Bayonetta Origins hands-on: a charming story about a witch and her demonic cat

    Even bayonet 3 just came out last fall, there’s already a new entry in the franchise due out in March starring everyone’s favorite armed witch. However, for the next release – Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon – rather than a continuation of the story, PlatinumGames created a prequel with a charming new art style and gameplay twists that shed light on a younger version of Cereza, before she became the over-the-top sorceress we know today.

    After a brief explanation of Bayonetta’s lineage, the game introduces its first major twist when it asks you to control both Cereza and her stuffed cat Cheshire, who serves as a vessel for a recently summoned demon. That’s because instead of switching between each character independently, you’re supposed to control both at the same time, with the left Joy-Con being responsible for maneuvering Cereza, while the right Joy-Con is dedicated to controlling from her cat. (Don’t worry, you can also play the game with the Switch’s Pro Controller if you prefer.) So in addition to playing various puzzles or hack-and-slash encounters your way, you often have to beat the fight engaging with your own mind as you try to get both sides of your brain on the same page.


    For me, this setup immediately drew parallels to one of my favorite games from 2013, Brothers: A tale of two sons. (Sorry guys for the slightly dated reference, but if you haven’t played Brothers yet, you really should check it out.) Admittedly, brothers is much more of a true puzzle platformer, but even after playing for less than an hour, Bayonetta origin delivered the same kind of very satisfying solo co-op vibes. While Nintendo claims the title is intended to be a single player experience, I feel like this could be just as fun/frustrating (maybe even more) when played with a friend, with each person getting a single Joy. con.

    Additionally, while the game’s controls are relatively simple and straightforward (due in part to the split controller layout), there’s a surprising amount of depth when it comes to combat and overcoming obstacles. Typically, Cheshire serves as the muscle when fighting forest spirits or other monsters, while Bayonetta relies on her witch powers to trap and control enemies. That said, the two can work together, with Cheshire being able to shrink down and act as a grappling hook, allowing the pair to jump over gaps and chasms. So despite the game’s slower pace compared to previous installments, it’s still very rewarding to get your left and right hands working together. I also have to admit that it’s just really cute to see Cereza cuddle up with a demonic patchwork plush, who needs to be close to the witch in order to survive despite his hatred of cuddling.

    In Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, you must rely on Cereza's spells to lock and manipulate opponents, while her demon cat Cheshire engages in melee combat.


    Another departure from other Bayonetta titles is the game’s art style, which has traded its anime-inspired origins for a more storybook aesthetic – and it looks absolutely fantastic. Coupled with a younger version of Cereza still figuring out her place in the world, the game feels more like a new-age fairy tale than the eccentric action-packed circus we’ve seen in previous games.

    And while I only had a short time with it Bayonetta origin, perhaps my biggest surprise was how quickly I got engrossed in the game. That’s because while the bombastic nature of previous entries in the franchise is more my style, Cereza’s latest adventure offers a thoroughly charming and downright sane take on the series. So for all you Bayonetta fans who may have been put off by the design or visuals of this episode, you might want to reconsider that point of view and make a Cereza and the demon a chance when it officially comes out on March 17.

    The demon trapped in Cereza's stuffed cat doesn't like to be hugged.


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