Bayonetta 2 Review - IGN (2024)

Right from the action-packed moments of its fantastic prologue, I couldn't help but notice how much better Bayonetta 2 looks and plays than its predecessor - or most other action games, for that matter. Impressively, Bayonetta 2 just gets better from there. With the style, grace, and precision of a runway model, she sashays, punches, poses, and kicks her way through an outstanding 10-hour campaign full of grand setpieces and deadly angels and demons.

Building on the original Bayonetta’s strengths, Bayonetta's 2 free-flowing combat remains its greatest asset. Each punch, kick, and weapon swing flows comfortably into the next empowering move. Everything moves at a fast and fluid 60 frames-per-second target (it never noticeably dipped), and this sequel feels supercharged thanks to excellent animation, more opportunities to cancel out of attacks mid-move to dodge, and fun new weapons to unlock, like the Rakshasa blades or the Chernabog scythe. Each feels distinct and has its own branching combos that can be mixed and matched to set up different styles of play.

Bayonetta 2 Review - IGN (1)

Executing combos feels natural, and it's invigorating to pull off long attack strings on a group of enemies. Perfectly timed dodges have a tangible reward thanks to Witch Time, a slow-motion payoff for dodging at the last second that allows me to dig in and devastate angelic foes. Once I factored in the new Umbran Climax - a high-power release of demon-summoning attacks that strike in a wide radius - I had plenty of ways to embarrass the opposition. No matter how large they got (and Bayonetta 2’s enemies get enormous) my attacks could still send them reeling.

Bayonetta’s not overpowered, though. Even on normal difficulty, the enemies shouldn’t be underestimated. The dozens of enemy types, from the small flying underlings to the large bosses themselves, have distinct attack patterns and signature tells that demand and reward your attention. Each boss has a cool and unique visual design, and no two behave the same way. The flying boss Valor, whose gold armor gives him the look of an angelic knight, fights much differently than the deadly Urbane, a ground-based foe that wields dual flaming gauntlets. The constant enemy variety makes me feel like I’m never fighting the same foe for too long or too often.

Action gets chaotic, but big, colorful effects help make it clear what’s going on at any given moment: successful last-second dodges set off purple-hued slow-motion moments, while Angelic minions, with the sculptured look of mythic statues, have a shimmering gold effect that signals they’re winding up to attack. Clear visual language like this informs quick decisions, letting me confidently dodge and strike enemies down with a high-powered offense.

The meticulous rating system gave me incentive to aim higher and experiment with new combos and moves. Each chapter rates you based on time played and combo prowess, with penalties to your score for items or continues used. It pushes you to do better with great rewards like score multipliers and extra currency to spend on new techniques, accessories, hilarious Nintendo-themed costumes, and items.

Many elements of Bayonetta 2's presentation and mechanics are geared for hardcore action fans, but it attempts to embrace casual newcomers too – with mixed results. The GamePad-focused touch control option uses simple taps, holds, and swipes to send an A.I.-driven Bayonetta into attack. That alternate control scheme is a neat addition, but it doesn’t hold up well with lots of enemies on screen because the camera has trouble keeping up. You’ll have to learn the standard control scheme a few hours in regardless - and you should, because it’s fantastic.

There’s also an online only, scenario-based co-op mode that squeezes a little more value out of Bayonetta 2’s excellent combat. Each one is acquired by completing sections of the main campaign, and they distill combat to smaller area encounters with a group of enemies or even bosses. They’re fun, but it’s all over after just two- or three-minute bursts of action.

As a finishing touch, Bayonetta's wicked weaves -- transformations involving powerful demonic accomplishes -- punctuate the end of an action sequence, often skewering enemies in outrageous death traps. They create some of the most extravagant moments, with gruesome enemy-munching sequences. Mashing buttons as a Godzilla-sized demon is turned in into devilish lunchmeat for one of Bayonetta’s minions is a satisfying conclusion after a tense fight.


But as much as I enjoy Bayonetta's over-the-top style, and I’m not too put off by her hypersexualized character design, the writing does have a bad habit of occasionally slipping into annoyingly juvenile territory with some bad attempts at humor. I don’t mind some juvenile humor to complement a light-hearted action game, but the jokes just lean on foul-mouthed punchlines and silly character tropes, and the sequences go on for way longer than they should.

On the other hand, the writing has some good high points, like how it positions The Masked Lumen Sage as an excellent foil to Bayonetta. The times I fought him felt tense, as he firmly stood toe-to-toe with my heroine’s high-powered abilities, summoning his own angelic helpers to counter my own.

The excellent combat of Bayonetta 2 is boosted by superb art direction and pacing, both of which make Bayonetta 1 look poor by comparison. Missions never lets up, presenting more enemy types to fight across urban cityscapes, quaint mountain cities, and stylized interpretations of Heaven and Hell. Level designs give you room to take advantage of Bayonetta’s shapeshifting abilities, so you can charge through a platforming area as a panther or swim through underwater sections as a sea serpent. It’s also useful in combat as well. By double-tapping the dodge button I can quickly transform and close the space between opponents I fight on the ground, in the air, and underwater.


Bayonetta 2 Review - IGN (2024)


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