Believe it or not, it’s been nearly five whole years since the wickedly stylish witch Bayonetta revealed the fact her action combat series would become a trilogy, and it’s been almost eight years since Bayonetta 2 released on Wii U. That original reveal trailer showed so little and left us with so many questions. Would this be Bayonetta's final adventure? Will we play as her exclusively throughout the game? This was all we had to chew on for so long and our minds couldn't rest.
Bayo stans were starting to get worried as years passed on with little updates from the developers Platinum Games, who’ve kept themselves busy with the likes of the stellar Astral Chain, divisive Star Fox Zero, and the phenomenal NieR: Automata, which is coming to Switch soon. Then, around this same time last year, Nintendo pulled the trigger and gave us our first look at genuine gameplay of Bayonetta 3 on Switch and that’s when faith was restored.
Yes, Bayonetta 3 is now a fully functioning, real-life Nintendo Switch game that you’ll be able to play for yourself next month, but we had the pleasure of going hands-on with it recently. While we didn’t play enough to form much of an opinion just yet, we can at least say the flashy, striking spectacle the series is known for seems to be intact and well, with massive battles, a slew of combat options, and plenty of carnage.
While the past two entries largely take place in a fictional world that lightly mimics our own, our session with Bayonetta 3 tasked the Umbra Witch with eviscerating a slew of demons inside a moving train in real-world city of Tokyo. Here we tested out Bayonetta’s hand-to-hand — or, more often than not, foot-to-face — combat, but within a few short moments, a massive creature appears at the back of the train, hurling the car up into the air and into a towering office building.
Now, in any other game, this scene would have ended with a Game Over screen, but in true Platinum Games fashion, this just gave reason for Bayo to summon her massive demon pal Gomorrah to break out of the train before it crashes and ride him down a perfectly placed path of buildings like a kid on their brand new Razor scooter.
While this section was very much on the rails like something akin to Panzer Dragoon or Star Fox, much like similar segments in the previous entries, you’re given some freedom to move around, jump out of the way of falling buildings, and smash up any innocent train cars that get in your way. You’re then chucked onto the helipad of a building for a quick fight with another kaiju, then back on the rails, surfing across the ocean with the help of some conveniently placed motorboat shoes (no joke), then using another collapsed building as a ramp for a sick jump straight into the demon that’s been hunting you down.
All of this happens in a mere matter of minutes, with the camera effortlessly following you through it all as if this were some big-budget blockbuster. After Bayonetta throws a few jabs and snappy lines at the relentless demon who's been chasing her, it makes a quick escape and leaves her in the center of Shibuya, with the infamous 101 looming overhead. Here the game spits out a few medium-sized demons to play around with the combat and see some of the new techniques Bayo’s been working on these past few years.
She’s got a pair of signature pistols (which now come equipped with three barrels, because Bayonetta 3, obvs) to go through her repertoire of wickedly demonic punches and kicks, and just as before she can use her fancy Witch Time technique which slows down time and pull off a perfect dodge and she can utilize her demon companions (The Infernal Demons) in a massive way. In past games, Bayo was able to summon her Infernals for memorable finishing moves, but now she’s able to request their aid in the field and control them in combat. Slashing away at your enemies with the draconic Gomorrah or spin-kicking them into oblivion with Madama Butterfly is incredibly satisfying and leaves us curious to see how this mechanic will grow with the game over time. Bayonetta 3 starts at 11 and dares you to think it can't take things further.
While the action and visuals could be best compared to a 3D theme park ride, we do have some worries about the graphical compromises. Over five years on from launch, the limitations of the Switch hardware are becoming more and more apparent. Games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Pokemon Legends: Arceus, and now Bayonetta 3 look fantastic in places but they all have their hiccups here and there.
There were moments in our demo where we could really see a beautiful work of art hiding underneath a sometimes low-resolution image due to the dynamic scaling employed to maintain a frame rate which struggles at times. Bayonetta 3 is a game that would benefit in many ways if it were playable on stronger hardware and it’s just a shame that such a slick series has to be constrained in this way.
Regardless of our visual gripes, we’re pleased to know Bayonetta 3 won't live forever as just another Nintendo Direct bingo card slot. The Umbra witch is back, finally, and seemingly packing more demons and more mayhem than before. We can’t wait to sink our teeth into this potentially action-packed thrill ride as soon as we get another chance.
Where does your anticipation lie for this next entry in the Bayonetta series? Have you been waiting patiently all these years or are you looking to start off with the series here? Let us know down below and check out your pre-order options here.