You’re not buying that excellent Bayonetta/Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle ($39.99) from Sega strictly for the plots of both games, that’s for sure. Both titles hold up mostly excellently in terms of visuals and controls, but the writing is more of an excuse for some lengthy and visually lovely in-game cinemas that pad out both run times. Granted, both games are made to be highly replayed, especially Vanquish, which seems short at about six hours, but there’s a lot more to it once you mess with the difficulty and as with Bayonetta, play through like the bad-asses both characters are. If you’re into both games, they’re far from “one and done” experiences.
The two stories here actually enhance how wonderfully crazy and brilliant the gameplay is for both titles, especially when you go from hanging onto every word in cut scenes and free yourself from simple button-mashing to pulling of perfectly timed strikes of all sorts in the flagrantly sexy Bayonetta to taking down enemies and bosses with the fast slide and shoot moves from Vanquish. That said, the latter’s plot about Russian-led forces commandeering a huge US-built microwave-powered space cannon to decimate California and threaten to do the same to New York might be something a few players might find blows their minds a bit. Bayonetta’s still phenomenal opening just throws you into battle as it plays out, then teaches you the ropes before the real challenge begins. Trying to explain the plot here? Good luck – just enjoy the cut scenes instead and kill a lot of enemies and bosses when they’re done.
Both games allow for unskilled players to get in their kills although the latter game is more punishing if you try and flail through it and refuse to pick up on all it’s trying to teach you. Then again, it may take a bit of getting used to the controls in both titles for some who’ve not yet played both games – your mileage will vary based on how adept you are at picking things up and dealing with the forced camera angles in Bayonetta. Vanquish has a bit more freedom in its camera, but on the harder modes (there are four difficulty settings), speedy, precise play becomes a must.
Still, developer PlatinumGames excels at this sort of stylish, extended arcade game experience and that makes enjoying both titles as well as some of their other games so much fun. Look at their rather successful Kickstarter for The Wonderful 101, a great but slightly flawed game for the Wii U that’s gotten a second life thanks to crowdfunding and is coming back as a very improved multi-platform game for PS4, Switch, and PC. The Kickstarter video alone is enough to get you to pledge, so please do so if you haven’t yet.
Back to the two games in question, yes, even though the games are 10 years old, both are master classes in what they do with gameplay and yes indeed, come very highly recommended. They’re both ported from the PC versions released in April 2017 and May of that year, so both games look rather spectacular, although I’ll admit to a few dated textures and the brown-ness on some of Bayonetta’s maps doesn’t look so outstanding these days. Also, those awful load times on PS3 are long gone here, which is great, although the game now loads so fast that you can’t practice combos on the load screens. But the tutorials in both games can be played as long as you like, as mastered moves get the most out of both titles.
That and, as I’m only playing this on a standard HD set on a base PS4, I can’t comment on the 60 frames per second PS4 Pro delivers, but on the base console, both still games look great, although I did notice a little bit of jittery jumpiness in Vanquish’s movies in some spots. Bayonetta’s main issue in coming to the PS4 and Xbox One players is Nintendo’s current status with PlatnumGames has her sequels as exclusive to Wii U (which is a defunct console) and Switch, so this is the sole game PS4 and Xbox fans will see unless they own either of Nintendo’s consoles.
Bottom line: Yes, it’s a buy, especially if you’re new to either title and/or want to see and play two of Platinum’s greatest hits in their best console form. There aren’t any big bells and whistles here other than stable performance, but sometimes, that’s the thing that counts the most.
Score: A (90%)
(Review code courtesy Sega of America)