Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon Review
While Bayonetta is crammed with exuberant, campy violence and escalating stakes, the setting hints at something more. The magic and monsters tell of a fantastic, colorful world with a rich history. Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon doesn’t blow things wide open, but it does give us something new. I wasn’t desperately missing these details, but I’m happy to have learned them all the same.
Gone are the stylish fights from the mainline series. Bayonetta Origins offers more approachable, more forgiving combat. In fact, it’s almost too simple at times. You have combos, elemental strikes, and stun attacks to work with, but you don’t often need them. Cheshire, Cereza’s trusty demon companion, is a real powerhouse. So long as you keep Cereza out of danger, Cheshire can take on anyone. The game tries to compensate for this with a steady stream of puzzles to solve.
One Character Per Joy-Con
The puzzles range from environmental hazards to the game’s actual control scheme. You’re controlling two characters at once, which Bayonetta Origins takes advantage of. I liked splitting up to operate switches, skirt around obstacles, and unlock new areas. Traversing the world can be engaging, but certain puzzles got crazy repetitive. You use a single spell to open doors, complete Tir Na Og sections, and bring things to life. You use that spell a lot. Like, a whole lot. I did a tremendous amount of analog stick wiggling by the game’s end.
I mentioned this in the preview, but you rarely have to control two people at once. It’s always an option, but you don’t really need it. You’re using both characters in battle, but you also aren’t doing this. Cereza doesn’t need to fight 90% of the time. She becomes slightly more important towards the very end, but battles are Cheshire’s territory. Which is fine! Fighting is what he’s good at. Too good, some might argue.
An Adorable Fighting Machine
Maybe this is for the best. Bayonetta Origin’s true strength lies elsewhere. This game is incredibly beautiful, you see. You’re playing a fairytale come to life, and it shows. Every stage is bursting with color. The characters are all unique, with compelling designs and ethereal charm. Bayonetta herself is perfect, an innocent child with a constant sense of wondrous gloom at all times. She’s exactly as insufferable and vulnerable as someone her age should be.
The other characters aren’t quite as fleshed out, but with good reason. Most of them are voiced by the game’s narrator. It’s a clever choice that amplifies the storybook feel. It feels like the story is being read to you just before bedtime. At times I was almost exasperated, yet I remained in awe of the effort being made. Cheshire’s ‘voice,’ combined with his patchwork design and proud demeanor, make for a fascinating character.
It’s the design stage where Bayonetta Origins really shines. The characters, monsters, and levels all look fantastic. The puzzle layouts are organic and unusual. Even the combat is made to be as fluid and satisfying as possible. Cheshire has different attacks for different elements, and they all look terrific. You can switch between said elements instantly, and all his functions are set on a single Joy-Con. Cereza is the same way. Each hand controls a different character. It’s downright elegant, at least in theory.
Once The Shine Wears Off
Actually playing this game is a different story. Most of the puzzles are too repetitive. I started performing that wiggly door opener spell with numb resignation around the game’s halfway mark. It comes up so often! Combat is also fairly repetitive, but you’ve got more options available. You just don’t need them, for the most part. While I love the look and feel of Bayonetta Origins, I’m less enamored by the gameplay.
I wanted to love Bayonetta Origins. And I do, sort of. This is a beautiful game set in an enchanting world. You get a deeper look at the troubled past of a fascinating character. Everything is fed through this fairytale lens, one that cranks up the charm and wonder. The writing is whimsical, the art design is impeccable, and the mechanics are terribly clever. But the game loses something in its execution. Repetitive design and breezy challenges kept me curious, but not compelled. Still, this is a unique, unusual experience. If it’s fairytale wonder and whimsy you’re looking for, then Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is what you need.
***A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***
- Gorgeous graphics
- Cool combat/exploration controls
- Pervasive fairytale vibes
- Repetitive level design
- Almost too easy
- Controls get annoying