Exclusively Available On: Nintendo Switch
Standard Price: $59.99 – Digital and Physical
Masquerade Edition (Collector’s Edition): $89.99 USD
Developer: Platinum Games
Bayonetta 3 came out on October 28th and while I, unfortunately, did not get to review it early but still decided to put out a review for this game. While Bayonetta 3 sees familiar faces like Cereza, Rodin, Jeanne, and others come back, it also includes multiple new characters that seem… familiar. Platinum Games already had a title that didn’t do well this year. In fact, it did so bad it is terminating the game less than one year after its release. Bayonetta 3 was announced back at The Game Awards 2017 and has gone mostly radio silent until 2021 when the re-reveal of the game was announced at the end of a Nintendo Direct. People might have been cautious about the state of the game. However, I can assure you this is definitely an absolutely fantastic action title and a great bounce-back from Platinum after having a flop earlier this year.
The story in Bayonetta 3 revolves around the concept of an entity known as Singularity trying to destroy the universe. It is not just one universe though, it is all of them; a.k.a. we are dealing with the multiverse in this game. Now; we have seen the concept of the multiverse come up a huge amount of times in the past decade or so throughout entertainment, and some circumstances are better than others. In Bayonetta 3, it works fantastically well overall. The way in which the game starts is you find out that [redacted for early spoilers] but Viola, who is a new character, goes to a different timeline to find Bayonetta and the rest of the crew. Sorry, did I tease you there? Well, I think you should see it for yourself instead of me telling you.
Anyway, Viola comes to Bayonetta and crew in the present day and they need to work together in order to stop the Singularity from ripping apart everything by collecting the items called Chaos Gears. You must also seek help from the one person who can help them understand what is going on. Part of the way through this, you must go in separate directions. Jeanne goes and tries to find a doctor who can help with the pieces that are collected. That means Viola and Bayonetta are tasked with getting the gears. Part of the way through, the two have to go separate ways. Bayo goes to multiverses where she will meet others like her and find the gears, while Viola goes on a hunt for Luka. Now it makes sense why and how they did this and you will soon learn many connections that are clearly visible. The story of Bayonetta 3 is a terrific one, and while it may be a somewhat safe and mostly predictable story overall, it is full of both fun and sadness. The way in which this game sets up the future iterations of the Bayonetta franchise is very powerful.
The gameplay returns to its great action and fast-paced fights; well… mostly. See there are different things in terms of gameplay. First, let me get this out of the way as the others are similar to what we have played before. Jeanne plays completely differently than the other two characters. She has four side chapters that are crucial for the story; however, they are not like levels seen before in Bayonetta games. These are 2D levels with the first two being like a side-scrolling game, the third being a boss, and the fourth one being my favorite (won’t spoil it though). These, like the other levels, need to be played efficiently. They are quick and don’t last for too long compared to the normal levels, but they offer a nice variety of this style of gameplay from the normal hack-n-slash the franchise is known for.
Jeanne’s gameplay is different than what you will deal with in both Viola’s and Bayonetta’s levels. In terms of the other two characters, it is back to what you have played before in Bayonetta 1 or Bayonetta 2; just expanded upon. Let me begin with the basics of each level. There are the “Verses” where you are batting a wave of enemies trying to get the best combo, best time, and least amount of damage taken. Some are main verses in the chapters, while some are hidden or side ones that offer different rewards that will help you like Witch Heart or Moon Pearl pieces. Within each chapter, you explore the areas which have a nice variety. It isn’t an open world, but more so linear with some open areas to find different collectibles like three animals in each of the chapters, hidden collectibles, and more. If you end up collecting all 3 animals in a chapter, you unlock an extra portion that could offer additional Demons not found in the story, music tracks, figures, and more. Getting them is tough, but it adds more content.
Now, let me get into more details about the gameplay. There is your health bar and magic bar, both of which are crucial during levels. In Bayonetta 3, you can use a Demon which is a monster that can help fight enemies. This is new to the franchise but it is a fantastic edition for both traversal and combos that can be made within fights when using them. Bayonetta is allowed to choose up to three Demons to have on a wheel at a time, and each of them has their own weapon with different effects; such as a yo-yo, a buzzsaw, a whip, guns, and many more. If Bayo calls out a Demon, she cannot move while controlling a Demon so you have to watch both it and also Bayonetta. When playing as Viola, you have a single one to control named Cheshire. Cheshire can be called out at the same time as Viola which makes her combat areas a little bit easier comparatively. All of the combos, recovery/protection items, and more are back from older games so I won’t go into those too much. Besides this, there are other things that are in the game but are nice to find out some things on your own.
