The original Bayonetta promised players “non-stop climax action” back in 2010. It certainly delivered – with a game that was equal parts story and over-the-top escapades. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine any game overthrowing the first Bayonetta from that throne, making the hurdle for the sequel that almost never was, that much higher. Bayonetta 2 doesn’t stray too far from that formula, but for the most part, it’s a far better game than the original ever was.
Fast forward an indeterminate amount of time since the first game. Bayonetta has regained her memories, boosted her powers to ludicrous new levels and prevented the end of reality with one well-placed kick of her gigantic Madame Butterfly summon. Life is good. Between shopping for fashionable new dresses and making life hell for goodfella wannabe Enzo, Bayonetta intends to keep on living the good life.
But after her sister-in-arms Jeanne finds her soul ripped out of her body, it’s up to the leggy witch to suit up and kick down the gates of hell in a rescue mission. A simple story really, but one that finds itself further complicated as Bayonetta becomes entangled with a young troublemaker by the name of Loki who has goals that are tied to her own quest to save Jeanne.
All of which starts out unrelated, but with the inclusion of one final Lumin Sage, the opposing force to the Umbran Witches, leads to a tale that isn’t only interesting but manages to weave a plot that is closely tied to the original game. It is of course, as completely over the top as can be, with the narrative quickly giving way to fights atop of fighter jets that are hurtling through cities and angelic juggernauts that can topple bridges with a single sword-stroke and open up new plot holes in the script. But dammit, the game wouldn’t feel the same if this formula was altered.
It’s pure madness. It’s also perfect for this kind of game as it’s impossible to not imagine Bayonetta fighting Angelic hordes while defying time, space and gravity itself.
For the most part, the combat is exactly the same as the first game. It’s fast, furious and fun. Light and heavy attacks form the backbone of this system, with players able to select and add to a massive arsenal of combos and special abilities. Bayonetta’s signature quad-gun style has survived for the sequel, but it’s augmented by new weapons which can be strapped to her limbs and wielded to devastating effect. From exotic swords to bows that summon a plague of locusts and gauntlets that shoot fire and ice, the game packs in plenty of combat variety.
Much like in the previous game, combat is nothing without a well-timed dodge. Dodging and fighting are two sides of the same coin, and mastering evasion allows for players to not only get out of harm’s way, but to turn it to their advantage. Time a dodge just right, and you’ll slow down the world around you in Witch Time, granting you a precious few seconds to counterattack with devastating blows. Enemies telegraph their moves like a sloppy WWE wrestler, so attention is also necessary.
Torture attacks have also been retained, as players can use the damage dealt thus far in their game to fill up a bar that will allow them to place any of their foes in a rather painful position that usually results in them being gruesomely ripped apart. Alternatively players can now store their magical energy up until they have enough of it to activate an Umbran Climax, which adds extra range and damage to combos.
The action itself never lets up, with the scale constantly ramping up and newer, bigger foes being introduced with each new stage. If you’re an action addict, you’ll be gorging on all this kinetic bloodshed like an unsupervised fat kid in a candy shop.
On the surface though, this action seems familiar. It seems like the exact same gameplay from the first Bayonetta, but merely copied and pasted. And it most certainly is. But at the same time, it isn’t. What has happened instead, is that the core gameplay has been tweaked in so many subtle ways. You won’t notice it at first, but you’ll certainly feel it after a while. There’s something about the combat that makes it feel far more confident, more polished and more visceral than ever. It’s safe to say however, that if you weren’t a fan of the first Bayonetta game, then you most likely won’t find your opinion swayed with the sequel.
The game makes an effort to shine, pulling out all the stops with each boss fight in a dazzling orgy of attacks that can break cities and make heaven and hell tremble. Nowhere is this better demonstrated, than in one of several fights with the mysterious masked Lumen Sage who turns up to challenge you at several stages, matching your every move and summon with his own dangerous skills. It’s moments like this where the game is at it’s best, and the action never ceases while all of creation burns around you.
In terms of length, Bayonetta 2 is another weekend game in the single-player department. My own playthrough of that core mode took around 6-7 hours to complete. Fortunately, the sequel is well aware of this, and it packs more than enough extra content to keep gamers coming back for more: chief of which is the Tag Climax mode. It’s a co-op mode for Bayonetta 2, with a simple enough premise. Grab a character, dress ‘em up and start slaying angels and demons. You can slap them with any items that you’ve earned in the single-player game and head off into a battle stage to see who’s the best at slaying angels and demons. Whoever gets the most points, wins. This formula gets repeated several times, with each new arena increasing in difficulty and rewards.
It plays exactly like the single-player game, but the benefit of Tag Climax is in the fact that you can double-team your way through opponents, while using an Umbran Climax will activate for both players. It’s a great way to rack up some coin, as players can also bet on themselves. The catch here however, is that the more you bet, the harder the mode becomes to avoid players farming their way through.
Tag Climax will no doubt be where most of the post-game is spent, but it’s not without a few drawbacks. There’s a lot of waiting involved, and communication obviously wasn’t a priority here as players can’t exactly get rid of unwanted players who are looking to join in on the action, making quick-matches a bit of a nightmare.
Faults aside however, it’s still a superb addition and one that can hopefully be patched up in the near future, as this is the definitive co-op experience of the year. Nothing says friendship like a tag-team combination of demonic whips, and monsters tearing through hordes of angels.
Visually, the game is mighty crisp. This is even more apparent thanks to the inclusion of the original game, with the visuals now feeling smoother and more fluid. It’s also a beautifully colourful game, with the world of Bayonetta being a bright and cheerful even when you do happen to find yourself fighting your way through Inferno. Hell has never looked better, and the new character animations and cinematics help add to the experience. The Wii U may not boast the same hardware that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 do, but Platinum certainly does know how to ring every possible bit of juice out of that system to create a game which looks beautiful even if it does sport the odd few jagged edges here and there.
Last Updated: October 13, 2014