Preview – Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon
I’ve written numerous times in the past that Bayonetta was not a franchise that I really enjoyed playing. That sentiment has changed with the launch of Bayonetta 3, and while I enjoyed my time with that title, it still wasn’t one of my favourite experiences on Nintendo consoles. When Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Dragon was announced during a previous Nintendo Direct, I was instantly intrigued. The art looked good, the concepts seems interesting, and I wanted to know more about this witch named Cereza.
During my few hours with the game, I enjoyed the experience as far as I had played. Bayonetta Origins isn’t the first title to use a control scheme where one character is mapped to the left Joy Con (Cereza) and the other controlled by the right (Cheshire). The game, however, slowly introduces this concept to you. The first hour sets the story into motion and introduces you to the various control schemes you will encounter, such as engaging with people, items, etc, moving through the world, carrying items and more. Most importantly, however, is understanding the back story of Cereza, why she is currently living with Umbra Witch Morgana, why she enters the Avalon forest, and more. You also learn more about her friend Cheshire, how it appears in the world, and how to control them.
What is obvious is that the development team is pushing a very narrative adventure here. A good example of this actually involves Cereza’s Witch Pulse dance action. The action requires players to spin the control stick and then tap the joystick in specific directions to match the pulse in certain areas. While not overly tricky, it can still take a few tries to get it correctly. The game gives players the option of skipping this mini-game all together, instead auto-completing the mini-game each time it comes up during the adventure. This is a great accessibility option built into the game, which will allow more players the opportunity to experience this journey. This was something promised in promotional content around the game, and from our few hours, it holds true.
The core gameplay of Bayonetta Origins is fairly simplistic, with the Witch Pulse dance action probably being the most difficult so far. Holding down ZL allows Cereza to ‘tie down’ an enemy with vines while using Cheshire to attack (with the opposite Joy Con controller and ZR)). There are instances when you will pull Cheshire back into your arms, times when Cheshire cannot move forward because of dangers in the world that Cereza needs to deal with, and more. But all the actions, mostly mapped to the triggers and bumpers, is simplistic. The game never asks you to perform confusing or conflicting actions at the same time with each character, which is key to making this type of game work. While narrative heavy, I found this to be a really solid environmental puzzle experience, and I’m excited to see how that might expand deeper into the experience.
Bayonetta Origins is going to shock people, both positively and negatively, when it launches. Some are going to love this art and audio direction (it is beautiful), but perhaps dislike the game play. Other might dislike the entire experience. What is obvious, not just form my preview but also form watching trailers, is that this is a different experience than the franchise it is based on. Presented as a story book with page turns included, this is something that could draw new interest in the wider franchise, and perhaps help some better understand the connections between witches in demons. Still, entering next month with visions of traditional Bayonetta is probably the wrong way to go. I’m interested to see how this story evolves further, to see if it will be a solid experience throughout.