Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon review: a wonderful relief

Any of PlatinumGames main lines Bayonetta titles has been a high-octane, high-camp celebration of female witchcraft that relied on overt visual extra-ness to offset repetitive – if mesmerizing – combat mechanics and storytelling that left much to be desired. While the imaginatively illustrated storybook aesthetic might suggest otherwise at first glance, Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon has a narrative heart and soul reminiscent of its more mature, gun-filled predecessors. But between its more simplified approach to combat and the soft emphasis it puts on controlling two characters simultaneously, Cereza and the Lost Demon isn’t just a delightful prequel – it’s one of the Bayonetta franchise’s most inspired and delightful entries to date.

Set in one of the cozier and livelier yet stylish corners of the multiverse that has been more thoroughly explored bayonet 3, Cereza and the Lost Demon tells the story of how a young Cereza variant’s life changes forever when she wanders through an enchanted forest one fateful day. As an enthusiastic but somewhat unskilled Umbra witch-in-training, Cereza knows better than to disobey her mistress Morgana’s strict rules about avoiding Avalon Forest until she better controls her burgeoning power to summon and control demons .

But as the loving daughter of a witch imprisoned for breaking Umbran law, Cereza can’t help but be tempted when a mysterious presence begins to urge her to Avalon and a strange power hidden there that she would can use to free her mother. It isn’t until Cereza accidentally manages to summon a demon, name it Cheshire, and tie it to her stuffed animal that she’s willing to go into the woods and the game gets off to a good start.

If you spent time playing previous Bayonetta games – especially bayonet 3 – then series creator Hideki Kamiya’s trademark flair for the outrĂ© will quickly become apparent when you first start poking around Avalon, controlling Cereza with the left stick and Cheshire with the right. But which immediately indicates how hard a pivot is Cereza from the rest of the franchise is art director Tomoko Nishii’s luscious, dreamy, cel-shaded visual style and the game’s storybook setting, which lends a refreshing whimsy to Bayonetta‘s lore.

Instead of another Bayonetta game focused on performing long series of combo attacks, Cereza and the Lost Demon plays more like an interactive book whose pages you must sift through, both to solve a variety of puzzles and to take in the beauty of them. As witch and demon, Cereza and Cheshire are bound together and can wander alone, but so far apart while the beast is in “unchained mode”, until they are forced to reunite in their cooperative “hug mode”, where he essentially becomes an outstretched grabbing arm for her.

Since they are both so inexperienced with their powers, Cheshire and Cereza must also rely on each other in battle as they encounter the many different types of delightfully gnarled fairies lurking all over Avalon, eager to lead them to their doom. to lead. It’s a bit disorienting the first time Cereza and the Lost Demon sits up to tell you that a battle is about to begin in which you must use Cereza’s relatively weak magic to temporarily bind enemies in place while Also commanding Cheshire to tear at it with his claws and fangs. But after a few seconds of moving the witch/demon duo and getting used to seeing them as two halves of a whole, meant to work together, Cereza and the Lost Demon quickly becomes just the right amount of light gimmick to feel both inspired and accessible.

Cereza and the Lost Demon is not the first Bayonetta game ever landed on a Nintendo system. But it’s the most Nintendo-esque entry in the franchise yet – both in the way the visual language feels perfectly calibrated to get the most out of the Switch’s hardware, and how much more aimed at a younger audience the story is. of the game feels. What Avalon lacks in high-definition detail, the game makes up for and then some by building out a pulsating, illustrated world full of aliens and playful forest spirits, each bringing their own unique energy. Cereza‘s dark fairy tale with their presence.

But just as interesting as almost all Cereza and the Lost Demon‘s character designs are, fighting bad guys never really gets to be everything That a big challenge as your adventure takes you deeper into Avalon, and Cereza and Cheshire get several more powerful but fairly easy to execute attacks. Once you get really used to timing Cereza’s cooldowns and Cheshire’s attacks, it’s more than easy to work your way through the groups of ornery combative elven people who really don’t need to telegraph their attacks as clearly as they do . As repetitive as combat can be, the game tries to keep it fresh and visually stimulating by giving Cheshire some new elemental physical forms, such as Fire Cheshire, which give him unique abilities and designs that feel like something has been plucked from it. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo.

While they are very different beasts, play Cereza and the Lost Demon in 2023 feels a lot like playing Capcom’s Okamides for the original DS in 2011, in that the new game is a technical triumph that will still almost certainly throw many fans off guard simply because it’s different from the games that preceded it. To be honest, Cereza undeniably makes a bold gamble in taking such a beloved character in a new direction that reads first and foremost as kid-friendly and true to Bayonetta second. But with its charming story, clever expansion of the franchise’s multiversal mythos, and a healthy selection of unlockable costumes, Cereza and the Lost Demon is pure Bayonetta at its core, and after the controversy surrounding it bayonet 3it might just be what the series needs.

Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon falls on March 17.

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