Bayonetta 2 Review (Switch)
Does this mean Bayonetta 2 is a Christmas game?
Available on: Switch/Wii U
Genre: Hack and Slash ADventure
After playing Bayonetta and loving it, of course I went to play the second game a couple days later. I wasn’t that worried over my decision of buying the bundle back when I did, especially now when it let me dive right into the sequel right away.
Bayonetta 2 starts a couple months after the events that happened in the first game. It’s actually around Christmas time and Bayonetta is getting some shopping done, for her and maybe others, while having our good ‘ole boy Enzo carry all of her boxes and bags. Granted, Enzo was here to do his own shopping for his kids, but hey he needs to work off his debt somehow. We also see the return of Rodin, our favorite weapons dealer, shopkeeper, bartender, and now Santa; Jeanne who is now on better terms with Bayonetta after the events of the first game; and Luka who went full cowboy for his outfit but is the same journalist goof that he is. The day starts out pretty well…that is until angels decide to attack and ruin Bayonetta’s beautiful dress. It gets even worse when Bayonetta summons Gomorrah, one of the demons she summons to finish off bosses, breaks free and tries to attack Bayonetta, but gets Jeanne instead. Knocking Jeanne’s soul out of her body and dragging it to Inferno. Devastated, Bayonetta sets out to retrieve her soul back and she only has a day to do it.
On the way to saving Jeanne, Bayonetta runs into a kid named Loki. We actually see that a masked man is after Loki and Loki himself attacks with cards. Also he can turn into a squirrel. As you can probably sense, Bayonetta 2’s story does echo Bayonetta 1’s story quite a bit. Loki has amnesia and while he is aiming to go to a holy mountain known as Fimbulventr, which is where all three realms intersect and would allow Bayonetta to go to Inferno, he doesn’t really have a clue why. He also seems to hold some amount of control over the Remembrance of Time, though he does get a ton of headaches, which allows him to effectively turn back time on structures. Though, Loki is pretty snarky and kind of annoying. Personally, I mainly liked him apart from when he tells you to hurry up during chapters (let me explore damn it).
Bayonetta 2’s story is also like 1’s in the sense that it is confusing until the pieces start to reveal itself as you get closer to the end. Though, I did find myself confused and with questions on certain aspects even after the ending. Your enjoyment of Loki’s character will also affect how you like Bayonetta 2’s story as well. I’ve seen complaints on how Bayonetta seemed like a sidekick to Loki and I half agree actually. I ended up like Loki so I didn’t mind his character, but it does put more of a focus on him rather than the journey of rescuing Jeanne. And then a certain scene after you defeat the final boss where I found it really jarring that it goes from Bayonetta having an emotional moment to a jump cut of Bayonetta holding Loki and the focus being brought back to him.
The first thing you’ll notice, especially if you come right off of Bayonetta 1, is how beautiful it looks, and man did I love the visuals here. The first game definitely has its own charm, though blurry at times, but the visuals really improved. Not to mention the environments you’ll be running in. There aren’t as many places you’ll be challenged in a certain aspect, like dodging, but there are a bunch of chests to find this time around. Even adding Umbran chests where you have to collect pieces of it in a certain timeframe to be able to open it. I shouldn’t be surprised Panther Within was unlocked from the get go, but with the amount of water featured here, Bayonetta gets a new form to help her swim.
I also loved the addition of Bayonetta being able to hover after jumping, as not only did I love just seeing how graceful Bayonetta looked with butterfly wings, but it does help when reaching some areas (and admittedly I spent a while trying to reach a narrow platform for an optional chest with Panther Within until I stumbled onto it).
If you’re coming from the first game, the combat is going to be familiar, but also new. Angels return as your enemies, showcasing a whole new set of them to learn their attacks and demolish them for daring to be in your way. Not only that, but demons have grown brave and you’ll meet some of them in battle (with some of them being annoying to deal with). While some changes were made, it was still really fun to fight as Bayonetta against angels and demons alike. Bayonetta has her signature guns you can shoot enemies with, and a basic punch and kick which can be strung together in various ways, including adding a brief pause, to produce combos. Some combos will even activate a strong finisher named Wicked Weave which will bring will manifest Madama Butterfly’s fist or leg depending on what you ended on.
RIP the Wicked Weave combo of Punch-Punch-Pause-Punch though. I used you so much in the first game and I dearly missed it in the second.
With each attack or dodge, you will fill up your magic gauge, but this time it won’t deplete if you get hit. Once you reach a full gauge, you’ll be able to do a Torture Attack on an enemy to summon a torture device, mash a button (or spin the stick) to see what your halo bonus is, and deal major damage. A full gauge also means being able to activate a new mechanic that was introduced called Umbran Climax. This is similar to how it was during the main bosses in Bayonetta 1, which I learned was named Serious Mode, where all of your attacks will be Wicked Weaves. This deals massive damage, with combos ending with demons being temporarily summoned (including Madama Butterfly as she makes her first full appearance here).
