Bayonetta 3

released on Oct 28, 2022

You’ve waited long enough. The witch. Is. Back! A new-look Bayonetta returns to battle foes with her signature Witch Time! This time, she’ll wield her new Demon Masquerade ability to channel the power of demons and engage in larger-than-life action.


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At once oversimplifying and overcomplicating the franchise's staples, Bayonetta 3 just made me want to replay Bayonetta 1.

The Best Bayonetta Game, with a very big asterisk next to that statement
An Updated Review after a Pure Platinum Run

I already reviewed my experience with Bayonetta 3 shortly after the initial launch of the game, and I think that was the honeymoon phase. Now, we are more than three months post release and I think I wanted to do better justice to give my full detailed thoughts on this game without recency bias and know that people won't care to read it haha. So here's a very general statement to describe the game since I can already tell this will be a long ass review:
The Best Bayonetta Game, with a very big asterisk next to that statement.
Following the games release, the game was cemented with praise for the combat of Bayonetta and music, but met serious criticism for its story, and let me tell you. Those criticisms are very right. Spoilers will follow in this review.
I'll start with the story, next characters, then gameplay, presentation and music, then conclude my thoughts. Each section will have a TL;DR on my thoughts. But really, this is just a ramble for me to get my thoughts out moreso than a proper review.
THE STORY
Being completely honest, Bayonetta's stories have really been a bunch of nonsense that provide reason for the characters to do anything. Hell, Bayonetta 1 forgets the original reason the game begins like halfway through, but granted, the premise it follows instead is more interesting than what Enzo originally tells the player what they are out to do. Even then, so much logic goes out the window and is just ridiculous nonsense to allow the player to do fun things.
In Bayonetta 2, the story gets a bit more easy to follow, but I personally think it suffers from trying to juggle two different plot points that are so completely different and sidelines the main reason for Bayonetta to be doing her thing in that game, which would be to rescue Jeanne. And not to mention Bayonetta's conversation with Loki implying she's been awake for 500 years which throws a wrench in continuity and then there's the whole Bayonetta 2 creating Bayonetta 1's events. Which is just, not fun to follow.
However, I never considered these extremely goofy, albeit good character driven, plots detriments to the games, and contrary to other fans, I apply that logic to Bayonetta 3.
In Bayonetta 3, we follow the young Cereza that Bayonetta looked after in Bayonetta 1 in an alternate universe. Here, a rogue AI named Singularity has gone rogue and is seeking to homogenize the entire multiverse, killing alternate Bayonetta's for powers to do so. Singularity accomplishes this with his army of Homunculi, which are the main antagonist of Bayonetta 3. In this process, Viola, a young Umbra Witch from another universe like Bayonetta 3's, arrives after being sent out to avoid destruction and stop the Singularity. After an invasion of Homunculi against the universe of Bayonetta 3, Viola recruits Bayonetta and Jeanne to retrieve Doctor Sigurd, a scientist who knows about the multiverse, and Chaos Gears, to open the portal to the Alphaverse, home of the Singularity, and stop him. Along the way, Bayonetta will encounter differing versions of herself in alternate universes that took differing life paths, who are also stopping the Homunculi invasion.
Is this a fine set-up? Yeah, I think so. Personally, a lot of people wanted Bayonetta to follow another plot with the angels and demons being enemies, but I really do enjoy a shakeup. One of my gripes with Bayonetta 2 is that it does feel extremely like Bayonetta 1, so new directions are always appreciated.
A lot of the problem with the story only shows in the second half of the final chapter. Could I complain about Bayonetta not being as on her feet in comparison to Bayonetta 1 and Bayonetta 2, in reference to not being able to save the alternate Bayonetta's she meets along the way? That's fair, and there could have been better ways to keep these Bayonetta's alive and still allow for their weapons to be used and whatnot. However, I really don't care for the story of these games, I play to see these characters interact with the world around them and the gameplay.
What I do care about is how bad the ending is though, it is ROUGH. The idea is fine, because the story of Bayonetta 3 brings Bayonetta's subtle theme of motherhood to a logical conclusion. Viola, the young Umbra Witch, is the daughter of another universe's Bayonetta and Luka. It also gives Bayonetta the logical character growth she's been building up for. In Bayonetta 1, she is a selfish witch who fights for herself due to her not having any memories, and thus, no connection to others. But throughout the course of Bayonetta 1, she regains those, and learns to come around and care for the people around her. This theme is expanded upon in Bayonetta 2, where she cares and fights for the people she's close to, which is what I wish the game focused on more but it also had the Loki/Aesir plot which was whatever. Bayonetta 3 brings that to the next logical step, one who fights for the world, and with her now, technically, a mother, she fights for family, ending in a sacrifice to finish off a world ending threat.
