Bayonetta 2 Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Platinum Games

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: February 16th 2018

Price as of Article: $49.99 USD, £39.99 GBP

Introduction

God bless Platinum Games. The studio well known for their high quality action titles were a shining star throughout the Wii U’s ailing support. Sure, the support was funded by Nintendo rather than their own will, but they really did add a huge feather to the Wii U’s cap. Their biggest contribution was of course Bayonetta 2, which upon announcement sent shockwaves around the industry. It was supposed to be the game to get the hardcore gamers to pounce on the Wii U console. While it was a commendable effort, it didn’t exactly persuade the masses to jump on board Nintendo’s ailing console. Many just didn’t think that one classic hardcore action game was enough to justify a purchase and so, even though it managed to sell over a million copies it didn’t quite reach the masses it deserved. Bayonetta 2 deserves to be played by everyone. By the time the Switch came out and the Wii U ports followed suit, it was a sure bet that Bayonetta 2 would reach Nintendo’s new console and here it is.

Story

The story pretty much carries on right from where the original game left off, a few months afterwards. While doing her Christmas shopping, Bayonetta is interrupted by a group of attacking angels. In the skirmish involving both fighter jets and trains, her friend Jeanne’s soul is captured by a demon and sent into the depths of hell. Unable to just let her friend’s soul be completely absorbed, Bayonetta and her unfortunate sidekick Enzo head to Fimbulventr where the Gates of Hell are located to attempt a rescue operation. Now there are other plot points involving a young boy named Loki, as well as some twists, but I’m going to leave it at the fact that the plot is completely mental. I’m not sure if it’s a good story or not, but it’s a means to get from point A to point B and kick some butt.

There are cutscenes. A lot of them. Almost to an excessive level rivalling the likes of Metal Gear Solid. What I like best about them though is that they are usually full-on action involving some of the most ridiculous set pieces ever put to video games. And while some may go on a bit too long or interrupt the gameplay flow just a few too many times, it’s always a blast to see what’s going to happen next. 

As a main character, Bayonetta is an absolute delight and has a surprising amount of depth to her character. Maybe in trailers or from screenshots you’ve seen, she comes across as an overconfident, casual and provocative lady. While that is true as she seems to deal with things in such a nonchalant manner, she does have a very soft, caring side to her too. She strongly worries about her friend, feeling the guilt for letting her down, and she also cares about the people around her. She cares what happens to innocent people, she may not say it out loud or show it, but she will do anything to protect them from harm. She’s really one of the best gaming characters around, for sure and not something I would have expected from an borderline absurd plot.

Bayonetta 2 has an amazing cast of supporting characters too. From the comic relief Enzo who’s every other word is an expletive (which after all the unfortunate things that happen to him, you can sort of see where he’s coming from), to the effortlessly badass and cool Rodin who is so beyond cliched that it’s completely on point and is one of my favourite characters ever.

Audio

The audio is an absolute delight. The music is an eclectic mix of upbeat funky jazz piano with vocals as well as some deep orchestral epicness. It’s an odd mix, but it really works well to the feeling of the game. Likewise I really enjoyed the voice acting. All of the major characters are well voice acted with special props to Bayonetta herself as well as the previously mentioned Rodin who is too badass for words.

Visuals & Performance

bayo screen 2

While it may be difficult to discern unless you play the games side by side, this port of Bayonetta 2 is slightly improved over the original but it really is very slight. It looks a little clearer in my opinion, less jaggies and shadows are much more refined. Not that it needed to be improved upon because Bayonetta 2 was always a nice looking game. Maybe not with its graphical prowess but the incredible art style that is genuinely above standard. Where some geographical elements such as buildings may be on the basic side and textures not exactly being pristine or high resolution, Platinum Games makes up for that with visual design.

There’s so much style in the designs of the environments and the battle arenas. The first prologue is a perfect example of that where you’re too busy looking at what’s going on in the background and all the crazy stuff that’s happening, that you find it difficult to concentrate on the important action.

