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First Impressions: Bayonetta 3 [Nintendo Switch]

Bayonetta 3 has been wowing us so far, even if there's a few gameplay hiccups to deal with.

Editor’s Note: Triple A games are often massive, time consuming and rigorous in gameplay. They are rarely played in one sitting, or even five. So, a comprehensive review may take some time. Hence, weve introduced a feature called First Impressions. Think of it as a snapshot of gameplay, to wet your appetites.

Many people are returning to the Bayonetta series with Bayonetta 3, which just launched on Friday. This humble writer confesses that he’s jumping into Bayonetta for the first time with this title, and I was extremely curious to see if the game made a good entry point.

And just five hours in, I can say that it does. Some gameplay problems popped up fairly quickly, and haven’t yet gone away. My first impressions of Bayonetta 3 are very solid, and I hope the game continues to deliver as I progress forward.

Bayonetta 3
Understanding the story of Bayonetta 3? Easier than it might appear. (Kinda.)

Untangling the Bayonetta story web

Considering my position as a Bayonetta newbie, it was always going to be difficult, if not impossible, to follow the story. Starting from the third entry is hard enough. Starting from the third entry in a series infamous for having storylines that are difficult to follow is another.

So far, I’m happy to report that I’m understanding the gist of it. Bayonetta 3 throws multiple dimensions into the midst, with Bayonetta travelling between timelines and meeting alternate versions of herself. These dimensions serve as the broader areas, with levels separated major story beats and set pieces.

I knew a little bit about the returning characters going into Bayonetta 3, and already I’m really enjoying them. Bayonetta especially talks with an elegance and grace that makes her really alluring (not just in that way, but yes, definitely in that way). Despite the circumstances surrounding her hiring, Jennifer Hale’s voice as Bayonetta is very good, lending a seductive and confident charm to the character.

The other characters also provide a lot of entertainment, despite how wacky they can get. I will never tire of hearing Dave Fennoy’s smooth voice as Rodin, and Enzo and Luka also provide some great comic relief. Shoutouts to Anna Brisbin as well, who does a great job in bringing the newcomer Viola to life.

Bayonetta 3 Homunculi
New foes, same old methods.

Kicking butt, and also getting your butt kicked

I admit to not being the most proficient in action games styled like Bayonetta, where you have a number of different attacks and maneuvers delivered via combos and careful timing. So naturally, I was worried that a novice like me would have a hard time learning the ropes.

That fear was somewhat founded, but thankfully, while Bayonetta 3 was challenging to learn, it was also very rewarding. With specific actions (punching, kicking, shooting, and jumping) tied to specific buttons, getting all the moves down is pretty natural. There’s a lot of combo potential here, and the controls feel very responsive and tight.

I just wish the Infernal Demons were a little smoother to control when summoning them; they deal a ton of damage, but they can be a pain to maneuver when you’re trying to hit a specific spot.

Bayonetta 3 Viola
Viola has her own storyline and combat style in this game.

With all that said, my first impressions on Bayonetta 3 are that it’s not that difficult once you overcome that initial hurdle. (For reference, I’m playing on normal difficulty.) Challenge scales at a steady rate, enough so that I can keep up but not too much so that I get hit with a wall. Time will tell if this trend continues, but newcomers need have no fear: the game isn’t too punishing

I got to play one level as Viola, and I wasn’t the biggest fan of her heavier playstyle. I might just need some time to get used to her defensive options, however. Jeanne’s stealth sections are a nice distraction, but I’m honestly glad these sections are as short as they are.

First impressions on Bayonetta 3

While Bayonetta 3 takes a while to get used to, I’ve been having a lot of fun diving into it. Not every gameplay mechanic is perfect and the new additions don’t always gel together well. But the action-packed combat and stylish presentation is enough for me to get into it, and I can’t wait to finish it up.

Daniel Hein

Daniel Hein is either A) a lifelong video game fanatic, writer, and storyteller just sharing his thoughts on things, or B) some kind of werewolf creature. We're not quite sure which yet. He also makes mediocre video game retrospectives (and other content!) on YouTube where you can watch him babble on for hours about nothing.
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