Bayonetta 3 has been one of my most anticipated games since it was announced almost 5 years ago. I've played both of the previous games and all 4 Devil May Cry games in preparation. I've been ready. In short, my expectations were pretty high. I wanted something that would surpass Bayonetta 2 and Devil May Cry 5 in terms of gameplay. I was also hoping that the game could maintain a smooth 60 FPS after 5 years in development for a system that both Platinum and Nintendo have plenty of experience working on. I don't think any of those dreams came true, though.
The big new thing in Bayonetta 3 is the Demon Slave mechanic. Bayonetta has always been able to summon demons for special attacks, but now you can summon them at will and directly control them. While holding ZR (default controls), Bayonetta will do a little dance as you take control of a summoned demon. The demons are very slow, have long drawn out animations, and you can't control Bayonetta while they're out, so you'll be vulnerable to attacks, but they're very powerful and do a lot of damage. This mechanic is actually required to do damage sometimes, so you can't just ignore it if you don't like it. There is an accessory that lets you control Bayonetta while summoning a demon, but then the AI will control the demon and it won't do what you want. You'll also still have to hold down ZR, so you'll need 3 fingers on the shoulder buttons to also use the dodge and stance buttons while fighting as Bayonetta. Demons can also be used for some light puzzle solving a few times throughout the game. It's not quite Zelda, or even DMC, levels of puzzles, though. They don't slow the action down too much.
The soundtrack is absolutely amazing. It doesn't have a classy Frank Sinatra cover as its main theme, but it's still great. There's punk, disco, metal, opera, some Castlevania-ish classical, and there's some jazzy big band stuff in there, too. It's definitely the best part of the game's presentation.
Don't get me wrong, Bayonetta 3 is a good action game, and I had a good time with it, but I don’t think it’s as good as the first two, or DMC5 for that matter. The melee combat is better than ever, but there’s way too much focus on the demon slave mechanic, which just sucks in every way. I really like playing as Viola, but switching between her and Bayonetta never stops feeling awkward because they are so different and the lack of fully customizable controls. This game just feels like it was designed by a very stubborn person.