If you happened to find the secret chapter in last year’s superlative Bayonetta 3, you’ll already have been treated to a surprise glimpse of the art style and general atmosphere found in Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon.
That secret area was, as it turned out, a short playable demo, one we assumed pointed to some incoming DLC for the main game before this T-rated spin-off was officially announced. With a family-friendly rating and whimsical storybook art style combined, we had initially guessed that this one was going to be a rather throwaway affair, a breezy prologue aimed at a younger audience that filled in some backstory and not much else.
However, having spent a good chunk of time blasting through the game’s first five chapters, we’re happy report that this is in no way a throwaway effort. What we’ve got here is an elegant and enchanting fairy-tale adventure that deftly combines puzzles, platforming and combat, making for a Bayonetta prologue that we’ve found ourselves really quite addicted to.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon kicks off with baby Bayo being born, the forbidden child of a Lumen Sage and an Umbran Witch. As punishment for their outlawed love affair, Cereza’s parents are both exiled, with her father sent off to a faraway land and her mother locked up tight in a prison deep underground.
We first catch up with our young heroine as she spends her time training under the guidance of Morgana, a kindly witch who has also been exiled from the Umbran community, and we take control of Cereza as she wanders through a short dream sequence. During the course of this dream she’s visited by a young boy who tells her she must visit Avalon Forest and follow the trail of a mysterious white wolf if she's to be granted the powers required to save her dear old mummy.
From here, you're introduced to some early gameplay mechanics by performing some simple chores for Morgana. You’ll get to fetch a pail of water and then use a few spells, Witch Pulse to manipulate plants into growing and Thorn Bind to capture and hold a slippery customer who tries to escape your clutches. After a failed attempt to summon an Infernal Demon, Morgana chastises Cereza which leads to the young girl thinking back on her dream and making the decision to wander off in the middle of the night into Avalon Forest, AKA the Forbidden Forest, clutching her cuddly toy, Cheshire, as she goes.
Of course, it’s not long before Cereza is in big trouble and, surrounded by enemies, she attempts to summon an infernal demon once more, this time managing to mess up in such a way that the demon now inhabits Cheshire's stuffed toy body. Upon attempting to attack Cereza, the demon finds it's prevented by some unseen force and, furthermore, it needs to stick close to the young witch in order to keep up its energy and magic abilities. And so an uneasy alliance is formed. Cereza promises to help the demon get back to Inferno and it agrees to help her find the white wolf.
After a fairly slow start, things kick into gear nicely once we get to grips with controlling Cereza and her demon pal. Each character is assigned to a Joy-Con thumbstick and can wander off in their own direction within a limited space. This mechanic is then employed to fun effect with a series of simple platforming puzzles that teach you the ins and outs of gameplay. Cheshire can attack barriers and enemies with huge swipes of his powerful claws, whilst Cereza can use Witch Pulse and Thorn Bind to create platforms and tie up foes so that Cheshire can get in and finish them off without taking damage.
The game gives you a few battles to get used to all of this before introducing Cheshire’s two modes of traversal, Unleashed and Hug. Unleashed mode is where you control the demon as a separate entity, moving around areas and attacking barriers and foes, whilst Hug mode sees Cheshire shrink down to cuddly toy form and travel in Cereza’s arms where he can be thrown up onto ledges or extended in order to make jumps, dash and gather collectibles from nearby bushes and undergrowth. Hug mode also serves to replenish Cheshire’s health/magic gauge, so you’ll find you need to balance both Hug and Unleashed modes during more heated battles.
And, surprisingly, there are actually some more heated battles. They may not be anything near the level of the scraps you’ll be used to from mainline Bayonetta, but the combat here throws enough different enemy types at you that you’ll at least need to plan who you target next in order to bypass encounters without taking some knocks. Just five chapters in there’s already a fairly impressive roster of baddies here, too, mischievous forest faeries whose names are pulled directly from Celtic tradition and mythology – there is a big Celtic connection here. There’s even a lad called Amadan, which we’re almost sure means idiot in Gaelic. So, hard luck to that wee guy on the name front.
