PlatinumGames’ bombshell Bayonetta has made her way to PC; after a long wait, following what seemed to be an April Fool’s Day joke, Sega surprisingly announced and released Bayonetta on PC yesterday. As a landmark action game that introduced interesting new mechanics to the genre such as Witch Time, Bayonetta was also one of the games that put PlatinumGames on the map.
That being said, the game’s launch on consoles back in 2010 was riddled with issues — most of all on the PlayStation 3 version — from inconsistent framerates to other technical shortcomings. Luckily, the PC port is executed well, and stands out as the definitive version of Bayonetta touting 4K support and 60FPS gameplay, even if the graphics have aged a bit since it first released.
Bayonetta has a fantastic opening that thrusts players right into the action, letting them control the gun-toting, demon hair-wielding Bayonetta as she is fighting angelic enemies on an exploding clock tower while it quickly plummets down the side of a mountain. This perfectly showcases the game’s wacky and over-the-top-nature, and gives players enough time to get accustomed to the gameplay while a narrator can get some necessary exposition out of the way. Both Japanese and English audio and subtitles are supported, so players can experience the story however they see fit.
The main plot of Bayonetta begins with the titular character suffering from amnesia, only remembering that she is an Umbra Witch and owner of one half of the “Eyes of the World.” Her quest for answers brings her into contact with a wide variety of unique and quirky characters, as well as the city of Vigrid, as she uncovers more about her past and learns about the downfall of the Umbra Witches and their counterparts — The Lumen Sages.
I am not usually a fan of stories that lean on the amnesia plot device; they are typically clunky, lazy and frustrating. Bayonetta, while entertaining and over-the-top, doesn’t do much to change that sentiment. While Bayonetta herself is a great character — sexy and strong — and the plot is filled with a variety of crazy moments and battles, it still doesn’t escape many conventions found in these stories. If you already aren’t too keen on amnesia plot lines, don’t expect Bayonetta to change your mind, but do expect to be entertained. That’s not a huge complaint though, as story isn’t the reason one plays Bayonetta: it’s the excellent gameplay.
Bayonetta is a badass that can punch, kick, and shoot her way through the droves of heavenly enemies attacking her. Players can string these attacks together in a fast-paced battle system to pull off spectacular combos that will annihilate her enemies. On top of this, there are special “Torture Attacks” that she can pull off, like sticking her enemies in an iron maiden.
Players can also equip Bayonetta with a variety of weapons that they purchase from the demonic bartender, Rodin. Weapons can be equipped to both of her hands and feet, which can make for some interesting combinations. Loading screens also cleverly function as a “practice mode” where players can refine their skills at pulling off some of the game’s more complex combos without penalty; little things such as this help elevate Bayonetta above other action games.
All of this flashy combat alone makes Bayonetta an enjoyable power trip, but the game’s most unique feature (at the time it was released) is the Witch Time system. There is an emphasis put on dodging enemy attacks during combat, and if the player dodges at just the right moment, Witch Time activates, slowing everything around Bayonetta down.
During this time, the player can counterattack their foes and damage them without worrying about some of the enemies’ more tricky defenses. However, enemies do still pose a threat, as some of the larger evangelical creatures can deal massive damage if players get too careless.
The Witch Time system was revolutionary for the action genre at the time of Bayonetta‘s initial release, and has seen use in a variety of other games since. It is a really engaging mechanic that makes dodging more useful and rewarding to players; Witch Time encourages players to learn the ins-and-out of the battle system and stay engaged so they can take advantage of it when the opportunity comes up. Bayonetta‘s gameplay is incredibly refined and never gets boring, which is the main reason the game has stood the test of time, and is still just as fun after all these years.
Each fight, whether it be with a group of enemies of enemies or with a giant boss, is graded so players can keep coming back to improve their ranking. The PC version also boasts online leaderboards and achievements, which when combined with the grading system, will keep players coming back for more.
I stuck with a controller through most of my playtime on PC, although the keyboard and mouse controls were serviceable. This genre is better played with a controller, but for those who would rather use a mouse and keyboard, their experience won’t be hindered, as the gameplay is still just as enthralling and fluid.
Outside of combat, players traverse the aforementioned city of Vigrid, and take part in simple environmental puzzles, find various healing and support items, and partake in hidden challenge rooms that put one’s skills to the test. When there is a full moon, Bayonetta can walk on walls and ceilings, creating some very memorable sequences.
The game does run fluidly and at a nice resolution, but its graphics show their age. Some character models and textures that were serviceable in 2010 look mediocre by today’s standards. Fortunately, things move so fast on screen — usually — that it isn’t a huge distraction, although it does becomes more noticeable in the game’s few slower segments.
The original PS3 release of Bayonetta was infamous for its performance problems, so I was interested to see how this PC version fared. The port boasts 60fps and 4K resolution, and while I wasn’t able to test out the maximum graphical setting on my computer, the framerate was stable, which compliments the gameplay very nicely.
Cutscenes only run at 30fps, which can be a little jarring, but is still serviceable. Despite some of these setbacks, the graphics and framerate options for Bayonetta on PC make it the best-looking and running version of the game released.
If you haven’t picked Bayonetta up yet, there is no reason not to do so now on PC. If you have, I would still recommend getting this version if you are interested in the PC version’s bolstered resolution and framerate.
Even if its story falls into many amnesia tropes and the graphics are a bit dated, the innovative and enthralling gameplay coupled with its over-the-top-nature make Bayonetta a wild ride that you won’t ever want to get off. Sega has mentioned that they want to do more PC ports in the future and, if they are done as well as Bayonetta, I can’t wait to see what they bring over next.