I go out of my way in a personal pursuit for cerebral games. I love story. I love games that are different. I love games that are challenging. As someone who has been playing video games for over twenty years, the tried-and-true often cannot scratch the itch. Despite my desire to find the next cool/absurd/innovative indie title, there are moments where I want to fall back into something that makes me feel like a kid again, the sort of game that taps into the well of enjoyment that was first dominated by Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
A Nonstop Climax of Fun
Bayonetta 2 is that game. Released back in 2014, the sequel to the successful and stylish Bayonetta was a Nintendo exclusive on the Wii U, another PlatinumGames romp where a seven foot tall witch named Bayonetta punches, kicks and slashes her way through bloody hordes of angels and demons. Bayonetta has oozed style since its release in 2009, both as a sexy lightning rod of a character and as a tight and well-designed action game. PlatinumGames are masters of these sorts of vibrantly flamboyant hack-and-slash titles, giving us such masterpieces as NieR: Automata and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Bayonetta has always felt like a sort of spiritual leveling up of Devil May Cry, and Bayonetta 2 continued that by launching the series into the stratosphere.
Despite being trapped on the Wii U for years like a witch frozen in time, both Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 recently re-released on the Nintendo Switch. I had only played the game once back in 2014, and finally got my hands on a copy of the Nintendo Switch version of the second title. As a huge fan who had played Bayonetta to death, it was a personal frustration that I’d somehow only allowed myself a single play of its sequel.
When I finally remedied that, I was blown away.
Bayonetta 2 is fun. Not fun as in a nice little time waster on a rainy afternoon, but fun as in a legitimate blast of a game, a pure joy of action combat and stylized nonsense that comes together in a cohesive and adrenaline fueled good time. While not improving too much upon the first game’s incredible design, Bayonetta 2 doesn’t attempt to fix what isn’t broken and instead simply levels up the character and her flashy combat. It’s a game that knows exactly what it is from the second it begins to the second it ends, and my biggest criticism of the entire experience is that it’s just too damn short.
Having a Good ol’ Witch Time
Similar to the first title, Bayonetta 2 is a game (mostly) about killing as many angels as possible in as spectacular a way as possible. Armed with a wide variety of weapons, combos and abilities, Bayonetta can dispatch foes with ease while also relying on Witch Time and Wicked Weaves, two different ways to manipulate the space around her and engage in brutal combat. Bayonetta 2 is at its most satisfying when it does exactly what it aims to do, which is to let the player kick, punch, flip and dance their way through fountains of gilded gore.
Bayonetta 2 leveled up on its predecessor by including new weapons, combos, and gameplay elements. Did you ever want to pilot a giant mech that runs on witch magic or fly toward the gates of heaven while dispatching airplane-sized angelic dragons? Bayonetta 2 has it. Every set piece, every boss fight is so meticulously designed into joyous absurdism that it’s impossible to play this game without a smile plastered to your face the entire time. The soundtrack is beautiful, varied, and wild. Its art is an aesthetically pleasing swathe of neon-Catholic design peppered through with demonic, Norse-inspired architecture and level layout. Even the segments that are thoroughly divorced of the game’s tried-and-true combat regime are a blast to play because they never drop the intense forward momentum of the game’s ascension toward its final moments. Bayonetta 2 is a thrill ride.
Video games like Bayonetta 2 are a mental reset. They’re a way to dive into something that is so purely itself that it feels as though you’ve transcended a personal and egotistical boundary. Bayonetta 2 was designed as an action game, to be a fun romp filled with flamboyant characters and terrifying monsters. Its combat is satisfying and addictive, and every second of its run time feels as though it were personally crafted to make the player happy. There’s a part of myself that wishes he could erase the part of his brain that contains Bayonetta 2 to play it fresh again, because during those few hours of slapstick combat I was completely immune to the woes of my real life.
If you’ve been holding out on playing Bayonetta or Bayonetta 2, or it has simply been too long since you’ve enjoyed an adventure with Bayonetta and Jeanne, do yourself a favor and let the games pull you in. They’re a damn good time.
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