For my Professional context brief we were required to write up to 1,500 words of critical reviews. For my first I decided to do a review of a game I have recently played as I believe that video games have many aspects to them which can be critiqued.
Developed by Platinum Hits, the studio responsible for sleeper hits such as Vanquish, Bayonetta puts you in the highly customisable leather boots of the title character who is charged with the task of expelling the evil forces of… well evil forces of God believe it or not. The game revolves around a universe thrown out of balance by Bayonetta’s birth from a Lumen Sage and an Umbra Witch, which was strictly forbidden by the clans’ ancient commandments as it would bring calamity to the world. As cliched plots go it’s up definitely up there, however the idea that the game doesn’t follow the traditional good vs evil archetypes is an interesting one.
The gameplay harks back to titles such as Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry, with a large emphasis on gory – weapon based fighting and creating devastatingly beautiful combo’s which are necessary if you wish to conquer the tougher difficulties. There are 5 difficulties in total: Very Easy and Easy work off of an automatic combo system therefore if you are seeking even a mild challenge, these are best avoided. Normal offers the occasional tough battle particularly towards the end, but with many items available coupled with generous checkpoints this should pose no real issues. Non-Stop Climax removes the ability for Bayonetta to use ‘Witch Time’ which is a unique feature of the game allowing her to slow down time for a brief period after evading an attack in order to get in a quick combo that can turn the tide of any battle. You come to rely on witch time heavily throughout the game, so having the ability taken away from you creates a real challenge.
There is more to Bayonetta than just solid visuals and a gritty combat system which includes brutally rewarding torture attacks, this is a game with real charm which is evident not only through the games surprisingly effective storyline, but through the sheer amount of customisation and extras which are on offer. Replayability is increased ten-fold when the prospect of various new costumes, collectables/combat tips, hidden boss battles, concept art, 3D models of characters, rewarding achievements, and other goodies are presented. Not to mention the in game challenge of Alfheim Portals which pit you against numerous enemies with differing restrictions to how Bayonetta can dispose of them, offering a new twist on tactics and encouraging players to learn techniques or skills they previously would not have considered. These Alfheim Portals, of which there are over 20, are often more of a challenge than the core game itself. The height of the Bayonetta’s charm is truly revealed once you complete the game and the end sequence begins and is definitely worth checking out.
You’re probably expecting a game with such an emphasis on gameplay to fall at the final hurdle here of sound. Fortunately here that is not the case. The game features an original soundtrack of over 150 tracks, which at first may seem like they don’t fit the gore and brutality the game is known for. Quite the opposite in fact, once you are a mere hour or two into the game and have experienced your first cutscene you will begin to understand this game is more than a simple hack and slash title, but instead plays on the genres conventions, offering a tongue in cheek interpretation of gory combat, imploring you to see the more enjoyable side of it along with Bayonetta herself. When any new enemy is introduced, a short but sweet operatic sequence appears click here. There are some magnificent orchestral pieces during climactic battles which can often be overlooked as the sound effects are slightly too loud at times which is a shame. Despite this, the vast range of original musical set pieces set this game apart from titles it had it all to prove against, such as Ninja Gaiden & DMC.
All in all, Bayonetta shows not only other hack and slash titles, but all developers across every genre how to make a game that is not only serious fun, but also has uncompromising depth and the charm necessary to create a loyal fanbase. It is almost flawless in its execution and in Bayonetta herself, the gaming community has a new icon who I would bet good money on making a return to our consoles in the near future.