At PAX West 2022, I got the chance to play Bayonetta 3, and it’s everything I wanted—as much as I can tell with roughly 15 minutes of gameplay anyway. Developed by PlatinumGames and published by Nintendo, it’s been eight years of waiting, and I finally got to play as my favorite video game leads. Starting in a train car in Tokyo, you fight your way through homunculi. Stringing together combos, you quickly dispatch them, only for a mega aerial raid unit, Iridescent, to send your car and building flying. Then, warping into your demon form, you’re in for a kaiju slide, dodging or destroying obstacles along the way.
What this demo does best is highlight the beauty in Bayonetta 3’s creature design and the absolute wrecking fun you can have, switching between demon forms, quick attacks, and heavy attacks. It also showcased the kaiju, which absolutely rocks. To be honest, speaking intelligently about Bayonetta 3 is hard because I’ve waited so long to be back in this world and opening up a demo with a kaiju battle is one hell of a way to bring me back in. Additionally, the demo showcases how the enemies warp the world around you and are ultimately visible to humans. Yup, this is all happening in broad daylight, which both ups the stakes and makes it much more absurd when say, a kaiju demon uses boats as water skis.
Bayonetta is beautiful, wonderful, and so so deadly. The combos feel fluid, with some amazing dodge mechanics as well. But the pinnacle combat mechanic is the sexy one that set Twitter on fire—Demon Masquerade. This allows you to channel the demon connection through your equipped weapons. While I got to play with two, the previously announced Madame Butterfly and Gomorrah, there will be more in store, though the number wasn’t confirmed in our hands-on demo. Nevertheless, in just one demo, I experimented with different combat styles that will clearly help with the game’s replayability.
But Demon Masquerade isn’t the only fantastic bond you get with your demon. You also get the Demon Slave mechanic, which allows players to take control of kaiju-sized versions of their demons and destroy the homunculi you’re facing with special attacks. Now, while this is a fun element that comes with great power, it also comes with risk. With your demon summoned and controlled, your Bayonetta is more vulnerable and can take damage, making for a great way to keep players on their toes.
And, of course, the iconic Witch Time ability comes into play when you execute a dodge flawlessly, which is some of the same iconic action gameplay I’ve desperately needed.
Much of my hands-on time with Bayonetta 3 was spent living out all of the info we’ve seen so far in trailers and press releases. Even so, I wish I could play again and again and again until release. Playing as the third Bayonetta, I’m excited to see the story expand as much as I am to see the combat do the same. So with the promise of meeting a virtual coven of Bayonettas, all I have to say is: let’s go.
Bayonetta 3 is scheduled to release on October 28, 2022, for Nintendo Switch.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.