For a lot PC players Bayonetta is just one of those games that got away.
Even though I had a PS3 in its hey-day and around the launch of the game, I just never had the opportunity to play it.
A few years later and I again missed my opportunity to play the sequel as well as the Wii U port because I had upgraded to a gaming PC, and, come on, who owned a Wii U?
But the Platinum gods have shined down upon me and the rest of the PC user-base thanks to a port on Steam.
Bayonetta review: A port, albeit a very good one
And when I say port I do mean port. From the first cutscene you’re dropped into you’ll be aware of the ugly textures even at highest settings as well as the slightly wooden animations. Anyone with no knowledge of this game picking it up at random from Stream’s new releases list is in for a surprise. This is not a remaster or a remake, it’s just a port, so temper your visual expectations and send them back to 2010’s standards.
Once you’ve sat through (or skipped) the opening cutscene and you’re allowed to play, these problems melt away. Not only is Bayonetta an absolute joy to play, but it somehow looks better during gameplay when compared to the cutscenes.
Bayonetta review: Deep combat
If you’ve somehow never played a single game from Platinum, you’ll be met with a third person hack n slash system with the standard light and heavy attacks, as well as a weak long ranged attack. The depth in this system comes from combos you can chain together from those simple attacks combined with movement and a dodge.
Your dodge is an absolutely fundamental part of Bayonetta. Not only is it your lifeline to avoid damage, which allows you to, you know, continue the game, but it also helps keep your combo meter high and allows you to activate Witch Time. Dodge away from an enemy attack at the last possible second and time will slow down, allowing you to move faster, attack frozen enemies and break guards that were impenetrable before.
As you progress Witch Time becomes more and more important as new enemies and environmental obstacles are introduced. A giant flaming bird creature will hurt you on contact, so you need to slow things down and beat it up while its flames can’t hurt you. A large body of water becomes a hard impasse, until you freeze time and walk over the water like some kind of dominatrix with guns strapped to your heels.
Bayonetta review: She’s… unique
Yes titular player character Bayonetta has a design that’s unique to say the very least. She looks a lot like US politician Sarah Palin if she decided to prance around in a skin-tight leather leotard (which is actually made of hair, it’s a long story) wielding four guns at once. Come to think of it, we’re sure Palin would be down for that last part.
This extends to her actions too, as there are gratuitous crotch shots, crude one-liners and Bayonetta has the innate ability to turn almost anything standing into a stripper pole. It’s never as offensive or exploitative as it sounds, and it’s actually a solid stream of humour from the game when the writing can’t provide it. If you’re offended by the stray boob or bum that is covered up anyway, well, I don’t think you’re mature enough to meet the age restriction anyway.
Bayonetta review: I like a challenge but this is ridiculous
Much more offensive and frustrating things can be found outside of Bayonetta’s character as the game ramps up in both difficulty and BS as time goes on. Enemies start to catch you out with drawn out stun-lock attacks, certain fights start with near unavoidable damage, and the bosses start to become ridiculous.
Some of these larger fights that bookend parts of the game have long periods of gameplay which need to be repeated when failed, and you’ll fail a lot as their patterns are almost impossible to survive on your first playthough. Despite the short sub-12 hour campaign, I found myself utterly spent as the game refused to give me a break.
And while I could just “git guud” (a key part of this game as multiple playthroughs are encouraged), that doesn’t forgive the fact that the game withholds information from you and makes certain parts infuriating. The entire process of buying new items and weapons is designed so poorly that it’s criminal it hasn’t been overhauled in the seven plus years it has been out, and the tutorial leaving out the details of using items is unforgivable. If you’re playing on normal as I did, I do not think you’ll be able to finish this game without using the healing and protection items.
Bayonetta review: PC issues and advantages
PC performance doesn’t share these irritating factors, as my ageing hardware (R9 280X, i5-4670K and 8GB of RAM) ran it flawlessly. It’s not really a huge accomplishment when you consider this title’s age, but poor optimisation could have killed this game.
Keyboard controls are actually decent and comfortable, and prove to be a rival for a gamepad. They’re also fully interchangeable with custom bindings and alternate keys, something that can’t be said about some brand new PC games (I’m looking at you, Flinthook).
Really the biggest problem with this port is the loading times… they’re too short. Bayonetta uses loading screens to give you an opportunity to learn combos with a list of them on the right of the screen and an open playground to test them. On my PC with a bog standard 7 200 RPM hard drive, I never saw more than a couple of seconds of load time. I’d like to blame this for the fact that I spammed a handful of combos throughout my time with the game, but that’s just my own ineptitude with these kinds of games.
Bayonetta review: Verdict
Not only is Bayonetta a fantastic game in its own right, but it’s also the harbinger of hope that more Platinum games will head to PC. Throw in the fact that it’s priced so well for a “new” release at R219 (again, embarrassing another game in the full-priced Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition) and there’s nothing else you could ask for.
Well, except for a more interesting story, cutscenes that aren’t so insufferable and some enemies which aren’t so cheap and infuriating.
Bayonetta was reviewed on PC with a code provided by the developers