My Oh My, Platinum Games really are flexing their muscles recently are they not? First Nier: Automata and now a Bayonetta port?! Platinum please my inner teenager can only take so much excitement. The Japanese developer has always had a reputation for bringing us great action games but the Bayonetta re-release serves as a bombastic reminder that they have been masters of the craft well before their success with the Nier Franchise. Released back in 2009, with Hideki Kamiya – creator of the original Devil May Cry – at the helm, Bayonetta pushed the boundary in almost every aspect in what the genre was capable of. Whether it was within the game’s combat, visuals or audio no game has ever reached the peak that Bayonetta achieved.
The Third Person Hack ‘N Slash sub genre of video games has been one of my personal favourites for many years ever since playing the first Devil May Cry on the PS2 back in 2001 but ever since Bayonetta destroyed the bar in which I set these games upon, and just like an ex-girlfriend that would do all the dirty deeds, no game has managed to satisfy me as Bayonetta did. Eventually I would always go back and compare new games in the genre to Bayonetta’s dance-of-death style of combat that was created on the idea that perfectly timed combos, mechanical knowledge and sheer skill are the genre’s true strengths. I’ve had friends often talk to me about the God of War and Devil May Cry games as if they match up side-by-side but those games, well they’re just sheer cinematography next to Bayonetta for me.
However, if someone told you Bayonetta was a Cinematic experience they wouldn’t be lying, the combat is laden with an obscene amount of particle effects, explosions and bombastic quick-time events that weave in to the combat seamlessly that create fantastic finishers and moments of self-reflection that force you to remark with a simple “nice.” The combat is dealt with in a standard format of heavy and light attacks that when combined together in quick succession, or with momentary pauses in between, result in stylish combos. That doesn’t sound all too ground breaking but each and everyone of these combos all have their own uses in the right situation and each are as satisfying to use as the last. You will quickly realise that a fast one-two punch that ends in a giant boot falling from the sky is more useful against bosses where the longest of combos that prove useful against groups of mobs are needed to survive. The quick-time events (known as climaxes and torture attacks) are one of Bayonetta’s greatest strengths and are handled with interaction that doesn’t feel lazy – I’m looking at you Halo 4’s Didact – They mostly involve you smashing a single button over and over again but give you a meter that is satisfying to fill and that adds to the overall arcade over the top style that Bayonetta swims in. The game thrives on aggression and empowers you to continue the assault, weaving dodges and special attacks to nullify enemy damage. It’s a formula that has sadly died in recent years and the only other notable game that springs to my mind when we’re discussing the realms of visceral and aggressive combat that empowers you with speed and offensive prowess in order to survive is 2016’s DOOM.
Right, now that my fanaticism towards Bayonetta is off my chest, allow me to get on to the original point of the article and that is the port report for Bayonetta. And well, the results are magical as far as a port of an 8 year old game goes. We’ve seen a myriad of titles being ported to pc over the years and are often strife with issues on release that often include but not limited things like 30FPS locks, poorly optimised performance and limited resolution options. Well I’m happy to report that all of these issues we have come to expect from console ports are all but non existent as the game runs on a solid 60 fps on my GTX 960 on max settings and sports 4k support with custom resolutions. I’d also like to take a moment to relish on how well the game has actually aged in terms of it’s visuals. Don’t expect massively detailed textures but the use of colours, sweet combos, particle effects and gigantic enemies that over populate the screen still make for an impressive display, another testament to Platinum games’ mastery of the genre and the fact that when considering the limitations developers faced with the 7th generation consoles they still managed to create a game that holds up better visually than some AAA games of today. Once again this is not due to the texture resolutions (of which most are fairly low) but mostly because of the sheer amount of stuff on the screen all at one point in time. On top of all this, after 25 hours of game time I have suffered from absolutely no technological errors. Not even one glitch through the map or any kind of crash, this could be due to the fact that Bayonetta was already pretty solid in this area but it gives me great faith in Platinum if they decide to port other titles to the PC, in fact a Vanquish PC Port has been rumoured for years now and with this success I can’t see any reason why Platinum games wouldn’t go for it. Oh and one thing I forgot to mention, the port comes complete with the Japanese voice options, something that adds another layer to the game all together as the English voice acting is as what you’d expect from a Japanese dubbed title.
In terms of negatives, I don’t really have any, if I had to pick something out I would probably point fingers at the music still being rather lofty for my taste but it suits it’s purpose for the overall style of the game, it provides epic moments when it needs to and drops it back to the arcade style SEGA games we all know and love. The sound in itself is a masterpiece, not many games like to use sound as a responsive system for the player to react to and use to maintain momentum but Bayonetta does it so artistically well with the way it slows when dodging attacks to speed back up again when you’re smashing 30 ft angel dude in the face with demon fists. I could also pick at the story but once again, it serves it’s purpose; the tale of two warring clans clashing for the separate sides of light and dark? It’s an ancient story but it’s still one that works and even the scenes with the small child Cereza strike a nerve. This isn’t a game you’d go in to for a deep story narrative anyway, it is however a game you enter to just beat up monsters for a few hours and then come back to time and time again to just let off steam. That’s the thing it never gets boring, it’ll keep bringing you back time and time again and it makes me giddy that it has actually aged so well.
Back in 2009 Platinum Games gave me a title that has been included in to my coveted Top 5 all time favourite games ever since I first played it, one of the first titles I ever 100% completed on the hardest difficulty and one that has had me pining for it’s allure every time I load up a brand new Hack N Slash game. When I found out they would be developing Nier: Automata this was the kind of game play I was hoping for, and even though it does create a pseudo version of Bayonetta’s combat, it always felt like a jack-of-all trades master of none, (apart from it’s excellent story of course) where as Bayonetta set the bar for future action games to come, this is my personal opinion anyway. For me this is the greatest the genre has ever produced, one that promotes skill and flashy technical ability to not only survive but also beat the hardest difficulties. So thank you Sega and thank you Platinum for giving this game back to us, it was surely missed.