When I finish a game, any game, I usually have to digest it for awhile. I have to let the experience percolate in my brain with the big question “did I like that enough to play it again?” roiling around in the brew. Sometimes it all settles immediately. Other times, it’s takes a day or two before I’m ready to move onto something else.
This did not happen with Bayonetta. In fact, if it hadn’t been so late then, I might have completed another entire playthrough of the game after I beat it for the first time this past weekend. When I finished Bayonetta (for the Wii U), not only did I start a brand new save file, but I continued on with the game as well. It had to be a historical first.
Oh, I know I’m prone to exaggeration every now and again, but seriously, I cannot think of when the last time this might have ever happened with a game. Because Bayonetta, well…it’s just that good.
**Minor game details ahead, but no severe spoilers**
But I’m not here to rave about Bayonetta or go on about how I haven’t been able to get the game out of my head for days. No, this post is an apology of sorts, for now is the time to eat crow. Or dirt. Or my hat. Or whatever else you’d prefer as I willingly admit to an egregious wrongdoing concerning Bayonetta. Ahem.
I spoke quite ill of the game when it was first released. Yes. Quite. Ill.
You see, we rented Bayonetta when it was first released in 2010. I was summarily unexcited, possibly due to harboring old memories of Devil May Cry (2001) many years ago. Plainly put, I did not like that game. But I’ll also admit that I didn’t give Devil May Cry its due. Being the terrible gamer that I am, I unceremoniously shoved it aside after only a couple playthroughs, this despite repeated admonitions of “you gotta warm up to it first!” I didn’t care for the gameplay or the story and quickly devised that hack and slash games were not for me.
Did I mention that Bayonetta was often compared to Devil May Cry when it first came out? You probably knew that already. If you didn’t, now you do. They are quite similar stylistically and combat-wise. Perhaps I should have said that first, but I’m in the mood for writing small, undeveloped paragraphs at the moment.
Bayonetta is shortish game with the main story coming in around half a day’s work. When we got the game, I watched a good portion of it being played, enough for me to pass judgment. The following statements are those that I probably thought or uttered during this time. Probably. With poetic license.
[Upon the first reveal of Bayonetta] “What’s with her clothes ripping off and all the girly moaning? UGH.”
[Upon viewing the frenetic gameplay] ” TOO MUCH! Also those torture moves? You’ve just got to…with the thing and the thing…I mean, C’MON!”
[Upon listening into any number of Bayonetta’s conversations] “Bitches be CRAZY! But seriously, she’s kinda bitchy.”
[Upon the introduction of Cerveza] “Holy hell, now a child?! (Actually, Bayonetta and I kinda agreed upon this one.)
[Upon the lamenting Luka] “Godammit, a conflicted tease? Hope she punches him in the right in his ugly ass ponytail.”
Yes, I was peculiarly sour when it came to Bayonetta and her witchy powers and her gun boots and her hair suit. Worse of all had to be the dialogue. So stilted, so drippy, so filled with creepy instances of sexual innuendo, it all just felt…gross, over the top, fan service-y, and unnecessary. And that was that.
Or it was until the release of Bayonetta 2 just a few weeks ago. My husband’s preordered copy arrived safely in the mail and he, being quite busy with Destiny and Call of Duty, encouraged me to play it. Said it was simply all sorts of fun and worth it. I couldn’t lie – the massive hype surrounding Bayonetta 2 had made me a little curious. So one night in the very recent past, while he was embroiled in a massive gun battle, I took to the heavens with Bayonetta.
And I didn’t want to stop playing.
Within the first hour, my judgmental disposition had completely melted and I was like a puddle in Bayonetta’s glorious embrace. The ridiculousness of that creation who was Bayonetta? Still ridiculous, but fuck-me-running if the girl didn’t have some killer moves. Those “killer” [i.e. punish/torture] moves? Gleeful and evil, but mostly because I hate quicktime events. The conversations? Not as bad as I remembered – they paved an interesting path as Bayonetta tried to remember her own past. I still wanted to punch Luka every time I saw him, but, okay…maybe he was a little disarming at times. Just, a little. And Cerveza was quite cute with her wittle British accent and stuffed cat. It was all good. Very, very good.
As much as the combat and gameplay roped me in, what really captured my attention more than anything else was the game’s story. And I don’t just mean Bayonetta’s story, I mean the story of her world (Vigrid), her companions, her rival (Jeanne), and her enemies. I rarely read codex entries in any game, but I read each and every new codex I found in Bayonetta. I just wanted to know more, especially about the Umbra Witches and the Lumen Sages and the angels they fought. I’m not a fan of “heaven” and “hell” and all the mythology that goes with those terms, but I found myself completely wrapped up in learning how those concepts had been applied to the game. On the opposite of the intelligence spectrum, I fell head-over-heels in love with Bayonetta’s character depictions, as one-sided as they often were, from the predictable dolt Enzo to the overtly sexualized angels named Joy. Each new angel I encountered was perfectly captivating, and I spent as much time fighting as I did simply taking in all their intricacies. (Which, led to a lot of dying, but was such the risk I was willing to take for savoring more eye candy.)
As for Bayonetta, she really was one crazy bitch. But you try putting up with hordes of un-angelic angels for centuries while learning about the history of your now-dead race of witches and see if that doesn’t make you a little cranky! If Bayonetta possessed one flaw is was that she was too perfect a bitch. Mad fighting prowess aside, her demeanor and personality were so starkly confident that I had a hard time believing in her more vulnerable moments. Instances that placed her in the role of “mother” or “victim” were very transparent and jolting because she simply did not fit those bills. For fuck’s sake, she’s BAYONETTA! Umbra Witch extraordinaire and savoir of Vigrid! Not a wet nurse or pathetic creature in need of saving!
And that’s far too many exclamation points, but so be it. Because reaching the end of Bayonetta was like one, big exclamation point. And I got a pole dance for my efforts, which was…weird. Classy, but still unsettling. Cause Bayonetta’s not about sex. Oh, it’s a sexy game in many regards, but the thought of Bayonetta kowtowing to the basest of human actions just…seems…wrong. And I don’t care how many Bayonetta-Morrigan fantasies are out there. It’s still wrong.
Goddammit Bayonetta, you’re just too fucking perfect! And I love you. Now. Sorry about then. Let’s dance. Round 2 awaits.