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Witches be trippin’: A few hours in, Bayonetta 3 looks like a Nintendo Switch all-timer

Bigger, louder, dumber, and better – this is the sequel every Bayonetta fan has been waiting for.

PlatinumGames hasn’t exactly had the hottest streak lately. Babylon’s Fall was an exemplary lesson in how not to do a service game, it lost the job of making Granblue Fantasy: Relink to Cygames back in 2019, and even Astral Chain failed to really get the traction you’d see from keystone series like Bayonetta or Nier. The studio, regrettably, has been stuck in a rut.

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Check out the sassy witch in action.

But, with Bayonetta 3, Platinum comes dancing and jiving out of this lull in an explosion of keratin and Umbran magic. From the opening minutes – no, the opening seconds – Bayonetta 3 says “the witch is back, darling” and kicks any and all of your expectations to the curb. The languid pace of Astral Chain’s opening hours have been forgotten, the sub-par combat and service model of Babyon’s Fall cast aside; this is Platinum firing on all cylinders once again. And, damn, does it feel good.

Everything you remember about Bayonetta and its sequel is present and accounted for: the razor-sharp combat, the best-in-class Witch Time dodging, the frantic-yet-measured melee, the over-the-top set pieces. Yet, somehow, Bayonetta 3 takes everything from the first two games that made you grin like a gremlin and dials it up even more.

As you’re battering the life out of one of the new enemy types with fists made from your hair (don’t ask), you can summon demons to modify your combo chains. Not content with simply letting you impale a humanoid enemy with the heel of your impossible stilettos, Bayonetta 3 now lets you insta-summon massive beasts in order to dole out the punishment on your behalf. You can either hold down a trigger and summon them for longer periods of time – tidying up the battlefield and giving you space to recuperate – or you can use them to add flashy, high-damage flourishes to your combos.

A whole lot of stuff happens all the time in Bayonetta 3.

The first part of the game will introduce you to Gomorrah, Madama Butterfly, and Phantasmaraneae. The first is a big ol’ lizard/dragon that should be familiar to anyone that’s played the series before and is very much Bayo’s ‘pet’ – it comes in hard, strong, and slow, a perfect complement to your witch’s rapid-fire array of light attacks. Next, there’s Madama Butterfly – every furry’s dream. The fuzzy, moth-bottomed familiar towers over your enemies, delights in kicking them in the nuts, and can dazzle opponents in style with some sort of sexy dust… Or something. Either way, she’s a decent all-rounder – great at controlling crowds and giving you room to catch your breath and think about your next move. Finally, there’s Phantasmaraneae. Simply put, this one is just a big f**king spider. It sticks things to walls then sets them on fire. Handy for irritating aerial enemies that buzz around, or bigger bosses you want to take a hard, well-aimed pop at.

Bayonetta has always been about momentum, and using these demonic slaves to lean into your power or give you breathing space is such a perfect addition to the formula, I wonder if I can ever go back to playing a Bayonetta game without them. The way you’re given the power to supplement your abilities with these huge, powerful beasts is as game-changing as Witch Time was in the first game. It’s a ludicrous, impossible mechanic that rhymes so effortlessly with everything you expect from a ‘character action’ game (if you want to call it that) and makes it that much more delicious. If you devoured Bayonetta 2, you’re going to gorge yourself silly on this.

She's back!

And what’s better is that you can hot-swap your demonic buddies on a whim, blithely switching between infernal agents as you waltz around whatever apocalyptic vision of a modern city you’re in today, subduing and humiliating whoever stands in your way with a wink, a wiggle of the ass, and a click of the fingers. And – why not? – you can swap between two sets of weapons as freely as you like, too. By the time you’re even five hours into the game, you’ve got such a potent arsenal of wildly different tools at your disposal, you would make even Devil May Cry’s Dante blush a hot red.

Embargo stipulations prevent me from drilling down into too much detail about Bayonetta 3 ahead of the review period, but I feel confident in saying this: a few hours in, PlatinumGames’ latest overtly nonsense action blockbuster is a Nintendo Switch essential. At no point in the first few hours of the game could I predict what was coming next. At no point have I been bored. At no point have I been anything but surprised, inspired, or left laughing my ass off at the audacity of what Bayonetta 3 is trying to do.

PlatinumGames is back, baby – and I think it may be better than ever.

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