Bayonetta is easily one of my favorite games of all time. People look at me strangely when I say that, since most only see the exterior, an overly sexualized heroine, hack and slash combat, and not much else. However, a loyal fan-base to the series as a whole received joy beyond measure this week, as Sega surprised everyone by releasing Bayonetta on Steam; something none of us ever expected. It is time for me to dive back into this wickedly awesome adventure, and see if this PC port lives up to my console experience.
First, I feel the need to recognize Sega’s genius in their marketing strategy for the PC release of Bayonetta. Not only did they release a miniature game called 8 Bit Bayonetta on Steam as an April Fool’s joke, but they hid the link for the reveal in its achievements; knowing fans would likely dive in and find what they had hidden. Then, the link provided led to a countdown, which pumped fans up for an announcement that they knew would be Bayonetta related.
For those who have not experienced Bayonetta yet. Bayonetta is a hack and slash experience that puts you in the role of Bayonetta, an Umbran Witch who has awakened in the modern age after being asleep for a thousand years. Prior to her awakening, her clan of witches, the Umbra, had been at war with the Lumen Sages. The Umbran Witches have the power to summon demons, making pacts with them to augment their power and their magic. The Lumen Sages serve the Angels, and both factions wish to eradicate the other.
It is here that I feel the need to point out something that isn’t obvious to someone who hasn’t played Bayonetta before. Yes, Bayonetta is a “sexualized heroine”. However, Platinum Games created her as a satire for the way Japan sexualized their heroines previously. Her movements are over the top, overly sexual, and yet she is a confident heroine who never needs rescuing by a male character.
One of Bayonetta’s mechanics is the Wicked Weave, in which players complete a large combo or a QTE and then unleash an attack using Bayonetta’s hair to summon a demon through to attack an enemy with a powerful hit. Combos charge the magic gauge, and if you charge it without taking damage you can utilize a brutal Torture Attack (which usually involves some sort of Dominatrix style punishment.)
Bayonetta’s PC port does have a few framerate issues, namely during cutscenes but, it’s nothing that can’t be patched out and Platinum Games (and Sega) have already made mention of upcoming patches that will resolve some of these issues. While many people might look at Bayonetta, and see an outdated game from the Playstation 3 era; I urge you to reconsider dear reader. Bayonetta is the standard that I hold every game in the Hack and Slash genre to. Combat is fluid, fair, and has plenty of variety and mechanics involved (such as Witch Time, essentially a bullet time mechanic that slows time upon a successful dodge) that it personally hits all the right notes.
Even Bayonetta’s catalogue of weaponry that you collect over the course of the game is varied and can provide a variety of combat play-styles to suit any type of player. I myself prefer the Shuraba (Katana) and Kulshedra (the Whip) as my main weapons of choice, though each weapon is effective for different situations.
Bayonetta is no easy game to complete either. The difficulty ramps up as you progress and some of the fights (even on Normal or easy mode) are downright ridiculous. However, this tends to reinforce the sense of accomplishment that comes from defeating a particularly difficult boss. Another aspect of Bayonetta that I greatly enjoy is that every enemy and boss is drastically different. I love the design of them, as they all have unique weak spots or things to exploit. Some are slower but deal more damage, while others are fast but have little health. Most enemies have a “tell” of sorts, a flash of their weapon or claws that help to let you know to dodge and go into witch time.
Bayonetta also can acquire pieces of LP’s (or golden records) that will unlock new weapons in the Gates of Hell Bar run by Rodin. The Gates of Hell is where you buy healing items, accessories (which are expensive but change how certain mechanics work) and how you unlock new weapons or health/magic upgrades. You can also find (and collect) Broken Moon Pearls (which add more nodes to your magic gauge when you complete a moon pearl) or Broken Witch Hearts (which increase your overall health once completed.)
By destroying objects in the environment, you can collect ingredients with which to create items that you can use during levels. Using items will cause you to gain less of an overall score, however, in some difficult fights you may need healing lollipops or Red Hot Shots (which revive you immediately upon death) so it is highly necessary to collect and have a steady stock of items on hand.
The music and soundtrack for Bayonetta are absolutely stellar. This may seem like blasphemy to fans of Frank Sinatra, but I enjoy the Bayonetta soundtrack’s version of “Fly Me to the Moon” far better than its original form. It is the one song that always makes me think of Bayonetta and makes me come back to play it over and over again (aside from how much I love the gameplay of course.) If you buy Bayonetta on Steam before April 25th, you will receive the Original Soundtrack Sampler, the Digital Art Book, Wallpapers and Avatars for your social media for free.
Yet again, I cannot express enough how much of a must-buy Bayonetta is for me. I own it on Playstation 3, and I am glad to own it on Steam. If you like hack and slash games such as Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, this is the perfect game for you. I hold all hack-and-slash titles to the Bayonetta standard in terms of combat, but Bayonetta is so much more than that. It has hilarious dialogue, fantastic music, and so much more that I keep coming back to it year after year.
Other than the framerate issues which are sure to be patched out I really think Bayonetta is a solid port on PC. I would dare say that the PC version is more accessible to new players as well, as it seems they have balanced the difficulty levels out more reasonably. This could be because I have played the game so many times though, I can’t quite be sure. You cannot go wrong with purchasing Bayonetta on Steam, and I encourage you to do so as soon as you can. It is 20 dollars well spent.
A Steam PC Key for Bayonetta was provided by Sega for this Review.