Published on March 2nd, 2020 | by Ignis
REVIEW: BAYONETTA/VANQUISH 10th Anniversary Edition
2009 and 2010 were some great years for gaming, we had titles such as Modern Warfare 2, Red Dead Redemption, Left 4 Dead, Uncharted 2 and LittleBigPlanet but there were 2 titles that were released during this time that largely fell under the radar from a tiny startup team made from ex-Capcom employees – PlatinumGames. These titles were of course Bayonetta and Vanquish, both of which are considered cult classics, with Bayonetta being considered the Queen of the Hack n’ Slash and Vanquish being an arguably better cover based Third-Person Shooter than Gears of War. These were titles of huge quality back in the day that came out of nowhere blowing people away with some of the most addictive gameplay we’d seen in recent memory, but we’re 10 years removed at this point – Do these titles still have that same punch?
Story/Concept: If you’ve come to Bayonetta or Vanquish expecting an engaging story, you’re playing the wrong game. While these two titles do certainly have enough of a story to progress the game forward, they don’t have the substance to keep anyone sitting on the edge of their seat. Though I will mention that Bayonetta is far more engaging in this aspect than Vanquish is. Bayonetta as a character and a game is incredibly campy and over-the-top with huge set pieces and a laughably ludicrous story but that’s kinda the point, Bayonetta never takes itself seriously in any aspect outside of it’s gameplay and that makes the story engaging enough to care about her and the cast of characters.
Vanquish is much less so, while the game attempts to hit that same level of campiness that Bayonetta had releasing just the year prior, it struggles to find it’s feet and ends up becoming a far more generic quasi-futuristic shooter except that the main character used to be a Quarterback when he was younger.
Time has not been kind to these games. When they were released 10 years ago, they were already being criticised for their stories and they have only gotten weaker as years have gone on and Video Games as a genre have built bigger and better narratives. Bayonetta definitely holds up better than Vanquish, but that hangs on purely through nostalgia, at least for me. Again it just depends on your particular taste.
Graphics: This is definitely the most disappointing part of the this remaster, these are two titles that were released on the back-end of the PS3 and Xbox 360, while both of them looked good for the time we could hardly say they were mindblowing though they did both run incredibly well (Except for Bayonetta on PS3, but we don’t talk about those days). Having either of these games being re-done with a new coat of paint would have been greatly appreciated, but both of them are largely the same as they were 10 years ago, even though they have been upscaled to take advantage of the new consoles, they aren’t pushed to a full 4K on the updated mid gen consoles like the X or Pro leaving them looking quite dated.
While the games look ‘okay’, seeing Bayonetta’s demon Gamorrah tearing apart angels isn’t quite as impactful now as it was back then, especially with the sequel having the same thing, only much better looking. The lighting in particular can look quite strange, and if they’d worked a little harder on the lighting I feel like they almost could have gotten away without doing much more. Though I will give credit where credit is due, these game always run at a rock solid 60 FPS regardless of how much action is going on the screen at any time, though this was much more impressive a decade ago.
Gameplay: This is what anyone playing a PlatinumGames title should be coming for, they are well known for their fast-paced action paired with incredibly tight controls and even 10 years on it’s hard to deny either of these games as anything less than masterpieces.
Bayonetta still holds itself as being the Queen of the Hack n’ Slash genre, with what is still one of the deepest combo systems in a video game that still feels just as flashy, fun and fast as it did back then, with the only caveat I would make here being that Bayonetta 2 is generally a superior product by all standards, though that is currently locked to Nintendo consoles (If you own a Switch/Wii U though, Bayonetta 2 is an absolute must buy game, it is the epitome of the series currently and if you’re a fan of these titles it is the best the genre has to offer). The only thing that feels very dated here is the camera, it was passable back in the day but with how fluid and functional cameras are these days, especially with the Devil May Cry series releasing multiple titles since Bayonetta’s inception and showcasing that these types of games can have engaging combat with a workable camera, it’s unfortunate that PlatinumGames didn’t put a little more work in here to make it a little more like Bayonetta 2. Witch Time is still just as fun to use now as it was back then, Wicked Weaves and Torture Attacks still feel incredibly satisfying to land and the variety of weapons in the game is still quite exceptional all things considered. Enemy variety is there, bosses are (mostly) good and of the 2 titles is the one I would definitely recommend sinking your teeth into first, as there’s a ton of content here with enormous replay potential backed by some of the most engaging gameplay in a modern video game.
