So here we are, with my number one most enjoyed game of 2010. And who'd have thought that a game released in the second week of 2010 would hang on to my top spot all year? Not many, but from the day I played the demo of Bayonetta, I had a bit of a feeling. About the game... what did you think I meant?
If you ignore the fact that you play a witch who is clothed in her own hair, which becomes a super-powerful weapon at her command... oh, who am I kidding? It's impossible to ignore that. But for all that it's absolutely mind-bogglingly crazy, Bayonetta actually has a good, well fleshed-out story to complement the frenetic gameplay.
That woman's in the nip!
Bayonetta is a witch without a memory... but after 500 years asleep, that's not really surprising. The story begins with Bayonetta trying to regain her memories, and indeed they do come back, piece by piece... usually awoken by some catastrophic event or a character from her past. It becomes apparent that there are two factions of witches, representing the dark and light sides. As long as balance remains between the two, the world will be a good place to live in. But, of course, that balance is threatened, and this threat seems to revolve around Bayonetta...
It's like Kung-Fu... with added kick!
The game plays like Devil May Cry... as it should, both games were directed by the same fella. But I always found the Devil May Cry series a bit po-faced. I quite enoyed them for what they were, but ultimately they were all a bit too difficult for me, and a bit too dry.
That's never a problem with Bayonetta. Right from the start, where you're on a falling clock tower (falling from where, I don't know, but it falls a looong way), battling demonic angels in strange forms, you know that this is an action game with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek.
Alright, I can't even begin to stress how much wrong is in this picture.
Bayonetta took a lot of flak before it was even released, all because of its main character. She was regarded as being a blatant sex object, only in the game to sell as many copies as possible to teenage boys and old pervs. However, once you actually played the game, you realised that the sexuality is all done with a sly wink and an outrageously over-the-top sense of style. It's great fun.
See this? This is about as straightforward as it gets.
What's more fun is the gameplay. I can't remember the last game to make me grin quite as much as this one. It's quite preposterous in so many ways, but never in a way that makes you question why you're playing it. You're dropped in at the deep end, being under attack right from the start with little explanation... that comes as you progress.
Once again, Bayonetta finds herself in a hairy situation...
While at first it just seems like a hack-and-slash game with lovely graphics, things soon take a turn for the better... pretty much the first time you encounter any kind of boss. They're massive, and often quite ridiculous, but always imaginative. Any time you're attacked by anything with an upside-down baby head is a bit disturbing. Luckily, you can counter any such monstrosity with a monster of your own, made from the finest jet black hair. Yes, Bayonetta uses her witchly powers to summon forth some incredible-looking creatures from her hair, and these things deal some almighty damage. It might sound ludicrous, but when it happens under your control, it's amazing.
Look, I'm a reasonable guy, but I've just seen some very unreasonable things.
Games such as this do sometimes have a bad habit of becoming samey, but Bayonetta has a few tricks thrown in to mix things up a little. There are "Alfheim Portals" to be discovered... mini-challenges that are hidden away and, if found, can be beaten for a reward. Then there are the little things thrown in as a service to Sega fans... just wait until you see the OutRun and Space Harrier tributes...
Well, I'm very happy to be here...
Bayonetta might not be the most serious of games, and with some epic and perhaps more worthy games being released last year, it probably didn't top many end-of-year polls for Best Game. But I had way more enjoyment out of this game in 2010 than any other. Its action was great, always imaginitive and inventive, and it had a sense of humour unlike anything I'd played before. I completed it, and have gone back to it with the intention of completing it again. And when I've done that, I just might do it again. It's one of the best games of this generation, without a doubt.