Typically there’s no coming back from spending 500 years at the bottom of a lake, but for Bayonetta, it just resulted in a case of amnesia. However, if it wasn’t immediately obvious, Bayonetta is not an ordinary person. Instead, she was a member of an order known as the Umbra Witches who kept the world in balance along with their counterparts, the Lumen Sages. In the 20 years since she woke up without her memory, Bayonetta has been trying to uncover not only her past but also the reason for the mysterious disappearance of both factions. The only link she has is a red gem, which is supposed to have a blue counterpart said to be owned by the Lumen Sages. Finally, rumors begin to surface that the other gem might be in a European city called Vigrid, so Bayonetta wastes no time getting there and obliterating anyone and anything standing in her way.
If the story sounds familiar it is more than likely due to the fact that Bayonetta was originally released in 2010 for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It was followed by an anime adaptation in 2013 and a WiiU exclusive sequel in 2014. However, PC owners had to wait patiently until 2017 before PlatinumGames decided to port the game to Windows. Despite the lengthy wait, the game was eagerly anticipated as it was considered to be one of the best hack and slash video games of its time by many players. This doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a certain amount of trepidation involved as not only has it been years since the original game was released, but console to PC ports also have a less than stellar track record. The good news is that PlatinumGames managed to deliver a sterling effort that is not just a blistering port, but the definite version of the game.
For those not familiar with the pedigree of Bayonetta, it was created by Hideki Kamiya, who was previously the director of the original Devil May Cry. This means that the game shares a lot of similarities with the classic Capcom series, but has a very distinct style of its own. As Bayonetta, players traverse a series of levels while brutally beating up anything in their way. Strangely enough, enemies consist mostly of angelic creatures, although the freakish designs are definitely very unique. The game is also very enthusiastic about its story, so players can expect frequent cut-scenes, but to try and explain even half of the over-the-top plot would require dozens of paragraphs. Suffice to say the story is about as bizarre as you can imagine considering it stars an angel killing witch who uses her hair for clothing and special attacks. Some players, especially Devil May Cry fans, will love the story, which veers between comedy and tragedy in equal measures.
Considering the fact that the original game was almost a decade old by the time this PC port hit the market its not an exaggeration to say that PlatinumGames did an incredible job. Not only does Bayonetta support resolutions of up to 4K on PC, but the game also runs in 60 frames per second. The game didn’t look and play too bad on Xbox 360 back in the day, but the Playstation 3 version was a complete mess when it came to optimization, so it’s a relief to see the PC version fare so well. Of course, as good as the game looks you’ll still spot some muddy textures and the camera is as unwieldy as always. It’s also a pity to see that the cut-scenes are locked at 30 frames per second as some of them are filled with just as much, if not more action than the game itself. Still, the bosses look awe-inspiring and the character designs are as unique now as they were all those years ago. Not all of the locations in the game are that impressive and a few of the backdrops are a little too static for our liking, but overall the visuals are great.
The non-stop action in Bayonetta won over a lot of players on console and it’s no different on PC. To say that the battles in Bayonetta are over the top would be an understatement, but it requires more than just button mashing to make progress. You might still be able to get away with it on the two easiest difficulty settings, but once you go for “Normal”, “Hard” or “∞ Climax” you can expect your skills to be tested. In addition to punching and kicking Bayonetta also wields four guns, although you can swap these out for more exotic weaponry as you progress through the game. Although she grips two of her guns in her hands, the other two are slotted into her stylish stilettos, so you can imagine what spectacle battles can turn into.
Performing combos is important for taking down enemies and getting a good score, but dodging is equally important. Fortunately, the game allows you to continue your combos after a dodge if you are skilled enough, but this is something that takes practice. Even better, a successful dodge trigger “Witch Time” which is as close as a breather you get in most fights and very handy for getting in some uninterrupted hits as your foes flail around in slow motion. In addition, Bayonetta can perform “Wicked Weave” attacks, which literally transforms her hair into massive feet or fists to pummel foes. Keep in mind that her hair also serves as her outfit, so these wicked weave attacks leave her a little more “exposed” than usual. This goes even further for boss battles where landing the final blow requires Bayonetta to go pretty much completely naked as she summons a massive demonic creature to tear her enemy to shreds. The nudity is obviously somewhat censored, but still pretty risqué by gaming standards. Our only gripe with the combat, apart from the dodgy camera angles at times, is the inclusion of quick-time events. These were all the rage back when the game was first released, but these days they are seen more as a nuisance than anything else. There’s nothing like suddenly seeing a prompt to press “X” mid-battle only to instantly die because you didn’t do it in time.
