Bayonetta Origins is the prequel game of the series and wants to tell you the story of little Cereza
Less than half a year had passed since Bayonetta 3 was released and Nintendo, in collaboration with Platinum Games, surprised The Game Awards 2022 with Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon . I didn't expect that at all. The development team seems to have waited for the right moment - as it seemed - to reveal it, surprising fans with its special style.
Although I'm a fan of the series mainly for its fast-paced and addictive gameplay, Bayonetta Origins, which acts as a prequel to the franchise, threw me off when I saw it, because it reminded me nothing of everything I love about the franchise.
Instead of seeing Bayonetta "slaughtering" hordes of monsters and confronting bosses or not paying attention to anyone and playing it as a "diva", I saw a little Cereza with a gameplay that was nothing like the fast-paced combat that I loved. I won't hide from you that it didn't bother me at all when they presented the first trailer and it seemed to me to be something small and meaningless. How good can it be? I said when I saw the first trailer. Well, I've had the game for about a month now, I've melted it, and I can say that it not only ticks all the boxes, but also brings fresh new ideas to the franchise.
But let's start things from the beginning. Bayonetta Origins is the prequel game of the series and wants to tell you the story of little Cereza. Cereza was essentially "born" from the bond between the Lumen Sages of light and the Umbra Witches of darkness. As relations between these two clans are on the rocks, Cereza has been persecuted and all she cares about is freeing her mother, Rosa, from a prison.
And here things start to get difficult for her, as she is young and does not yet know the powers hidden within her. In a way I don't want to reveal to you, Cereza's lifeless teddy bear becomes flesh and blood when a demon named 'Cheshire' enters it. Cheshire is essentially the first demon Cereza meets and holds forever in her arms. You may also remember him from Bayonetta 3, since he is the same demon that Viola has as a companion.
These two characters must travel together to a mysterious forest called 'Avalon'. Avalon is a huge colorful and beautiful forest that hides dozens of secrets, dangers, traps and many places. Cereza's main goal in this game, apart from saving her mother, is to follow the footsteps of a white wolf named 'The White Wolf', where his footsteps will lead her from place to place.
At the same time, she also has some dreams with a child named Lukaon, who is also responsible for her visit to this forbidden forest. Hand on heart, the story of the game was very interesting and solves a lot of questions in the larger Bayonetta universe.
But in order to explore all the parts of the forest - and this is where the Metroidvania element comes in, is that I had to find some elemental cores scattered around the map. These cores give Cheshire various abilities, such as throwing fire or water or smashing through walls, while also completely changing his appearance. These cores help both in battle, but also in exploring the world, giving the player many options.
Platinum Games decided to do something special with the gameplay in this game. First, the camera is top down like we see in Diablo and gives a new freshness to the franchise. I want to mention that I was controlling Cereza and Cheshire at the same time with both analog Joy-Cons, just like we saw in the excellent game Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Thus, the protagonist is controlled with the left stick, while Chesire is controlled with the right.
In battle, Bayonetta basically has the entire left side of the controller, where she can do her magic, and Cheshire has the right side, for his own combos. Cheshire basically does all the damage work, since in addition to melee attacks he can claw enemies, bite them, grab them, and anything else you can imagine, while Cereza can "stun" them. or "slow" depending on the occasion.
The gameplay mechanics are constantly being enriched and I was given little by little new options on how to approach a battle. Really, I don't know how Platinum Games managed it again, but they did a miracle here as well. I'm talking about a highly addictive and rich gameplay, which is constantly evolving.
A gameplay system that relies heavily on the cooperation and teamwork of the two characters. For example, there were enemies that in order to kill them more easily, I had to first immobilize them with Cereza's special spell and then with the right stick of the controller, go with Cheshire to hit with melee damage. I also want to mention that a lot of work has been done on the main story bosses as well, but sometimes simple enemies or side bosses are repetitive.
The game is really full, since in addition to all the above, you will be able to upgrade both central characters through a special talent tree. Also, you will be able to make special potions, find various items that raise the level of life of Cereza et al. Also, it's worth mentioning that apart from the basic main quest, there are also many dungeons to explore with enemies and many bosses.
Each dungeon literally took me to "another dimension" and is full of puzzles, loot chests and enemies, just like the shrines we saw in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Although after the middle of the game these "shrines" are somewhat repetitive, I did them because I gained a "piece" each time to top up Cereza's total life flower (think of it a bit like Zelda's hearts).
When not in battle, Cheshire can become the cute teddy bear again and snuggle up in Cereza's arms. However, it can also become a "rubber" that helps her jump from one place to another by "grabbing" some flowers. Additionally, within the map, the two protagonists are asked to solve puzzles and go where one cannot. For example, Cheshire can't handle thorns. So if there are thorns in my path I will have to go with Cereza and with some procedures open the way or find another path for Cheshire to cross. I think you understand what I want to say.
The graphics of the game are almost flawless and I say almost because there was very little aliasing in some places. The colors are gorgeous, the camera perspective is excellent and it breathes new life into the franchise. Platinum Games has also done an excellent job in the art style of each region and the whole game looks like it is indeed a fairy tale...
Which is indeed like a fairy tale, because almost every cutscene is presented through the pages of a book, while a narrator can also be heard telling the story. I also found the musical score excellent, which dressed up the general audio-visual ensemble very nicely. The title runs smoothly on Nintendo Switch both docked and handheld, without any significant difference between them.
It's a wink-wink game for all fans of the series and one that deserves your attention, especially if you're looking for something light these days. It may not come at a budget price and may not fill the eyes of some, but let me tell you that it has nothing to envy from any game in the series. It's long (about 15 hours), has plenty of content to engage with, and of course plenty of surprises, which I'll leave for you to discover on your own.