Features & News

Demo Impressions: Bayonetta

December 11, 2009, Author: Brian Gourlay

Demos are a wonderful thing. They give us the opportunity to formulate an opinion on something that we’re undecided on and make an educated decision as to whether to shell out or not. After playing through the Bayonetta demo a few times however, only one overarching thought was making it’s way to the front of my mind: “What in god’s name just happened there?” Anyone who’s been following Bayonetta’s development will know that it’s played at a bit of a hectic pace, with a lot of the content being a little bit strange (and the rest being downright depraved).

Well it’s all true, but I was really taken aback at just how “out there” this game appears to be, even in the two short levels that Bayonetta: First Climax (No. I’m not making that up) grants you access to. I’ll try to recount my time with the saucy witch as accurately as I can, but considering it was vaguely comparable to being on an acid trip, it could get a little messy from here on in folks.

The demo starts with a standard enough tutorial that lets you practice Bayonetta’s impressive array of combos, although the upbeat electronic music seems very out of place and is heavily reminiscent of early Pro Evo games. The combos consist of punches, kicks, throws and air moves, and it’s possible to end combos will a flurry of bullets from Bayonetta’s guns, either her akimbo pistols or the hand cannons attached to her kinky stilettos (again, not making it up).

As well as giving you some free form training, the tutorial introduces you to the concept of “Witch Time” which can be obtained by dodging enemy attacks at the last possible moment, filling your meter as well as slowing down time momentarily. This will give you a temporary advantage in a fight but as a longer term benefit, Witch Time is used to execute brutal torture attacks, more on those later. The time you spend on the tutorial is entirely up to you although you only fight one enemy at a time, which makes it difficult to prepare for the carnage that is about to unfold when you’re thrown into the real action.

The first part of the demo begins with our porno-teacher-a-like Bayonetta looking towards the moon as a swarm of flying monsters, which it would appear are in fact angels, menacingly make their way towards her. The camera then pans out to reveal that she’s standing on the top section of a destroyed clock tower which is falling through the air at breakneck speed. Why? I’ll be damned if I know, but man it looks pretty.

That’s about as much context as you can glean from this cut-scene before it’s right into the action as Bayonetta cocks her weapons ready to kick (or should it be spank?) some ass. The combos I picked up in the tutorial are handy as they carry a lot of splash damage to take some of the heat generated by the dozen or so enemies around me. The combat is frantic and exciting but has enough finesse to prevent it degenerating into a button mashing exercise, however that’s not the focal point here, it’s what’s going on around me that had my attention.

Bayonetta fights angels as scenery flashes by while the platform you’re standing on plummets to the ground, disintegrating all the while. A gigantic flying snake crashes into it allowing Bayonetta to show off some silky acrobatics to stay on her feet, and I was almost too busy fighting to notice that a gigantic stone dragon… thing(!) was now matching the clock tower’s descent, clearly getting ready to do something untoward. Apart from one mid-fight cut-scene, it all blends seamlessly into the gameplay and is presented fantastically well considering how insanely fast it’s all going. Alas, it’s over after a mere few minutes as the clocktower meets its maker, leaving the player to wonder what became of Bayonetta as it was engulfed in a fiery explosion.


Is it wrong that I thought "Man I wish she'd do that to me" when I saw this? Yeah, thought so.

As it happens she’s fine, a later mission shows Bayonetta leaving a train, accompanied by a lingering shot of her killer heels and some catwalk music of course, in the City of Vigrid, which appears to be deserted apart from a few odd ghost like figures. Again, it’s difficult to tell what is really going on, and it’s not long before you’re back in a brawl with a squad of Angels, although this time it’s a bit more controlled and gives you more time to really stretch, and admire, Bayonetta’s abilities. The more complex attacks are brutally satisfying and usually have pretty unexpected climaxes (God even I’m at it now), such as a giant stiletto’d foot appearing out of some kind of inter-dimensional portal and stomping your enemy into the dirt. Oh and Bayonetta’s clothes fall off in the process, is that worth mentioning?

This section also lets you try out Bayonetta’s torture moves, which makes Gears of War’s curb stomp look like a bout of Top Gun style ass slapping. Once your meter has filled up enough you can press the two attack buttons together, with the results varying depending on the position that you’ve approached the enemy. A full frontal assault results in an iron maiden sprouting from the ground, which Bayonetta gleefully kicks the unfortunate foe into. Other instruments of pain such as guillotines and some kind of horrible bastardisation of a trouser press also make an appearance. I was also able to make use of some Celestial weapons that my enemies brought to the party including a halberd, flail and…*sigh* a trumpet that shoots fireballs, all of which provide unique advantages in a fight. Yes, even the Grand Trumpet of Flame.

This section ends with a couple of boss fights which seemed disappointingly basic and a bit easy. The first boss, a large hulk of an angel with an equally hulking axe was painstakingly slow and easy to read, while I hope the big red weak spot located on his back doesn’t make too many appearances. After defeating him, Bayonetta unleashes a final climax, which in this case involves her hair turning into an exceptionally ferocious looking dragon, which wastes no time in devouring the helpless looking Angel and ripping it in half. All the while Bayonetta performs a well choreographed victory jig that wouldn’t look out of place at the end of a Final Fantasy random battle, apart from the fact that she’s completely starkers in the process and finishes off by declaring “You’ve been naughty!” If this game doesn’t feature a Cat of Nine Tails as a weapon at some point I swear I’ll march naked into the roughest part of town I can find and start tickling people with a pink feather duster.

The final boss of the demo matches the production levels of the initial section, with Bayonetta trying to take it down while the beast picks up the bridge you’re standing on and continuously smashes it against a wall. The fight comes to an end when the ground from underneath your feet is hurled across the map when suddenly…

The demo ends. It’s pretty short but while it hasn’t left me begging for more, it has at least teased me enough to have considerably raised its profile in my estimation. Apart from a few cryptic cut-scenes it’s pretty tough to extract anything meaningful relating to Bayonetta’s story, but I’m sure that will all fall to place in the finished product. This demo is really to show what Bayonetta herself can do rather than why she’s doing it, and judging by this there isn’t a great deal that she won’t do. No matter how filthy and downright strange it is.