Well here we are a few months later, quite a bit faster than I originally expected when Bayonetta 3 dropped admittedly, with a new Bayonetta game. However, this time they changed the formula a bit, instead of a hack ‘n’ slash adventure game we have an action adventure game with some puzzle elements, and simultaneously controlling two characters with both thumbsticks at once instead of just one. With a different style of gameplay, how does Origins hold up compared to the previous 3 games, and, with a Teen rating, is it as mature and risque as the previous games? Well why don’t we dive in and find out? One last thing though. Much like the Bayonetta 3 review there will be some spoilers, mainly as it possibly addresses one of my complaints with 3 in terms of the story, so I figured we should touch upon it here.
As may be gathered from the title, Origins is a prequel. While the game was originally hinted at with an unlockable in Bayonetta 3, it was fully revealed as its own separate game during the Game Awards 2022, where it was revealed we would play as a young witch in training. Cereza (Bayonetta’s childhood name) is shunned by basically everyone due to her lineage of having a Lumen Sage as a father, something that is never supposed to happen. Aside from her mummy, Jeanne, her only friend, Morgana her tutor, and also an outcast, and her stuffed animal. You start the game with a sequence where Jeanne shows some of the powers Cereza will eventually learn and you can see that Jeanne does want to help Cereza as it’s to help her see her mummy for a brief bit. As the game goes on we see Morgana training Cereza in her day to day witch training. However, during one night Cereza receives a vision from a young boy named Lukaon that if she enters the forbidden Avalon Forest she can receive the powers she needs to save her mummy. While in the forest she is attacked by faeries and summons her first demon, however she can not do it properly and as such the demon cannot return to Inferno so in order to survive it resides in Cereza’s stuffed animal, Cheshire. All that being said aside from something that takes place after the main game I want to talk about how I enjoyed the story itself so as to not spoil too much. Overall I did really like the narrative. Cereza was a coward that grew throughout her time in the forest, and doubted herself to the point where she was sluggish, which while can be annoying from a gameplay perspective did make come to appreciate her predicament more. The same can admittedly be said about her relationship with Cheshire, who in the beginning wants absolutely nothing to do with Cereza, but due to their predicament has to continue on with her for his freedom and eventually does start to grow on you. Which admittedly did leave some mixed feelings, as while the demons and angels here are not actual angels and demons it still feels weird to appreciate a relationship that grows on you with a demon (especially since one of characters you meet along the way is killed and dragged into Inferno, meaning they definitely aren’t good beings). Overall though it was believable and an engaging story with enough of a unique twist that while predictable was enjoyable at the very least.
That being said while I did enjoy the story, we need to address the side-extra story you unlock after you beat the game: Jeanne’s Tale. While short, I also actually enjoyed it as it involved the villain (Singularity) from 3 showing up for a brief bit after you thought you’d finished him only to kidnap this Bayonetta to try and prevent the future where he basically died, only to then get beat down again here. The only reason I bring it up here is because there’s the possibility the next Bayonetta game may not have Kitty (Viola) be the main character. Of course this may not happen and she still is, or she was never planned to be the main character. As it is we’ve played at least 3 (possibly 4 with Origins, going so far as probably) different Bayonettas across all the games so who knows at this point? To quote Doctor Who “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” and it definitely feels that way with the parallel universes and the time travel. They can basically do what they want with the story to be honest, whether it be good or bad.
As per the norm the music is fantastic. While the previous 3 games mainly focused on getting your blood pumping with great jams this one more focuses on music that fits within its setting, mainly the forest. Now that doesn’t mean they’re bad, they’re very appropriate, and I actually really like it. Once again like with Bayonetta 3 if they were available for purchase, I would. Stateside I mean, I know 3 got a Japanese release at least. That being said, however, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any music that won’t get your blood pumping, especially during bosses the music can and will do that, but since this is more-story oriented than previous games the songs during some cutscenes can be really quite moving as well. In addition to remixes of songs from other Bayonetta games, in particular 1 I noticed. The sound effects were also enjoyable and I can’t remember anything egregious about it.
As mentioned earlier the gameplay in Origins is different from the rest of the series. Personally, I rather enjoyed it but I can see why some people would not. You control both Cereza and Cheshire at the same time, your health bar is with Cereza, so if she dies it’s game over, that’s not to say Cheshire can take hits forever, eventually he will take enough hits and return to his stuffed animal form, where you can control him to jump back to you, although he has a very short jump. Now, I will admit keeping track of them sometimes was a bit difficult, but I wouldn’t say the game was hard. If I remember correctly I only had to use the health restoring item on two bosses, and if I’d died I would have been better at dodging them for round two so may have taken no damage. I would say the gameplay is a little on the easy side. Cereza can chain enemies for a limited time (Umbral Snare) which makes them unable to attack or move, meanwhile Cheshire can come along and beat up the enemies while doing so, especially with some upgrades that take advantage of them being Umbral Snared. As you progress through the game you will be able to upgrade both Cheshire and Cereza, from more uses of Umbral Snare, to more health, taking more damage, etc etc. Eventually Cheshire will get access to 4 different elemental forms which have different abilities in and of themselves and slightly mix up the combat.
