The Bayonetta franchise is one I admittedly got into simply because Nintendo had gotten it as an exclusive on their consoles. I got the two-pack for the second title and have been a fan ever since. As I noted in my Bayonetta 3 Review, the series had gotten bigger and crazier with each entry, and yet, an ending seemed to have been reached. But then, less than two months after the third title came out, a new origins title was revealed titled “Cereza and the Lost Demon.” It would be different visually, would be different gameplay-wise, and would tell the tale of Cereza before she was a true witch. As my Bayonetta Origins Review will now tell you…it’s a fun, albeit short, origin story for a beloved character.
Game Name: Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon Platform(s): Switch (reviewed) Publisher(s): Nintendo Developer(s): Platinum Games Release Date: March 17th, 2023
The first thing that needs to be noted here is that Platinum Games went full-tilt with the fairy tale theme, and it works to their advantage. From the moment you enter this world, you get a very picture book-style fairy tale complete with page-turning, a narrator dictating what’s happening in and out of cutscenes, and even story beats that play like a fairy tale would. Sure, that does mean you can predict some things that will happen, but there are several twists that you won’t see coming, or won’t see exactly how they’ll play out.
On the “fairy tale look” note, the game is gorgeous. They lean into the stylized visuals, and it creates both stunning areas and creative use of colors. Such as with below:
They created an expansive world based on the concepts of fairies, and they wove stories into each area. Such as a circus that used to be for entertainment to all fairies and then became a ruinous place where a sole circus master performs for his amusement. Or an area that is home to a mighty fairie dragon that devours all who come into his domain. There’s much going on in Avalon Forest, and you’ll want to explore it all.
To that end, not unlike the mainline titles, you’ll have plenty of things to seek out and collect along your journey, such as the journal entries that flesh out the world and tease various story beats and how key characters connect to one another. There are also the Wisps that you meet. Wisps are the “remains” of humans who die in the forest, and they’re trying to live their lives free from fairie oppression. The more you find, the more rewards you get.
I did a “story run” of the game, so I only achieved about 76% completion. But for those who want to get everything? You’ll have lots to collect and find.
Now let’s focus on the “stars of the show.” Cereza and “Cheshire.” Easily one of the shining elements of the game is how they portray the two both individually and together. For Cereza, she’s not the Umbra Witch who struts when she walks, teases everyone as if she’s invincible, and isn’t afraid to shoot first and ask questions later. This is a young girl who is trying to get stronger so that she can save her mother. Throughout the journey, we see Cereza struggle to find the confidence and strength to do what she wants or is needed. That’s where Cheshire comes in. He’s actually a failed summon who inhabits her Cheshire cat doll so that it won’t die.
Naturally, he’s very aggressive and only wants to go back to Inferno, so his “relationship” with Cereza is anything but fun at first.
They are the definition of an “odd couple,” and the game plays that tune perfectly throughout the story. They’re very antagonistic at first. They butt heads all the time. But, eventually, as all friends do, they start to build up trust. By the time Cheshire selflessly aids Cereza, it’s earned, and you can’t help but feel happy for the two as you know they’re finally united against the various threats they face.
And by the end of the game, Cereza gets to a point where she starts to act a little like her older self, complete with a “Let’s Dance!” line and even starting to look like her form in the original game. The voice actress for Cereza does well to convene her young heart and emotions, and it’s fun getting to see her grow up before our very eyes.
To that end, they did a good job of making the Faeries feel like a unique and powerful threat. Unlike the Angels, Demons, and Bioorganic threats of the first three games, it’s illusions that the Faeries love to use the most. You’re constantly thrown into their “illusion areas” and must fight various Faeries to get out and set the world to how it was. Furthermore, they often use elemental properties to shield themselves or use special attacks. That makes it, so you have to be on your toes, which is appropriate given the new battle system.
