Bayonetta 3 can learn a lot from its predecessors.
At the time of writing this article, it is almost three years since Bayonetta 3 was tantalizingly dangled in front of us at The Game Awards in December 2017. Fast forward to early 2020 and barely any information has come out other than occasional confirmations that the game is still in development. In preparation, I thought it would be a good time to look back at Bayonetta 2 and how for me it creates some of the most accessible and rewarding gameplay you can find on the Switch.
The element that sums this up perfectly is how developer Platinum Games uses the dodge mechanic. Action games often feature a block and/or dodge move that allows you to avoid taking any damage. But anyone who has played a Platinum game knows they are not satisfied with just replicating what other developers have done; they always feel they have to top it.
Enter Witch Time. Dodging right before an enemy strikes causes the world to crawl to a snail’s pace. This is Witch Time and is the perfect opportunity to counter, allowing you to unload huge amounts of damage. In other action games, dodging is mostly a defensive move. Often you are moving away from someone’s attack to get in a more preferable position. Platinum, however, decides to completely turn that mechanic on its head by encouraging you to dodge into the oncoming attacks. This leaves the enemy completely open, ready for you to dish out punishment.
This risk-or-reward mechanic takes something that is normally quite passive like blocking and turns it into one of Bayonetta 2’s most important crutches of routine gameplay. But, most importantly, this encapsulates one of Platinum’s core game design principles. They achieve this by giving you gameplay that is simple to learn at first. They then build upon this mechanic by adding extra layers of complexity and depth. For example, if you dodge at the very moment someone strikes you, you get a different result. Bayonetta, instead, turns into a bat and parries the attack and enters an improved version of Witch Time. This version gives you an increased amount of time to wreak havoc on the enemies swarming you.
What to expect from Bayonetta 3?
So with that in mind what can we expect from Bayonetta 3? Bayonetta 2 is a superb game it so what can it’s sequel improve on? A common criticism was that it was only tweaking and improving the flaws of the first Bayonetta. Rumors have emerged that Bayonetta 3 will be closer to an open-world game. However, going back and playing its prequel makes me very excited for what Platinum Games will do to raise the bar with its ingenious game design. So long as they stick to their core principles, I’m sure they will have every success.
What do you think? Do you have a take on how they could improve? Tell us in the comments below!