Bayonetta & Vanquish, two of the most bat-shit crazy games of the last decade score a remaster for PS4 and Xbox One with little in the way of improvements and no extra content. Apart from running at 60 frames per second and 4K resolution for PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, it’s the same two Japanese games that launched from 2009-2010. While playing these games is still a blast, more should have been done to make this re-release stand tall as their definitive version.
Bayonetta – 10 Years Later
After spending hundreds of years in a coffin at the bottom of a gloomy lake, the sexy titular witch wakes in the modern world unable to recall her past. Following clues buried in her hazy memories, Bayonetta reaches a remote European city where legions of angels begin their attack. Equipped with guns in both hands and both feet, she practices the “bullet arts,” a combination of gunfire and melee attacks and unleashes demonic entities from her hair to devour the hordes of enemy angels.
Bayonetta is a hack and slash game with combat reminiscent of Devil May Cry and the early God of War games, where success stems from racking up combos by stringing the multiple attacks together and timing dodges. Dozens of attacks are available off the bat, with advanced techniques to unlock throughout the game.
Spread across 16 chapters, you will be facing plenty of enemy hordes and larger than life bosses and being graded on your performance which encourages repeat playthroughs to chase the Platinum grade performance. If the tight outfits and sexualised poses appeal to you, then you’ll also love that finishing moves are referred to as climaxes and are some of the most rewarding parts of the combat. In case you couldn’t tell, Bayonetta doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The story is bonkers and niche at best. The voice acting is stilted, and the graphics look washed out and don’t hold up by modern standards. Thankfully the combat is still a riot, and the memorable boss fights will be staying with you long after you’ve performed that last Wicked Weave technique.
In the years since, Bayonetta spawned a sequel, which is available exclusively on Nintendo Switch. A third game in the series is expected to hit Switch sometime in 2020.
Vanquish – 10 Years Later
Russian terrorists hijack a space weapon and use it to destroy San Francisco. The same will happen to New York in ten hours unless the United States unconditionally surrenders. But you know the cliché, America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, so a fleet of DARPA agents head to Providence, the solar-powered space station to eliminate the threat. You play as Sam Gideon, a soldier who wields the Augmented Reaction Suit which is somewhat like playing as Iron Man without the ego.
The story is terrible and the dialogue is worse. Thankfully the fast, kinetic combat makes Vanquish stand out, even ten years on. At its core, Vanquish is a cover-based shooter like Gears of War or The Division, but with a few tricks up its sleeve. The focus here is speed, with the Augmented Reaction Suit allowing Sam to jet across the battlefield on his knees and shift into slow-motion at any time to blast the army of enemy machines and dodge their barrage of bullets.
Like Bayonetta before it, the bosses are gigantic. They’re machines that span the entire environment and change multiple forms through battle. Expect to die a lot. Vanquish is a tough game, so speed and slow-mo are not just for effect. You will need to implement the two and shift between the wide range of equipable weapons to survive through this 4-5 hour campaign.
The way that Sam moves through the onslaught of bullets feels reminiscent of ‘90s bullet-hell arcade games, while the techno soundtrack sure sounds like it was pulled straight from a Skitzmix compilation. These two elements work harmoniously in creating a unique, yet dated experience. In 2020, it may run smoother but Vanquish still looks like a game from 2010, and we’ve come a long way since then.
The Verdict on Bayonetta & Vanquish
Once you get past the dated graphics and accept you’re not playing these for the narratives, you will find two genre-defining action games that survive the test of time. It’s just a shame this 10th-anniversary edition wasn’t given more attention. There’s no making-of, no concept art, development diaries or any additional content that you might expect to see on a re-release. The only bonus is the steelbook case with custom artwork which means nothing to those who purchase the games digitally.
It would be hard to justify purchasing Bayonetta & Vanquish again if you still own them from the last console generation. For everyone else looking to tick some important games off the bucket list, this remastered edition is a convenient way to do so.
Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Edition is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Man of Many received review copies of the games courtesy of the publisher.