From the moment you start up Bayonetta 3, the fate of Bayonetta is made strikingly apparent. Although every prior game left their openings on a cliffhanger, with the knowledge that the player could set things right and see her through despite the insurmountable odds, that is no longer the case. Bayonetta dies, and that’s only the beginning.
Bayonetta 3 is the final chapter in the trilogy following the adventures of Cereza, the titular Bayonetta, as she fights alongside her many, and I mean many variants, to defeat the man-made homunculi before they destroy the multiverse. Surprisingly, the angels and demons of past installments seem fairly chill with the idea of becoming homogenized homunculi soup, though that won’t stop them from proving to be nuisances through optional encounters, or powerful allies through the new weapon system. As Bayonetta explores the multiverse, she acquires new pacts with demons to expand her arsenal and fight alongside them, utilizing her magic to summon them and wreak havoc on the battlefield. Everything in Bayonetta 3 is bigger than ever, from the open exploration of many of the game’s episodic chapters, to the kaiju-scale demon summons and boss battles, to the stakes of the story as various Bayonettas across the multiverse fight to save what they hold dear… and fail miserably.
With the defeat of Aesir in Bayonetta 2 and the destruction of the Eyes of the World, Bayonetta and her father, Balder, made the declaration for humanity to guide their own fate. Though Balder made the immediate sacrifice to seal Aesir away in time, one last question remained: how far would Bayonetta go to protect the balance of the world now that humans could determine their own destiny? With the legendary heights of previous stories, the answer was obvious, though human ambition proved far too great an enemy to face without sacrifice. Bayonetta 3 does not hide the fact that it is a tragedy; throughout the many worlds Bayonetta explores, the main villain of the game, Singularity, taunts her as she witnesses each variant of herself die, much in the same way the introduction’s Bayonetta died. Thankfully, Bayonetta is not alone in her struggle against impending doom, and is joined again by Jeanne and Luka, each of whom prove to be vital to the story, alongside a newcomer. Viola, the last survivor of the intro’s world, is gifted with that variant’s witch powers, allowing her to fight back against the man-made monsters that destroyed her home and family. Despite the ruin that plagues each world the player explores, and the overwhelming premonition of failure, Bayonetta 3 concludes each plot thread introduced in past games in such a satisfying way that I can’t stay mad at it. I won’t spoil the grander revelations, though the legacy of Bayonetta continues on despite Cereza’s story coming to an end… and ultimately, that’s not why most people are here. The Bayonetta series has far more to offer than just an excellent story, and Bayonetta 3 is no different.
Platinum’s over-the-top action-packed gameplay is back, and strikes the perfect balance between Bayonetta 1’s difficulty and Bayonetta 2’s accessibility, all while bringing new fun to the formula in three different ways: demon summons, new weapons, and Viola. Even if demons are picky when it comes to their meals, Bayonetta isn’t when it comes to beating up world-enders, and can summon kaiju-sized demons during battles to send homunculi packing in an instant. If that wasn’t enough, she also gains access to new weapons as the story progresses that also grant her overworld abilities; from blazing yo-yo’s that allow her to swing across Tokyo in Spider-Man-esque style, to sky cleaving fans that allow her to soar above the skies in style, to an entire clock tower’s worth of rubble made into gauntlets, the weapon variety allows for any number of playstyle to be pitted against any enemy. Her iconic guns make a return as well, Colour My World as the three-barreled newcomers alongside the previous installment’s Scarborough Fair and Love is Blue (with their respective game’s save files on your Switch). To top it all off, series newcomer Viola brings a new style of gameplay to Bayonetta 3 with her trusty katana and demonic pal Cheshire. Her charged slashes and defensive witch time is reminiscent of Devil May Cry’s gameplay, and though the stark contrast between her and Bayonetta’s fast-paced beat-’em-up action may take some getting used to, her inclusion is a largely solid one, save for some odd hiccups when activating witch time.
As with every Bayonetta game, the design of 3 is on-point. Though the costumes of characters and overall aesthetic of worlds may not be everyone’s cup of tea, each element owns its style, from Cereza’s nostalgic elegance to Viola’s in-your-face punk attitude. Each area across the multiverse, from Tokyo to the desert, has excellent accompanying visuals and soundtracks that make each incarnate of Bayonetta stand out alongside making their stories and struggles all the more believable. Moonlight Serenade and Whispers of Destiny reinforce elements of the story through their lyrics and meanings while giving the game a unique, jazzy undertone that places it apart from its predecessors. Underlying themes aside, the entire soundtrack is excellent, from the blazing highs of combat to the gentle undertones of the revelations that take place throughout the game. Bayonetta 3 expertly crafts its own identity, and keeps the bombastic energy as high as the first two games without sacrificing the integrity of its story or settings.
Overall, despite its few flaws with gameplay and repetitive overworld design, Bayonetta 3 is a delightful conclusion to a story over a decade in the making. The franchise only proves to grow larger with a sequel story in the works alongside Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, a prequel to our favorite witch’s escapades featuring Cheshire having just released this March. With the potential set up in this game, I can’t wait to see where Bayonetta and Cheshire go next.
Final Rating: 8.5/10
Written by Elise Howe, Lethbridge College
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