But Bayonetta 3 tries to insert these themes very rapidly, and as a result, it stumbles on the ending. Jeanne is killed very anti-climatically, which, fine, I guess. When Singularity kills these alternate Bayonetta's and now Jeanne, he does have control over outcomes of reality, but it still feels a bit bad seeing how these characters get treated.
Then, Bayonetta leaves the decoy Alphaverse to fight Singularity in, admittedly, probably the best mechanical final boss fight has had which isn't really a high bar (My personal favorite is still Jubileus). However, she still cannot win by herself. In space, you see the return of the Alternate Bayonetta's and Jeanne to help her fight, but they vanish, presumably back to their universes since technically they were freed from the Singularity, but it's never elaborated on. Back on Earth for the final leg of the fight, Bayonetta and Viola struggle, and Bayonetta is on the verge of death. Enter the Bayonetta's of Bayonetta 1 and Bayonetta 2. It's a cool fanservice moment, but it does leave some questions. Were these Bayonetta's always separate? Have we never played as the same character?
I care to say, we have, but they can still be separate entities. In the lore books in-game and by the introduction sequence of the game, it's revealed Bayonetta 1, Bayonetta 2 and Bayonetta 3 Bayonetta's have all had similar stories leading up to the events of the Homunculi invasions. So, I believe there is an "OG Bayonetta", but a Bayonetta 1 and Bayonetta 2 can be plucked from the multiverse because, it's a multiverse that's endless.
Back on track, even THEN with the help of the original Bayonetta's the fight is not over, and they just peace out, again, presumably to their original worlds but it's never elaborated on [2].
Viola gets one striking blow, and Luka, who has an entire can of worms with the faeiry shit, helps Bayonetta end the fight and kill the Singularity. This however, uses all of Bayonetta's energy and basically leaves her to die, which Luka and Bayonetta share a kiss as they are dragged to Inferno. and Viola inherits the title of Bayonetta.
I always knew straight people go to Hell.
It's certainly an ending! I went from super confused to finding it disappointing to know just finding the entire situation just really fucking funny.
I think the main problem is how much is not ever completely elaborated to the player. Luka seemingly survives, based on dialogue from Rodin and the picture in the chapter select screen, but there's never context given to how the multiverse was restored, what happened to the alternate Bayonetta's and Jeanne's, or much else. There is so many questions, and it doesn't help that Kamiya insists on Bayonetta (Cereza, not new Bayonetta Viola) is alive after the events of the game. It's so weird, but even in such a laughable ending, I don't think my enjoyment is hurt by it. I cannot speak for others though, and it's completely okay for other people to write this game off based off the story alone.
TL;DR: Bayonetta plots have never mattered to me. In Bayonetta 3, where the story is a fine set-up with a not so great payoff, I still cannot find myself in any way hurt by the plot or ending, and while that may be the case for me, it's not objective and if people find their enjoyment ruined by the story, that's completely okay.
THE CHARACTERS
I'll focus on the three main playable characters separately and then the side cast. First off, the leading lady herself.
Bayonetta - Charming and witty as ever, Cereza makes her return after eight years the same as we remembered. She dances, she laughs, she's fun to follow and makes once again for one of the best protagonists in a video game. One critique I do have though, she gets a bit quiet in some sections, but that's kind of understandable. These sections being the death of alternate counterparts of characters such as Rosa, Jeanne and even four versions of herself. I would be traumatized too, but still, a bit more dialogue could have helped. But Cereza still has those campy sequences we all expect in a Bayonetta game, so I can say, for me, she's back with a homerun. Oh, I guess I am obligated to mention her new voice actor, Jennifer Hale. Hale killed the role in my opinion, and she is now my Bayonetta because Hellena Taylor is a KILLJOY.
Jeanne - The second character we take control of is surprisingly not Viola, but Bayonetta's best friend, Jeanne. The "super-serious", bitchy, but secretly a big nerd and superhero wannabe, has her own story to follow in this game. Tasked by Viola to find this universe's Doctor Sigurd, she infiltrates a secret lab stealth-spy style. And oh my god, it works so well for her character. I think this section of Bayonetta 3 made me appreciate Jeanne so much more because seeing her embrace the total geek side with "QT-J" or her bits of dialogue is so fun.
