Bayonetta 2 was released for the Wii U a few weeks ago and it follows up 2010’s Bayonetta in spectacular fashion. Platinum Games refined the formula of the original and managed to top it in every way imaginable. During the course of my playthrough, it was apparent that I was enjoying my time with it considerably more than I did with the original. For a while it was hard for me to determine how much of that was attributable to the knowledge of the gameplay systems I carried over from my recent playthrough of the original. It was definitely a factor, but this game had enough chutzpah to keep me entertained for its duration.
Recalling Bayonetta, I was able to easily define my satisfaction into three distinct tranches. At first I was mystified by the game and eager to learn more. As it progressed though, I began to lose interest in the story as the overarching plot took a backseat to character development. That, and the game’s difficulty was ramping up, but my skills weren’t. Eventually though, everything evened out; the story bits that I was interested in picked back up and I began to excel at the game.
With Bayonetta 2, I never found myself losing interest in the story. From the outset, it was just as outlandish as the original. Beginning with the backdrop of Vigrid during Christmastime, Bayonetta was out doing some shopping with Enzo acting as her personal luggage hauler. I’ll say quickly, what a shame they didn’t retain Enzo’s voice actor from the original. Within minutes, Bayonetta was in a battle on top of an airborne fighter jet. By the end of this first stage Bayonetta summoned a skyscraper-sized beast from Inferno which turned on her, forcing her to destroy it as it scaled a skyscraper King Kong-style.
Needless to say, the game left a strong initial impression, and the story didn’t waiver as much as it did in the original either. There were two prominent story threads, with the lesser of the two coming to a resolution around the game’s halfway mark. This quest led Bayonetta to Inferno, and very much tied into the overall plot. As an Umbra Witch, Bayonetta has no issues summoning and controlling the beasts of Inferno, which made the events of the first stage troublesome. Rodin, the purveyor of the Gates of Hell, believed that the balance between the three realms of Paradiso, Purgatorio, and Inferno, were becoming skewed, and he was spot on.
This was partially the case because of Loki. He appeared to be a little one with dreadlocks, but looks were deceiving. He was truly a crucial character to Bayonetta’s history, dating back to the Witch Hunts of 500 years ago. The villain though, well he was a mysterious prophet searching for the Eyes of the World – the objects entrusted to the Umbra Witches (Inferno) and the Lumen Sages (Paradiso) to oversee humanity (Purgatorio), and keep all realms in balance. He summoned partner from the past too, also with ties to Bayonetta. Through the course of the game, Bayonetta hopped between the realms and time, and kept me captivated all the way through.
The same can be said for the combat. Since I came directly off of the original, I didn’t have to deal with a learning curve. I already knew I was going to mash the punch button a million times, and occasionally throw in a kick or two. Honestly though, I knew how to handle enemies, and I knew which accessories I wanted. I continued to remain ignorant on the wealth of combos as they seemed superfluous to my play style. I wanted to keep the tempo high and spamming the lighter, faster punch worked well enough for me. However, this was only the case because I was adept at dodging.
Just like in the first game, when an enemy’s attack was evaded at the last moment, Bayonetta would enter Witch Time. The world around her slowed down allowing me to wail on the enemies and build up her magic gauge. When it was full, I was able to activate Umbran Climax which magnified her attacks incredibly. They became super strong long-reaching variants of her normal attacks, and even incorporated her demon summoning. Alternatively, I could opt to finish an enemy with a torture attack – a barbaric quick-time event in which she ended her foe like it was a Mortal Kombat fatality.
As I knew which accessories I wanted – primarily the same two I used previously – I was able to acquire those, and spend my collected rings on miscellaneous goodies. There were many unlockable costumes, most of them available after the game’s completion. The Nintendo ones were available from the beginning, but they were expensive. To a Nintendo fan though, they were worthwhile. Some even altered the combat style too making them more than simple visual flair. There was plenty more besides costumes to purchase from Rodin too, most of it much more useful.
One way I found to be relatively efficient at grinding rings was the Tag Climax mode. It was an online competitive/cooperative game mode in which two players were matched up and took on challenges. They revolved around defeating enemies, either groups of them or bosses. One player chose the challenge, and then bet rings on it. The wager acted as a difficulty mode, increasing the challenge, but if successful, also increased the payload. Both players hacked and slashed their way through the enemy horde, and whoever scored the most points, reaped that bet. However, to cash out, the duo had to complete six challenges. If both players perished in a challenge, they would lose their rings and start anew.
I do think that Bayonetta 2 is a better game than its predecessor. I thought the story was more captivating and featured less “dead” stretches. The combat was improved with the addition of the Umbran Climax, giving me another tool in the playbook to tip the scales in my favor. In regards to both of those aspects, they wouldn’t have shined so much were it not for the outlandish and impressive set-piece events and bosses that occupied my ten hour playthrough. Tag Climax was a fun addition too, I just wish it was available for local play. So, after all I do believe the game is more enjoyable than the original, but coming directly off of it didn’t hurt.