Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon Review
Story And Setting
Visuals And Performance
A beautiful art style coupled with some neat gameplay mechanics makes this game an easy recommendation for both long-time fans and newcomers alike.
- Developers: PlatinumGames Inc.
- Publishers: Nintendo of America Inc.
- Release Date: March 8, 2023
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Predecessor: Bayonetta 3
- Compelling Story
- Alluring Art Syle
- The Soundtrack
- Neat Gameplay Mechanics
- Characters Can Get Lost During Combat
- Game Stops Being Challenging Halfway Through
Bayonetta games are known for their fast-paced hack-and-slash combat and over-the-top energy. But this time around, the developers have stepped away from this tired and tested formula and created a spin-off title with a completely different tone and direction. And as we’ll discuss in our review of Bayonetta Origins, that decision might have paid off.
Because changing a tried and tested formula is never easy, and can forever alienate a fanbase. This decision was definitely a risk, but the recent release and positive reception to Bayonetta 3 cut the developers some slack. And so I am pleased to announce that the risks have taken have completely paid off.
How? you might be wondering. Well, let us find the answer to this question together in this Bayonetta Origins Review.
Story and Setting
Bayonetta Origins follows Cereza in her younger years when she was not the monster-slashing prodigy we all know and love, but a feeble child trying to fight against the world, and herself. Living with her mentor Morgana, she was learning magic but was constantly held back by her insecurities, and the need to impress her stern master further weighed her down. More than anything, she wants to become a powerful witch, and the motivation behind this was not to just impress her master but to save her imprisoned mother.
But after seeing a dream that shows her the way to gain the power she desires, Cereza leaves her mentor and enters a mystical Forest. There, she tries to summon a demon to help her in her quest, but things don’t go as planned and the demon ends up possessing Cheshire, her beloved stuffed animal. Thus starts the tale of the two, as they venture into the mysterious forest together, uncovering its secrets and strengthening their bond. Their relationship is rocky at the start, but as the game progresses and as the duo delves deeper into the woods, their partnership becomes deeper too, despite them having ultimately separate goals.
The story here is light-hearted and I really enjoyed it, even though the plot was not mind-blowing or complex enough. But the interactions between Cerza and Cheshire are what made me fall in love with it, and as the story progressed, these got more meaningful and went from being contentious at the start, to straight-up adorable near the end. This is what kept me hooked throughout the entirety of this campaign.
Bayonetta Origins is a platformer and an action game combined into one, and the gameplay here is fundamentally different from the previous Bayonetta titles.
Players are put in control of both Cereza and Cheshire and must make them work together to solve puzzles, fight enemies, and essentially make their way through this forest. You control Cerza with the left side of the controller and Cheshire with the right. This might seem cumbersome for some at first, but this system is efficiently integrated and you can get used to it fairly quickly. Still, many times when the screen gets hectic due to multiple enemies, the controls can get confusing as you can’t figure out where your characters are. This can lead to many misjudged movements which can sometimes have serious repercussions.
Both Cereza and Cheshire are suited for different tasks and are called for in different situations. Cheshire’s skillset is more diverse than her partner’s; she can block attacks, pull objects, create explosions, disarm shielded enemies, and more. She has an unleashed mode during which she goes all-out on the offensive and a hug mode where she shrinks on Cerza’s shoulder and can be used as a tool by her to reach high places or to hit foes from afar. There are also four elemental cores in the forest, each of which when destroyed, give Cheshire a new elemental form. An example is the Woodland form which allows Cheshire to hook onto a drawbridge. Each form also unlocks new combat abilities, changing the dynamics of the battle and keeping it fresh.
Where Chezire has the brawns, Cereza has the brains. Her abilities then are more about finding pathways or assisting her companion in combat. She can use her talents to make some inanimate objects come alive and open up new paths, but more importantly, she can trap enemies and let Cheshire pound them to dust. Cereza assists Cheshire in combat, while Cheshire assists Cerza in solving puzzles. Both of their abilities need to be used together to take down tougher foes.
Speaking of tougher foes, boss fights are the highlight of this title. Each boss has a unique arena and a unique set of attack patterns that need to be learned, and they have weaknesses that can be exploited by using the duo’s abilities together efficiently. However, sometimes these adrenaline-filled battles can make it really tough to control your characters as the screen gets crowded, as mentioned above.
There are also mini-dungeons known as Tír Na Nógs, some of which are optional, scattered throughout the map They provide a nice combination of puzzle-solving with combat scenarios to really test the player’s skills, and ensure that they are ready for what’s to come later in the game. However, these dungeons can get quite repetitive after a few times. Because instead of getting more complex as the story progresses, they start to stagnate, making going through them ultimately a chore.
Besides the combat, there are many secrets and journal entries scattered throughout the world, which require one to be more inquisitive and willing to be distracted from the main quest for a while. Journal entries offer juicy lore and a deeper insight into this franchise for veteran players. Overall, although the gameplay loop is quite simple compared to the previous Bayonetta games, the host of new abilities throughout the 15-hour run keeps it fresh. And that’s coming from personal experience from when I played Bayonetta Origins to prepare our review.
Visuals And Performance
The art style of this game is beautiful and probably my favorite in the series. It can resemble a painting and fits right in with the cozy theme of the light adventures starring the young witch Cerza. Each region of the Avalon Forest is unique and the transitions between the regions are really smooth.
Part of me wanted to keep exploring the forest, not because I was looking for a collectible or anything, but because of how beautiful it looked. I’m a sucker for unique art styles and I can safely say that this game’s visuals have won my heart and my vote when it comes to it.
The soundtrack is another highlight of the journey. It changes with the environment you are in and can go from soothing to spooky to adrenaline-filling orchestral pieces in combat scenarios. The game enjoys optimal performance on the Nintendo Switch with no major bugs or crashes. It is a true testament to the power of the Nintendo Switch, which although weaker than its competition, is enough to render games with less graphical fidelity, but unique art styles.
Bayonetta Origins is stunning. The compelling story of a teenager fighting against her insecurities and trying to prove herself in the increasingly competitive world will hit home for many. That coupled with a beautiful art style, a well-crafted soundtrack, neat gameplay mechanics, and a compelling friendship makes this game an easy recommendation for both long-time fans and newcomers alike.
Don’t sleep on this just because it’s not what you’re used to with the series. Be open to new experiences, and the game will knock your socks off.
This has been our Bayonetta Origins Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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