Bayonetta 3 Nintendo Switch Review

Bayonetta 3 is the best game of the PS3 generation, now available on Nintendo Switch.

By Daavpuke, Posted 02 Nov 2022

It doesn't even feel real that Bayonetta 3 is finally here. After playing all of it, I still don't know if it was a dream. Developer Platinum Games clearly took their time to release a product that they would be satisfied with. This sentiment echoes throughout the whole game.

It's been a journey coming since 2009, the year that the company started dropping bombs. Back then, the goal was to make a bombshell that would counter the spectacle fighters like Devil May Cry. Today, well, it's still that. Bayonetta is a flashy, sexy, sassy witch with guns to shoot and heels to kick. That attitude permeates through every fight with the ornate enemies of this world. And boy, are these creatures bedazzled.

Bayonetta 3, Nintendo Switch, Review, Female Protagonist, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

There is a clear priority in this game and that's to cake the presentation in excess. Fights flash wildly, with roaring dragons and wolves gyrating around; fireworks overflowing as they go. Every new creature gets its own marquee highlight. That's how much this game cares about making its encounters feel special. The flipside to this is that, not only are the environments of these arenas dead, but so much of this stimulation tests the limits of what a Nintendo Switch can do. There hasn't been this much dithering in a game since the Playstation 1 and that's not an exaggeration. Compromise is at the core of Bayonetta 3, just to make it fit on a cart. Some of the ugliness isn't as present in handheld mode, but this is not a game that lends itself to be comfortably played with a portable screen.

Lingering on presentation, since that's a giant part of this package: Cutscenes span multiple hours, even if Bayonetta 3 doesn't have that much story to tell. Some of these cutscenes are even more self-indulgent than Kojima's works. I now understand why people would watch YouTube videos at 2x speed. Pageantry is part of the deal and they make this apparent pretty early, so settle in. Luckily, the audio justifies a lot of that downtime. Compositions elevate any scene, woven into both story and gameplay. Every track is perfectly sculpted, making this one of the strongest entries for audio design in years. Whatever it's worth, a pretty facade is this game's one true desire and it commits fully to it.

Style drills all the way down to how the game is played. The combo-driven combat gets accompanied with a skill tree that unlocks ever-flashier attacks. As the game progresses, there will be more weapon types for different flairs. On top of that, Bayonetta can now summon giant monsters to help in combat as well. Sometimes, these behemoths can cap off a combo or pummel an enemy with a torturous attack that deals huge damage. Fighting is cool as hell. It's also a lot. In fact, the constant excess makes it incredibly hard to parse what's happening most of the time, especially since enemy feedback is equally muddled by these flourishes.

Bayonetta 3, Nintendo Switch, Review, Game Over, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

With low legibility, trial and error are periodically forced into the gameplay. At its worst, the game becomes unplayable due to too much crap being flown around. When an enemy is particularly big or if they're trigger happy with knockback effects, the screen will fade into a single color of whatever is blocking the camera. Most fights have at least one of these, meaning most of the combat devolves into simply hoping for the best. Alternatively, it's possible to completely disengage, which drops the combo and will lower the grade that's handed out after a scene.

While there's a ton of careful customization that can be done with techniques, it's probably only going to be possible to mash something out, before the screen goes crazy. Even with successful inputs, the later skills additionally clutter the screen with how excessive they are. Once again: it's extremely cool to see a demon suddenly appear and powerbomb someone into the ground, but it's also madly disorienting. During side missions, where extra challenges are cut pretty precisely, these issues become insurmountable. Some of these trials are so incredibly frustrating that the replay value that Bayonetta wants to illicit gets totally lost. There's no point repeating a part that's impossible to understand quickly with the time pressure it applies. Fail enough and maybe it will become clear; that's a terrible incentive. Skipping side objectives will become standard.

It sounds like Bayonetta 3 isn't worth the hassle, but that's just the user experience. The finale of the trilogy is the culmination of a decade's work, even if it's to a fault. In essence, the developer delivers exactly what you'd expect: a fan celebration of a game from several generations ago. The ending of the game beats that point into the ground, but even throughout the adventure there are constant reminders that this is a fan-first game. There are a dozen or so mini-games, one of them getting a separate chapter, which reference older works with a wink and a nod. Fighting games, arcade games; they're all here. Even if half of these feel a bit empty, these divergent tidbits perfectly break up the hectic main story. One mini-game in particular, late in the game, is such a jubilant addition that it's hard not to smile at it. Of course, they would do that here! Bayonetta 3 is such a ridiculous video game.

Bayonetta 3, Nintendo Switch, Review, Female Protagonist, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Moreover, the game is packed with, just, stuff. Tons of weapons with their own feel, crazy demons, lollipop upgrades, tons of collectibles, costume changes, accessories, concept art; the list goes on. Sketches show exactly what Platinum was thinking when designing this world. A jukebox catalogs all the dope music that drives the story. Those who came to this last entry predisposed to like it will love it.

There are so many tiny, little surprises in Bayonetta 3. Spoiler culture prevents it from getting its praises sung properly, but there are clever dopamine hits all the way to the end. It feels like no idea was ever shut down. On several occasions, I thought: "I can't believe they put a bit of 'X' in here!"

They just don't make games like this anymore.

That is the crux of this game. The trilogy that started in 2009 is, still, a 2009 game, but with the developer's added experience and sensibilities from the current day. This project is both rotten with obtuse elements as it's just filled to the brim with the most spectacular craftsmanship that a loving studio could bring to it. Completing the game takes 18 to 20 hours. About 10 to 12 of those hours are gameplay and the rest are cutscenes and frequent restarts.

Now, to the two elephants in the room: the game's sexualization, as well as the voice acting controversy that led up to the release. The previous voice of Bayonetta came out to say they were mistreated, when it was revealed that they had been recast. After a back and forth, the whole situation got too messy to touch, so all that's left is to see how it affected the acting. The verdict: it's fine. You've heard voice acting like this a dozen times. What a fuss over next to nothing that turned out to be.

Previous games were incredibly sleazy with camera angles and innuendo. That part is, believe it or not, mostly gone in Bayonetta 3. The game still knows where its bread is buttered, dear perverts, but the egregious sleaziness has been made a thing of the past. It's not that cameras no longer pan strategically, so that you can see some animated tits. Rather, the creators no longer seize every opportunity, to its fullest, to exploit any situation. The same effect can be had without slowing time to get a closeup shot of a facsimile latex vag.

Bayonetta 3, Nintendo Switch, Review, Female Protagonist, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Bayonetta 3 is the most stylish game this year, period. The game also has the worst gameplay segment I've played in ages. Several times, this game is reminiscent of that other Platinum Games release with style over substance issues: Babylon's Fall. Hell, it shares the developer's ethos, after all. Still, only looking at Bayonetta 3's antiquated design choices is selling short the love that went into it. The term "for fans by fans" has never been truer. Every corner of this release has been packed with goodness, so much so that it will be hard not to find moments to fall in love with. In the end, Bayonetta 3 is a story of love, years in the making. Both good and bad, this project has gotten stuck in time. That time dilation might be annoying for some clunky design choices, but it might also be the last time you'll be able to play something like this; and that in a package that has never been wrapped up any better. Maybe Bayonetta 3 is also a redemption story.

Daav Valentaten (@DaavPuke)
Editor-In-Chief, NoobFeed

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General Information

Bayonetta 3


Platform(s): Switch
Publisher(s): Nintendo, Nintendo of America Inc.
Developer(s): PlatinumGames Inc.
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Hack And Slash, Fighting
Release Date: 2022-10-28

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