This series continues to produce the most fun fighting games I’ve played in a long time. I’ve never been a fan of games like Mortal Combat, they consistently bore me after only 15 minutes of button mashing. When the first Bayonetta came out, I was amazed by how fluid the movements felt, as someone who had dismissed the genre as a whole. Though the controls are simple, one does not simply mash buttons when playing Bayonetta and its sequel; it takes quite a bit of skill to unlock all of the trophies in the games.
The fighting is all but identical, but why fix something that’s not broken? The movements are smooth and the fights are always incredibly immersive. The dodge and Witch Time mechanics are what make the action so thrilling. When timed correctly, one can manage to escape hordes of angels unharmed using dodges. This becomes a defining feature of the game and allows for huge-scale fights against incredibly strong opponents.
The game really shines during the boss battles. Bayonetta (and sometimes Jeanne) fights angels and demons the size of buildings, and it feels momentous. I’ve found that some games make fighting bosses like puzzles: find the weakness, exploit it, rinse, and repeat. This isn’t necessarily bad, many Legend of Zelda games follow this formula, but Bayonetta’s raw battles follow no formulaic pattern. Just beat them while dodging attacks. It’s reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus, but on a smaller scale.
The plot of Bayonetta 2 is superior to the first one, and explains many of the questions that arose from the first. Players can see both Paradisio and Inferno, which gives the landscape more variety. Players begin as Bayonetta and Jeanne realize that the balance between good and evil has been upset. After a battle with angels, Jeanne saves Bayonetta from being taken back into Inferno, and goes in her place. As witches, they have made pacts with demons to give them extraordinary powers, but when they die, they pledge their souls to Inferno. Bayonetta then begins her journey to save Jeanne’s soul from Inferno with the help of some new and familiar faces. Later, players learn who is causing the imbalance of powers and are able to save the world from certain destruction.
There is also a two player mode that I haven’t played, yet. I’m not really into the idea of multiplayer games, and I quickly moved on when it didn’t immediately work. I didn’t feel up to waiting for a randomly selected partner; I know no one who has a Wii U, so that seems to be my only multiplayer option right now.
The game didn’t really make use of the Wii U’s controller as I had hoped. During gameplay, one sees the same image on each screen, and may choose to use touch controls instead of the classic button style. It’s not the most innovative use, but if there’s an argument over television use, one person can play using the game pad while another watches television, so at least it promotes sharing.
Bayonetta 2 is more of a continuation of the first one than a re-vamp or a standalone game. My copy even came with the first game on a separate disk. It’s a worthwhile game whether you’ve played the original or not. It’s beautiful, accessible, and lots of fun.