The absurdity continues.
Imagine, for a moment, a young lady in a beautiful dress walking down a busy city street. She is being followed by a short foulmouthed Italian-American man. She’s out on the town so of course she wouldn’t be expected to carry her own bags thus the man is carrying them. Since it’s Christmastime, music and laughter are in the air. People are out shopping, eating, and celebrating. A fighter jet flies by overheard as part of the seasonal celebration. Suddenly, the jet changes course and heads straight for the short man. Just before it hits him, the lady in the dress jumps in front of him and kicks the jet straight up into the air. The lady’s name is Bayonetta and this is how her second great adventure begins. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
If you read that description above and you still aren’t sold on the Bayonetta series then I don’t think you ever will be. I very recently played and reviewed the first Bayonetta and I’m already back to review the second game so you can tell I’m a fan. Many aspects (most if we’re being honest) of Bayonetta 2 are the same as the first game. There are a few differences, however, and they make all the difference.
To start with, the combat is mostly the same as the first game. It’s fast, frenetic, and simple to learn yet hard to master. There is no long list of combos (except when practicing during loading screens) so experimentation is in order to figure out the best way to defeat enemies. The big difference here is that once Bayonetta’s magic gauge has filled up, she can either unleash torture attacks (like in the first title) or use the magic for an Umbran Climax. An Umbran Climax allows Bayonetta to use Wicked Weaves (stronger attacks that trigger after a combo) in quick succession against her opponents. This was an interesting mechanic that I used more than the torture attacks. It was a new and interesting way to play and I appreciated its addition.
This time around Bayonetta faces off against not just the angels of Paradiso but also the demons of Inferno. All of the monster designs are top-notch and each set has their own color scheme and look. Bayonetta 2 places a larger emphasis on boss battles than its predecessor which I preferred to be honest. Most of the bosses are huge monstrosities that Bayonetta must fight while flying or gliding around. I personally liked fighting the human bosses more because it was easier to close the distance with them and to tell how close I was. There were times when, while I was fighting a huge boss, I would miss because I was just out of reach. It was a weird problem to have but it didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment of the game.
I do want to mention that I think Platinum Games (the developer) tweaked the difficulty levels considerably since Bayonetta’s first outing. If you can recall, while playing Bayonetta, I had to change the difficulty from Normal to Easy because it was too hard for me since I’m terrible at video games. In Bayonetta 2, however, I had to do the opposite. I started out on Easy but bumped it up to Normal. This was a bizarre change of events but I’m glad I could actually play the game on the higher difficulty. Even while on that setting, I was able to complete most of the Muspelheim challenges (these are the same as the Alfheim portals from the first game). I feel like the difficulty had been balanced out and I’m grateful for that.
What’s most improved in Bayonetta 2 when compared with the first game is the story. It involves time travel, dimension shifting, the Eyes of the World (if you can remember, these are the stones that control reality in the human world), and yet another person that Bayonetta calls “Little One.” Although this tale is filled with as much absurdity and ridiculousness as the first game, it does make more sense (there are still a few plot holes though). In fact, when taken together, the stories of both games make one complete whole. I don’t know if the good people at Platinum took the criticism of the story in Bayonetta to heart and strove to fix its problems with the second game or they had always planned it to be this way. I choose to believe it was the latter since both stories complement each other so well.
Many characters make their return in Bayonetta 2 including Enzo (the foulmouthed Italian-American from before), Rodin, Jeanne, and Luka. They all have important roles to play in the story and it was good to see them again (even though it hadn’t been that long). In fact, Jeanne is the catalyst for the story. Bayonetta sets off to rescue her childhood friend who is dragged down into Inferno after dying in a battle against some angels. Along the way, Bayonetta is swept up in a much bigger struggle involving the Eyes of the World, a young man, and a sacred mountain named Fimbulventr. It is an exciting tale filled with over-the-top action and absurd cutscenes.
What I like most about the story, however, is that it fleshes out the backstory of an integral character from the first title (I won’t say who because it would spoil it). I know it will be difficult to describe since I won’t name the character but I will try anyway. I thought this person didn’t get a fair shake in Bayonetta and I’m glad we got to see why this particular character was so important in the first game’s story. This facet of the story tied the two games together in a way that was most satisfying for me personally.
While playing through the story, the player receives Verse cards after completing the different chapters. These cards represent the monsters that Bayonetta has defeated. These cards are used in a new mode called Tag Climax. In this mode, two players (whether through local co-op, online, or with AI controlled characters) compete against each other. Each player bets a certain number of halos (the in-game currency which can’t be purchased with real money) and whoever has the highest score at the end wins. There are six rounds and a different Verse card is chosen each time. As I said before, Verse cards represent monsters and thus the card that is chosen determines which monsters you will face. The mode is designed for competitive players and, as I’ve said before, I’m not very good at the game so it’s not for me. I’m glad it’s there for those who want to play competitively though.
Before I wrap this up, I do want to mention a few miscellaneous details. The first one being that the colors are way more vibrant in Bayonetta 2 than they were in the first game. I don’t know if it is the HD factor or what but it looks way better in my opinion. In addition, although the story isn’t very long (about nine hours), there is an insane number of collectibles for people who like that sort of thing. Some of them are cleverly hidden so I wish all of you luck should you decide to seek them out. Finally, I will say that I did not enjoy the OST in Bayonetta 2 as much as I did in Bayonetta. I remember a few tracks from the first game but none of the pieces from the second stood out to me which made me a sad panda.
Indeed, if you liked the first Bayonetta then you will definitely enjoy Bayonetta 2. The combat is as good as ever, the absurdity is off the charts, and the story fills in some sorely needed details from Bayonetta. Although the story is good, there are still a few plot holes. These will hopefully be filled in when we get our hands on Bayonetta 3 for the Switch (I am still amazed that Nintendo of all companies is backing this franchise). Having completed both Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2, I cannot wait for the next chapter in Bayonetta’s story.
Final Score: 9/10
- Combat is as great as ever
- Story fills in much needed details
- Over-the-top absurdity
- There are a few plot holes
Thanks for reading the last review of 2018! There will be one last biased review on Friday so be sure to stay tuned! Until next time, this has been Tim Colegate a.k.a. The Pretend Gamer. Thank you!