After years of waiting, Bayonetta 3 is here. It's a markedly different game than its predecessors, choosing to bring character-action games in a new direction rather than being happy with the established formula. It's something the series dearly needed after Bayonetta 2 played it so safe.
The game has plenty of its own issues, but nothing that takes away from it being an incredible sequel. Nothing is perfect, of course, and even Bayonetta 3 has some things that, if improved, could truly ascend it to being one of the best of its genre.
Spoiler Warning: Some entries talk about aspects of the story or gameplay that don't feature until later, so be forewarned.
6/6 A Steady 60fps
Platinum has a pretty trademark aspect of its design in games. Almost all are unanimously well-received (sorry, Babylon's Fall) for their fast-paced action combat, but also usually come with the caveat of poor performance in some way. Whether it be dated visuals, locked 30fps, or more frequently, a jaggedly inconsistent 60fps.
Unfortunately, Bayonetta 3 is no exception. It's a game that keeps its framerate high often enough, but both many early sections and later areas can drag the frame rate down considerably – a grievous sin for a stylish action game like this. No doubt achieving a locked 60fps is a struggle on the aging Switch, but it would have been ideal for a game like this.
5/6 Giving Jeanne And Viola More Outfits
The designs of Bayonetta have always been great, from the characters to the enemies. Those witchy looks and degrading angels are a trademark of the series. But the highlight has always been Bayonetta and Jeanne and their great number of optional costumes to try on too for a bit of extra flair.
In Bayonetta 3, this customization goes even deeper for Bayonetta herself, as she is able to change the color of all of her outfits, glasses, and hair with color bullets. For Viola though, this only comes in different t-shirts, with different colors being bought separately. Even worse, Jeanne has no other outfits despite other multiverse's Jeannes running around and her Cutie J outfit both being present in the game. That bit of extra customization would have gone a long way.
4/6 A Better Story
It would be a lie to say the Bayonetta games have ever had exceptional stories. Yes, sometimes they are a bit too convoluted for their own good, but on the flip side, they're surprisingly good at more subtle elements, such as the meaning behind Bayonetta's guns playing into her personality, or why exactly she's so in love with lollipops.
Bayonetta 3 though suffers pretty heavily from the story just not being what it could have been. For the most part, it takes a backseat, letting you enjoy the individual story of each multiverse while slowly progressing the main story. The Singularity as a villain suffers though from being established and resolved incredibly quickly without much understanding of their actual intent, and everything involving Bayonetta by the end feels a step too far out of her character to be taken seriously.
3/6 More Unique Gameplay For Viola
From the very first game, Platinum nailed Bayonetta and her combat. There were incremental changes in the sequel, of course, but nothing dramatic. From the dual weapons to the enemy design and level design, it was all achieved exactly as planned. Bayonetta 3 introduced plenty to shift the formula, including the new playable character, Viola.
Bayonetta has had different playable characters before with Jeanne and Rosa, though they were more stat adjustments of Bayonetta than anything else. Viola has her own demon and weapon, but just not much time to show it off. On top of that, Bayonetta is constantly getting new weapons and demons, leaving Viola's unique aspects of blocking and fighting alongside her demon Cheshire feeling like very small additions in comparison to the wealth of content assigned to Bayonetta.
2/6 Jeanne Not Having Arm And Foot Slots
Bayonetta was in need of a big shift after its last two entries being so similar, and games like Devil May Cry 5 being so unabashedly a celebration of the past while introducing new elements. Rather interestingly, they chose to remove one of Bayonetta's more unique aspects of having separate foot and arm weapon slots. In their place were weapon sets that had deeper movesets, but less customization.
It's a controversial choice, though one that's hard to argue seeing how proudly they take advantage of it. Of course, much like in previous games, you can unlock Jeanne as a playable character after the ending. She functions identically to previous games in that she plays the same as Bayonetta, but deals and receives more damage. Though it would have been an incredibly difficult thing to implement, it would have been a great treat if Jeanne actually played as she did in previous games, with a handful of older weapons like she had in her side missions.
1/6 Even More Bayonettas
Despite wanting new players to have not needed to play the previous games, with gameplay and a story that stands on its own, Bayonetta 3 is undeniably meant to be a celebration of the series and its heroine. The opening and ending pay plenty of homage to the history of the series, but having an entire multiverse of Bayonettas to witness is one of the game's greatest aspects.
The only issue is that every different multiverse's Bayonetta was actually shown off in trailers, and then added to promotional artwork as well. It became pretty hard to miss them before the game was even released. It doesn't take the joy away from meeting and playing alongside them, though there's no denying that even more of them that players had no way of seeing in advance would have been an incredible reward.
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