Posted by: Paul | November 9, 2010

Bayonetta

Continuing the occasional series where I play a videogame which has been out for almost a year and then talk about it way after the fact, at the moment I’m playing Bayonetta.

Bayonetta is, by far, the dumbest game I’ve ever played in my life. It lives up to all those stereotypes held by people who pillory the medium – ridiculously over-voluptuous and objectified female lead, lashings of ultraviolence, no story to speak of, and what narrative there is has an execrable script and the hammy, over the top acting it deserves. And yet both Edge and Famitsu, two of serious gaming’s touchstones, gave it perfect scores.

I’m not even going to bother with the usual precis of the story. Suffice to say, Bayonetta is some kind of immortal witch, suddenly returning to consciousness after centuries, and having the requisite bout of amnesia for these situations she sets out to find her missing memories and blah blah blah, kicking a whole load of Angel butt on the way. You see, in perhaps the only interesting twist on the usual formula (apart from the fact that she wears sexy glasses), she’s fighting for hell against the forces of heaven. Oh, wait, didn’t God Of War already cover that one?

So why the plaudits and the perfect scores? At first it’s hard to figure it out. You really do wonder what all the fuss is about. But you give yourself just that ‘one more go’ to find out, as how could they all be wrong? And then another. And another. Suddenly, two hours later, you’re throwing down the pad in frustration at having just missed that jump which would have given you the fourth piece of Broken Witch Heart, or mistiming a dodge which robbed you of a Pure Platinum medal for one section, or running out of time in that Alfheim portal AGAIN.

You see, Bayonetta is one of those games. One for the obsessives. The completists. Those who delight in perfect scores, and there’s enough content here dangled as carrots to make sure you keep coming back to try for them again. You simply have to have that alternate weapon configuration, grab that glowing crow, find that last piece of Moon Pearl which will grant another special attack. You have to see everything, do everything, obtain everything. Forget about the story – Bayonetta is pure game. One of the deepest, most satisfying expressions of the medium I’ve played in a long time.

Its secret is the combat system. It’s bewilderingly deep, and yet for the novice player produces spectacular results with very little investment of time – at first, it’s as accessible for button mashers like myself as it is the more considered player. And it aims to turn you from the first into the second – with almost the entire move set available from the off, it rewards experimentation and mixing things up in spades.

It’s almost a guilty pleasure. Something I can only play on my own, as if anyone else walked in, their reaction might be ‘what on EARTH are you playing?’ and then I’d be stuck having to explain, and how to do that? Bayonetta’s appeal almost defies explanation – you simply have to experience it for yourself.

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Responses

  1. I really enjoyed the plot of Bayonetta. I thought the cutscenes were brilliant and could not wait for the next one. Some of the scenes are funny with the pink orb that Jeanne has appearing in a delicate area as her clothes change and I sit there thinking, yep a boys game. Adds an amusing eliment to the game. But none the less it is a very artistic game that was visually pleasing and with a plot I really enjoyed. If looking at it intensely one could say it is not doing feminism any favours but as a game working on over emphasing stereotypes I still found it enjoyable. Everything is sexualised but in a tongue in cheek style. Some of the way it works/plays reminds me of Darksiders like the buying of products and attack styles as well as the saving icon appearing in a similiar style.


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