Please note that this review covers various mature topics, so reader discretion is advised. We will also be listing the morality/parental warnings at the beginning of the review instead of the end.
This one will be… interesting. From a story perspective, from a gameplay perspective, and of course from a Catholic perspective this is going to be an interesting review. Unfortunately there will be some spoilers, but I will try to keep them as minimal as possible. Due to the ending showing what the future of the series is however, it’s unavoidable. However, before we dive into the meat and potatoes, there’s two things we should cover, the elephants in the room.
As some people may be aware when Bayonetta 3 was coming out, the original actress of Bayonetta came out and said that Platinum had only offered her $5,000 for her work and that was why she would not be reprising the character. She also said we should boycott Bayonetta 3 and instead donate to a pro-life charity organization, which was an admirable idea to be honest. The amount she was offered was eventually found to be a lie as she was offered $5,000 per session for 4 sessions, as well as once she refused $5,000 for a cameo.
The reason I bring this up is it will not be affecting my review score and I wanted to establish that right here and now. While I appreciate her bringing attention to the pro-life cause, lying doesn’t happen to be the way to do it. It detracts from it by attaching a negative connotation to it, that being said, it was still admirable for her to bring this up as well as that voice actors are paid too little, because they are. She has also stated she wants nothing else to do with Bayonetta and would like to move onto acting in stage plays, and I say the best of luck to her and God bless.
One of the main draws for a lot of people in Bayonetta is the promiscuity, sexy poses, Bayonetta attacking more makes her less dressed, to somewhat skimpy outfits (honestly that doesn’t matter too much if you’re going to be losing clothing anyways). You summon beings called demons, which aren’t literal demons like Baal (although, they do have Baal in the game, but it’s a frog lady instead of a goat, as well as many others). It also has you fighting angels, significantly less then previous Bayonetta‘s but still here. Once again as with demons, not actual angels.
It does have Bayonetta ripping out her own heart on screen and you can see her heart. There’s also smoking, swearing, and blood. All this being said though, new to Bayonetta 3 is the Naive Angel Mode (henceforth being called Anti-Simp mode). The cigar Rodan is smoking becomes a donut, Bayonetta’s heart becomes a tomato, and Bayonetta no longer loses clothing as she attacks, it also makes some of the other characters less revealing. Honestly, it somewhat seems like it was meant to be an insult to people that preferred this mode on but honestly? I kinda loved it. It reminded me of back when 4Kids did anime edits, and while those weren’t good (specifically meaning things like Sanji having a lollipop instead of a cigarette, or for Yu-Gi-Oh they just pointed fingers at people instead of guns, we don’t need the promiscuity, but other stuff is somewhat silly) they were funny, and still are.
Could I recommend this game to a person with these warnings? No to be honest. Anti-Simp mode does make it easier to recommend, but it depends on the individual. If you think this would cause temptations or would affect your scruples I absolutely cannot recommend it, from that perspective. Can I recommend it from a gameplay or story perspective? Let’s find out.
As per the usual with Platinum’s titles the gameplay is fantastic… for about 90% of the game. Bayonetta herself controls really well, better than Bayonetta 1 I’d say, but I’d need to replay 2 to see where that stands. Dodging feels mostly smooth with her (it felt like I was just timing it wrong, which obviously is my fault) the differing weapons that I used were fun, admittedly I mainly stuck to the giant cannon you use as a club because I do enjoy unga bunga, but I did try the stone door fists/mini gun weapon later and enjoyed that as well. The main problem I’d have to say about the club and some other weapons is they’re too big in exploration mode, during combat the camera mostly zooms out a bit so it’s not a problem, but during exploration mode? Can be cumbersome, which is why until I got the stone door fists I had the guns as Bayonetta’s backup so I could see better.
There is a boss where they force a different weapon on you which I wasn’t a fan of, if I had gotten more practice with it before the boss? Would’ve been fine. But each weapon style is different so there’s a lot depending on who’s playing, it also changes your playstyle a bit as each one lets you access a “demon aura” we’ll call it. You take on some aspects of the demon when running/accessing their special jump, guns is floating, stone gate fists is a better float, cannon club is a charge jump, etc etc. can change how it feels and is quite enjoyable. You can press Left Trigger at any time now to summon your demons, which does make combat intriguing and each summon has a different set of attacks. Takes a bit of time to get used to, but is nice to use outside of QTE’s/ special moments.
If you collect all the umbran tears in a stage it unlocks an alternate level of the same chapter – think B sides of Celeste. The raven and cat you have to catch for 2 of the 3 umbran tears in a stage are agile as you have to grab them, while the frog you just need to listen closely for his increasing croaking the closer you get. They did also change unlocking moves a bit by there being another currency you can just spend from the menu instead of needing to go to Rodan’s shop, it was appreciated honestly. Another change is they made it so health/magic pickups weren’t applied right away, you could apply them when you wanted. For instance, when you’re on the final boss and low on health, just save one of these if you think you’ll need it. More HP and full health restore. And it doesn’t count as a used item for scoring purposes.
However, this is all for Bayonetta, and not Jeanne and newcomer Viola, who will henceforth be called Kitty (it’s a nickname for her, she doesn’t like it and I don’t like her, so it evens out). Her gameplay is the least fun in the entire franchise. She only has one weapon that doesn’t feel as enjoyable, which is interesting as I usually love katanas, she tosses throwing darts as her long range weapon, and her summon is kinda gimped compared to Bayonetta’s. Her dodge however, is what makes her particularly annoying, for me at least. As opposed to a dodge it would be more accurate to compare it to Dark Souls parry mechanic, which I have never been good at. So that’s possible, but they did also patch it later to make Kitty’s parry a bit more forgiving, but it was still unpleasant. This is where I would say that unpleasant 10% comes from by the way, I just did not enjoy Kitty’s sections.
