Forget the giddy fights tinged with sexuality. Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is more of a dreamlike game with a hint of Mario-like action-adventure. Charming, but a bit repetitive with confusing controls.
We cannot say that the Japanese studio PlatinumGames has overexposed one of its most popular franchises, Bayonetta, created in 2009 and which was entitled to a sequel in 2014. It was not until 2022 for Bayonetta 3 and barely a few months for a spin-off, Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, available for the Nintendo Switch starting Friday.
If Bayonetta had accustomed us to baroque graphics against a backdrop of sex and violence, we return to childhood with Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon. In the literal sense, since this adventure shows us Cereza before she becomes Bayonetta, a little girl who begins to master her weak magical powers to free her mother. This one is an Umbra witch imprisoned by her sisters for having fallen in love with a sage of Lumen with whom she had a child, Cereza.
And if Bayonetta is resolutely aimed at a consenting adult audience, Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is more in line with these nice action-adventure games with its harvests of small treasures, its simplified fights and its puzzles to pass from one table to another.
With one detail: Cereza, even though she is only a little girl, was decked out in long stockings and a rather suggestive skirt.
The tone is that of a tale, where we alternate between the pages of a book and the action on the ground, here the forest of Avalon where the future witch Cereza was not allowed to venture. After having a dream where she must follow a white wolf to save her mother, she sees her favorite stuffed animal, Chouchou, possessed by a demon that she cannot send back to hell.
Result: Chouchou turned demon will be his battle companion for the rest of his adventures.
We are first struck by the beauty of the graphics of this dreamlike universe, with dazzling colors and naive drawings. It’s just beautiful and utterly enjoyable.
To defend herself, Cereza has very meager powers, mainly Pulse, which allows her to temporarily immobilize enemies and make certain plants open. It’s his Chouchou plush with its sharp claws that completes the job. Their skills will evolve as discoveries are made.
And we discover here a rather original way of fighting. If Cereza is holding Chouchou in her arms, all it takes is a single joystick to move them forward. Faced with certain threats and to solve puzzles, you can separate the two characters who are then controlled by their joystick, the left one for Cereza and the right one for Chouchou.
The technique is frankly confusing. Not only does your brain have to split in two to move each character to the right place, but the commands for Pulse or Claw are also split. Really not easy, especially in tough fights that require speed when we tend to multiply handling errors.
The demon-plush can move away from its mistress, but not too much because it then loses strength. Returning to his arms will regenerate him. As for Cereza, she must gather ingredients and will gradually learn to concoct potions to recover her health and improve her powers.
The story is gripping, although the tale-like structure forces a rather linear and repetitive unfolding. The graphics are magnificent and the tone very attractive, the inventiveness of the artisans of PlatinumGames is always there for this addition to the very particular universe of Bayonetta. But those who were hoping for a new episode in line with those we have known since 2009 will remain unsatisfied.
Rating: 7 out of 10