There are three types of currency within the game that are all important. The first one is Halos. Now Halos you might remember from the past games. In this one, it isn’t as important as they only offer little things like costumes, figures, and things like that. Souls are another form of currency that are needed in order to increase skills on a skill tree for each weapon or demon. The last one is seeds and this is replacing the things that Halos use to buy, a.k.a. recovery items, witch hearts, moon pearls, and more. These are all things you can purchase during the chapter select or during the chapter if you find Rodin’s shop.
Alright, I have discussed the story and the gameplay, but what about everything else? Well, here is what I am going to say about the voice acting thing that plagued the game before it launched… nothing. I haven’t said anything since I am not a voice actor nor do I have behind-the-scenes knowledge to know what really occurred so I should not be one to discuss this. What I will say about the voice acting within the game, is it is absolutely phenomenal. Bayonetta is a killer powerhouse with a soft spot. Viola is witty and funny while also being serious. Luka is crazy in his normal good way. Jeanne is calm, cool, and collected, but tough as well. Everyone else does their voices terrifically, just too many to name here.
Now, let me move on to music and audio design. So many styles of music come into the game from the classical jazz that plays in Rodin’s Shop, to the spy music of Jeanne’s theme, to the killer upbeat music in intense battles, and everything else in between is solid and terrific. The music is so on point for this game it is astonishing how it can be pulled off with so many different sounds and vibes while having none of them overlap any other. The audio design is just as good ranging from the sand in the desert to the water effects throughout the game. The basic movement and more intense battles with the footsteps can be heard every time. Everything works phenomenally well and they did great work on this.
Now onto something I need to talk about, and it comes down to the visuals and performance. Playing in docked mode, the game looks fairly clean if you don’t look at everything too harshly. Performance is pretty solid in docked as well, even when there are multiple enemies on screen. Now, in terms of portable mode, some things are kind of fuzzy or rough. The game sometimes stuttered, enemies weren’t always visible, or some visuals overall impacted my gameplay. I am no tech snob needing 4K 60fps all the time, but it is a little problematic when a game becomes washed out or sometimes hinders you from seeing everything you need to. Chapter 12-14 was the roughest section since there were a couple of times I was left thinking “what am I looking at here?”. I played it mostly in portable mode on the OLED since I wanted the visuals to pop in this game, but the downside was weaker visuals compared to having the game docked.
Lastly, let me touch on the art style. In terms of the characters, Demons, and enemy models everything looks great and very well crafted. In terms of the way the game looks, there are great things and also interesting things. Jeanne’s section has an art style that is fantastic with the way in which the 2D characters and bosses are designed. I thought the colors chosen were great, the overall feeling of it was just fantastic. Cutscenes throughout the whole game are great too, yet looked different than past Bayo games did so it threw me for somewhat of a loop. In terms of the areas that are explored by Viola and Bayonetta, all of them look great; however, it felt like the art style might have not been entirely consistent compared with characters/enemies. Not that it is a bad thing because it does look good, but it just felt off. With that said, it did not take away from the excitement of the thrilling action combat.
Okay, let me wrap up this review with my full final thoughts. Bayonetta is a franchise that Nintendo has published since Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U to keep the franchise alive. Bayonetta 3 is a return to form even though the franchise has been away for a while, minus the remaster for Switch. I am glad that this game exists but is the game perfect? No, I don’t think it is. The combat is fantastic, the gameplay is solid throughout, the music and audio are awesome, VA is great, but there are also downsides. Technical issues on occasion, the somewhat predictable story, and clashing art styles hinder the game a little bit; but not a massive amount. Honestly, if you liked Bayonetta 1 and 2, everything in Bayonetta 3 is expanded upon and you will like this one too. There are small hindrances or things to adapt to, but nothing is impossible to overcome. This game should be played if you are a fan of the franchise. If you didn’t like the previous games, you probably won’t like this one either. This game will make my top 10 Switch games in 2022, but where exactly will it be placed? Find out soon…
Review Score: 8.5/10