Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon review – luxurious art and ingenious controls await

March 14, 2023
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Better even than starting a game with no expectations, can be starting a game with the wrong expectations. When I first heard about Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, I clocked the child protagonist, the hand-drawn illustrative art and the flutter of parchment, and I assumed the whole thing was a sort of visual novel. Sure enough, Cereza kicks off with a lot of story and a lot of reading, with just a few moments of moving a 3D character around in between chunks of text.

But then I found myself in my first battle and thought: Hmm. Maybe I’m not right about this. I was not right about this. Cereza is, all told, a sort of exploration, combat, puzzle game. It’s hard enough to define even before you get to its relationship with Platinum’s Bayonetta action games. Crucial thing, though: it’s lovely. It’s lovely and generous and playful and extremely beautiful. Someone took real care here, and that’s obvious from the start, whatever misconceptions a person might approach with.

Let’s start with the Bayonetta business, actually. This is the story of an apprentice witch and her stuffed cat toy. The witch will one day become Bayonetta but for now she is young, inexperienced, timid and setting out on an adventure that towers over her on all sides. While there’s a lot of combat here, it’s a very, very different game to the main Bayonetta adventures. It’s much slower, even in combat, and it’s more concerned with mixing fights up with different bits of business that vary the pace than chaining one battle after the next. Towards the second half of the game – and in the boss fights sprinkled throughout – you get that Platinum excess. But you only get this stuff in bursts.

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