In addition to finding the game fairly easy I should mention, there is an easy mode as well. I played on the base difficulty, but if for some reason you are having issues it exists.
The puzzles were usually pretty easy, most of them involving Cereza’s dancing, as integral to an Umbran Witch is her dancing so it shows her learning. This sometimes gave difficulty, until you figured it out, for one you need to keep the control stick flicked while it goes around the circle, I initially thought you needed to move it as it went around the circle. You in fact do not need to do this and can keep it in place, I don’t know if it’s me but by trying to follow along made me fail more often than not as opposed to this.
The main thing I probably would want to mention as a complaint gameplay wise is the map can be difficult to read sometimes, in particular on areas that have multiple layers. There’s a circus themed level I can think of in particular where I had issues finding some of the collectibles, but I also think I was coming back too often without Cheshires elemental abilities as they also affect puzzle solving. From grabbing distant items, to stomping the ground, melting ice and propelling yourself with water, you will need all of Cheshires elemental abilities to fully access the game. Two small things I’ll mention for convenience for the player: if you’re in the water before you get the extend Cheshire to move faster upgrade, it for some reason does that already in the water, not a big concern, but can help slightly (you are very rarely required to be in the water before that happens). Another thing that helps, Cereza takes no fall damage, so if you’re on a ladder and need to go down, just dodge roll once you have access to that, it’s nothing crazy but I like finding small things like that.
I. Love. This game’s graphics. It’s set in a storybook-esque design and if they were to make another Origins game in this style? I would eat it right up. Whereas I had some small complaints with some of Bayonetta 3’s graphics (mainly flowing waterfalls being the biggest example here) since this is a specific style it really works quite well. Everything is pretty easy to keep track of on the world itself, and mostly isn’t too confusing. Now, this could have gone under gameplay but I’ll include it here, the one complaint I might have is the game’s cutscenes. Not because they’re bad, but since it’s storybook-esque it does tell a lot of its story in pages turning, which I think is a cute idea. HOWEVER, there are two different ways the game lets you know that you can turn the page now, as the game will show little bits of activity and once all activity is done will then show it. One of them involves the bottom right page bouncing to show you it’s ready, which if memory serves is the one I preferred, the other one would wait an extra 10 seconds and then show you a blinking arrow that it’s ready to move on, the first one is almost instant, the second one takes 10 seconds. Not a major complaint but I definitely prefer the first one.
While this was the elephant in the room for 3, it is lessened here, though there is still the fact they call the beings from Inferno demons which is not preferred but not actual demons, same with the beings from Paradiso being called angels while not actually being angels. As stated earlier there is a person you meet along the way that is dragged to Inferno, literally which may be a scene people don’t want to see, and definitely makes me go yeah, that’s not worth it even if they aren’t real demons. There isn’t any sexuality here thankfully so that does help, but, I feel I should mention one thing however just because it’s one of the things I thought of. While there isn’t anything intentionally sexual here, as I said a major part of Umbran Witches is there dancing, and the dancing it turns into later is very sexual, so while I don’t remember that being in this game, it might be a little uncomfortable when you make the realization they’re dancing for that training purpose. As one such example is using a defeated enemy as a stripper pole to turn back time in 3. It may not be as well however, as kids do just kind of dance and it isn’t meant sexually. Could I recommend this from a Catholic perspective however? I’d say… maybe. It does have a lot less problematic elements, but it still contains some of them. And the other thing is, if you enjoy the game, where would you go after that, as the problematic elements are in the other 3, so it’s kind of a Catch 22. There is a demo of Origins, so that may be the best thing to do before you decide if you’re interested. As stated previously the other games are rated mature, so while this one doesn’t have problems, I do feel it is something to put emphasis upon.
I actually do rather enjoy Bayonetta Origins, it’s a different game in the series and feels like a breath of fresh air, I would actually put it above Bayonetta 3 and either slightly below 1 & 2 or tied, it’s something I would need to ponder, the fact it’s T does happen to help with it immensely. It’s a game I vastly enjoyed and could see people enjoying as well, afore mentioned problems aside, such as the fact this does lead into an M rated series known for lack of clothing and summoning beings called demons (that aren’t actual demons) and fighting angels (that aren’t actual angels).