Bayonetta’s Next Adventure, a storybook-style prequel called Origins of Bayonetta: Cereza and the Lost Demon, calls for a different kind of agility required to play a video game – especially one from developer PlatinumGames’ pedigree. Unlike existing Bayonetta games, which are full of balletic action, dabbing bullets, Origins of Bayonetta has a much easier way to live. The Nintendo Switch game is powered by puzzle solving and storytelling, not ass kicking.
But Origins of Bayonetta requires a level of ambidexterity; players control two characters at once in Platinum’s new game. Cereza, young Bayonetta, is controlled with the left side of a Switch controller, and Cheshire, a demon-imbued stuffed cat, with the right. Each character’s movement is mapped to the analog controller of each Joy-Con. Actions, like attacks and spells, are performed with shoulder buttons. Cast light combat and spells – some of which are powered by a little rhythm game – and Origins of Bayonetta starts to become a more complex game than its presentation suggests.
I got into a game of Origins of Bayonetta a few chapters later, the young Cereza studies and explores the sinister forest of Avalon. As a young witch, Cereza is still learning the basics of sorcery, using her spells to grow and transform vegetation called infernal plants. These roots come out of the ground to build new bridges and walkways across the forest. Cereza can also trap enemies in a magic circle called Thorn Bind.
In combat, Cereza is not very capable. That’s where Cheshire comes in, a disgruntled demon who is summoned (and can’t escape) from Cereza’s stuffed cat. Its powerful claws can cut through evil fairies and thorny roots that block Cereza’s progress. Cheshire is a hulking beast – heavy, but not very nimble. He can also shrink down to normal plush toy size, letting Cereza carry him around like the big baby he is. (Adorably, picking up and carrying Cheshire is called “hug mode”. Otherwise, Cheshire is in “unleashed mode.”)
Cereza and Cheshire must work together to cross the Avalon Forest. And they must stay close to each other to survive. When the duo encounter a group of villains, it’s up to Cheshire to fight their way through them while Cereza avoids danger (or traps one in a magic spell). And when they come across a patch of rosemary – poison to poor Cheshire – it’s up to Cereza to summon a new path using a little rhythm game spell for her feline demon friend to follow. Together, in hug mode, the two can jump from platform to platform, using Cheshire as a grappling hook.
Using all of these cooperative elements and co-dependencies transforms the forest into a series of increasingly complex puzzles to solve. Since my convenient time with Origins of Bayonetta was very early in the game, how the developers can build on these puzzles is a compelling prospect. There are additional elements that I haven’t been able to explore, such as brewing magic potions, which will apparently add even more depth.
So during Origins of Bayonetta certainly looks and plays differently than other Bayonetta games on Switch, it’s no less intriguing. Players can experience its fairy tale charms for themselves when Origins of Bayonetta: Cereza and the Lost Demon launching on March 17.