Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Platinum Games
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No

I was really excited to play Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon because I loved the idea behind it: taking an established series and going in a completely different direction. While that kind of thinking doesn?t necessarily lead to must-play games, if nothing else it shows a willingness to experiment and try new things that should be rewarded.

And now that I?ve played it? I think I like the idea of Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon more than I like it as a game.

I?m not just saying that because it?s so un-Bayonetta-like ? though it most definitely is. While I?m sure there are bigger left turns out there, going from the fast-paced, sexualized, hyper-stylish violence of the main series to a spinoff that?s a cute, storybook-like game about a young girl and her demon cat solving puzzles is a pretty drastic departure. If nothing else, it means you can?t exactly judge Bayonetta Origins on the same criteria that you would the mainline games since it?s so radically different.

However, that?s part of its problem. Where Bayonetta games set the bar for their brand of balletic violence, if you compare Bayonetta Origins to other games built around solving environmental puzzles with light platforming and combat elements, it doesn?t stand out to nearly the same degree. The puzzles are rarely challenging, and there?s not enough variety between them to keep you engaged.

On top of that, the combat and the controls aren?t nearly as fluid ? and I?d combine those two things together because, in this game, they?re pretty intertwined. You control Cereza with the left stick and the aforementioned demon cat, Cheshire, with the right, and apart from the moments where Cereza is carrying Chesire, you usually have to control both at the same time. While this is mostly fine during the platforming and puzzles, when you have to fight multiple enemies it can be a little confusing to send Chesire in one direction and Cereza in another. It?s not impossible, obviously, and it?s never so difficult that you?ll want to throw your Switch across the room in a rage, but given how smoothly combat works in the main series, it?s unfortunate that the same can?t be said here, even if it?s a completely different style of fighting.

All that said, the change isn?t all bad. Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is absolutely gorgeous. Its story is told like a fairytale with turning pages and a narrator, and the visuals look like watercolours come to life. No matter what problems I may have with how the game plays out, the aesthetics are single-handedly exceptional enough that they make the whole game worthwhile. If you?re going to spend a dozen-plus hours wandering around a world, then getting to enjoy visuals that are as beautiful as these make the time feel well-spent.

Mind you, if you?re not a fan of its art style, then Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is a much harder sell, with the gorgeous visuals covering up gameplay that?s only rarely very fun. I still maintain that it?s great to see an established series take risks like this ? and it?ll be interesting to see where the series evolves from here ? but as of now, there?s still much room for improvement.

Nintendo provided us with a Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B