I’ll say it, video games should be hornier — especially cookie-cutter AAA action games. There are only so many gruff white male protagonists I can take. Thankfully in 2010, action game experts Platinum Games thought precisely that, releasing a new title that blended campy and lusty appeal and satisfying combat to make one of the best action games of all time, Bayonetta, and spawning a now beloved franchise. It also introduced the world to everybody’s favorite dominatrix witch. And we are all better for it.
Love at first sight — From its first moments, Bayonetta is a striking game. It throws players into the middle of a battle atop a falling clock tower against angels. You take control of a mysterious woman clothed in black, wearing a masquerade mask and a large hooded cloak.
She fights alongside another woman dressed in red as narration tells the player about an endless conflict between factions. They shoot and kick their way through the waves of enemies as glittering effects and kiss marks appear during combat.
Before you know it the scene cuts to a graveyard with the black-clad woman now dressed as an enticing-looking nun, as angels cut at her the clothes fall away with revealing shots of skin until she throws it off entirely. Now she is class in a skin-tight black bodysuit with plenty of skin showing on the back and wearing high heels. She proceeds to kick the crap out of every angel in sight. This is your introduction to Bayonetta.
If you do not love her immediately, then I pity you.
Bayonetta as a character and as a series is known for two things: being horny and good combat. While the gratuitous moaning, money shots, and innuendos that abound in Bayonetta may sound like the opposite of a girl boss, Bayonetta embraces it with a wink at the audience and goes full camp.
In contrast to games like Lollipop Chainsaw, which feels voyeuristic in its objectification of Juliet Starling, Bayonetta revels in the joys of feminine power that the titular witch exudes. The joke of the franchise is that Bayonetta would never give you the time of day most likely, she is just a hot dommy mommy with guns for shoes that I … I mean, that players simp for from a distance.
Love is a battlefield — But Bayonetta is more than just a pretty face. Platinum Games is known today as one of the best action game developers in the business. With titles like Vanquish, NieR: Automata, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance the studio has continuously delivered some of the best feeling action games around. Bayonetta is the root of this pedigree, as the studio’s first major AAA release.
Bayonetta’s combat is no less expertly designed than any of the studio’s later releases. Clearly building off of Devil May Cry as its biggest inspiration, Bayonetta entices players to earn a high ranking in each combat encounter by racking up combos, beating time limits, and making use of special skills like Witch Time. It all has the feel and looks of a great action game that entices you to keep working towards higher scores.
Even in combat, the camp of Bayonetta is palpable. Bayonetta seductively chastises her enemies, then perform special torture or punish attacks that see her in an even more revealing version of her iconic tight-fitting suit as she suggestively steps on enemies with her heels or spanks them until they are defeated (wish that were me).
Despite performing well, a sequel to Bayonetta was shelved until Nintendo stepped in to provide more funding and resources. Ever since, the very-not-family-friendly witch has called the family-friendly Nintendo her home. With three games in the series and a prequel coming in March, Bayonetta has solidified herself as an unlikely mascot and continues to live in gamers’ hearts.
Bayonetta is available on Nintendo Switch and PC.