Bayonetta 3 review (Switch)

The eagerly anticipated Bayonetta 3 has arrived on the Nintendo Switch just in time for the holiday season. Was it worth the wait? We certainly think so – here’s our review.

When it came to Q4 exclusives on the Switch, Bayonetta 3 was certainly the one we were most looking forward to – though Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope also turned out to be excellent when it launched a few weeks earlier. We had some question marks surrounding Bayonetta though, mostly because developer Platinum Games didn’t exactly hit a home run when they released Babylon’s Fall earlier this year.

Luckily, they’re on top form again with Bayonetta 3, a game that was announced three years after Bayonetta 2 became a massive success. That was five years ago though, so it’s nice to see that the game delivers on its promise even though we’ve moved into a new console generation during the game’s development.

That last part refers to PlayStation and Xbox, and doesn’t apply to the Switch – which can be seen in Bayonetta 3’s visual fidelity. Textures pop in and some of the environment are somewhat lacking in detail, but if you consider the hardware that it’s running on then what Platinum Games have delivered here is nothing short of impressive. It may not have the same audiovisual impact that the first games had, but it’s a fantastic showcase for what the Switch can do.

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Part of that is that, for an action adventure, Bayonetta 3 performs great on the Switch. It hits 60 frames per second pretty much consistently, and where a lot of audiovisually intense games suffer in the Switch’s handheld mode, this one performs very well is you want to take your adventure on the go.

Story-wise, it’s funny to note that Bayonetta 3 started production years ago, as it heavily taps into the now-popular notion of the ‘multiverse’. It’s an interesting narrative that’s surprisingly coherent for a Bayonetta story, which tend to be all over the place. Familiar characters like Luka and Enzo return, and the most interesting new character is a mysterious antagonist who traverses these alternate realities with some bad intentions.

The heart and soul of Bayonetta 3 is the same it’s always been though – stylish and satisfying combat in which our titular protagonist battles through a series of monsters, demons and freaks. Once you (re)master the well-balanced mix of ranged and melee combat, it feels fantastic to string together moves and form combos. Before you know it, battling enemies feels like a choreographed sequence of glorious carnage – an area where Bayonetta’s always been strong and which is no different here.

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New elements have been added to the core mechanics, the most eye-catching of which are the Demon Slaves – powerful creatures you can summon and control. You can deal a ton of damage with them, but Bayonetta herself is vulnerable while you’re playing with them. Effectively using them takes practice, but once you’re able to mix up the Demon Slaves with your regular arsenal of moves combat becomes more diverse than it ever was before – especially when you factor in that weapons/specials have individual skill trees. This doesn’t just add diversity, it also gives the game replay value.

The ‘multiverse’ plot obviously lends itself very well to the craziness we’re used to in this franchise, which can also be seen in a few amazing boss fights at the end of each chapter. The credits roll after about 18 hours, so you’re getting good value for money in a game that’s not too long to make a second playthrough seem too daunting either.

We’re definitely diving back in soon, as the diversity you see in the game’s combat also extends to the rest of the game. You’re not just controlling Bayonetta, but also Viola, and during puzzles you sometimes have to make use of the various Demon Slaves you can control. It’s not just puzzles and combat either, as you’ll also come across stealth sections with Jeanne where the mechanics and visuals are very different from the rest of the game.

Bayonetta 3 feels bigger and more diverse than ever before, and is a joy to play. The hardware in the Nintendo Switch hold it back a little, but it’s a must-play and one that PlayStation and Xbox owners should feel jealous to miss out on.

Score: 9.0/10

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