I am definitely not someone who thought Bayonetta would be a game series I’d play. It was M-rated, the main character was incredibly suggestive and provocative (remember, it was 2009 when the first game came out, I was much younger then!), and so on and so forth. But when I gave it a chance, I was blown away by the characters, the action, the story, and so on. Fast forward to now, and here I am writing a Bayonetta 3 Review. What are my thoughts on the third game in the line? Our favorite Umbra Witch had a powerful showing…but there were some catches.
I will be getting into HEAVY spoilers about the game, especially about its ending, so you’ve been warned. The game continues the journey of Bayonetta, but it doesn’t start there. Instead, we learn part of the origins of the newest character of the game, Viola. She’s an “Umbra Witch-in-Training” and has been tasked with finding our Bayonetta so that the multiverse can be saved from an entity known as the Singularity.
Yes, it’s yet another multiverse story! Complete with Bayonetta meeting several versions of herself, Jeanne, Luca, and even her mother at one point. Obviously, this game has been in the works for several years, but I seriously wonder when it was decided to do this story because when you add it up with all the other movies and tales from just the past year…that’s a lot of multiversus.
Oh, and yes, I’m going to call this my “Multiverse of Madness.” Mainly because it was better than the movie!
Anyway, to reach the Alphaverse, where everything is going wrong, Viola and Bayonetta must get five Chaos Gears throughout the remaining existing universes. But that won’t be easy as they have to face the human bio-weapons from the Alphaverse known as the Homunculi. As you can guess, the story is completely over the top, at times nonsensical, and yet you’ll love almost every part of it because of how the characters just “accept” what’s going on and roll with the punches until they need to punch back.
Even with a new Bayonetta 3 voice actress in Jennifer Hale, Bayonetta is easily the star of the show, as she should be. From her voice, model, mannerisms, etc., she’s almost exactly how you remember her, and thank goodness! The game wouldn’t have been as enjoyable without her being in top form, and she was that here. From her entrance to her dance moves, summonings, and the times she lets down her guard to showcase how she feels, she’s a thrill to watch and listen to. I’m not saying every one of us should try and find a Bayonetta for our lives, but at least we have this one here.
Viola is a nice foil to everything going on in the game. She’s rough around the edges, not as flashy or slick, and incredibly emotional and vocal. But given what she’s gone through and her “in training” moniker, that’s fine. We already have Bayonetta and Jeanne. We shouldn’t overload a game with an infinite amount of cool characters. I did find her voice a little grating in some cutscenes, but overall she was a great addition.
Easily the other big thing I must praise is the action sequences/choreography that happens in the cutscenes, on rails segments, boss fights, and beyond. PlatinumGames went all out to make this the biggest and most adrenaline-pumping adventure ever. Just in the first chapter (not the prologue), we get Manhattan wiped out by a tidal wave that Bayonetta rides as she takes control of a cruise ship! Later on, we have a rhythm boss fight featuring a demonic toad woman (who can sing really well). There’s also a point where Bayonetta becomes a turret gunner for a train, and so on and so forth!
I have no idea what the dev team was on during the planning process for this, but they were clearly having a blast making these moments stand out from one another. Whether it was Bayonetta “leveling up” her demons to insane amounts of power and looks or creating atypical experiences for players to enjoy like the Jeanne segments, they put every amount of fun and passion they had into this game, and it shows.
Plus, you can tell they were making fun of both themselves and other franchises (in a good way) with what they did. Like referencing a mascot from Astral Chain before destroying it. Or Bayonetta getting “owned” in a dance-off by some Homunculi doing the Thriller dance. Oh, and Jeanne basically becoming “Solid Snake” in her Metal Gear-inspired levels. All of it was insanely fun and entertaining, and it left you guessing what would happen next.
Don’t worry; the combat is fun, even in the more “standard” moments. You’ll once again have multiple weapons to choose from as the game goes on and plenty of new Infernal summons to toy with. Combos and dodges are still the names of the game, and you’ll want to find the equipment that works best for you. I was fine with the standard equipment, but I was curious about what I could do with others at times, so I swapped out on occasion.
Plus, true to form, there were new things you could do with Bayonetta and her summons, including the demon slave technique, which was VERY helpful in gameplay and boss fights. You could also do special transformations at times to get around. The “Verses” motif was back again, and there are plenty of challenges to test you as you try and find some of the hidden levels. You’ll definitely need to be fast with your button presses to get through some of them.
Not to be left out, Viola’s play sections were great too. She feels totally different from Bayonetta, as she should. There were times I found her easier to control than Bayonetta due to being able to attack without controlling her demon in Cheshire.
Before I get to the negative elements, I do want to point out that the game looks and feels crisp and fun. I played on handheld mode throughout, and there were only a few times when the graphics dropped and maybe one time when the framerate lowered. Even then, Platinum made sure the game looked great on Switch, and that’s why I totally want more games by them on Nintendo platforms.
