It’s wild to think about how Bayonetta 3 was first announced all the way back in 2017 at The Game Awards and now, nearly five years after that initial announcement, it is finally making its way into fans' eager hands. With so much hype built up around the game over the years, there are those who may have concerns in regards to whether Bayonetta 3 holds up to previous entries in the series, and whether the game was worth the wait as a whole. I’m excited to share that not only is Bayonetta 3 the best entry in the series by far, but that yes, it was indeed worth the wait, and then some.
Saving the Alphaverse
Bayonetta 3 opens with the immediate shocker of seeing the version of Bayonetta we’ve come to know and love in the first and second games bested and shattered to pieces by a mysterious, shadowy foe. Through the metaphorical shattering of Bayonetta as we know her, we get the pleasure of being introduced to different versions of her that exist throughout the game’s expansive Multiverse.
“Within the Trinity of Realities the World of Chaos is actually made up of countless universes, all stacked together,” Rodin explains in the game’s first chapter.
With this setup, you play as the original Alphaverse Bayonetta along with other Bayonetta variants, with each having something unique to offer to help keep combat feeling fresh. Not only do you get to play as different versions of Bayonetta, you also get to dabble with returning characters like Jeanne who gets her own special side chapters, and new characters like Viola and her Alice in Wonderland-inspired demon companion, Cheshire.
It’s through Viola that Bayonetta is given information about the dire state of the Multiverse, the hidden Island of Thule that acts as a hub while jumping between worlds, and the cataclysmic threat of destruction that the Alphaverse faces at the hands of Singularity.
To help save the world from being wiped out, you’ll join Bayonetta and Viola on an epic quest to collect five Chaos Gears. These hold the key to being able to effectively fight Singularity, a fearsome enemy that has already destroyed numerous worlds and versions of Bayonetta herself.
You’ll also join characters like Jeanne in her aforementioned side chapters as she works to track down the scientist Dr. Sigurd who, according to Viola, is the only one who actually knows how to use the Chaos Gears against Singularity.
As Bayonetta travels between worlds collecting Chaos Gears, she’ll recruit added support in the form of Demon Slaves which are massive Kaiju-like monsters that Bayonetta is able to control both in and out of battle. She’ll also explore more of her own powers, with impressive versions of Bayonetta herself included in some of the game’s big demon versus demon battles.
Writing and dialogue in the story boasts a nice Marvel-style blend of dark and dire moments, while also delivering plentiful amounts of lightheartedness and fun to help keep things feeling balanced. The story reminded me a lot of Marvel’s own expansive Multiverse with the game’s Singularity villain likewise aiming to destroy it “in a snap” like Thanos.
Bayonetta 3 also gave me shades of Devil May Cry 5 in how it furthers the series and builds upon themes introduced in past games, and the way in which you get to play different characters outside of Bayonetta like Viola (who feels a lot like the Nero to Bayonetta’s Dante). Things like Rodin’s shop as well which reminds me of Nico's Van, and is accessible through a magic phonograph that appears at various points throughout the game’s chapters to help you stock up on items before your next big battle.
Voice acting for the game’s characters is stellar with a fantastic performance delivered by Jennifer Hale as the voice of Bayonetta. Given that you’re playing as different versions of Bayonetta including Alphaverse Bayonetta, having a different voice actress from the previous two games doesn’t feel as odd or out of place as it could have otherwise. Some of the game’s dialogue comes off as cheesier than in past games, but never to the point of it being cringeworthy.
The only nitpick I had with the game’s dialogue is how often the same lines are repeated, such as when you press down on the left thumbstick to get a reminder of the direction Bayonetta is supposed to head in. Each time you do this, Bayonetta delivers the same line of, “Looks like it’s time for me to get moving again.”
Hearing this over and over again is something that's unavoidable, especially given how knowing which direction you’re supposed to go in not only guides you forward, but can also help you distinguish separate side paths and other explorable areas in search of secrets and collectibles.
Other mild annoyances include the song Moonlight Serenade being played in the background during almost every battle that Bayonetta engages in throughout the game. The song is not an original track for Bayonetta 3 and as such, is subject to copyright.
The game doesn’t offer any sort of “Streamer Mode” or way to isolate and mute music that’s subject to copyright. Your only option is to turn the music off as a whole. Not only will this make sharing some of your proudest battle moments a pain depending on how much you want to share and where, but it’ll undoubtedly make streaming the game a challenge as well.
As much as I love Moonlight Serenade on its own, I can’t help but wish the game used an original track for Bayonetta’s fights instead. Or, at the very least, had fewer instances where Moonlight Serenade is used.
