Unlike most gamers waiting for Bayonetta, I’m not a huge fan of hack-and-slash Devil May Cry or God of War type games. They tend to devolve too quickly into button-mashing events with little depth. Yet, last night I got my hands on the upcoming Xbox 360 demo for Bayonetta and played through it once. Here’s how it went down.
At the beginning, you can choose one of two different difficulties – easy or normal. I chose normal. I also chose to go through the tutorial, which is very simple and tame. It covers some basic techniques that you will find useful in the rest of the demo. Nothing big to see here.
However, when I started on the actual demo proper, things started getting more interesting. The intro segment thrusts Bayonetta into a maelstrom of falling debris, as she jumps from large piece to large piece, fending off enemies the entire time. This was very chaotic. Things that weren’t covered in the tutorial confused and intrigued me at the same time, such as her ability to bounce from enemy to enemy, cutting down each one in sequence. The camera is pulled back a ways and, to me, this really doesn’t give you a good sense of the game. With everything going on with the enemies in the foreground, and the background and environment as chaotic as it is, it’s almost hard to concentrate. Although, I do understand why the developers want to throw you into the fray right away. Here you also start to pick up on how eclectic the soundtrack will be, with high-energy Jpop-sounding tunes that are reminiscent of the audio work done in the Persona games – that is a plus in my book.
After that, however, thing improved dramatically. You do end up on solid ground after a brief cut scene. Bayonetta is on a train and, at the end of the scene, you appear at this train station, with a walkway going down both sides of the track, and a pedestrian bridge over the train itself. Maybe I will be the only one, but I got a very Final Fantasy VIII vibe at this point – the train station really reminded me of the one in the town of Timber in that game, I believe. Anyway, moving on…
The visuals from this point on are absolutely stunning and the animations – especially Bayonetta herself – are beautiful and fluid. You regain control of her in a deceptively quiet town, starting in a safe area. There’s nothing really to do here but move on and read a few signs on your way, however I couldn’t stop double-jumping. Why? When you double-jump she spreads butterfly wings at the peak and, when she lands, butterflies spring up from the ground. It’s oddly beautiful, in a way, and I couldn’t stop doing it. At this point, take a peak out the windows and you’ll find an almost photo-realistic landscape surrounding the town.
Many things in the environment are destructible – vases, benches, potted plants, fire hydrants. When you break out your weaponry to bust something up, the ghostly citizens of the town will react in a startled or scared manner, especially when you fire Bayonetta’s heal guns. They seem to react more strongly to that. I would too.
As you move along, you get to this courtyard with a fountain in the middle where you fight some more baddies. This is also where the game lets you perform your first “climax attack”, which is an over-the-top, limit-break-like attack that really lays some hurt down on a single foe. When the option popped up on screen to perform it, I immediately went for it. A “boss” happened to appear after I cleared all his minions and he didn’t last long after that attack. This is one of those attacks we’ve heard so much about, where her hair-suit disappears, showing a lot of skin. Those sequences are brief and all the naughty bits are still covered up – I’m sure much to the disappointment of every male gamer out there. Still, the entire “climax attack” sequence is a sight to behold – my jaw was on the floor afterward.
I can’t say the battles themselves were too intense, but they were definitely over-the-top, yet strangely satisfying. After I beat down that boss character, he dropped this gigantic axe that I picked up and carried around. Apparently large weapons like that can only be used so much before they disappear, and a little bar appears at the top of the screen indicating how many “uses” you have left. In the next little area you’re presented with what appears to be a larger boss fight, where the boss actually starts breaking apart the walkway you’re running on as you fight him. It’s all very cinematic and incredibly fun.
After playing this demo I’m highly motivated to go right out and pre-order this game because I want to play it so bad. The demo will be widely available for download next week from both Xbox Live and the PSN, so go check it out then!