With shielded foes who need to have their cover whipped away, to burrowing enemies who Cheshire will need to ground stomp in order to reveal, rocket-shooting faeries whose shots can be deflected back into their faces and a host of bigger minibosses to engage, there’s certainly plenty to think about here. Both Cereza and Cheshire have got the skills to pay the bills too, with two separate skill tress full of dodges, double binds, finishing moves, and charged blows to unlock using Avalon Drops and Onyx Roses that you’ll accumulate through battles and exploration.
Indeed, as the adventure unfolds here, we’ve been impressed with just how many mechanics there are to get to grips with. We fully expected this one to keep things very, very simple – and there are a ton of accessibility options for those who do wish to automate certain aspects of combat – but what we’ve found is a game that dishes out lots of fun variations on its core skills at a rate that keeps you interested to see what comes next. Cereza can eventually tie up multiple foes and even kill smaller enemies on her own — something she’ll need to do during periods when the pair temporarily split up — whilst Cheshire can take different elemental forms to batter baddies and unlock various paths forward.
As the story unfolds, our two heroes learn that they must destroy four elemental cores in order to attain the power that Cereza requires to rescue her mummy, and each of these cores, once destroyed, imbues Cheshire with a new elemental form and a bunch of skills. So far we’ve unlocked a wood and stone form for the big guy, and these allow him to latch on to enemy shields to rip them from your foes, pull bridges down during platforming sequences, smash boulders out of the way, dish out damage to enemies cocooned in elemental forcefields and more besides.
All of this stuff adds a satisfying amount of variety to both the combat and the fun exploration here, and Avalon Forest really does feel like a place worth exploring. The painterly art style and wonderful, Celtic-inspired soundtrack make for a hugely atmospheric adventure, and the forest itself is absolutely alive with animals, strange noises, and all manner of flora and fauna. There's a little bit of Nier Automata in how the camera shifts dynamically to frame the action at all times, too, with lots of wonderful depth-of-field effects that give the sense that this forbidden forest really is completely enveloping our protagonists. This is a gorgeous-looking game, make no mistake, and we’ve had zero performance issues in either handheld or docked modes so far.
Adding to combat encounters and exploration that always reward you with a treasure chest or some ingredients that Cereza can use to concoct potions, blast bombs, and energizing tonics, you’ve also got Tir Na Nogs to deal with. Tir Na Nog's (Land of the Youth in Irish) sections see you locked into mischievous faerie manipulations of reality that you’ll need to break free from in order to continue your adventure. These mini-dungeons consist of a battle and some platforming or puzzling that sees you face off against a bunch of faeries or even a miniboss before swiping some loot from a big old treasure chest and destroying the spell that’s been cast on the surrounding area.
Beat a Tir Na Nog and your in-game map will fill up with the locations of nearby collectibles; treasure chests, journal pages, and extra powerful sparklies that gain you access to some of the more powerful moves in your skill tree. These mini-dungeons can also be replayed once you’ve beaten them by simply selecting them from the menu at one of the game’s sanctuary rest spots, where you can dive back in, in either normal or time trial mode, in order to earn more goodies.
There's a decent level of Metroidvania-esque action to the various areas you'll move through in Bayonetta Origins and, as you push forward through the story, you'll sometimes find yourself winding back on yourself and turning up in areas you've visited before, now armed with new skills to open up paths that were blocked to you beforehand. It's rewarding stuff that's made all the more engrossing by the level of care and detail that's been put into every aspect of the world-building and atmosphere here.
For the purposes of this preview, we can't share anything beyond the fifth chapter but, as we left our protagonists at that point in the game, we'd already had a great a big boss battle with a huge faerie in a twisted circus tent and made friends with forest wisps who we've agreed to rescue as we find them in return for rewards. We'd also used our powers to outrun trains, clamber up towers full of beasties, and blast open a series of increasingly fiendish Tir Na Nogs in order to reveal all manner of goodies on our in-game map.
So far, then, we're thoroughly enjoying how this one is panning out in terms of its mix of gameplay styles, and there's lots still to discover as we push forward to see how this delightful prologue eventually connects (or not) to the main series of Bayonetta games. Look out for our full review before this one finally releases on St. Patrick's Day. Told you the Celtic connections were strong!
Looking forward to Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon when it releases on 17th March? Let us know in the comments.
