being said, Animations for attacking and canceling attacks are considerably better, dodging feels just as precise as before, and pulling off strings of combo's is still as satisfying as ever. Bayonetta 2 offers far more weapon variety as several large foes, of which the game is littered with them, can drop weapons to pick up and use and these limited use weapons can deal some pretty impressive damage. The weapons that you can naturally equip for missions also show a more focused variety in their functions, as the Rakshasa blades are a blast to slice and dice through your foes with, and I spent nearly half the game rocking the Kafka bow as it allowed me to work some magic from afar. Each weapon feels different and offers their own path of combo attacks and charged up moves that it can be interesting to revisit a certain battle with an entirely new set of weapons and have that encounter feeling almost entirely different.
Combat can be extremely chaotic, making perfecting that dodge roll all the more important. Dodging at the last second will trigger Witch Time, a purple-tinted aura that slows down time around you, allowing you to unleash some special attacks or just to make some space between you and whatever creature is currently kicking your ass. Combine this with the new Umbran Climax; a heavy damage attack that summons her demonic powers for a few precious seconds, and you can unleash some massive damage in a blink of an eye. Thankfully, each enemy has special 'tells' that signal when they are about to attack, so it's just as important to know what you are fighting as well as what is all around you. Bayonetta 2 also doesn't use 'Quick Time Event' prompts nearly as much as before and even the button mashing torture scenes require far less effort than in the previous game. It is these small, but effective changes that really fix the minor issues of the first game.
Bayonetta 2 still follows the gameplay mechanic of magical seals blocking progression until you have cleared the room of various angelic threats and many of the mid-chapter bosses. Most encounters usually only last a few minutes, whereas some bosses can take a much longer time to put down, depending on your choice of difficulty. Where the Bayonetta series has excelled, is in the methods of how these encounters go down. Boss battles take place in many different gameplay forms as while you will have your typical arena-style showdown, several bosses occur while fighting on the top of a fighter jet, behind the cockpit of a mech-suit, or pursuing a giant sea serpent while surfing on a random chunk of debris. There are so many incredible boss battles and moments where the game shakes up the typical formula and gives you a fresh new idea that still feels very Bayonetta.
As an Umbran Witch, Bayonetta will need to pull out all the stops to take down both Angel and Demon alike. You have the centaur-shaped 'Acceptance' with a large face on its chest or the oddly shaped 'Fidelity' whose core body has three faces forming one open mouth together, to say nothing of its five long arms. There's the heavenly soldier 'Valiance' who holds a sword that contains his face that was a personal favorite of mine and a battle I always looked forward to when he would return again and again. On the demonic side of the fence, 'Alraune' was such a well-designed character with some fun interactions between her and Bayonetta. She also has one of the most enjoyable boss battles in the game.
Bayonetta 2 thrives visually as a docked or portable experience at both methods of play offers 720p visuals running at very constant 60fps. Most of my time with Bayonetta 2 was portable as the smaller screen really suits the game well. While the game still looks stunning on the big screen, my only gripe with the title is that we don't get a 1080p version while docked. The game features some cleaner texture filtering and the shadows are greatly improved over the WiiU version as well. Bayonetta herself looks remarkably better and not just due to her fresher and more well-suited new look. Bayonetta 2, as I've mentioned, is a bright and vibrant adventure with solid color work and some flat-out gorgeous locations that really pop on the Switch's screen, as well as whatever size TV you currently rock. Bayonetta 2 is simply a striking game that needs to be seen.
With its fast-paced action and well-framed direction, Bayonetta 2 is such an incredible game. Apart from the stellar campaign, there is also a multiplayer mode to enjoy some co-op with a few online friends and a collection of behind the scenes artwork that shows how this wonderful game came to life. There are a ton of costumes to collect and some really impressive weapons and special attacks to spend all those hard earned Halo's on that will shake up how you approach each encounter. The swapping styles of gameplay always kept the game fresh, and the confidence of Bayonetta herself is something that stands out in a big way in this series. Bayonetta 2 has me incredibly hopeful that Bayonetta 3 will be just as good, if not better. If you have a Nintendo Switch or even a WiiU, go track down this game immediately and get wrapped up in this witch's wicked weaves.