Bayonetta 2 Review
You don't wait for a climax, the climax waits for you
I hopped on the back of an angelic horse adorned in golden armor, while on top of a lightning fast jet, zooming through a crumbling New York City, while fending off hordes of pissed off angels that want nothing more than to end my life, ultimately ending with a King Kong-esque fight with giant demonic dragon on top of a skyscraper while I dodge its massive attacks with my newly sprouted wings. Oh, and this is just the prologue mission.
Bayonetta 2, like its predecessor, isn't afraid to turn things up to 11 as soon as you hit Start on the main screen, and the lowest the game ever goes is about a 9. Whether it's high action fight sequences spread around many Verses in an level, or an insanely choreographed cutscene involving Bayonetta and a masked villain duking it out on pieces of falling debris, there isn't a minute where you'll feel like the game is ever dragging you on. And again, like its prequel, it's ultra stylish, sexy and offers some of the most satisfying combat for all ranges of players, depending on how deep they want to get into it.
Bayonetta's former rival turned ally, Jeanne, ends up having her soul dragged into Inferno after a summoning of one of Bayonetta's giant beasts goes wrong. This kickstarts the game as Bayonetta is determined to head straight down into Inferno, and rescue Jeanne's soul before it's too late. If you were to ask me to recall the story of the first game, I'd have a hard time piecing it together, and chances are, it's going to be a similar case with the sequel. But you're not playing the game for the story, trust me.
The combat can be a bit deceptive, since at first glance, you seemingly only have two main buttons to worry about, with a third, less damaging ranged option. But that all changes when you come across one of the game's loading screens, which allow you to practice Bayonetta's moveset. There you'll be presented with a list of combos, all made up of combinations of those two buttons, sometimes requiring fast input, while other times a slightly delay between presses. Each of these combos make Bayonetta ballet around the screen with a flourish of downright gorgeous moves that are equally beautiful, as they are deadly. And that third button? That allows you to string combos together, and keep that combo counter going, even if enemies are just out of reach. A quick press of that button will unleash a hail of bullets, allowing you to then close the gap.
The game keeps the combat extremely fresh as you move from chapter to chapter, by constantly rewarding you with new weapons. These weapons, to further increase variety, can be equipped to either her hands or her feet. That means you can wield the razor sharp Rakshasa swords in your hands, while the flame or ice throwing Undine guns are strapped to your legs. Playing around with various combinations also yields wildly different combos, so you can imagine the moveset is absolutely staggering.
Witch Time, Bayonetta's take bullet time to allow the player to deal extra damage while the enemies are slowed down to a crawl, is back and once again, an absolute necessity. Not only does it increase your survivability, but it also allows you to string combos together a lot easier. Enemies have a glow animation that always signifies an impending attack, which gives you a chance to dodge. Of course, enemies have vastly different animations and speeds, so you'll always need to learn each of their attack patterns, to know the precise moment to dodge. That goes double for bosses.
Bosses steal the show as they're not only the most challenging aspect of the game, they're also the most visually impressive. You'll go from taking down massive angelic flying serpents, to hulking knights with giant swords and even infernal beasts. While you won't (thankfully) have to use any problem solving to take down these bosses, they will require expert use of Witch Time to minimize damage. Each boss fight also ends with climactic summoning of one of Bayonetta's menagerie of infernal demons, which include Madama Butterfly, an infernal Hydra or the chimera-like Labolas.
Even when Bayonetta isn't kicking ass and taking names, exploration is still wildly entertaining. Thanks to an ability that allows her to change into various animals, Bayonetta can dash using the panther form, swim through the water as a sea serpent and double jump/glide with the use of butterfly wings sprouted from her back. To complement this extended range of exploration techniques, are various collectibles, like crows which unlock new stamps for Miiverse, hidden chests containing various items or crafting components and hidden Muspelheim gates.
These gates house various challenges that will put your combat abilities to the test. Sometimes you'll have to defeat all enemies in a single combo, kill all enemies without taking a single hit, or even use witch time to be able to do damage. These can be pretty tough, but you're able to repeat these ad nauseam, until you get it right. However, the genius behind these challenges is that they actually force you to change up your playstyle, and thus teach you advanced techniques that you otherwise wouldn't use. It's as much a learning tool, as it is a challenge.
New to Bayonetta 2 is an online co-op mode called Tag Climax. Here you and a partner can take on six challenges comprised of those you've unlocked by playing through the story. You can also bet Halos (currency) to add a multiplier to your reward, but also raising the difficulty. If you thought one Bayonetta on screen was a thing of beauty, wait until you've seen two. Other characters become available as you progress through Story mode however, and since Tag Climax uses the same currency pool from the main game, it's a good way to quickly earn Halos to buy Bayonetta some sweet upgrades in Rodin's shop. Tag Climax smartly allows a player to bring along a bot, just in case you don't have a buddy on, and don't necessarily want to connect with strangers. It's genius as it doesn't lock out that mode for anyone.
Even well after the game, I'm blown away by the fact that it plays at a consistent 60fps, no matter the crazy action that takes place around Bayonetta. The same goes for the included original Bayonetta, which is well worth revisiting as a refresher course. Those who have yet to ever play a Bayonetta game are certainly going to experience the definitive version of the original here.
I do have to mention the Nintendo specific costumes you unlock as you earn enough Halos, since they not only change Bayonetta's appearance, but they also add some secondary gameplay mechanics. For instance, wearing Samus' armor allows Bayonetta to shoot a charged shot and change into a morph ball. While dressed up as Princess Peach, you'll summon giant Bowser arms as combat finishers. And probably one of the coolest easter eggs, which was slightly spoiled a few weeks ago, wearing Fox McCloud's outfit allows you to play the on-rail shooting sections in an R-Wing. Amazing.
Bayonetta 2 is like a drug. It makes you feel good from the minute you ingest it, to the final minutes of its conclusion. Its vibrant colors will put you in a trance as your character dances across the screen with a flourish of extravagant attacks. It's easily a system seller, as it stands as the best game on the Wii U. And since it's bundled with the first game, you'll get the full Bayonetta experience on a single console in glorious 60 frames per second. Seriously though, are you buying a Wii U yet?