Let’s start the “bad parts” with the gameplay sections. First, while the “verses” theme is now multiple games strong, I really felt that, at times, they were harder to find than they should’ve been. They get a bit too clever with them at times in terms of both location and content. One level, I would’ve bet I searched everywhere, and yet somehow I miss three straight levels! Then, with some of the challenges, they weren’t really spelled out in the sprawling display at times, and then when I got into them, they were so challenging I just bailed. They weren’t required to progress, so I skipped them and didn’t feel bad about it at all. Some I didn’t even try because they were challenges I knew I would be doing over and over again until I won, and I didn’t want to waste my time being frustrated with it.
Second, while PlatinumGames titles are all about the “challenge” and getting the highest score, I honestly breezed through the game outside of those “challenge levels” I mentioned. I only died once in the entire game, and that was during a Jeanne level with atypical gameplay. I never died as Bayonetta or Viola. Am I that good? I doubt it.
But it didn’t help that the currency of the game was so loaded that I could’ve stocked up on so many health, power, magic, immunity, and revival items that by the time I got to the end of the Singularity fight, there would’ve been nothing to stop me. I literally forgot to stock up before the final boss fight with 170,000 in currency left, and I was fine! I had developed a rhythm and system by that point that all I had to do was not get cocky, and I would live, and that’s exactly what I did.
In terms of summons, while I loved the variety we got with all the demons, some of them were REALLY hard to control at times. The train, the bat, the tower, they all had their moments, but I struggled with using them, and so I wasn’t going to wield them and summon them when Madama Butterfly was a much easier and fun option for damage and destruction.
Even some of the littler elements, like the “Umbran Tears,” were annoying because I could only catch the frogs. I wasn’t sure how to catch the bird and the cat, so I left them be, and I didn’t miss anything from it.
Ok…now…for the story. Strap in. I’m going full spoilers now with my Bayonetta 3 Review. Overall, the plot was in line with the past games, more or less—over-the-top, nonsensical, yadda yadda. But there were a couple of key elements that held it back and definitely hindered the experience for me by the end. Yes, that includes the ending.
Seeing the multiverse and the different Bayonettas in it was cool. But by the end, I really got tired of watching them all die. That brings me to Jeanne. While her “Metal Gear” stages were cool, they felt too scattered, considering all that was going on elsewhere. Then, she’s straight-up killed by a betrayal that everyone but them could see coming and she was just…gone. Yes, she got a brief moment with her friend at the end, but she deserved better.
Oh, and Viola being Bayonetta’s child was obvious from the moment she met the main one, I wish they did better on that, but then again, maybe it was supposed to be obvious. Not as obvious was Luka’s storyline. His transformation into the beast was cool, but then it didn’t really get explained as to WHY it was happening. Then, thanks to the “fairy version” of him…he was fine? Even for these games…that was a little abrupt. Same with the defeat of the Singularity where despite all the destruction he caused, everything was…fine? Somehow everything got reverted, and it’s not explained why.
Finally…the finale. At the end of the game, after a beautiful reference to all three titles via the “three forms” of Bayonetta coming together, our dear Umbra Witch…dies. What’s more, she dies at the hands of her own demon, and Luka joins her spirit so that they can be together in the depths of Inferno forever…wait, WHAT?!?!? Yeah, that was really jarring. Then, they did this VERY long tribute sequence…only for there to be one last boss fight with Viola… so that she could get the name “Bayonetta” and continue on her parents’ work.
…except Viola isn’t from our world. She’s from another world, so why didn’t she return to her parents? Plus, we know from the ending scene that people who died at the beginning of the game (see: Enzo’s family and New York in general) were brought back to life. Why not them? Also, recall that Jeanne, in the second game, had her spirit captured, and Bayonetta went and got her back, so why didn’t Viola do that for her parents? Rodin might have known a way to get her and Luka back.
All in all, I can see why this ending was so divisive. It felt like a cop-out way to get rid of Bayonetta from the story, and while Viola is cool, she’s no Bayonetta. Plus, the “mother/daughter” moment never really happened, and now Viola is trying to live up to the legacy of two people who technically weren’t her parents. It felt like a clunky way to say goodbye to a beloved character.
Even with those faults, I hope this Bayonetta 3 Review gives you happiness in knowing that PlatinumGames did finish this trilogy off strong. It might not end the way everyone wants, but our dear Umbra Witch got one last opportunity to shine, and she rocked it like she always does.
Bayonetta 3 Review
Bayonetta 3 is an action-packed romp filled with the insanity and sassiness you’d expect from these titles and PlatinumGames. The ending will rub many of you the wrong way, but everything up to that point is very much worth it.
- Bayonetta 3 Review