Viola - The controversial character, the young Umbra Witch and daughter of an alternate Bayonetta, is the final playable character we take control of. However, she is a stark contrast compared to Bayonetta or Jeanne. She isn't confident, she is clumsy, she makes mistakes, and is pretty goofy. And some people will find her annoying or should be removed from the game. I, disagree with that. I ended up really loving Viola, she's refreshing in a cast full of all powerful and confident figures. Her sections are also very charming in comedy, and a lot of that can be contributed to her dynamic with her demon, Cheshire. I said it in my original review, but I love Cheshire. A dumb, goofy, oversized cat that has a friendship with Viola over a pact and provides just enough to Viola's sections to be a real joy to watch him interact with Viola. I must also shoutout her voice actor, Anna Brisbin. She really brought energy to the character in a goofy and entertaining way, and did an entire trans-positive charity stream, that's based.
Side Cast: Uh, lightning round. Enzo the goat, loved the new focus on showing how much he loves his family even if it's miniscule in a game full of characters. Rodin is still badass, and the penguin getup is so cute. Luka is, uh, weaker than his appearance in Bayonetta 1, but somewhat better than Bayonetta 2. He also is Strider, the "rival" figure of this game and I genuinely have no idea how to feel about the faeiry shit he's wrapped in, I think the best word is "conflicted".
Demons: The demons really stole the show, like wow. Madama, Baal, and Phantom my goats.
TL;DR: The characters in comparison to the story are so much better.
THE GAMEPLAY
The meat and potatoes of Bayonetta, it's gameplay loop. While it deviates away from the really self-focused gameplay of Bayonetta 1, it goes crazy with scale focusing on the new central mechanic, Demon Slave.
An idea carried over from the death of Scalebound, Bayonetta 3 goes big with the introduction of your Demon's no longer being quick time finishers. This time, they are part of your arsenal. For me, this is the refresh Bayonetta's combat loop needed. Each demon is fun to control and have different properties that allow for new approaches to combat. My personal favorites being the Umbran Clock Tower, Rodin, Phantasmaraneae, Alraune, Labolas and Madama Butterfly.
For core combat, it also got a refresh. In previous games, Bayonetta equipped different weapons to her hands and feet. I liked this system a lot, but in Bayonetta 3, you now just one to a set, and bam, it has a full moveset at the ready. The weapons in this game are the most creative ideas they have had yet, and up there in some of the best in any game.
Colour My World is the best guns Bayonetta has had all series. Ignis Araneae Yo-Yo's are fluid, fast, and probably have my favorite combos in the game to pull off. Abracadabra is a unique weapon in the series focusing on creating space with a magic staff, and I love magician shit so this appeals to my dumb brain. Other highlights include the god damn Dead End Express, Tartarus, and Cruel Altea. Also, returning weapons such as Rodin and Alruna are treats. Even the weapons I find just alright or haven't completely mastered are cool too, especially G-Pillar and Simoon, very awesome concepts.
Also new in this game is the replacement of the Wicked Weaves and Beast Within form systems with Demon Masquerade. Each Demon you can control with Demon Slave is tied to a weapon. For example, Colour My World is tied to Madama Butterfly, and when finishing a combo or traversing, Bayonetta fuses with Madama Butterfly to obtain a new form. I really like this mechanic over the Wicked Weave system, it allows for more unique animations and variety with each weapon, truly fleshing them out. Best reason for this is Dead End Express Demon Masquerade letting you just become a train, that's TRUE camp.
All of that I just talked about only applies to Bayonetta, or Jeanne in alternate missions. Viola and Jeanne in their main missions work differently.
Viola still has that core gameplay but is limited to one weapon and one demon which she cannot control, which is the already mentioned Cheshire. At launch, Viola was fine but really needed fine tuning. Her combos are fun but it’s her Witch Time that is different fucked with players. She has to block with the right shoulder button to activate Witch Time and not dodge. And that block was unreliable to say the least. However, recently Bayonetta 3 got a patch and Viola has gotten a lot of small changes that make her so much more fun to play. So, while I do believe Viola is inferior in gameplay variety to Bayonetta, she still has a very solid loop focused on raw power that is still fun to play with in her chapters. Wonder if I should use her against Rodin.
Jeanne's Side Chapters are different from the main core combat loop. She goes full spy in a 2D Action Side Scroller, and while her fighting mechanics are a tad clunky, I find those sections a nice breather from the main combat. They are never long enough that they overstay their welcome, and they highlight the geek side of Jeanne so well. These missions also bring the canon appearance of "QT-J" to life and it's glorious. Think Mario's Super Star but just, way cooler. And we DIDN'T get Jeanne as an echo in Smash Ultimate. For shame, Sakurai.
