Bayonetta is one smooth stylish action game. It’s not going to revolutionize the genre, but the over the top torture attacks will spark plenty of “whoa” moments.
The E3 demo started in a church where you can practice her basic moves. Bayonetta carries a sword and a gun — just like a hero from another Hideki Kamiya designed game. You can mash buttons to combo attacks without much thought, but Bayonetta has specific combos to learn. Most of them are punch (or weapon) and kick with a mix of pauses. Before you enter a verse, Bayonetta‘s term for a stage, you can practice new attacks. A list of commands and a meter tracks how many times you used a combo during practice sessions appears while the game is loading the next area. This is Bayonetta’s way of giving players something to do other than watch a loading screen.
I fought archangels, winged lizard-like creatures, first. When a group closed in Bayonetta’s bullet blast move was the perfect crowd control solution. This attack made her spin around while firing bullets from her feet. When an archangel is near death Bayonetta can execute a violent torture attack, a finishing move of sorts, by summoning Iron Maidens and huge spiked wheels. Once a torture device appears players mash a button to charge Bayonetta’s megaton meter.
After an archangel warm up it was time for the first boss fight, a large angelic lizard with a baby face on its back. Guess what the weak point was! The goliath-sized creature swung a huge axe and was quite a threat up close. Running behind the boss and blasting it with Bayonetta’s two guns took the boss down pretty quickly. The fight ended with Bayonetta creating a panther familiar out of her hair that digested the boss while I mashed buttons for megatons. The boss left his axe behind, which you I picked up and used right away. The giant axe shrank so it fits in Bayonetta’s hands.
The next boss fight was on a bridge… the a giant beast ripped from the ground. The fight took place on a moving platform and Bayonetta had to dodge attacks while the monster moved the bridge. This was one of those “whoa” movements. I didn’t win the fight with Bayonetta battling in mid-air, I had to jump off the bridge and then fight the beast while it hung from a cliff.
Finally, it was time to fight another witch! The third boss repelled bullets so you couldn’t dodge roll and fire from a distance. You had to get in her face to hurt her. This level also demonstrated witch walk, another one of Bayonetta’s abilities that lets her walk on walls in set areas. The cool part about this level is the fight takes place in a cube-ish room so you’re constantly bouncing from wall to wall.
Since you have to get close to damage the witch this is a good place to mention witch time. Bayonetta can dodge attacks with the trigger buttons, but if you wait until the last possible second to dodge Bayonetta enters witch time where everything slows down except for her. Witch time only lasts for a few seconds, but it introduces a brilliant risk/reward system. You can escape attacks by air cartwheeling out of the way early or you can give the enemy a chance to hurt Bayonetta, enter witch time, slow enemies down, and rack up a devastating combo.
There was one more boss battle I got to see, but not play. When Kamiya demoed Bayonetta he revealed a level with a dragon boss. At first it looks like Bayonetta versus a dragon head, but you can see a glimpse of a second dragon head through a window. In the middle of the fight the dragon rips apart the room Bayonetta is standing in and starts flying. Meanwhile, the dragon’s head is still trapped in the building while Bayonetta is slicing, dicing, and shooting at it. The fight ended in the most over the top way possible, Bayonetta slamming the broken room in the face of the two headed dragon. This was another one of those “whoa” moments.