After playing and loving Bayonetta 3, I figured Nintendo and PlatinumGames would work on some sort of expansion given the hype around the franchise, and also because of how good the game was. I did not expect a full spin-off prequel in the form of Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon to be what we see from Bayonetta next. Not only was it an unexpected reveal, but it was also out soon. The reveal to release has been interesting, and I was disappointed initially. The free demo made things worse because it focuses on the opening of the game which is very slow and doesn’t show much of the actual magic the game has to offer. Fast forward to this month and I’ve not only ended up enjoying Bayonetta Origins a lot, but I hope we get a sequel. This game is absolutely worth the asking price with only a few caveats. In my Bayonetta Origins Switch review, I’m going to cover the game, whether it is worth it for newcomers, and also what you need to keep in mind even if you played the demo.
As a big fan of the Bayonetta series, I was going to buy Bayonetta Origins regardless of how I felt about the demo to support the series, but I am glad to have been wrong about Bayonetta Origins after the hour I spent with the demo. The price point and aesthetic turned some folks off, and the demo seems to have done more harm than good at least in my experience. Thankfully, the full game is a massively better experience that doesn’t spend too long on the most basic tutorials. There’s a lot of Bayonetta Origins that hasn’t even been shown in any official trailers. For a game I initially thought would be a few hours long, Bayonetta Origins kept my attention for over 20 hours as I looked to do as much as possible in the world with collectibles, post-game unlocks, and more. I still don’t like the pacing in the opening hour, but Bayonetta Origins is a gem, and it is an easy contender for not just the best Switch game of 2023, but one of PlatinumGames’ best.
As the name suggests Bayonetta Origins is a prequel story that aims to be a more accessible entry point into the world of Bayonetta and one that gives longtime fans a look at Cereza’s past. Unlike the mainline trilogy of character action games, Bayonetta Origins is an action adventure game that plays out very differently as you control different characters with each stick. Bayonetta Origins is about Cereza, but Cheshire, who gets possessed by a demon in the opening, also plays a big part of this story. As you traverse the gorgeous locations, solve puzzles, take down enemies, and more, Bayonetta Origins’ magic will click.
There were some situations in the mid to late game where I got a bit confused with the controls. Barring that, this is a perfectly paced experience following the poor opening when it comes to the gameplay at least. Unlike the mainline games, Bayonetta Origins is also aiming for a younger target audience. With PlatinumGames, I expect some sort of difficulty customization, and Bayonetta Origins goes the extra mile to make things even easier with options letting you adjust damage taken (down to none), magic usage, enemy strength, and more options to make in-game mechanics simpler. My only complaint with this right now is that there’s no option to increase these modifiers from the start. Bayonetta Origins is on the easier side for sure, and having more options to make it challenging in the beginning would be good for a potential update.
Bayonetta fans hoping for a pure action game with a new aesthetic will be disappointed here for sure. It isn’t going for that. If you do want to see the lore or backstory of Bayonetta expanded upon or beautifully told for newcomers and veterans, this is the most gorgeous way of experiencing more of the world of Bayonetta.
Bayonetta Origins is an outstanding feast for the eyes. It has stunning art direction, and some of the most creative visuals I’ve seen from PlatinumGames. If you’ve played their other releases, that is high praise for sure. Translating elements from Bayonetta to the storybook aesthetic and also the amazing use of colors across the environments and particle effects also make Bayonetta Origins a showcase for the Nintendo Switch OLED Model screen. While you can play it docked, I spent most of my time with it handheld. The image quality would’ve benefited from good post-processing though since it can get blurry in parts. We see the lack of good anti-aliasing often in Nintendo Switch games, but the gorgeous aesthetic here sometimes suffers thanks to that.
Bayonetta games are known for their excellent music, but Bayonetta Origins feels like a step above with its haunting, melodic, ethereal, and memorable score. The combat, location, and story scene music is all amazing. These tunes are complemented by great sound design and also superlative voice acting. I’m floored at how good the voice acting was throughout Bayonetta Origins. In a lot of ways Bayonetta Origins reminds me of one of NIS’ smaller scale projects like The Liar Princess, but with a larger budget and ambition.
Barring the opening hour of the game and demo which are a bit too boring gameplay wise, the one complaint I have is how some animations and scenes get old. While the animation work is amazing, I wish there was an option to skip some of the non cut-scene animations in the game. As you can tell from my review, I love Bayonetta Origins, but a quality of life update would benefit it a lot.
If you were hoping to see a full character action game here, you will be disappointed. If you love Bayonetta and want more from the lore and universe, Bayonetta Origins is an essential. While some portions get a bit confusing when it comes to controls, I loved Bayonetta Origins and hope Nintendo releases the soundtrack and an artbook for it in the near future.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon from PlatinumGames is a game I almost skipped thanks to the demo. Thankfully, I gave it another shot and ended up loving almost everything it has to offer from sublime music, gorgeous art, excellent voice acting, and the interesting gameplay. Everything comes together brilliantly in a storybook-inspired action adventure that is yet another win for the Nintendo Switch and a contender for the best game of 2023.