Really want to give it a try, but the price is steep for a spin-off. Strangely expensive for a very different game from the mainline titles, but at the same time, the price could indicate that this is a larger and deeper game than one would expect.
At this point, I have to wait for the reviews on wether to pay full price or wait for a sale.
Can you elaborate a little more in the combat? Is it still a Hack N Slash/Button Mashing thing or they are changing things?
If you press ZR like crazy to attack and right stick to move Cheshire, then they're definetily took inspiration for the most underrated game Nintendo ever published, the amazing Astral Chain.
Looks good but the price is the same as bayonetta 3, which I think is too much for this game. I want to say I'll wait for the discount but nintendo rarely discounted their game, I'm still waiting for that bayonetta 2 switch discount lol.
This game looks incredible beautiful. Such a good serie is this.
I don't understand why people think as this is a spin off it's therefore somekind of indie budget game worth a only few quid. The game looks alot better and has more aspiration than a few Nintendo published games sold at the same price.
@wiiware Why is it not worth $60? What possible justification do you have?
Not sure why, but the demo didn't click with me. This preview is sounding positive though. I guess I'll wait for reviews and/or a sale later down the line.
It's one of my most anticipated games of March along with Resident Evil 4 & Fatal Frame Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. Day 1 purchase for all 3.
We're getting TWO brand new Switch-exclusive Bayonetta games in less than 5 months and people still find a reason to complain.
Was already looking forward to it, even more so after reading this article, this game looks gorgeous and seems like a lot of fun!
Like other comments here I still don't get why people think this shouldn't be priced like every other new game when it's clearly that and no, it being a spin-off doesn't matter in the slightest.
I feel this game should've been 40 bucks.
Maybe people have an issue with a graphic style different from the Bayonetta games?
@jump We sadly live a culture where people think if they can't get 100 hours of a title it's not worth any money. That explains the state of bland open world games with repetitive task to keep you zombified to the screen.
It definitely seems to warrant its price from what I've played so far. There's lots to get stuck into. As I said in the preview, the style and tone of it had me thinking it would be quite throwaway, but it's actually got plenty going on...so far.
I'll get it based on reviews. Im a die-hard Bayo fan, but this is a completely new genre & experience all together. But I am interested & i do like the art style. Getting Okami vibes so far.
@TimeGuy Why does anyone need to justify what it seems worth to them? We all have our budget, and your 60 euro's might be of different value to you than mine to me. Or we may have a different approach on getting a deal, a trade agreement... We may have different standards, income, budgetary priorities,... Nothing sad about that as said in another comment, nobody OWES it to ANYBODY to buy their product at the demanded price. We could really use some haggling skills in this society, and less of the idea that "our economy" is more sacred than the people who struggle to get by. The idea that profit does not come at another one's loss. "Fair trade" literally can't involve profit/loss, let alone taxes, the profit of a party completely uninvolved in the transaction in the first place yet still demanding its cut, but that is another story. And value is what the buyer and seller either agree on or don't, in the latter case leading to no transaction. Simple.
I do have faith that to those who think a Bayonetta game is worth 60, this one might eventually seem of equal value. I'm a fan of the series, so I'll be keeping an eye on them reaching my price for it.
To me, no game is worth 60, as 60 to me means A LOT of food for me and the dogs, and when NOT spent on a single videogame, enough to spend on 20 other videogames, or another 60 to save for buying more nature land in the future, as I have bought multiple forests in multiple countries to live in with my pack of dogs, while living on a tight budget.
I recently got multiple games on a "secret" US eshop sale all at below 1 dollar or even below HALF a dollar, that I got hours of fun out of so far and haven't touched the most of it yet. So, what is value, and how do you define it, let alone "justify"? That's up to the individual to define, and nobody needs justification. No agreement, no transaction, move on.
Fairly excited for this one.
As you were.
I may check this out only because the art and aesthetics, I wont play games like devil may cry or Bayonetta because i hate the ugly art style and UI that feels 20 plus years out of date, not to mention the cheesy characters that feel like they were created in the late 90s
I hope Jeanne shows up, as her relationship with Bayonetta is the best part of the series for me.
The art looks like a trip. Dig it.
