If you are looking for a solid action title, you won’t go wrong with Bayonetta, especially if you are looking for a challenge.  Bayonetta quickly establishes what kind of game it is with tongue-in-cheek humor and over-the-top action.  The fights are spectacular to look at, and have solid mechanics to back it up. 

Bayonetta is a port originally released on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but brings it’s own uniqueness. Four costumes for Bayonetta are released from the get-go: Peach, Daisy, Samus, and Link; each have their own quarks that are more for aesthetics than changing up the gameplay.  The Wii U gamepad also becomes more than a second screen.  Bayonetta can run, jump, and fight using precise taps and dashes with the stylus.  While the controls are fun to use for a bit, the game becomes too fast paced to put them to any real use.

There is story in Bayonetta, but it takes a handful of chapters before we discover what is happening.  Most of the time, Bayonetta is content to simply beat the tar out of any unlucky angels she comes across.  Strangely, because of Bayonetta’s disinterest in the events around her, I didn’t mind the lack of plot.  However, when major events began to unravel, and the game’s tone became serious, I was unable to make the shift as well.  Luckily, this dramatic tone only lasts a short time before we are back to what Bayonetta does best.  Extra story elements can be found from tomes found throughout chapters, which is good for those who want to soak up the world, but is not required reading for those who want to get right to the action.

Bayonetta features a plethora of cut-scenes, and while they are fun to watch, the fight scenes can make you feel left out of the excitement.  The humor and dialogue is fairly solid, but Bayonetta has this nasty habit of beating you over the head with innuendos.  I understand the type of humor Bayonetta is going for, but sometimes I found myself thinking, “Alright, I get it.”

I hope you can get a hold of the fight mechanics quickly, because the game ramps up the difficulty after only the second chapter. It won’t take you long to realize that the voice on the continue screen is screaming, “The shadows remain cast!”  Precise dodging will be key to surviving Bayonetta.  Each dodge will add a jewel to your counter; a filled counter allows Bayonetta to use a Torture Attack, a flashy move that will either take a huge chunk out of an enemy’s health, if not kill them outright.  Aside from bosses, torture attacks are effective on every enemy, so it is good to use them strategically.  To raise the stakes further, taking a hit costs you not only health, but a jewel, so a few instances of bad timing can really leave you hurting.   

Bayonetta’s attacks are powerful, and giant chunks of health bars will fly away like confetti. Not even big bosses are safe from the onslaught, so no need to get intimidated by five bars of health. On the other hand, that attack power goes both ways, and Bayonetta will be face down in the dirt in a matter of seconds if you’re not careful.  Though, even if you are careful, a combination of bad dodging and a good-old-fashioned ganging-up on can send Bayonetta to an untimely meet-up with Rodin.  Thankfully, checkpoints are somewhat merciful.  Only a few times will you be asked to replay a section that you spent the past twenty or so minutes trying to complete.

Giant boss battles are exciting and bombastic, and you’ll really need to pay attention to your surroundings in order to survive for more than a few moments.  Roads and bridges crumble,  and buildings become nothing more than projectiles for allies and baddies alike.  The camera does a great job of keeping the action on Bayonetta, so you’ll never lose track of her amongst the lasers, missiles, fireballs, and debris zooming around the battleground.  A few of these bosses have chapters all to themselves, which messes with the game’s pacing, especially near the end, where bosses take up the majority of the third act.

Just in case you are sick of all of those brawls, Bayonetta peppers in a few “driving” sections, the most notable being riding atop a missile that Star Fox fans will get a kick out of.  These sections are more for fun than any kind of challenge, as well as a refreshing change after the onslaught of enemy encounters.

Combat scenarios come in sections, giving you a good chance to catch your breath.  What you will also quickly realize is that untimely deaths wreak havoc with your chapter score.  It doesn’t matter how many platinums you received in your fights; too many deaths will be greeted with a stone statue of Enzo proclaiming, “What a dame!”  While this is no big deal if you simply want to beat the game, completionists may be a bit put off.  Aside from the aforementioned completionist issue, failed QTE’s are more of a small annoyance, since failures result in a replay of only that scene.

If you need some extra help getting through the game, you can visit Rodin’s “Gates of Hell” throughout levels and between chapters.  For the price of a few thousand halos, Bayonetta can increase her health, jewel count, buy new attacks, weapons, and costumes.  Most of the items are fairly affordable, so you won’t need to constantly replay levels to grind out the proper funds.

Bayonetta is a game that revels in it’s zaniness.  Nearly every fight is over-the-top, and a joy to watch.  A few QTE’s and unforgiving fights slow the experience down a bit, but it’s a small price to pay for a quality title.  Pretty much from the get-go, Bayonetta is a tough title, so you’ll need to work quickly to get ahold of the fight mechanics.  But, if you are willing to stick out the steep difficulty curve, the Bayonetta offers up hours of fun.