300 Word Review – Bayonetta (Normal, Durga/Kilgore & Shuruba/Onyx Rose)
Bayonetta is a Cent mille milliards de poèmes game. Its innovation is singular: providing a combat system that is not only fluid, which is to be expected, but also combinatory. The titular heroine holds two weapons at a time, one in her hands and one on her feet. There are eight weapons in total, many of which can be wielded on either hand or foot. The peak of her witchy powers is that she can instantly swap between two loadouts in the middle of a combo, moving from one matching of weapons to another. The potential number of combinations is boggling, but I’m innumerate.
Bayonetta is a game that wants to be played repeatedly. Your first playthrough will be rife with thrilling victories swiftly followed by disappointing defeat in the face of a poorly-designed QTE. The backtracking of the first third of the game reminds one of a less obnoxious Devil May Cry 4. Although the enemy variety leaves much to be desired, it follows the same basic principle of the game’s combat: it’s not about how many different kinds of enemies there are, but how they can be arranged within a unique set piece.
Bayonetta is a Cutie Honey game. When Bayonetta summons a demon, her clothes retract into her skin to be replaced by a one-piece bathing-suit of hair. Like the Moon Prism Power Makeup and Honey Flash before it, this transformation reflects a changing cultural role for women in Japan. As in the best anime, the male gaze finds itself embodied in a buffoonish foil. His profession as a journalist chasing folk tales adds to the game’s critique of scopophilia. His lifelong, hopeless pursuit reflects exactly the age-old questions we the players ask: “Does ‘feminine sexual power’ exist? What is it?”
Dedicated to the analytic style of Charles Pratt, who specializes in 300-word reviews on mastery.