Jeanne’s Spy Action Sequences I actually really liked. Platinum has never been hesitant to try a new gameplay mechanic out of nowhere and I actually do appreciate that, but it could be frustrating for some. I had the most difficulty with Jeanne’s last Spy Action Sequence as that changed from the previous ones, but I think if I practiced that one more would really enjoy it.
And that just leaves the new “overworld” sections. For the beginning section of each 3 act section is what I will be dubbing the overworld section. They are a lot bigger than the rest of the game, they take a lot more to explore and are just… empty. There are things to find but they’re so spaced out that it feels like a chore. Each of these parts took me roughly an hour and that just felt like far too long. I will say it was partially my fault as I explored as much as I could as there were obvious ways to go, but you would miss out on items that way. So overall, I didn’t enjoy those sections.
Note: I have not played the prequel missions to Bayonetta Origins as I’d heard about its release before unlocking it, and as such have decided to wait for the full release to play through it there.
Okay, as stated earlier due to the repercussions the story has on the future of the franchise we will be discussing spoilers, this is your last warning.
Now that that’s out of the way let’s begin. So since everyone else is doing it Platinum decided a multiverse story was where Bayonetta should go next and so here we are, they initially put you in the fight of another Bayonetta that gets destroyed by this game’s bad guy, Singularity, who wants to destroy all alternate realities so he can rule the world. Of course. We are also introduced to a rag tag team fighting Singularity and first meet Kitty there (who within a short time you will probably be able to guess that it is Luca’s and Bayonetta’s daughter from this universe, I know I did, this will be important later). As the game goes on it hits most of the series beats in the intro which can be good and bad. However the main way the story is important to the franchise is in the ending, which, unlike most people it seems I enjoyed… for the most part.
Before we get to that though we should talk more about Kitty, a spunky anti establishment absolutely annoying character who I have no fondness for (aside from her theme music) she is brash, full of herself and stubborn. All things that try to make her likable and fail in every regard, they also try to play off of her having a fear of the dark… it doesn’t work well. Much akin to how Samus was afraid of Ridley in Other M after having fought him fourish times, Kitty is deathly scared of the dark if a pot is on her head and she cannot see. As someone that has been fighting in a rebel group that’s not great to be honest, nor is it endearing. Having fears is fine! It makes the characters seem more human… when they make sense. For Other M you could’ve had Samus be briefly afraid of Ridley upon seeing him again then getting over it. Here you could have had Kitty say she doesn’t particularly like the dark but works with it, especially as she’s been fighting Singularity for a while now she probably had to deal with it at least a bit.
Now that that’s out of the way, the ending for Bayonetta 3 has Singularity strike a fatal blow to Bayonetta, she still beats Singularity mind you, but Bayonetta and Luka in turn do die. Which I actually think is a very heart wrenching moment (aside from the fact the demons are literally dragging them to hell, that doesn’t make it so good) but willing to sacrifice herself for the good of everyone including Kitty and finally admitting her love for Luka was good. Characters dying can have a deep and impactful meaning, especially when done well and if you’re grown accustomed to them. However… It’s who they let take the reins of the title of Bayonetta after she dies. If you guessed Kitty, you get no points, but award yourself a hearty pat on the back. As I said, I don’t like Kitty at all, if they had instead made it Jeanne that would have been fine, and with some editing of the story could work, the mortal blow Jeanne took earlier could have been a near mortal blow instead and is dedicated to protecting Kitty and the world after Bayonetta has died, in the sense of deep friendship between them.
As the games have gone along we have seen Jeanne and Bayonetta’s friendship grow more and more and was a really endearing friendship to be honest. As much as other people were hoping it made them a lesbian couple there were no signs of that, and I truly wish people could realize that friends can be just that. Friends. But friendship seems to be a hard thing for people to understand these days and instead have to insist each and every person they want to be in a relationship is in one, even if there’s no grounds for it.
That being said, aside from the ending I did enjoy the story enough, it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great, it had exciting moments. Overall I would say it was a Bayonetta game by the numbers (aside from the ending, as she hasn’t died previously) and aside from Kitty and the whole demon thing I enjoyed it.
As always the soundtrack slaps, aside from the gameplay the soundtrack has always been my favorite parts of the game. The remixes of previous games are enjoyable and even as much as I dislike Kitty, as stated previously I like her theme. Aside from that the sound design is good and the weapons I used sounded how they should. I am hoping they will make the soundtrack available stateside as it is available in Japan, and I could order it. And admittedly, if they don’t make it available here, I will.
Graphics are mostly pretty good for what you’d expect for a Switch game at this point. Good, but definitely shows its age a bit. That being said, everything is perfectly serviceable with minimal FPS dip. I did have it a few times but nothing too crazy. It definitely keeps in theme with the rest of the series and does look good. The only other thing graphics wise I’d have to mention is the waterfalls do admittedly look glaringly bad. I don’t recall anything else being that bad but there may have been some things here and there.
Overall I do rather enjoy Bayonetta 3. Is it my favorite of the series? No. Can I recommend it if someone has scruples? Again, no. But if you’re interested in the game and think it won’t cause you any issues… I’d give it a whirl. I had a fun time with it and was trying to rebeat Bayo 1 and 2 before this came out. That unfortunately didn’t happen but when I finish Bayo 1 and 2 again I will give this a playthrough again, flaws and all.
Gameplay: 3.5/5 (would be higher if not for Kitty)
Replayability: 3.5/5 (would be higher if not for Kitty)