Bayonetta is a game of excess. Maybe that is the joke. Maybe that is why the designers decided one fight with each boss was not enough. Maybe their grand plan was to have Bayonetta, her twisty-hair clothing and all, battle the same boss back-to-back.
Maybe an American doesn’t get the joke.
Everything about Bayonetta comes back to the boss battles, mostly because that is all it truly offers. Trying to dissect the level design, most of which act as nothing more than a portal to few arena-like combat scenarios, is pointless. They are entirely boring, a bland, empty build-up to keep the player moving until another grand-scale demon brawl, typically on top of falling debris.
When you have something this epic, doing it twice is a mistake. One of Bayonetta’s highlights is a jaw-dropping encounter in the middle of the ocean. The mammoth battle sets scale by keeping Bayonetta on a small flotation device as she is free to move under and around the bizarre melding of flesh, concrete, ancient Japanese art, architectural design, and heavenly body (don’t ask).
Then Bayonetta makes an incalculably stupid mistake, doing the entire thing a second time on a shattering building, minus the free-roaming. What was awe-inspiring a level ago is now a hollow, a shameless means of pushing the length to “acceptable” modern standards even though eight hours is about right. Bayonetta goes for 12.
Again, it would be tolerable if the game didn’t completely run out of ideas five hours in. A fight with what the game decides is a Golem ends hilariously, Bayonetta’s hair comes to life so it can play volleyball with the defeated transforming block. The gag works once. Twice, not so much.
Bayonetta comes with a slow start, even after a prologue that tries to pull the player is so many directions, you need to choose whether you are going to follow this story or the action. The opening scene pits Bayonetta against a giant dual-headed dragon with a baby’s face for a body (again, don’t ask), multiple assaulting angels, all while on a spinning, falling clock tower. With the music and guns blaring, blood spraying in all directions, trying to pay attention to the narrated backstory behind it all shows how little this title cares for its baffling, confusing, “anything goes” narrative.