Gems From Past Generations

HIGH It’s Bayonetta and Vanquish updated and on a modern console.

LOW It’s *only* Bayonetta and Vanquish on a modern console.

WTF Constant game references and robot dance parties.

Bayonetta and Vanquish were two well-reviewed titles created by Platinum Games ten years ago. In celebration, they’ve been remastered for players who missed them first time around, and it’s a worthwhile effort – they both absolutely hold up even a decade later.

Vanquish is a third-person shooter where players take control of Sam Gideon, a member of a secret service-like group known as DARPA. Earth is overpopulated, so the US launches a solar-powered space colony where people can thrive. However, this colony is hijacked and turned into a super weapon. DARPA sends Sam in a augmented power suit featuring a small arsenal and hyperspeed movement to take the colony back.

Many third-person shooters feel a bit slow to me, as many of them require players to move from cover to cover, rewarded for theircaution. Not so in Vanquish. Jet boosters on Sam’s thighs let him slide around the battlefield at top speed and he can also slow time for a moment to get perfect shots off while rocketing from enemy to enemy. If the player takes enough damage, slow time kicks in automatically to allow the player to make a quick escape. Vanquish wants to be the love child of anime and Call of Duty, and gives players all the tools to make it happen.

The weapon system is also unique — if a player has a shotgun and uses a couple of shots, picking up another shotgun will refill the ammo count, and if it already has has full ammo, then it instead imparts 1/3rd of an upgrade to the gun. As the same gun is picked up repeatedly, it increases in rank and get more powerful. Drop a high level gun for some reason? No problem — the next time the dropped gun type is picked up, it will be the same rank as the lost one.

Vanquish isn’t without its faults, though. The campaign is maybe five hours long, so it ends just as I’m really sinking into it and there are no multiplayer modes to extend its life. There are some challenge missions, but they just throw three times as many enemies at the player. The writing is also incredibly corny and relies on trope after trope with each twist telegraphed a mile away.

The other half of the package is Bayonetta, a well-known hack-and-slash character action title as over-the-top and ridiculous as Capcom’s Devil May Cry. Players take control the titular Bayonetta, a witch who’s been asleep for over 500 years. These days, she hunts angels trying to discover the secrets of her past and the source of her witch powers. She wields acrobatic movements, firearms in her hands and on her high-heeled boots, and magical hair that can turn a stylish weave into a demonic spider — and that’s only the beginning of the insanity on display.

It’s easy to feel powerful in Bayonetta as all of the moves are simple to chain together and look stylish as hell. It also shines with a mechanic called Witch Time. If players can dodge an attack at the exact right moment, they’re granted a small bonus where everything slows down for a few seconds. This gives the player time to get in loads of extra damage or to reposition somewhere more advantageous. Players will buy new weapons, new moves, and new items as the campaign progresses.

Having played Bayonetta when it launched a decade ago, I can say that this version has improved on the original’s framerate. I don’t own a Playstation Pro, so I didn’t get the benefits of 4K updates, but the standard PS4 version was smooth as silk throughout. Pairing that with gorgeous design and a fantastic soundtrack, and this game has style plastered everywhere on it.

These are great games now available for players who might have missed them and they’re both worth the time, but for those who’ve already been through them, they’re just re-releases without any new modes or extra content to lure in old fans. That said, this pair still comes highly recommended!

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Disclosures: These games are developed by Platinum Games and published by SEGA.  It is currently available on PS4 and XBO as a combined pack, but on PC as two separate games. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 16 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and both games were completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, these games are rated M and contain Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, and Suggestive themes. Vanquish follows around a solder that has “f***” as almost the only verb and adjective he knows, and Bayonetta crushes angels into bloody ichor while she’s almost completely nude except for wisps of her own magical hair encircling her. This game is very much not for children.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Text is not resizable in either game.


Controls: Vanquish has two control schemes to choose from, but neither game has fully remappable controls.  


Eugene Sax
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