Sega is no stranger to over-the-top games based on absurd premises, as proven by titles like MadWorld, The House of the Dead: Overkill, and Daisy Fuentes Pilates. Bayonetta, developed by Platinum Games (makers of MadWorld) and directed by Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe), looks to raise the bar for modern action games into the heavens – where the titular character can slaughter any angels she comes across.
Bayonetta is a witch who hunts and kills angels. Evil angels. But that’s just the beginning of her insanity; she shoots the aforementioned angels with guns attached to her feet. Her skintight outfit just happens to be made out of her own hair, which is also used to summon and create supernatural monsters. The bodies of these demons are also made up of Bayonetta’s hair, as are various torture attacks, including one where a giant high-heeled foot comes down from the sky and crushes her foes. Naturally, the more hair demons she summons, the more naked Bayonetta gets. What can you expect when Kamiya states the game’s central theme is “sexiness”?
Kamiya also dubs Bayonetta an “infinity climax action” game. While we’re aware of the perverted undertones, this means the unrelenting, breakneck gameplay is the beating heart underneath Bayonetta’s bawdy exterior. Gameplay comparisons to Devil May Cry are entirely appropriate, though Dante may have a hard time keeping up thanks to the additions of a free camera system and Witch Time, which slows down the action when you narrowly dodge an enemy’s attack, allowing you to set up brutal counters. The non-stop action that ensues, drenched in too many graphical flourishes to count, leaves us with racing pulses -- not to mention a mild case of Attention Deficit Disorder.
While the developers strive to reach their goal of “infinity climax action,” the length of the story is anything but. Kamiya says Bayonetta will take 10 to 12 hours to complete -- but he also says the team views a player’s first run through of the game as a warm-up lap. The real fun comes from mastering moves, striving for the Platinum rank (the game features a rating system similar to Viewtiful Joe), and breaking high scores. We have to wait until early next year to find out if Bayonetta achieves gameplay perfection, or if she ends up as just another witch with a bad hair day. But from what we’ve played so far, Bayonetta is looking mighty fine.