In the running for the series least likely to generate a spin-off title, Bayonetta would surely have made it to the top five. But here I am with a hands-on preview of the upcoming Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, a prequel adventure starring the young Bayonetta as a witch-in-training. After a boy in a dream tells her how she can rescue her mother from eternal imprisonment, she ventures into Avalon forest to attain the power she needs. Her only companion is a demon she calls Cheshire, who is her only defence against the fae of the forest.
If you’re a Bayonetta fan, you might know that the games don’t go into a lot of detail about her childhood. The first two games gave us bits and pieces, but never enough to give us a full picture. Bayonetta Origins, while unlikely to explain everything, looks like it’s setting itself up to shed a bit more light on what her childhood was like.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the lost Demon couldn’t look more different from the main games, featuring an art style somewhere between crayon drawing and paper cut-outs. It fits the fairy tale vibe the game is going for, and it looks gorgeous when paired with the character designs of the young Cereza and the few other human characters you see early on. The highly stylised illustrations are a big departure from the series, but so is the gameplay, so it seems suitable.
Rather than hack-and-slash action, you instead guide Cereza through Avalon forest, navigating the environment, solving environmental puzzles, and fighting off fae creatures. The pace of gameplay is far more chill than the main games, which, again, seems to suit the storybook style.
If the mainline titles are 95% gameplay and 5% story, this game might be the opposite. It may just be that the beginning chapters are heavy on exposition, but there is a lot of time spent on dialogue. The narrator and Cereza often talk while you explore the forest. I actually like this, as it makes sense for a fairy tale and the voice acting is quite good so far.
This version of Bayonetta lacks confidence, skill, and experience. It’s humbling to see her this way; after all, we are so used to the ass-kicking and name-taking woman she grows up to be. Her voice actress is very emotive and oh-so-British, which only adds to her charm. Her nervousness is displayed constantly through the way her voice actress emotes with every sound in the forest or drop down a small ledge. Far from being annoying, it endeared her to me all the more. Suffice it to say, if anything happened to her, I would kill everyone in this room and then myself.
Cereza can carry Cheshire in his cute plush form while exploring, but sometimes Cheshire must take his true demonic form. When this happens, you control Cereza with the left joystick and L buttons, and Cheshire with the right joystick and R buttons. It’s a little unwieldy at first, but not hard to get used to.
Cereza hasn’t learned to kick ass yet, so Cheshire has to do it for her. Cereza can cast a spell that binds enemies in place, which is useful for keeping other enemies at bay while Cheshire’s focus is elsewhere. That’s about all I’ve seen in battle – I hope it becomes a little more complex as the story goes on.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon comes out on March 17th 2023 exclusively for Nintendo Switch. Keep your eye out for our full review closer to the release date!