@wiiware I don't get this stance. If it's a great game with lots to offer, price shouldn't really matter (within reason).
Pretty surprised that nobody is mentioning Okami Den, there are some definitive similarities between the two titles, and both are Platinum which is not a coincidence.
Preordered it after the past direct. Love the art style !!
@MythTgr I'm pretty sure it's the opposite. I'm guessing it's like violas demon summoning play style without the punching. From what I've gathered Cheshire is the only one that attacks and bayo just supplies some magical support. This is more of an adventure game than an action game like Bayonetta.
Great preview here. This game's visuals are so good, day 1 buy for sure.
For $60? Just no.
I didn't mind it's different direction, I don't mind a prequel or spinoff if it's worth it and I'm interested in this game I don't play of these types but still interested.
But I think it lacked a bit at least in the demo in Bayo 3. I'm all for an origin/something different from them I'm fine with companies experimenting (Bayo 3 experimenting was good in some areas I like the 2D sections, I didn't mind the multiple characters even if Viola took a while to get used to her difference of special moves, the skill tree eh I don't care for skill trees ever so pass) but that DMC playing as if instead of just V it's all characters have summons it sucks, playing catch up turned me off 3 the other stuff was great.
If they have to with an existing IP experiment if others don't do well so be it even if I prefer when its different IPs but sometimes it has to be done.
But I found parts of it a bit odd to do some basic things and while the story may be engaging (hopefully even if I'm a gameplay person but if I can enjoy visual novels I can an adventure game and like Song of the Deep or Pentiment more small scale games from big companies I'm fine with that for sure), the interactions/combat I found a bit awkward to pull off and could be hit and miss like QTEs can be kind of way. I eventually got a feel for it but I don't know yet how I feel about it it's odd and works but hmmm.
It's playable but I don't know what to think of it. The art is nice. The different direction is nice and I'm all for this more adventure focused game but I just don't know what to think.
For the price no way am I paying that much. Not because oh it's a spin-off or it looks Indie like hardly do I care about that or see it as that I see it as a big company making something different and that's it.
I'll gladly buy a spin-off or something different in a series if it does appeal to me and this game does but I do think for how different it is and if the gameplay is worth it then sure but if it's short while length isn't a factor to me I think it could be an awkward detail for sure. At least if it's too one note which I hope not. I don't know if they want this to appeal to fans, newcomers (more likely) or kids/teens and adults that are a fan of different art styles and game ideas (aka like you have your adults that are platformer fans and will play them because they are fun and the ides/art is appealing and a genre we can get behind even if family friendly approachable).
Looks so pretty! I really want this game, but I hope the mechanics aren't too super complicated; I have never played the normal Bayonetta games because I prefer simpler combat and those games just intimidate me. I love storybook games with action or platforming components though. I have one of those $50 dollar vouchers left; very tempted to use it on this game.
Just recently played the first Bayonetta for the first time. I enjoyed it but sucked at the combat. I had to change it to easy to ease my frustration. I might pick up the sequels at a discount some day, and actually look forward to the story of this game.
I’m not a Bayonetta in the slightest, but this might be one entry that I can be on board with.😄
Can't wait to see the reviews!
@TimeGuy Bayonetta 3 is a full 3D AAA games like god of war, while this game looks a bit like mobile games. Some games just aren't worth $60, for me at least.
@braincandy101 Well if it's a great 10/10 game sure, but if it's not better than bayonetta 3, a full $60 AAA game, why I want to pay $60 if it's not as good.
This isn't a problem for 3rd party games since they're usually on sales after a couple of month, but nintendo games rately on sales.
Oh well, not a problem for me since physical switch games is cheaper in here (zelda totk preorder is about $55 here), so I'm sure this game will be cheaper than bayonetta 3 in my country.
Update: bayonetta origin only cost about $42 in my country, so I think I'll buy it if the reviews is good 😃
@Shambo @wiiware For me it's not a matter of if you don't want to or can't get the game at 60 dollars/euros etc., I'm the first one that preorders physical games not only because I want to get them at launch, but also because I buy them on sale from a trusty retailer and usually buy digital ones with great discounts thanks to Deku Deals...
