The action/adventure Bayonetta games have, up until now, focused on a sexy adult witch. This latest chapter, Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, takes gamers back to Bayonetta’s childhood years.
In this Nintendo Switch origin tale, the campy, high-octane Bayonetta is now just a young, shy, inexperienced girl known as Cereza. Because of her parents’ strictly forbidden love affair (one is from a Lumen Sage clan and the other an Umbra Witch clan), young Cereza is an outcast in the dark witchy community. And as she attempts to find her magical footing—being trained by another outcast witch—her one hope is to grow strong enough to some day break her imprisoned mother free. And enjoy her embrace. But … the lessons aren’t going all that well.
That’s when a mysterious figure in the young witch’s dreams begins urging Cereza toward the dark and dangerous Avalon Forest, promising access to a strange power hidden there. Of course, Cereza knows she isn’t nearly strong enough to take on a magical glade dominated by deadly faeries and monsters, so she attempts to summon a protective demon. And that backfires in spectacular fashion.
A sharp-taloned, many-toothed demon is now trapped in Cereza’s stuffed toy. And Cereza and the creature are magically bound together. Nevertheless, they head off to fight faeries and beasties and find a power that might set everything right once more.
Gameplay wise, Cereza and the Lost Demon incorporates a unique movement system in its mix. Players control Cereza with the left joystick and Cheshire, the demon-imbued cat toy, with the right. Instead of focusing on long strings of combo attacks (that previous Bayonetta games are known for) this one plays much more like an interactive exploration puzzle game. The odd Cereza-Cheshire pair can only wander apart in “unleashed mode” for a short period and then must draw back to “hug mode” where the demon toy essentially becomes more of a grappling arm.
The witch/demon duo fight tag-team battles, traverse environmental obstacles, find treasure, and solve puzzles throughout the course of the game.
Cereza and the Lost Demon has a storybook narration delivery and a watercolor-like visual style that feels very kid-friendly. And though there’s still a lot of battling in this latest Bayonetta game, it’s far less frenetic than past entries and the attacks are bloodless. (There’s also no overt sensuality other than the young protagonist’s short frilly skirts.)
The positive benefits of overcoming obstacles as a team is encouraged.
Where this game crosses over to edgier shores, however, is with its spiritual darkness.
Though couched in broad fantasy, there are uses of witchcraft spells; summoned deadly demons; discussions of hell; dark monsters and faeries; and other hellish entities aimed at torture, torment and evisceration. We don’t see much of that deadly action on screen, but we do see characters impaled, shoved into a torture device and left dead and dangling from a monster’s mouth.
Young Cereza is regularly threatened with death delivered by one brutal means or another. Battle attacks include flashes of light and slashes of color.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon has been hailed as a kid-friendly Bayonetta game. And it certainly looks the part. But its dark spiritual side is more creepy than cuddly.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.