Bayonetta Origins is Downright Whimsical

Bayonetta Origins Preview

Everyone was caught off guard when Bayonetta Origins was announced. And with good reason, too. This latest entry in the franchise could not be more different, at least at first. After a few hours with the game, I’m sure of very little. I can say that the aesthetic on display is a massive departure from the main series of games. It also, somehow, still feels like a Bayonetta game. Let’s dig into why that’s the case!

Pretty As a Picture Book

Although the aesthetic is a lot more whimsical, Origins is still a Bayonetta game. You’re playing as the same character, still summoning demons, and still using magic. The summoning circles feel very familiar; you even use dancing to perform your spells. New enemies are also introduced with a still image giving their name and title. Beyond these callbacks, Origins feels like a whole new adventure for young Cereza.

Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon

I can’t overstate how beautiful this game looks. Every frame is lush, vibrant, and packed with details. The monster designs are adorable yet distinct, and the levels have a powerful storybook vibe. Tír na nÓg, the faerie stages, are crammed with incredible colors. The effects look great, the UI is slick, and the cutscenes are a delight. It’s not quite the Bayonetta you’re used to, but it still looks awesome.

So far, I’m less charmed by the gameplay. You control two characters with the two analog sticks. Cool, right? It’s a real pain most of the time, a fact the devs seem conscious of. You can recall Cheshire (your demon) at any time, so you’re only moving Cereza if you’d prefer. In battle, Cereza doesn’t need to do much. Cheshire can chew through more or less any enemy you meet. So really, you almost never have to control two people at once.

One Per Analog Stick

While I appreciate being able to opt out of an annoying control scheme, there are consequences. Since the game is designed for two characters to navigate, their individual sections are relatively simple. This means that I’ve been kind of bored quite a lot of the time. To be fair, I’m only a few chapters in. It’s quite possible that things are set to heat up shortly. Which would be great!

Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon

If you’re so inclined, you’ve got potion concoction and skill upgrades to do. So far, it’s an entirely optional activity. For one thing, I haven’t come close to losing a single battle. Also, Cheshire is a straight-up killing machine right out of the gate. You can upgrade his moves, but you don’t have to. Again, it’s possible that this will change once I’m further into the story. At this point, I can mash and bash my way through every fight.

Chomp Your Way To Victory

It’s presently unclear what Bayonetta Origins wants to be. The tone is family friendly, yes. But I can’t see any parent pointing their kids towards Cereza’s adult adventures once they’re finished here. The simple gameplay and charming narrative also suggest an all-ages experience. Yet the promise of a proper backstory for Bayonetta means that adult fans will be interested. Indeed, the narrative hints at Cereza’s traumatic history. I’m just not clear about the target audience.

Although my experience so far has been a mixed bag, I’m excited to see what the rest of Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon has to offer. If nothing else, the game looks incredible. Between that and the charming story, I’m pretty curious about where this goes. Whether or not you’re a fan of Bayonetta, you’ll want to keep an eye on this game. Bayonetta Origins is coming to Nintendo Switch on March 17th, 2023.

***A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***