Run! Run! Hoo, I'm getting a little winded.
The feeling of pulling off a sick combo is unlike any other you’ll encounter in a game. Dodging enemies, kicking them into orbit, then summoning a hair-covered demon dog to gnash your foe into paste as the conflict ends is the kind of power fantasy trip you’d normally find in games starring straight white dudes grunting and angsting. Thankfully, Bayonetta 2 stars a sensual, excited, confident woman who knows what she’s doing and loves every minute of it. No matter your exact stance on Bayonetta’s character, her existence in the action game space is a breath of fresh air, both from a character and gameplay standpoint.
Bayonetta 2 plays almost exactly like the original. This is not an issue, as Bayonetta the former has some of the tightest, sweetest combat. Bayonetta 2 tweaks the original formula, making it easier with the introduction of Umbran Climax. This allows demons usually only used for finishing moves to appear and assist in standard attacks and combos. Umbran Climax is brought forth by performing successful combos and keeping yourself alive; a nice reward for mastering the game’s mechanics. Witch Time from Bayonetta returns, which stops your enemies in their tracks when you dodge their attacks at the last possible second. Witch Time combined with Umbran Climax does make the game easier, but not by much.
Much like Bayonnetta’s auto mode, Bayonnetta 2 has a tap function that lets you rap your stylus against the gamepad screen to perform easy combos on foes. Boss battles are improved drastically in this entry, with more focus on the good human bosses and less focus on the awful big baddies from the first game. There are still big enemies, but flying and mech segments break up the monotony and keep these fights fun.
Bayonetta 2 is shorter than its predecessor, but it uses its time more wisely, and like Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, is perfect for replaying on higher difficulties to unlock more attacks and costumes. My main gripe in the game is that your halos (the game’s main currency) don’t go very far, and you’ll have to grind a few levels to unlock the Nintendo costumes I’m sure you want desperately. In my run of the game, I unlocked maybe five new moves and two Nintendo costumes, on normal and with plenty of time spent running through side missions and destroying vases in the overworld. Racking up combos will net you more halos, so maybe if you’re better at the game than I am, this won’t be an issue. The Nintendo costumes are worth the effort, but I won’t spoil them here, even though you can easily find out why they’re so cool with a simple Google search for trailers.
Other weapons, such as whips, swords, and flamethrowers, are received throughout the game, and can be equipped to either your hands or feet. You can swap between two sets of weapons on the fly, allowing you to have control over four weapons in one battle. I especially loved whipping enemies into the air and juggling them DMC style with a pistol follow up, but any combination of weapons produces exciting results.
Please don’t ask me what Bayonetta 2’s story is supposed to be. I haven’t the foggiest, even after watching the cutscenes over again. Bayonetta’s “friend” (they’re totally dating, please confirm, Platinum) Jeanne gets her soul dragged to Inferno after one of the titular witch’s familiars breaches its contract and attacks, and Bayonetta strikes out on a quest to rescue her from eternal damnation. After that, the game delves into incomprehensible lingo and unexplained mythos that makes zero sense, characters are introduced that become vital out of no where, and the journalist dude from the first game literally swings in and out of cutscenes for comic relief. The story in something like Metal Gear Rising is understandable at times thanks to the usage of words real people use today, but Bayonetta 2’s story is completely ignorable. When characters aren’t talking about ancient biblical nonsense, Bayonetta dancing and dodging moves and performing incredible feats is just as fun as you’d expect.
Bayonetta’s sex appeal is impossible to ignore, however. Early in the game, she rides a centaur enemy and the camera takes a quick zoom on her rump. There’s never another unabashed male-gazey moment in the game, but Bayo continues to strike sexy poses and strip when she summons her demons during finishers. The difference between Bayonetta and other sexualized female characters is that Bayonetta is truly having fun. Her smile and knowing wink as she dances indicate a confidence many other women in games lack, and it’s less that there’s a camera following her and more like there’s a mirror she’s using to check herself out.
Bayonetta is an interesting and fun character, but she does make me wish there were other non-male characters in games that has as much confidence she did but without the nudity. Playing Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U gamepad with my TV turned off was…admittedly the best way to play the game in a house where family members could potentially walk in. It’s worth noting that I don’t feel uncomfortable discussing Bayonetta like I would speaking about most any other “she’s sexy because she likes it!” character out there.
Bayonetta 2 is a cheeky, fun romp of a game that’ll test your skills without punishing you and lets you have fun doing so. It’s an easy recommendation, especially since Bayonetta 1 is bundled in the store version of the game. This isn’t a case of “oh, if you have a Wii U, you should buy Bayonetta 2”, it’s you SHOULD have a Wii U because you SHOULD buy Bayonetta 2 (and Smash when that comes out). It’s a game that’s as hard as you want it to be and as fun as it should be.