Even normal enemies can put up a hell of a fight, so you need to learn how to handle the different types of foes that you go up against. The bosses, on the other hand, are in a class of their own and most of them tower far above Bayonetta. You are able to earn halos while playing, which is the in-game currency that can be used to buy everything from new moves to items. You can even create your own healing or protective items thanks to a simple crafting system. The ingredients for these can be found by breaking everything destructible in sight, so there even more incentive to leave nothing standing in your wake.
Fighting enemies and bosses will take up most of your time in Bayonetta, but there are also a few simple puzzles here and there that mostly involve punching or dodging. Bayonetta can eventually gain animal forms, such as a crow for flying and panther for speed as well, which factors into some puzzles. The route through the levels in Bayonetta is fairly linear, but the game does encourage you to explore a little bit to find all the hidden extras. These range from notes that explain more about the convoluted back-story, to the Umbra Witches’ final resting places that hold upgrades and treasure. Then there are the Alfheim portals where the truly skilled can take on difficult challenges and even a funfair style shooting gallery between levels for earning extra halos or items. One thing that might be a bit love or hate for some players is the inclusion of some Space Harrier style sequences where Bayonetta flies into the screen while battling enemies. One thing that we can say for sure is that there is never a dull moment in this game.
While Bayonetta is playable with a keyboard and mouse, it is clear that it was designed with a controller, so that’s the way we played it. The controls are responsive and with a bit of time and practice, most players should be able to dodge and bust out combos in no time. Speaking of combos, the much faster loading times on PC compared to the old consoles have caused an interesting side effect. These loading screens were traditionally used to display combos for players to practice, but anyone with a half-decent PC will simply see them whiz past before they can press anything. The game is so intense that playing a few levels in a row can be downright exhausting, especially when facing bosses when your dodge button will be working overtime.
When it comes to audio we have to take our hats off to Hellena Taylor who did the voice for Bayonetta. Her British accent is the perfect match for the sexy, sultry and sarcastic protagonist and somehow she manages to make even some of the goofiest quips by Bayonetta sound great. The rest of the actors did a decent job too although all of the Angels you face speak Enochian, which is a rather creepy touch. The song “Fly Me To The Moon” features prominently in the soundtrack to the game, but there’s also plenty of other great tunes backing up the action.
Bayonetta on PC could easily have turned out to be a case of too little, too late, but instead serves as a great showcase of what can be accomplished with a bit of effort. The game not only looks and sounds great but also plays beautifully. The inclusion of extras such as Steam Achievements, cloud saves, trading cards, and leader boards are just the cherry on top. The game does show its age in spots, especially some of the cut-scenes, but the fact that we could be torturing an angel with a guillotine or iron maiden in one scene and then surfing around half-naked while fighting a boss in the next keeps things interesting. Bayonetta is definitely a game where the stakes and spectacle just get higher and bigger with each new level. It can become rather frustrating on any difficulty above “Easy” but it is a game that you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again until you have beaten it. If you somehow missed out on the game when it was on consoles or simply want to replay it with better visuals and a smoother frame-rate, then this PC version is not to be missed. This makes it even more of a pity that the odds of the Nintendo owned sequel(s) ever appearing on PC is slim to none.
- OS: Microsoft Windows 7 / 8 (8.1)/ 10
- Processor: Core i3 3220
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: Radeon HD6950 / GeForce GTX 570 (VRAM 768MB)
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Storage: 20 GB available space
- OS: Windows 7 / 8 (8.1)/ 10
- Processor: Core i5 4460
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: Radeon HD7870 / Geforce GTX 760 or more (VRAM 2GB or more)
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Storage: 20 GB available space