What I don't get is why developers and publishers should sell out what so far seems to be a great if not even better (in the sense of Nintendo Life's scoring) completely new game just because it's a spin-off like @jump said, it's not 100 hours long like @Vexx234 said or other similarly ridiculous reasons (look at what happened to Sparks of Hope because of Ubisoft's discounts).
@JohnnyMind I understand both ways of reasoning, or at least I think I do. I think this just looks like, say, GTA Chinatown Wars next to GTA 4 or 5. I remember buying Chinatown Wars day one (it was 40 euro's I think, which back then I easily spent on a single game, though it was "cheap" because of the platform and the style and lower development cost I assume, but I prefer it to 4 and 5), because handhelds and Nintendo and topdown GTA are three things I appreciate in videogames, but GTA 4 & 5 I got very late and cheap. Not because I didn't believe they were good, but because I don't like home consoles as much, it wasn't on my main home console even, and I knew they would end up in piles on the used market towhich I had easy access working in a gamestore back then. Kind of like Sparks of Hope as you said, those who know what Ubisoft does, know it will be half price in less then a year, even cheaper with all dlc if you wait a little longer. If that's how they do business, and I have patience and other financial priorities, I am no longer the person who will get it early for a steelbook or something, even though I love Switch steelbooks (this game is getting one as well, with preorders at certain retailers). A new game or look needs to win over the crowd, like Persona needed to do with the SMT fans, and Persona Q needed to do with both Persona and Etrian Odyssey fans. I remember being the only one I knew NOT disliking Windwaker over its new art direction, because I had no N64 before, hadn't seen that early tech demo, and love cartoons and know that that style ages way better. If someone thought the art style was a good reason to only want to pay 10 euro's, or the series it's part of makes it worth 80 euro's, neither is wrong, it's their reasoning for their purchase at the pricethey value it (or no purchase). If I'm thirsty in the desert, or sitting in a bar with friends and would prefer to go home, a glass of fresh orange juice would have a completely different value for completely different reasons, neither are wrong or ridiculous. In one of the two cases I would pour it down to be done with it and know I got ripped off at 3 euro's, in the other it would be the best thing that ever happened to me and I would pay with a kidney if that's the asking price.
@Shambo The gist of my discourse is that one thing is buying a game at a lower price because that's how much you feel it's worth it for you and in that sense I couldn't agree more, another is saying that a game should cost less from the start just because of any personal opinion since I feel that's disrespectful of all the work done by the people involved in its creation, distribution etc.
This game is just dripping with style. The art direction is on point. I haven't seen many video games that showcase this level and depth of understanding of color theory. The artists have been to class and it shows.
@JohnnyMind Here as well, I think we mostly agree, but Ican also see how someone who isn't convinced by the product on offer but does have some interest in it, might just as well feel disrespected by the asking price because they feel it has less value and they are seen as less intelligent or easily fooled and exploited. Not saying it is the case here, but there have been cases where I felt that way - when another remaster of The Last of Us was released at inflated price, or a new Need For Speed game costs 80 € at launch for example. I have no interest in the NFS game, no opinion on how good or bad it was because I never played it and am not even interested in a PS5, I'm not personally taking offense in that price, as it is not aimed at me, let alone personally, but I did feel like one must be really easily fooled to pay that much for it, and the entire marketing team must know very well they are abusing those willing to pay that much. But are they WRONG doing it if it works? Maybe not. But not right either, and not ethical and honest, I would argue. But as I said before, the market in its entirety is unethicaland unfair, and not durable. Profit, loss, and definitely tax have no place in truly fair trade. The first two can be argued, as it IS possible for both parties in a transaction to "win". Tax is always parasitic theft.
@Shambo Of course there are cases where the price of games is actually inflated, but here we're talking about a completely new Nintendo game with the standard price for that kind of product so I just can't see why the developers and publishers should undersell their work from the start.
Hopefully down the line there will be discounts to potentially appeal to those who don't want to or can't spend that much, getting at least closer to a "fair trade" between most if not all customers and the producers.
@JohnnyMind I'll need to see the final product to judge its value for myself, and my standards are always far below 60 for any game, but in this discussion, we have an agreement. Nice to see that the internet hasn't completely disabled humans to agree or understand different perspectives
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