The difference in direction between the Bayonetta trilogy and the newest entry in the series, Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and The Lost Demon, is impossible to ignore. In place of the self-assured dominatrix we know and love is a timid young girl who is far more comfortable clutching a stuffed animal than she is a pistol. Instead of large-scale, action-packed set pieces and the mainline series’ unapologetically over-the-top style, we are treated to enchanted forests, well-worn book pages adorned with soft illustrations, and gentle, childlike curiosity. As such, the first few hours I spent with Bayonetta Origins were filled with complete and utter confusion. I couldn’t find the connection between Bayonetta Origins and the Bayonetta trilogy, or the threads that connected the two experiences to one another. But thankfully, the team behind Bayonetta Origins could.
Bayonetta Origins is an achievement, both within the Bayonetta series and games as a whole. It is proof the rules and limitations placed on certain, big budget series are made to be broken–especially when you can do it with this much creativity and tact. The charming adventure-puzzler is also just delightful to play, and is far more than what it appears on the surface. As its story unfolds, it slowly builds into a recognizably Bayonetta game–one filled with excitement, darkness, subversions, and feminine liberation–all while maintaining an identity all its own. All this combined with a touching tale of companionship and maternal love–that may or may not have made me cry a lot–makes for a game I urge you not to overlook whether or not you’re a fan of the Bayonetta games.
Set long before Cereza steps into the souped-up shoes of Bayonetta, Origins is best described as a “coming-of-half-lumen-sage” story. After witnessing her mother’s imprisonment due to a forbidden romance with Cereza’s father, the young girl is forced to seek refuge under the tutelage of a powerful witch who lives on the outskirts of the forbidden Avalon forest. Her teacher is firm-yet-kind–clearly intended to show in part where Bayonetta’s cool demeanor comes from–but is often frustrated by Cereza’s cowardice. As such, when a spirit visits Cereza and tells her that the courage she needs to become a proper witch and rescue her mother lies deep in Avalon, the young witch quickly sets off in search of it.
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