Unlike in the original trilogy, Bayonetta Origins has you controlling Cereza and Chesire at the same time through boy Joy-Cons. I’ll admit, it’s tricky at times to make it work. But once you get a flow going, it can be easy to make things happen. Plus, you’ll have plenty of practice as you fight faeries all over the place. Additionally, you have skill trees for the two that you can use to get new attacks, enhance current abilities, and more. It was clever to make Cereza the “trapper” of the duo and Cheshire the “muscle,” as that makes a whole new dynamic to work with. And it does work most of the time.
It honestly feels like It Takes Two, which is appropriate given the puzzle aspects of the title. In the overworld and some of the illusion areas, you’ll need to have Cereza and Cheshire work together to traverse areas they couldn’t on their own, such as Cheshire being able to cross places with Rosemary. Or Cereza not being able to move platforms, but Cheshire can through the elemental cores that you gain over time. The team gets clever with some of the puzzles, and it’s fun to see everything fall into place so you can keep going.
Before I get to the negative elements, I must say that the ending sequences and boss fights for the title are incredible. They not only pull off numerous twists, but they deliver key story beats that will make longtime fans of the franchise very happy.
Alright, we’ve now come to the point in my Bayonetta Origins Review where I discuss the negatives. Thankfully, they’re outweighed by the good, but we still need to mention them.
First, the length. I got this game on Saturday while at a Comic-Con (thanks, Keith!) and then couldn’t play it Sunday, and had variable lengths of playtime on Monday-Thursday. So all told, I don’t even think I spent 10 hours in the main story before finishing. Again, I had completed about 76% of things by the time I was done. But there’s no denying it’s a short game to get through. There is post-game content, and you can do a completionist run, but some will be disappointed by how short it is.
Another thing that helped with that time frame is the ease with which you can get through the game. Cereza can brew potions to help regain health, but outside of one fight before the endgame, I don’t think I really used them that often. I didn’t use many of the potions that they offered because it wasn’t that hard to defeat the faeries in terms of difficulty. That being said…
…it did get difficult at times due to the control scheme. While the Joy-Con method is unique, it can be very easy to forget how you’re controlling them. Multiple times I accidentally wasted a potion because I pressed a button on Cereza’s controller versus Cheshire’s. Furthermore, if they’re not aligned on your screen with their controllers, you can accidentally send them in a direction you don’t want them to go, and that can make things hairy in combat. I was able to work around it, but it was frustrating at points.
Extending that notion, the perspective in which you see things in the world and in battle can sometimes screw with how you personally see things and want to interact with them. Sometimes I couldn’t tell where to go or what to do due to how things were angled. In certain battles, I could’ve sworn that Cheshire’s attacks would hit an enemy, but they didn’t because the angle was “off.” That even happened in the final boss fight, which was rather frustrating.
But easily, the biggest flaw was the repetition of things. I mentioned the fairy illusion worlds you did things in earlier. While they do feel like a reference to Breath of the Wild (complete with heart containers you collect over time) they can get very tedious when it’s more about fighting than puzzle-solving. Moreover, they all end the same way, with you doing a sequence with Cereza and Chesire to break out of things. It was fun the first time…but the 15th time? Not so much. Certain techniques that Cereza has to use to “enchant” certain items also get repetitive because they take so long to do. You can even have her do it automatically, and it’ll still take forever.
Again, it was balanced out by the good things, but at key points, I was hoping not to have to do some of those illusion worlds again…only to be put into one not long after.
But as my own story for this Bayonetta Origins Review comes to its final chapter, allow me to make clear that the game is fun. Longtime fans will enjoy the new look and take on the game, and new players might want to get the main trilogy (which is all on Switch!) after seeing the beginnings of Cereza’s adventures. No one knows what’ll happen with this series next, but even if this is the last entry…at least we got a happy ending this time.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is available on Nintendo Switch.
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Bayonetta Origins Review
While it does have flaws, and totally looks/plays differently from the original trilogy, Bayonetta Origins shines as a worthy prequel to our favorite Umbra Witch. You’ll root for Cereza throughout her journey, and be thrilled when you see her come into her own.