Very few games have the energy of Bayonetta 2. It’s a non-stop barrage of style, color and flair. Most games would be utterly exhausted by its enthusiasm.
Bayonetta 2’s greatest strength is its intuitive gameplay. Bayonetta is crafted from the same mold as the likes of Kratos and Dante, but the end result is a far more polished and smooth work than its contemporaries. Every combo, every move, is tight and precise. It controls like a dream.
The story is less focused, and to be honest I barely understand a lick of what’s going on. Bayonetta fights angels and demons (both of which are after her soul) and must save her friend Jeane once she is dragged to hell, and (in true video game fashion) Bayonetta must eventually save the world.
The plot can feel a bit cluttered, and with all the ridiculous goings-on around Bayonetta, it gets even more lost. But the personalities involved are memorable. Bayonetta is a more fleshed-out character than her design (and strategically-placed camera angles) might suggest. Sarcastic but genuinely caring, Bayonetta’s personality makes her sexiness seem only complimentary. The supporting characters – from streetwise amnesiac Loki to the foulmouthed, bumbling Enzo – are a little more tropish, but no less colorful.
But enough of the narrative. Bayonetta is first and foremost an action game, and as stated, that’s where it shines quite brightly. The aforementioned combat is a constantly-expanding affair. By collecting Halos (more than a little nod to Sonic the Hedgehog’s rings) Bayonetta can buy new moves and more weapons (which can be assigned to her hands, legs, or both), all of which give a great sense of “easy to learn, difficult to master.”
It’s all glued together through “Witch Mode,” a kind of slow-mo state that’s activated by dodging enemy attacks, and gives the player a primed opportunity to unleash Bayonetta’s best combos. And the ‘climax attacks’ are button-mashing at its most fun, and create a Mortal Kombat like combination of violence and utter ridiculousness.
This gameplay is made all the more its own for its sense of style. Appropriately enough for a game that stars a character as extravagant as Bayonetta, just about every moment of the game is an explosion of style and humor, and filled with some of the most bizarre enemy designs in gaming.
One minute Bayonetta is flying through a hurricane in the sky, then she’s sent 500 years in the past piloting her own mecha. It’s outlandish, over-the-top and campy, but its swimming in imagination, and makes its predecessor look mundane.
There’s a new co-operative mode, called ‘tag climax,’ which now means the chaotic fun of Bayonetta can be enjoyed in multiplayer. This is a score attack action game that already demands replayability, but with multiplayer added to the mix that’s doubly true.
Some may cry foul at the oversexualization of the game, and I certainly found myself rolling my eyes more than a few times. But again, I find the camera easier to blame than Bayonetta herself. It’s all a bit tongue-in-cheek, so its probably not worth getting too worked up over.
As an added treat provided by the game’s Wii U exclusivity, you can now unlock costumes, moves and weapons based on Mario, Zelda, Metroid and Starfox. The cute Nintendo aesthetics make for an entertaining juxtaposition, but the fact that they give the gameplay even more variety is the real treat.
In short, Bayonetta 2 is a game that plays like a dream. Its sense of control is up there with Nintendo’s own properties, and its so full of personality and style that there’s never a dull moment. It might be a little too chaotic or challenging for some, and the clunky narrative and forced sex appeal may be off-putting to others. But in terms of sheer gameplay, it’s as beautiful as Bayonetta herself.