Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon [Switch] Review – A Big Surprise

Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon has no right to be as good as it is. On paper, it shouldn’t even work. It’s a whimsical, child-friendly prequel in a series that prides itself on its adult themes (nudity and extreme violence) and intense, almost Dark Souls level of difficulty.

The biggest challenge in this one is understanding why it was made in the first place – or who it’s even for. You’d expect a prequel to funnel its new audience into the greater series, but which parent is going to let their child pick up Bayonetta?

Against all odds, then, Bayonetta Origins is an utterly fascinating experience. It’s as difficult to put down as it is emotionally-affecting, featuring pitch perfect pacing. Just as you’re getting bored of combat, you reach a platforming section or puzzle.

What Even Is Bayonetta Origins?

It’s a direct prequel to the Bayonetta games, which are, themselves, sort of spiritual successors to the Devil May Cry franchise. Traditionally, you play as an Umbran Witch, battling hordes of angelic enemies by mastering a challenging combat system full of combos, dodges, and finishing moves.

That’s not Bayonetta Origins at all. You play as the teenage Cereza – Bayonetta before she was Bayonetta – who’s learning to become a witch for the first time.

During her training, she gets lost in a creepy forest, and befriends a demon she unwittingly summoned into her teddy, Cheshire. This kicks off an unlikely partnership, as both need to utilise their individual powers to survive, and escape, the forest.

How Does it Play?

It plays like a combination of Brothers, Zelda (well, Okami), and a traditional Platinum game. You control Cereza with the left joystick and trigger, and Cheshire with the right. Each has strengths – Cereza’s magic, Cheshire’s combat ability – that come in handy in different circumstances.

Using these, you battle enemies, solve puzzles, and navigate the environment. As you can expect, your abilities grow over time, and at a decent pace that keeps the experience feeling fresh even as you approach the triumphant conclusion.

Each aspect is relatively simplistic in practice, and you could argue that Bayonetta Origins is way too easy. Well, aside from trying to control Cereza and Cheshire at the same time, that is. That’s about as comfortable as rubbishing your stomach and patting your head. However, it is pleasingly representative of their (Cheshire’s) reluctance to work together.

Really, Bayonetta Origins is too easy, but it’s also targeted at a younger audience. Unlike a Kirby game, which is typically quite one note, Bayonetta Origins ends up feeling more like the sum of its parts though, and you don’t really care that it’s easy. You’re too busy having fun.

What About That Art Style?

It helps that it’s absolutely stunning, of course, looking like a children’s book come to life. In fact, the world is almost drawn in as you explore it, with the colours and shapes only appearing the closer you get to an object.

But it’s not overly simplistic as you’d expect from an art style like this. The world is fully 3D, and the character animations are just as expressive as you’d see in the mainline Bayonetta series.

Whether its Cheshire’s vicious attack animations or Cereza’s spells, delivered in the form of dance, Bayonetta Origins just feels bursting to life. The user of colour to provide weight to every action particularly pops on that OLED screen, too.

Should I Get It?

Bayonetta Origins may be marketed at children, but it’s an extraordinary adventure. Whether it’s the action-packed combat, mind-bending puzzles, or genuinely heart-warming story, there’s something here for everyone.

Sure, it might be a tad on the easy side, but that’s really not to the game’s detriment. It’s more of a stop-and-smell-the-roses adventure that serves as a nice break from a game like Elden Ring, or, dare we say it, actual Bayonetta.

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