Vanquish also holds up very well in this regard, surprisingly. I was a lot more concerned about this title going into it – Third-Person shooters from the mid/late 00’s haven’t exactly aged very well but thankfully the game is saved by the simplest of mechanics – being able to boost and slide around and it’s own variant of Witch Time, allowing you to slow down time when you take too much damage or when aiming. The cover system itself is fine, no real complaints there but being able to fluidly move between cover at will by boosting between them, leaping over them, rolling out of them, you are always equipped with a huge number of options and that’s part of the draw; you’re given a huge number of options at any given time and it’s totally up to you as to how you want to play it. If you don’t even want to utilise cover at all and just slide around, that’s an option. If you want to turtle up and play the game purely as a cover-based Third-Person Shooter, you’re missing out on the most engaging part of the game, but it also works. The shooting mechanics are good, definitely not as tight as they used to be as titles such as Call of Duty and Battlefield have more or less mastered the art of Shooters in the past 10 years, but the guns feel responsive and powerful.
10 years removed, Bayonetta is still at the top of it’s genre beaten only by another title in it’s series and Vanquish is a short – but incredibly fun romp. PlatinumGames know exactly how to create gameplay that transcends age, and I think in another 10 years we will still be talking about just how great these are as titles.
Sound: Call me biased, but Bayonetta has a beautiful soundtrack with the remix of Fly Me to the Moon still being an iconic track and it’s use of upbeat music is great. The voice acting is over the top but Bayonetta’s actress Hellena Taylor is both seductive and commanding with her performance, the posh British accent she brings to the character even all these years later is incredible and the sound of enemies being pummelled still sounds just as good today as it did all those years ago.
Vanquish also sounds quite good, though I will say that the soundtrack is largely as generic now as it was back then but where Vanquish delivers is definitely in the weapons which sound incredibly impactful and meaty. The boosting sounds awesome and the actual lines delivered while not exactly the most engaging, are well done.
Awesomeness: It may sound like a bit of a cop-out but just having access to these 2 games again after such a long time of not having them around has reminded me exactly why I loved them so much, and being able to play them together and at will is by far one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in quite a while. Being able to relive the excitement of Bayonetta getting ‘serious’ against an opponent, or sliding into an onslaught of enemies as Sam in Vanquish is awesome. Especially since we haven’t had Vanquish on consoles in 10 years, and it became an incredibly rare game toward the end of the previous generations lifecycle.
Both of these games are actually hard to come by, even with Bayonetta 2 being released with the original title that in itself has become a rarer title so having access to both of PlatinumGames best titles (apart from maybe Nier: Automata) is a real joy.
Final Word: 10 years have passed since Dante and Devil May Cry lost the crown of King to Bayonetta (not according to Zorbz though) The game is still as much of a blast to play today as it was back then and it continues to show that retro games of the 90s aren’t the only games that can hold up after a long period of time, it feels just as tight as it did back then and reinforces why our favourite Witch is the Queen. Vanquish on the other hand hasn’t held up quite as well, though it is still one of the most fun shooters on the market, so that’s saying something.
If you haven’t had the chance to play either of these games in the past, there is absolutely no reason for you not to try them now – it’s great value for money and you will really be playing 2 iconic games from a developer that is still by all regards underrated. Besides, I needed something to tide me over until the inevitable Bayonetta 3 releases.
Out of 5 Bugs!