Bayonetta 2 is an action game that gets it. Platinum Games managed to pack in as much deep, complex combat as possible while still maintaining multiple simple, streamlined control systems. The result is a hack and slash brawler that is as fun to play as it is to watch. The star here is Bayonetta, a witch with the power to shapeshift and summon powerful demons with her hair. As unique of a concept as that sounds, controlling her is a joy.
For those who played the first Bayonetta on PS3 or Xbox 360 can find comfort knowing that the franchise doesn’t miss a beat on Wii U. In fact, it ups the ante. The sequel makes everything bigger: the combat, the set pieces, the enemies. And not to worry, the switch to a family friendly Nintendo company didn’t compromise its mature content. It’s the Bayonetta you know and love kicked up another notch.
Bayonetta 2 is an improvement over the original in a magnitude of ways, but perhaps none as important as the control schemes. Harnessing the power of the Wii U, Bayonetta 2 can be controlled with the gamepad buttons, the touch screen on the gamepad, the Wii U Pro controller, or any combination of the three. Included are also four standard button presets that move the trigger controls around for some easy customization. Switching between controls is flawless, and only requires one tap, touch or button press to switch to a different method. There are also camera speed and distance sliders for some added control.
Easily the most accessible part of Bayonetta 2 is the Automatic/one button mode. When starting the game, you can choose between three difficulty levels (1st, 2nd, and 3rd Climax), with the lowest offering the player the option to turn on Automatic mode. This boils down combat to just require one button only. All punches, kicks, evades and dodges can all be done by pressing the same face button. This opens up the genre to a whole new audience that have trouble keeping up with the fast paced nature of action games, and could be revolutionary if other developers adopt the same strategy.
Quick time events are used both in combat and out of combat, however very sparingly. The in combat QTEs are only used to influence scores; the better you do, the better your score or reward. Outside of combat these QTEs can be failed, but on lower difficulties they are very forgiving. Quick time events in Bayonetta 2 also only require the player to press the same button repeatedly instead of having to navigate your hands all around the controller. The same is done with touch controls; you just need to repeatedly tap the same spot. With the fluidness of switching controls on the fly, you could conceivably use the one button mode in combat and the touch screen for all QTEs, or vice versa. Bayonetta 2 gives you every option you need.
One other thing to note is that there are some moments of platforming in the game that require jumping across gaps or platforms. Fortunately, check pointing is handled brilliantly, usually bringing your character back to the jump you just missed, or slightly before it. Platforming can also be done with the touch controls, however sometimes it is clunky and misinterprets jumps for attacks, but with practice it is totally possible. To further help these sections, when Bayonetta is in the air there is a blue mark under her that shows where she will land if you let go of the button. Little things like this go unseen by a lot of gamers, but it shows Platinum Games master craftsmanship and dedication to accessibility.
All speaking done is accompanied by subtitles, making playing the game with no sound possible. However, subtitles do not include speaker names. Most times the speakers will be front and center on the screen so telling who is saying what is obvious, but other times labeling speakers is required to know what is going on and would definitely be an upgrade. Outside of cut scenes all instructions are through text, so sound creates no barrier on actually finishing the game.
While the combat and controls of Bayonetta 2 are the star, the visuals are equally as breathtaking. Enemies come at you from heaven, hell and in between, with environments ranging from the gold and light of Paradiso to the dark, blood red Inferno. Even in the later stages where fire and darkness are everywhere, Bayonetta 2 is always careful not to mix sensitive colors. The colorblind should have no problems.
Game menus are all easy to read and use and font is large enough in most cases. Subtitles are not letterboxed, however, and can appear smaller than they really are in some scenes. Cut scenes in Bayonetta 2 include both full video and sort of a graphic novel style (but with full video game graphics) where the screen transitions from scene to scene without major movement. This style in itself makes subtitles easier to read.
Multiple control schemes, Automatic mode, 10 hour campaign with tons of end game content, deep satisfying combat, the original Bayonetta is bundled in.
Speakers aren’t identified in subtitles.