One last main part of combat I'll mention is another shakeup. In each universe, Bayonetta will fight against a main boss in the last chapter of said universe. For this, she'll summon one of her demons and with a heart ritual, unleash their full powe with Sin Demon forms. I think I like these because each is a very neat spectacle. Madama just taking a bubble bath in the clouds is so in character for her sassiness. The Phantom summon is probably the best and well-made boss section of the four mechanically. Sin Gommorrah is a cool homage to old school kaiju fights that really bring the scale of the game to a whole new level. But truly, the most camp and beautiful Sin Demon summon is Baal. Baal becomes the siren Baal Zebul and brings an entire fucking opera concert to Paris. It's just, beautiful, and unbelievably incredible how much it fits Bayonetta and nothing else.
In terms of Pure Platinum, some of the Nifilhem missions are a bit lackluster. A couple are rather frustrating, like the train puzzles. The Sin Demon fights were pretty easy for Pure Platinum, EXCEPT, for my favorite one, Baal Zebul. When I say Baal Zebul Pure Platinum might be the single hardest thing, I've done for a video game except for maybe fighting Malenia or Orphan of Kos for the first time, I would say that with a straight face. It took 10 whole hours to finally have the minigame embedded in my brain to truly ace it. I hated it but at the same time the song is SO good so 10/10.
Core combat in terms of Pure Platinum is also very good, allows for so much experimentation.
TL;DR: Core combat is at its best in Bayonetta 3 bar none. Some mechanics for Pure Platinum can be frustrating but my experience was very rewarding and I have no regrets or second guesses about it.
THE PRESENTATION AND MUSIC
Music first, because so much love. The Beginning of the End is immaculate, and beautifully sets the stakes of the Records of Time. I cannot get enough of that song. There is also the Battle Themes, and they did not fuck around with these. I desperately wished for Moonlight Serenade to get a Climax Remix for Bayonetta 3, and I got my wish. My favorite Moon song the series has done, and I couldn't have asked for a better remix. Al Fine is also good, but I think I vastly prefer it listening to it in game, rather than on its own, which is really weird, same problem with Bayonetta 2's Tomorrow is Mine. Viola's Battle Theme, GH()ST, is so 2000's punk, and Yours Truly nailed capturing the punk aesthetic of Viola it's insane. However, the best song Bayonetta 3 has made is the end credits song, We Are As One. A 7 Minute epic, full of emotion and paying respect to Bayonetta in the best of ways. I cried listening to it in the credits in my first playthrough, it's gorgeous. Bayonetta 3 has also made some fantastic remixes and other new tracks, so I'll list a few here: Fertile Rondo, The Infinite One, All Singularity Themes but love Chaos, Aureole Assault, Sovereigns of Souls, The Gates of Hell Remixes, It Might As Well Be Routine, Get to the Climax, Red Moon, Sneaking Mission, Threat of the Invader, Night Shadows Dancing, Battle for the Umbran Throne Remix, and of course, Let's Dance Boys Remix.
If I had to point out the weakest point of Bayonetta 3, it's the presentation. To compensate for aging hardware and new developing technologies, and trying to maintain a stable framerate, cuts were made to the graphics. Character Models look really good, but some of the environments can be rather dull, especially Tokyo. Thankfully, the other environments are much better but still, they aren't as full of detail as they could be. Performance is also pretty inconsistent, I've noticed some frame drops but even then my main experience is still enjoyable.
TL;DR: Music is top tier as always for Bayonetta, but some technical aspects weigh the game down.
CONCLUSION
I'll keep my conclusion short. Bayonetta 3 is my favorite Bayonetta game, but as a franchise I really do love the games equally. I understand this game is a divisive title, and I just happen to fall on the side of loving this game past its flaws. But I can objectively realize, it is not a 10, moreso an 8.5. But dammit, in the time I've played this game, it's been a joyride I cannot get enough out of from this series, and for the long wait, it has been worth it for me. Bayonetta 3 makes missteps but embraces the parts of the series that truly makes Bayonetta, Bayonetta.

The core combat gameplay is okay and Bayo herself is charming. Everything else kinda sucks.

This review contains spoilers

Paris is really the only part of this game I would ever want to replay. The more time that goes on since I played the more I sour on it. Ignoring the story which is trash. The enemy design is boring, the demon slave system isn't as good as Astral Chain and the levels outside of Paris aren't very good. Also while there are rival fights there isn't a rival character and I love a good rival.