One thing that is a disappointment is that Bayonetta 2 is still rocking 720p rather than being 1080p which is what you would have hoped. But when you look at the frame rate you can see why it was still kept the way it was. Bayonetta 2 suffered rather substantial frame drops on the Wii U and, although hugely improved in this port, the action is still not silky smooth especially when the action gets so hectic. The targeted 60fps still struggles somewhat but I think it’s far less noticeable than it previously was, even in handheld mode. It’s definitely still a pity it couldn’t have been perfected for the slightly stronger hardware with an old game, but that is life. Bayonetta 2 doesn’t hold back with over the top action and it takes its toll on performance

Gameplay

Bayonetta 2 is a full on action game of the highest tier. It’s a game all about inputting combos and dodging enemy attacks. Bayonetta can punch and kick with the X and A buttons respectively and mixing and matching these will create an all manor of interesting combinations. Holding down one of the buttons mid-combo will then fire her guns at the enemy.

Dodging is a vital part of the game and this entry it’s far more visually informative as to when you need to press the ZR button to avoid attacks. Enemy weapons will glow with a yellow light and that’s when you know what you need to do. Compared to the previous game I think this is a welcome addition although many hardcore fans of the original will say it makes things too easy, an argument that is still talked about to this day. Because yes, Bayonetta 2 is easier than the original and I for one like that.

The combat is all about being in a free flowing state, seamlessly taking down enemy after enemy while making it look stylish and easy, dodging attacks while piling on the pain yourself. And yes, stylish is the word. While the visuals, audio, story and the the protagonist herself ooze style, the gameplay definitely follows suit.

What adds to the style is Bayonetta’s famous Witch Time whereby dodging right at the very last second from an attack will slow down time for enemies and enable you to lay the smack down on them. This sort of mechanic has no doubt been done before but it seems practically perfected here.

Bayonetta has a magic gauge, which when filled up will allow you to perform something known as Torture Attacks which are as brutal as they sound. When the time is right you’ll have a prompt tell you to press X and A at the same time to initiate the summoning of a medieval torture device to finish off your opponents. What turns up depends on which enemy you use it on and in what situation. For example, the centaur-like Accolade will be finished off with a bladed treadmill device if prompted from the front, but will be spanked into a spiked caged if inputted behind them.

To add to the action and turn the ridiculousness up to 11, you have the Umbral Climax which essentially gives you complete special attacks with every punch and kick, allowing you to dominated the battlefield for a short period of time. When the time is right you’ll be pressing the L shoulder button to initiate it and kick behind. Like the rest of the game, it’s incredibly satisfying.

bayoscreen 2

All of this takes place when in mind blowing conditions as buildings collapse, as you’re defying the laws of gravity, battling on the walls of grand churches, beating the crap out of angels while flying on jet fighters and even surfing on a whirlpool while fending off a dragon-like creature. It’s these epic battles, that while not actually part of the gameplay, send Bayonetta 2 to a level beyond epicness and make it one of the most fun action games ever made, just by its sheer ludicrousness.

When not beating angels or demons to a pulp, Bayonetta will indulge in some light exploration and platforming as well as spending the halos she has earned in Rodin’s shop. Items are pretty pricey here but are well worth investing in since, not only can you buy weapons for our Bayonetta, but also increase her abilities with different attacks and also accessories which can help you out. You can now scan in amiibo to help you earn more money and costumes, what with being able to scan in 32 per day, it’s very easy to almost break the game as you can indulge in all of the shop goodness. I wouldn’t advise doing this on your first play through since it may ruin some of the experience. I would only do it if you’re really struggling to get through it.

In the original release there was a mode called Tag Climax which allow you and another player to play online together taking down hordes of enemies. The co-op aspect integration was clumsy at best and it wasn’t always the easiest to find someone to play with. The Switch version does improve it a little, but not how you’d really want to play it. This time if you have two Switch’s and two copies of the game you can sort of LAN-up and play side-by-side. At least it’s local multiplayer in some respects but still not ideal. Split screen would have been awesome but then I suspect the game would have collapsed on itself due to the frame rate.

Value

As for value, it all depends on if you bought it on the Wii U or not. If you did, you may want to stay away or at least wait until a tempting price drop. For those uninitiated in the world of Bayonetta then pull your socks up and buy them. Both of them. Pound for pound you’re getting some of the best action-goodness ever created.  It’s highly advised you play them in order as the sequel is just improved in just about every way and may make it difficult going back to the first one.

Pros

P

Fantastic Action

P

Too stylish

P

Great soundtrack

Cons

P

Performance isn't perfect

P

2 Player still isn't ideal