Bigger, better battles
Bayonetta 3’s gameplay is nothing short of phenomenal whether you’re running around in search of collectibles, fighting massive foes, or replaying chapters to complete objectives called Bewitchments. Before I dig deeper into those key points, I want to touch on one of my biggest criticisms of Bayonetta 3; the game’s performance on Nintendo Switch.
I played the game on the Switch OLED both handheld and docked, and experienced some mild performance issues in both instances. Notably, some frame rate drops during bigger battles where a lot is happening on screen all at once. It felt like the Switch was struggling at times to keep up, which is a real shame.
Moving on, I’m a huge fan of PlatinumGames not only in terms of the Bayonetta series but also titles like NieR: Automata and Astral Chain. For me, Bayonetta 3 serves as one of the developer’s best titles, if not the best. The gameplay is exceptional, with Bayonetta 3 feeling consistently engaging thanks to how it continuously switches things up combat wise.
First, you have Bayonetta’s standard attacks that range from kicks to shooting at foes with her new, purple-based, Color My World guns that replace her previous Scarborough Fair and Love is Blue weapons. Complementing the larger threat that Bayonetta faces this time around, she’s also given access to the aforementioned Demon Slaves with the first, Gomorrah, introduced right at the beginning of the game.
To help balance the massive power these Demon Slaves possess, Bayonetta is only able to bring one out at a time. Additionally, she can’t keep them out in battle indefinitely as controlling them comes at the cost of magic (the same goes for Viola when using Cheshire in battle).
When Bayonetta’s magic dwindles, the demons are called back and you’ll need to return to more traditional forms of combat. Demons can also be enraged in certain situations, serving as more of a hazard to Bayonetta than a help. Landing regular hits as Bayonetta will help you build that magic back up again, and there are also items you can use at any time during battle including those that help instantly replenish Bayonetta’s health and magic.
Demon Slaves not only come in the form of Kaiju-like monsters, but also ones based on past demons such as Madama Butterfly. If you loved Lady Dimitrescu in Resident Evil Village, you’ll love seeing an extremely large version of Madama Butterfly at various points throughout the game as well.
If you find yourself getting sick of big monster fights including one reminiscent of Godzilla vs. King Kong, you’ll be able to enjoy side chapters for characters like Jeanne that completely change the way in which the game is played. Jeanne’s chapters feel like they’re from a different game entirely, and this is to Bayonetta 3’s benefit because there are few, if any moments that feel stale. It also helps you take a break from the stress of Bayonetta 3’s fast-paced, dozens of things happening on screen at once, sort of combat. Visually some battles can also be a bit straining on the eyes, and there are moments where it can be difficult to orient yourself.
If you’re looking for even more to keep you busy in Bayonetta 3 outside of its main story, chapters are all replayable. There are also plenty of items for you to collect, including customization options for Bayonetta and Viola. The different outfit designs for Bayonetta in particular are gorgeous and further complemented by the game’s Photo Mode. All in all, Bayonetta 3 is filled to the brim with varied gameplay and content that’s sure to satisfy even the pickiest of Bayonetta fans and non-fans alike.
Best of Bayonetta
Bayonetta 3 marks the triumphant return of everyone’s favorite Umbra Witch, while introducing delightful new characters, and ideas that’ll help carry the series on in the future. It might’ve taken almost five years after its initial announcement in 2017 to see an actual release, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Bayonetta 3 was worth the wait. If you love the series and want to experience more of what made the first two games great, you’ll find all that and more in Bayonetta 3.
This review is based on a digital copy for Nintendo Switch supplied by the publisher. Bayonetta 3 is available as of October 28, 2022, exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
- Expansive story full of unique locations
- Over-the-top moments and scenes
- Epic boss battles, action-packed demon combat
- Fantastic customization and outfit options
- Photo Mode, replayable chapters, optional collectibles
- Stellar voice acting, Hale does a great job as Bayonetta
- Mild performance issues, frame rate dips
- Moonlight Serenade copyright issues
- Some visual strain, can be hard to orient yourself
Morgan Shaver posted a new article, Bayonetta 3 review: Magical Multiverse
Nice https://opencritic.com/game/13466/bayonetta-3 shack is listed prominently as well
Side note but while we’re talking about 360/PS3 ports, the best console version of Portal 1 and 2 is actually on the Switch. Its crazy but even the Xbox 360 version on Xbox Series is capped to 720p 30fps while the Switch version is 1080p 60fps.
Very weird situation, almost like the Alien Isolation port. They should upgrade it!
The Digital Foundry review made me buy it: https://youtu.be/h7ZzVDahhQU
I had no intention of picking it up, I fired Portal 2 up just for yucks, then an hour flew by before I realized what happened.
What an indisputably great game. More than anything else Valve has done I think its these two that will stand the test of time.