Bayonetta (2017) PC Review

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With legs that don’t quit to the point where they are actually disproportionate and sporting guns on her heels,Bayonetta struts and flaunts herself with confidence. The game is a brazen, cheeky and lighthearted hack and slash romp that is self aware and relentlessly exciting, radiating confidence effortlessly.

The game falls in the tradition of character action games pioneered by titles like Devil May Cry, being a fast paced brawler that prioritises fast reflex and skillful combo memorization. A halfway decent player can create a speedy and fantastic spectacle that can end in torturous finishing moves that sometimes resemble some strange form of BDSM. One of the core mechanics here is witch time, which rewards skillful dodging and risk taking with a brief hit of slow motion, allowing you to start wailing on enemies with abandon,continuing a combo and juggling so insanely like an expert circus performer or Tekken player. This hack and slash brawling, while being a little more combo focused and button mashing than the older Devil May Cry titles is nevertheless requiring in skill and an absolute blast to play.

In regards to the difficulty, I did my playthrough on normal and let me tell you, it can be quite challenging and occasionally frustrating, especially if you want to get the highest mission ranking. However, it rarely becomes so frustrating as to feel unfair or make you want to throw your controller out the window. The only times I felt the game was a bit unfair were with some enemies that could stun lock you and hit hard, taking large chunks of health away. Another is that witch time appears to not work on some enemies for some reason that is not immediately clear. Another thing I would like to have is a few more immediate health restoration drops on the normal difficulty, especially after a particularly difficult mob or mini boss. That said, some sections where I had barely a sliver of health left motivated me to push harder in each section and sometimes to success. On continues, the game restores you health bar fully and boss battles have checkpoints, making them much more fair.

Speaking of enemies, there is plenty of variety between the standard enemy types that the game throws new ones at you almost constantly and mixing them with the previous ones, providing a pace that never leaves you bored. The enemies are typically some form of angel, that are all white and gold trimmed and bosses are impressively scaled and look like bizzare statuesque frankenstein beings with tentacles and wings and gigantic faces and legs that sport a white and gold trimmed aesthetic. One later boss looks like some weird cross between Volgin, David Bowie and the Phantom of the Opera, rocking robes that look like a catholic clergyman and decked out with peacock feathers. All these boss fights, in addition, are tremendously fun, with the Jeanne fights being particular notable highlights since they often have the best backdrops and are the most intense, reminding me of the Vergil fights from Devil May Cry 3.

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The overall look of the game is stunning, with sharp high resolution textures, sublime animation work and environments that range from bright medieval cities with a slight gothic influence in the architecture to art deco near futuristic cities and the heavenly paradiso, Bayonetta will have you running, jumping and fighting your way through all of these. You will even fight on a plane, a rocket and on the sides of buildings, and by the end, literally kill god. The story isn’t the greatest, but it’s presentation is so enjoyable that it’s worth holding off on that skip cutscene button, at least on the first playthrough.

Did I mention that this game is completely ridiculous? Because it is and it revels in it from the absurd character proportions, unbelievable fight choreography in cutscenes and some weird story about the balance between light and dark and destroying the universe to create a new one. Oh, and demonic summons that are weaved from hair. Bayonetta herself , as I have mentioned, is cheeky and sexy, with a sultry and sarcastic British accent. She is just a fun character, both to play and to watch.

The score of the game too is quite idiosyncratic that goes from fast, poppy jazz renditions of Fly Me to the Moon during normal combat to a big orchestral score that builds and sounds like something that might belt out through the choir in a cathedral. It’s quite a strange sound mix for the genre, but it fits the tone of the game quite well.

In terms of game length, a playthrough on normal took about 10 or so hours, but this is something that is made to be replayed, with new unlockables, such as outfits, more techniques and weapons and increased difficulty levels that are a bit more well thought out than being a mere buff in enemy attack and speed and debuff in player health.

As a port of a game that is about 8 years old as of this writing, the PC version of Bayonetta is definitely the best. It performs flawlessly at high resolutions and my system doesn’t break a sweat at max settings with 8x MSAA. It looks sharp and the cutscenes, which I am not sure if they are prerendered or not, look fantastic although they’re locked at 30fps.  I would also recommend playing with some kind of game pad, considering that this game was not originally designed for keyboard and mouse. But if you’re feeling particularly risky, the keys are fully re bindable. As far as glitches and crashes go, I only experience one glitch on the plane section and one CTD somewhere else, but it was otherwise smooth sailing. The load times are incredibly quick too, making the combo practice feature during loads that were supposed to make them bearable on the console release, at least for me, became redundant.

This PC release is without a doubt the definitive version of this Platinum Games classic. Especially if your only experience with the game is the shoddy PS3 version, you should definitely give the game another shot here. The game itself also remains a joy, with some of the best combat in the genre and a lighthearted and sexy style that is impossible not to love, unless you’re some kind of weird prude. This is an absolute must play and it’s only $20 on steam, so there’s no excuse not to get it.

9.5/10

Furi (2016) PS4 review

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A neon soaked game in the trappings of the pink and purple hues of retrowave and fueled by those same sounds, Furi is a very aptly titled game. Part hack n slash, part twin stick shooter and part bullet hell, this game will kick your ass.

This game is very straightfoward; the structure of the game is a boss rush format, where you usually fight the varied enemies in a circular arena. In between, as a rest, you are treated to some beautiful sights in a futuristic retrowave looking world whilst being delivered expository dialogue by a guy in a mask that looks as if the rabbit from Donnie Darko had been dipped in pink paint. Not only do these serve as a rest but they also effectively pump you up for the next fight. Also there’s a story but it doesn’t really matter, but basically, you start out getting busted out of jail and you have to fight all the ‘guardians’ to escape the jail realm.

On a technical note, the graphics of the game are excellent and I love the aesthetic of the game. There is screen tearing from time to time, which isn’t too bad as the game runs smoothly in combat. Vsync is obviously not enabled but that is to the game’s benefit as the setting is often known to cause input delay problems which would really break the precision reflexes required here.

In the core game, you shoot using the right stick, dodge with X, parry with circle, hit square to attack and hold R2 for a charged shot. Each boss is different but the same basic principles apply and that is to be constantly mobile but also precise. Precise timing is absolutely vital, especially for parries, which restore a sliver of your health, as well as with dodging. Enemies have phases of increasing difficulty, in which the precision of parries and dodges increases along with it. The game is very difficult so in classic video game fashion, trial and error is common place in order to recognize all the attack patterns and simply be able to reflexively win. You also have 3 health bars that get replenished after getting to the next boss phase  Defeating a boss is more relief than achievement and herein lies the key problem with the game: the difficulty balance is too high. And before I get inundated with messages or comments telling me to “git gud”, I have passed the credits and am up to the post credits boss, which is the final boss after much yelling of “fuck you” and “cunt” at the TV on normal difficulty.

There’s a fine line to balance in games between difficult, challenging fun and frustrating. This game frequently dips into frustrating, particularly during the final phases of latter game bosses. This is why before I said the game was aptly titled, because the often unfair difficulty put me in a furious state. This level of difficulty might just be a bit of a laugh from the game’s French developer, The Game Bakers, and perhaps done out of vindictiveness, mockingly making us want to quit playing so they can say “whose the surrender monkey now?”

7/10