Title: Bayonetta 3
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: October 28, 2022
You may have missed the release of Bayonetta 3 as it was a gentle, silent launch with absolutely no headlines or controversy surrounding it. Just playing. This game came into the world like a screaming newborn. With more headlines and less amiibo support than any Nintendo game should. But putting all that spicy whatnot aside, how is the actual game?
I’m just going to be outright with y’all. This game is a big departure from the series. From the jump, you find out that Angels and Demons aren’t attacking anymore, they’re mostly locked out of our reality, and absolutely nothing involving them is completely disregarded. In their place is the Homonculi, beings made of drippy blue human forms that climb and melt into each other until they become different types of white and blue beasts.
As Rodan points out early in the game, these aren’t angels or devils. These are man-made and, because every franchise needs to do this now, they’re invading the multiverse. And yes, Bayonetta now has a multiverse because why not.
The story is an absolute mess though. The Homonculi appear at the beginning of the game and just straight up kill everyone on Earth except for the people lucky enough to have had a voice role in a Bayonetta game. From there we meet a new character, Viola, who has a secret. A remarkably obvious secret that the game waits a long time to reveal to the point where when they do you’re like, “WE KNOW.”
What’s surprising the most to me about this story is that the first two Bayonetta games work so damn hard to build fiction about the Umbra Witches and the Angel/Devil dynamic. To see it thrown to waste to focus on an entirely new series of beasts is just bizarre. Especially considering the game doesn’t even really explain much about them. They’re essentially beings made by someone to do things and we don’t need to know about it much because they’re from a different reality and we just need to focus on the fact that they’re now destroying our reality. That’s mostly what we get.
Another weird change for the series is the visuals. Bayonetta 2 was a surprisingly stunning game for the Switch. Despite the limited capabilities of Nintendo’s plucky handheld AND the fact that it also launched on the Wii U, the game looked good. Small details could be seen everywhere and it seemed fairly ahead of its time, especially considering all the madness happening during fights.
Bayonetta 3 is not that, however. Because of a new mechanic that allows you to summon demons into almost any battle, the camera is afraid to get in close. Bayonetta is often just not visible as she’s lost in a sea of everything happening around her — to the point where I was muttering the combos to myself since I couldn’t see her to make sure they were happening.
Oddly, despite the camera being too far out, when you DO summon a demon, the majority of the time you don’t see all of them anyway. And, if you’re really “lucky” that demon will be right in front of the camera. Nothing counters the powerful feel of summoning a massive hellhound quite like it blocking your screen like a Nintendog.
Speaking of “blocking,” the visuals seem way more blocky and jaggy than the previous outing. Even points that are supposed to be visually striking like a freeze frame or a dramatic cutscene are blocky. For example, Bayonetta atop a massive beast should make for a stunning scene but…look at her up there.
Girl’s a few pixels away from looking like Celeste.
This is really important too because Bayonetta relies on its looks like it’s Jenna from 30 Rock. And much like Jenna, Bayonetta 3 does not know what’s actually good.
Like, the fashion in this game is absolutely laughable. The outfits look like a Goodwill came alive and started violently attacking women and encasing them in cacoons made out of random clothing items. Bayonetta and friends strut around looking and acting like children who snuck into mom’s closet to pretend they’re fashion models. At one point the game almost seems to revel in how bad the fashion is by having Bayonetta literally make an outfit out of the trash around her while the people around her look on stunned.
And it’s worse than usual because the multiverse gives us MANY Bayonettas each with their own thing. Roller skating b-girl Bayonetta. Chinese with an eye-patch Bayonetta. Cowgirl with a secret Bayonetta. I made the last one up, but still. Each of these new Bayonettas shows up wearing what looks like a budget costume from Spirit Halloween and it’s bad.
What really makes a Bayonetta game though isn’t the graphics, the looks, or the concept of sexiness that feels like the confusion of someone who feels horny before knowing how sex works. While those are all important parts of the series, the most important thing is gameplay and even here Bayonetta takes a turn for the worse.
Bayonetta 2 has really tight, visually striking combos that looked powerful and made her a force to be reconned with. No longer. Now, while her combos can still do some damage, they feel slower and almost force you to use the new mechanic in which she summons one of her large demon buddies to attack for her while Bayonetta, having used her outfit hair (don’t ask) to create it, stays off to the side, naked and vulnerable.
The game almost celebrates destroying the strong Bayonetta we know. She’s no longer showing interest in Jeanne, she’s suddenly romantically interested in the dude she’s made fun of the entire series, and she’s weak AF. In fact, the multiverse seems to be a plot just to show her getting killed over and over in violent ways only for the main Bayonetta to pick up her weapon, go “neat” and start fighting with it.
No matter how much I leveled, Bayonetta felt weaker than she did in past games and with the camera being zoomed out a lot more it makes her feel extra small.
They also add bizarre new mechanics that I’d love to be rid of. For example, why have blisteringly fast combo-based fights when you can have a kaiju battle that moves with the grace of bumper boats?
Or, if all the outlandish over-the-top visual action is too much, how about being forced to play a remarkably broken stealth game that plays like someone learning to program tried to reinvent Elevator Madness?
It’s just. It’s a lot. Between the downgrade in combat and the absolutely broken weird new styles of gameplay it’s disappointing.
Listen, gang. I love the Bayonetta series. And while I know there were really only two Bayonetta games, I played through both many times. I beat the first Bayonetta as Zero, the hidden character. I played through Bayonetta 2 with each of the various Nintendo costumes (Starfox is my favorite, thank you for asking). I want Bayonetta 3 to be great.
But it’s as a Bayonetta fan that I feel disappointed but confident in my ability to say that this game is a letdown. It’s still playable and fun at times. And the “yo-yo” is almost as fun as Chain Chomp in the second game, but the game could have been and should have been so much more than this.
It also takes the character of Bayonetta who spent the last two games establishing her role as a confident hero who loved Jeanne enough to go to Hell and back for her (literally) and turns her into a trope as she constantly needs other people to save her as other versions of her die like crazy violently and helplessly.
If you’re a fan, sure, give it a playthrough and watch what happens. I can’t convince you not to. But if you genuinely love Bayonetta, you don’t show it by acting like this game is a 9 or a 10. You’ll want it fixed.
Bayonetta 3 (Nintendo Switch) Score: 6/10
For a game made by the same studio responsible for the previous games, it’s strange how often Bayonetta 3 feels like a poorly made fan project. The story that has been built up has been thrown to the wayside to introduce a tired “multiverse” concept. All the confidence and character development has been completely scraped in favor of turning her into a loving motherly type character in constant need of saving. Wonky camera angles and visuals make it look like this game should have gone back into the over for another year. It’s playable and, at times, fun, but as part of a series, it’s quite possibly the weakest chapter.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.