Sadly though, the introduction of Umbran Climax puts the Torture Attacks in the category of being useless, as well as the items and moves that cost magic. Why do a Torture Attack on one enemy when you can use Umbran Climax to possibly hit multiple enemies for the same magic gauge cost? Why get items/moves that cost magic when you can just save it up for Umbran Climax? I did like the new Torture Attacks, as well as seeing some of the old ones, but it’s a shame that they became useless in the grand scheme of things. The game is also balanced around this, so not activating this will make things annoying as enemies are durable and often will block your attacks.
Personally, I didn’t quite liked how Witch Time worked this time around. Granted, I did get used to it eventually. I’m a little fuzzy on the specifics, but it strays from Witch Time having a set duration and instead depends on the enemy attack. So you often will encounter Witch Time lasting barely a second. Where I could easily start and finish a combo in Bayonetta 1, or have enough time to run up to the enemy and start it, I often couldn’t complete the shortest combo let alone enough time to run up to them.
I also felt that Bayonetta 2 was easier than the first game despite the fact that I started out on Normal. In fact, I only died once and that’s because I didn’t know I was being timed before the enemy would just dunk me in lava. I’m not sure if this is partly because I played this shortly after I finished the first game or because this did take steps to being more forgiving, but it did feel easier to me even when I run into enemies or bosses that gave me trouble.
The collectibles return in Bayonetta 2, and this time around you can check on what you’re missing for most of them. You’ll notice crows glowing red, which are Umbran Tears that you can grab if you’re quick enough (and they do respawn after walking away for a few seconds if you were too slow). Multiple weapons to choose from return, with some weapons returning with a different name and some new, to spice up combat. A lot are unlocked by grabbing the Angelic Hymms LPs, which sometimes are broken up into pieces. There are journal entries, this time by Luka, to give us more lore.
Challenge levels also return, but they are now named Muspelheims, and are more approachable and in better places. Instead of mainly making you retrace your steps to find an Alfheim, Muspelheims take up the philosophy of some being on your path and the rest of them being hidden. I also really like how I was actually able to do them, as they did well to scale with which chapter they were in. This doesn’t mean they weren’t still challenging, but I really appreciated that I could do them without needing a specific weapon for example. Completing the challenge within a time frame will either grant you a Broken Witch Heart or Broken Moon Pearl which will increase your health or magic gauge once you gather enough pieces to make a complete one. You can also buy complete ones in Rodin’s shop, as well as pieces appearing in certain chests across the game.
Replayability is plenty here just like in the first game. There are four difficulties, taking out Very Easy and having Hard be available from the get go. Ultimate Climax, the hardest difficulty which increases enemy strength and speed, being unlocked after completing Hard mode. Just one difference is that Witch Time is not taken away. There is also a secret boss you can unlock after collecting a ton on halos throughout your save file. You can also unlock characters that you can play as instead of Bayonetta, with their own playstyles. These are actually easier to unlock, which thank goodness as I don’t think I will ever unlock Jeanne in the first game. You just have to finish a full playthrough to unlock Jeanne and then complete the game on hard for another character. And lastly, five “Lost Chapters” become available after you complete the game, where you fight against waves of enemies. Defeating a chapter unlocks the next and it becomes increasingly harder and longer.
If you have someone to play with Bayonetta 2 also has a multiplayer mode called Tag Climax. You might notice as you’re playing that you get these cards at the end of chapters, and those cards are used here. Both you and your opponent will bet halos that they will get a better rank and go up against the featured enemy that the card holds. Personally, I don’t have anyone to play this with so I would only be able to play against a computer, but this might be fun to style on some of your friends and gain halos in the meanwhile.
Luckily, some aspects of Bayonetta 1 was taken out of Bayonetta 2. Those insta-kill QTEs? Gone. Enemies attacking literally right after a cutscene? Gone. Part of me did miss it as some do give that illusion (and every time I automatically dodged thinking they were mid-attack). Items messing with your chapter ranking? Gone. Though, I would have been just as happy if the game gives you some leeway depending on your difficulty. If you hated the motorcycle and the missile sections they do make a return in a different form and are both before bosses. I also did find myself missing Angel Attack, even though I was quite bad at it most of the time in the first game.
I’m glad I was able to play Bayonetta 2 as quickly as I was able to. I wholeheartedly recommend Bayonetta 2 as much as I did for the first game. There are aspects that I didn’t really like, such as how Witch Time now works, the game being balanced around Umbran Climax, Loki can be too annoyingly snarky for a lot of people (as it seems I’m in the minority for liking Loki), and your enjoyment of the story will depend on if you like Loki (and even then I did find myself with some questions still). Nonetheless, Bayonetta 2 improved in a lot of aspects, and even took out things in the first game that brought it down, and it continues to be really fun to play and satisfying. I pretty much completed Bayonetta 2 just as quickly as I did for 1 as I just couldn’t keep myself away from it for long.
When I think about which Bayonetta is my favorite, I honestly can’t decide. Both games have positives and negatives that have me going back and forth between on which one is my favorite. If you’re intending on getting into the Bayonetta series, I definitely recommend starting with the first game not only because I feel the story will be harder to grasp but the first game is still really fun and worth playing.
Now that I played both Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2, I am ready for Bayonetta 3. Only one month away and I’m so excited!