If you could take anything away from the build-up to the release of Bayonetta, it would be that the game will be over-the-top in as many ways as possible. Developed by Platinum Games, and helmed by Devil May Cry Creator Hideki Kamiya, Bayonetta attempts to go leaps and bounds over other well established action franchises, including the series he created, to take the spot of the best combo-based action game out there. The result is an experience that hasn't been seen in quite a long time.
Bayonetta's combat system draws a lot from the Devil May Cry series, but expands on some of the core mechanics. Being able to equip different weapons on both her hands and her feet, Bayonetta's combo system feels larger and more robust than its forerunners, but it is “Witch Time” that truly puts it over the top. Instead of a standard “super” mode that most action games tend to use, a well-timed dodge slows down time, which is just incredibly satisfying, and adds a great deal to the game. This system rewards skillful playing, and makes what seems like a nonsensical button masher, into an intricate gameplay experience.
Bayonetta's second strongest suit is its style. Though the game's art direction makes it look like it can fit right in the Devil May Cry universe, in action, the game provides a whole different look and feel. Expect an impressive set of different locales to trade blows in, as well as some absolutely breathtaking cutscenes. The game ties everything together with incredible level design, that features unique locales and scenarios. Animations in the game are also crisp, making the cut scenes a treat to watch (and not just from their "provocative" angles).
Its sound quality is not as strong as its graphics and gameplay. While Bayonetta's voice acting is fittingly campy and sultry, the rest of the supporting cast is a mixed bag. While some of the lines themselves have lots of puns and references to other Sega games, as well as Devil May Cry, the voice acting is just not good. The game's music is also spotty. Battle music consists of quirky jazz and J-Pop tunes that oddly fitting with the orchestral numbers that start whenever things get serious…which is actually a little bit of a problem. Despite being the epitome of excess, there are times where it actually tries to take itself seriously, which just lessens the experience. If they kept the game consistently ridiculous, it would’ve strengthened the game as a whole, even if it weakened the narrative.
With a modified scoring system and a ton of unlockables, Bayonetta has some long, leathery legs after the initial playthough. Different difficulty levels, some secrets, and a robust leaderboards system give a lot of incentive for hardcore players to show off. It also helps that the game is a satisfyingly lengthy experience (ten to sixteen hours). It's good to see that single-player-centric games are making smart incentives to keep players playing.
Bayonetta is made for the hardcore gamer. Its sensationally over-the-top style may turn a few players off but underneath all that flash, style, and madness is one of the most engaging, satisfying combat systems in action games today. While some would call Kratos from God of War, Dante from Devil May Cry and Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden the “Kings of Action Games”, Bayonetta puts a queen above them all. I don't think she would have it any other way, either.