Bayonetta 3 has finally made its much anticipated arrival onto Nintendo Switch. Announced all the way back in 2017 and then went radio silent until it resurfaced in 2021. Fans of the series have been waiting a long time for the newest entry in this acclaimed action series to release. The game released October 28th 2022 exclusively for Nintendo Switch.
The story starts off with a mysterious new villain effortlessly taking Bayonetta down while a new character Viola watches on before getting whisked away into a different universe. Once in this new universe, Viola meets up with that universes Bayonetta, the games “main” Bayonetta, and explains that Singularity, a new villain, is trying to destroy other universes to take over the multiverse and make their own universe the “Alphaverse”. What follows is Bayonetta and Viola heading to many different universes, each with their own different Bayonetta, in order to stop Singularity.
The story goes at a fast pace which can be a blessing and a curse for the game. It doesn’t outstay its welcome but also never lingers in one area before moving onto the next set of multiverse shenanigans which is a shame since I wish we saw more of some of the alternate Bayonettas. Viola, the games other protagonist is also an interesting character that is likable throughout along with her demon companion Cheshire. Overall, while the story can be confusing at times particularly towards the end where a lot of the big plot revelations happen, it grew on me over its 14 chapter runtime.
Much like the first two games, Bayonetta 3 is a fast paced action game focused on stylish combos and smooth feeling combat. The combat here feels incredibly good with Bayonetta being able to string together flashy combos with a variety of different weapons throughout the game including Bayonettas trademark funs along with weapons based on the games different demons like quick yo-yos and a slow but powerful chainsaw. The game also adds a few new features not present in the other two games in the form of Demon Masquerade and Demon Slave. Demon Masquerade lets you fuse with a demon depending on your equipped weapon for better movement and combat capabilities while Demon Slave lets you take direct control of the Demons themselves to dish out some devastating attacks to your enemies.
These new additions help keep the combat fresh and I personally think it’s the best the series has ever been. The scoring system for combat encounters return from the other games in the series which rates you on your combos, speed to clear the encounters and damage taken. The game then gives you a total medal for the encounter depending on these three factors which adds a new level of depth for all the perfectionists out there trying to get a perfect score. Each chapter also has bewitchments: optional objectives that add some replayablity to the chapters after you’ve played through them.
Some missions put you in the shoes of newcomer Viola who plays a lot differently to Bayonetta. She is limited to one weapon, a katana, and one demon being her demonic cat, Cheshire. While the katana and Cheshire are definitely fun to use, particularly with the additional moves upgrades provide, the main difference in terms of actual playstyle is in how Viola triggers witch time. She parries attacks with her katana as opposed to dodging like Bayonetta does. While a small change in the grand scheme of things, I found it constantly throwing my timing off and messing with the overall flow of combat which made swapping between Bayonetta and Viola a big adjustment between chapters. However, Viola is only played in a few chapters and while those chapters can throw you off your game a little, they definitely aren’t an issue overall.
The game also features a few side chapters which put you in the shoes of Jeanne in what feels like a 2D homage to Metal Gear Solid that tasks you with sneaking through a research facility either avoiding enemies or stealthily taking them down. While short, only lasting 5 minutes or so, these chapters are a lot of fun and break up the game nicely. Overall, I think the gameplay is the best the series has ever been and is a joy to play, having one of the best combat systems I’ve seen in the genre with deep and satisfying combat that really makes you want to replay the levels aiming for that elusive pure platinum medal.
The games visuals are a definite step up from the first two games with bigger and more detailed environments that really push the switch to its limits. However this can occasionally cause frame drops when the action is particularly chaotic but this didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the game. The multiverse hopping plot of the game allows for much more variety in locations this time around, with chapters set in a variety of places such as the Great Wall of China or in the deserts of Egypt. While I’m a big fan of the settings of the first two games, having more variety in locations helps keep the game feel fresh with larger areas to explore.
However, I can’t say the same about the new enemy designs. The new enemies, the Homunculi, have designs that for the most part pale in comparison to the excellent designs of the Angels and Demons found in the first two entries of the series. While these enemies are still in the game they are mostly relegated to optional side encounters. That’s not to say all of the new designs are bad however, as a few of the boss designs look great however I was disappointed by the new designs overall. Aside from great combat, the series is also known for its fantastic set pieces and this game is no different. The set pieces feel huge in scale, particularly in the games main boss fights which can be a real spectacle.
The soundtrack of the game is exceptional with fantastic vocal themes that are almost guaranteed to get stuck in your head as you play through the game. Bosses also have fantastic themes and all of these themes complement the games fast paced action well with their upbeat styles. Controversies aside, I think the voice acting of the game was fantastic with the dialogue capturing characters personalities very well and once you get used to her new voice, Bayonettas voice acting is still great and perfectly encapsulates her personality. Overall, despite some disappointing enemy design, the presentation of the game is fantastic and is effortlessly stylish in both the visual department and in its sound.
Overall, Bayonetta 3 is arguably the best game in the series. The series trademark stylish gameplay is complemented well by great presentation and a fun story. Despite a few minor flaws such as the enemy design and it taking some time to Violas gameplay I can confidently call this game a must play for fans of action games and some of the most fun I’ve had with gaming as a whole this year.
An absolute must play for fans of the action genre with exceptional combat complemented by a fantastic soundtrack.