Bayonetta 3 review: Your favourite witch is back

After many years of waiting the witchy trinity is complete as Bayonetta 3 finally arrives exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. With so much hype built up over those years and the series held in such high regard, has Bayonetta 3 stuck the landing or has something been lost along the way?

To set up your hack-n-slash shenanigans, Bayonetta and friends have been thrown into yet another calamity that we won’t spoil here. In the official trailers which you can watch as embeds below, you can see the main enemy faction called Homunculi, which may prove to be the most dangerous threat yet.

We’ll have to pull a Lovecraft here and tell you that what happens in this story is insane, but we can’t describe it. Half because of our no spoiler policy for reviews, and half because it’s simply inexplainable. The reason for what happens in Bayonetta 3 needs to be thrown out the window because it’s obvious from the beginning that the focus is in spectacle and fun, with logic and structure put on the backburner.

We accept that this game is a one of those properties where you need to let its bizarre nature wash over you, but we’re unsure why this tact was taken combined with a seemingly endless barrage of cutscenes and story moments.

It’s just an odd combination of “weird stuff is happening, don’t think about them too much” and “pay close attention because we’re interrupting gameplay for the umpteenth time”.

This cutscene issue also shows off a major flaw here: raw graphical fidelity. Bayonetta 3 is not a looker by any means and seems to be several generations behind when it comes to visuals.

Yes it is held back by the now ancient and never very powerful Nintendo Switch, but we have seen other 3D action games that look better than this. Those hoping for spectacle will only find it with the scale of encounters – yes you can expect skyscrapers to be thrown around like toys – instead of pure graphical fidelity.

The unique art style of the series also helps cover up some of the rather ugly parts of this game, but there’s no getting around the pixelated and choppy nature of much of Bayonetta 3.

Everything we’ve talked about so far is of little importance to those who are just here for gameplay, and those people will not be disappointed.

The core hack-n-slash combat is still fantastic. The tools at the fingers of plays, a combination of melee and movement, are simple to learn and use but can be combined in so many different ways through combos and switching loadouts.

Even from the start of the game when you first get control of Bayonetta, there’s a long list of combos you can pull off to absolutely style on the enemies to your heart’s content.

This enjoyable combat is made even better as you play and unlock more weapons as each new one isn’t just a weapon, but an entire change to how you locomote and interact with the world. Again without spoiling anything, we found our favourite after a few hours of play and stuck to it, though those seeking to do similar will still need to switch things up to get past certain points.

Fighting as normal will power up your magic to summon a demon to fight on your behalf. The twist here is that the demon’s power comes with the trade off of Bayonetta being open to attack while the demon is in play.

You will need to carefully balance the extra damage output of the demon against its cooldown, Bayonetta’s vulnerability, the unique demon traits (several are available for us) and the fact that certain enemies can even do enough damage to temporarily “kill” your demon, making it unavailable for a time.

The real trick up this game’s sleeve is the truly unexpected amount of variety on offer. This is a hack-n-slash game at its heart but you will be doing something completely different every few minutes. The game will wildly swing between control schemes, scenarios, objectives and even genres on a whim.

While we really enjoyed this, we can see how players can become frustrated with the structure. It seems that, as soon as you start gaining momentum and increasing your skills, Bayonetta 3 will throw a curveball at you and change things up entirely.

Bayonetta 3 then feels less like one thoughtful experience and more like interconnected ideas and fun times strung together with a very loose story and the base combat.

Between these wild times and defeating enemies there’s quite a lot of exploring to do in semi-open areas. While you can blitz through each level between the main objectives and finish them ASAP, there is encouragement to look around for hidden caches and optional battles. Both will reward resources that can be used on functional equipment to aid you in progression, or customisation to make this version of Bayonetta your own.

Again we can see many finding this slower pace hunting and gathering a chore, but we welcomed the downtime to bank resources for harder battles.

The hardest battle in the entire game, however, is the camera. There’s no way around it: the camera in Bayonetta 3 is irredeemable and you will be fighting it as much as you’re fighting the actual enemies that developer PlatinumGames programmed in.

Not only is the camera bad in a vacuum, but certain puzzles and fights intentionally mess with your viewpoints, exasperating frustrations further. It’s one thing to have a weak element in your game, but it’s another thing entirely to actively point out to the player just how bad that is constantly.

it feels like large sections of the game, especially the side content and platforming puzzles, received little to no playtesting otherwise the camera would have been tightened up for these areas, or that content should have been scrapped entirely.

Despite these pain points this is still a great game with something to offer to anyone who picks it up. It maybe isn’t a momentous instant classic that some were hoping for, but there’s still a lot on offer that shouldn’t be ignored. We can see some of the rougher patches throwing people off, but it’s worth hanging on until the ride ends.


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