Bayonetta Impressions

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I chose to not play any more Bayonetta after I was up to the fifth chapter in my replay.  I originally bought the game for $10 in an Amazon sale, but after several delays due to other, newer titles, it got pushed back until I managed to find a week to play it and get to chapter 10.  But I got frustrated and tried a few weeks ago.  And what I learned was that I must have had a lot more patience back in fall 2011.

Bayonetta Impressions
Release Date: 05/1/2012
Platforms: Xbox 360(Played), Playstation 3
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Sega

The plot is pretty jumbled, with a lot of biblical references for enemies, a reimagination of heaven and hell, along with angels and demons.  But from what I gathered, it centers around the titular Bayonetta, a leather clad, well endowed witch who was in a lake for 500 years, got up, joined a fat guy from Boston, and now kills angels for a black guy who is a demon of some sort.  I heard that there is a lot of deconstruction involve, but I never felt like I should care, since they could easily be stripped from the game, with only the loss of some cutscenes with still images, and Bayonetta’s character.  There was a lot of fuss about her, from her realistic head proportions, to how she is “Sexually Intimidating” in a medium of ice queens and female characters who are still kids at heart.  

But in order to be sexually intimidating, Bayonetta needs to exhibit an air of sex appeal, but she is just some person who wears their hair as black leather, has guns on her feet.  Her breast and arse are rather large, along with her hips and legs, but something about her just resounds  in one big meh.  Maybe its just because I don’t really enjoy seeing what Bayonetta does, moving like a dancer while beating the snot out of and torturing angels.  I know that it does not make any sense, but when I see a realistic looking game, I feel like killing should have some weight to it.  And while calling Bayonetta realistic is an inappropriate term, it is clearly trying to base its look more after actual humans than character drawings.  

But when she kills angels, I don’t feel like she places any real weight on her actions, and is just going around and fighting because the player is ordering her too.  Even though she is suppose to be sexually intimidating, I have full control over her in gameplay, and whenever I get hit or lose a combo, I keep on getting the sense that I am not playing the game right, since the playable character is being out of what I perceive to be her character.

But onto the main reason why I didn’t keep playing, the gameplay.  There are two types of gameplay, wandering around a fairly linear world that occasionally has secrets off the beaten path.  Which would be alright, except for the embarrassingly evident invisible walls, and janky camera.  But then we have the combat.  Now, I would have felt no shame in playing the game on Easy, but there’s one problem with that, there are two main difficulties in this game, auto-play, where you tap A to win.  Or if you want to actually play the title, you can go into normal, which kicked my plums unless I practiced for hours upon hours, until I got fed up with the title.  But the combat is all about dodging and reacting at the right instant, harkening back to the simplest rule of gaming, move correctly, don’t die.  Although, with the flashy moves produced from both Bayonetta and her angel adversaries, make it really hard to tell if you will get hit.  But even then, the enemies look very odd, so figuring out when they’ll hit requires practice.

And you know what, I would probably end up dying again and again until I got better at playing the game, but that is not what I should do according to the game.  You see, I tend to base my experiences as much as possible off of the mechanics the developers place unto me.  There are exceptions, but this is not one of them.  In this game, you have a score after every sequence of battles you have, where you are given a score for your hits taken, time completed, and the number of combos you did.  

But before every session, the game saves.  So if you do die, you start right back where you were before the combat section.  However, if you do die, you get a large point reduction.  And if you use items, your point total will continue to drop.  So the best way to avoid this is to go through every fight until you get it just right, so if you get hit a few times, go back to the title screen, go through the waiting room of practicing moves, and wait about a minute before you are back in the action.  This is not promoting skill as much as it is promoting patience with playing the most efficient way, or until you memorize every battle.  In other words, the game is against trying unless you are willing to jump through several hoops.

The later one is a very frantic and loose combo based hack and slash, where your attacks feel underwhelming even after getting upgrades, and you dodge while hoping that your combos do not reset, you do not get hit, and you move really fast.  Now, when I play games, I like to be very careful with my movements, taking quick jabs and staying alive, but Bayonetta tells me that I must be a twat, by giving me a ranking system.  

Now, I understand the desire for a ranking system, it enforces smart play, and makes for ample replay value.  However, needing to balance my time, combo count, and minimize my damage, makes it feel like a test where I need to memorize combos instead of terms and equations. Toss in the fact that the game basically calls you a cowardly shrew if you use items, making their existence absolutely pointless.  And the only say I can foresee improvement is by constantly replaying it to ad nauseum, until you can see the enemies’ patterns through the large amounts of bloom that are contained in the game’s combat sections.  Or, like me, use the exit game option, load your auto-checkpoint save, and try once more.  I did just the same with Dark Souls, and it creates the same mentality of not being able to get better, but gaining the fortune to fuck up a lot less.

I do like how it blends visually reality and fantasy, since the most modern things are vehicles from the 1950s, and it does not feel like it ever wanted to be the real Earth.  The angels on the other hand, are overdesigned and not memorable.  I mean, I remember their basic shape, but the details are lost upon a game that mosts as fast as this.  I like the music, since it is upbeat and catchy most of the time, but music can only support a game, not save it.  

It is loose enough to create a sense of freedom in the combat zone, but the penalty and pressure put on you in every battle is like having parents who expect you to be in the top 5% of the school, except you have save points before taking a randomly generated AP test.  So yeah, Bayonetta is like an elitist 5.0 git who loves to rub in the fact that they’re better than you.  I like how the game looks if you scaled back the amount of whites used, I understand that you fight angels, but cut back on the bright colors, and making Bayonetta be the most eye catching bit, since we need to focus on the enemies so that we can dodge them and activate slow-mo and deal the most damage we can.

So yeah, I really didn’t enjoy this title.  Maybe I’m missing the appeal, but no game should ever need to be explained for its gameplay to be fun, and not obnoxious.  How this got a perfect Famitsu score is beyond me, since this game is going right to my ever-growing pile of titles that I dislike, but everyone else loves.  I will not say that it is bad, but I did not find it very entertaining, which is pretty much the same thing.

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