Review: ‘Bayonetta 3' manages to turn up action way beyond 11

'Bayonetta' has always been a little extra. It's a franchise that has dazzled gamers with a hypnotic blend of combat and level design, but what makes the series stand out

Review: ‘Bayonetta 3' manages to turn up action way beyond 11

'Bayonetta' has always been a little extra. It's a franchise that has dazzled gamers with a hypnotic blend of combat and level design, but what makes the series stand out is its distinct brand of action.Calling it over the top would be criminal because so much more is going on. Yes, the Umbran witch rides a missile with ease, surfs tsunami waves on an ocean liner and exudes calm as she battles enemies while a temple crumbles around her.

All that is impressive, but her punches, kicks and gunplay are laced with an effervescent style that can't be found in any other game. Bayonetta will pummel her foes clad in high heels while dancing with a smile.BEYOND EXPECTATIONSAfter two entries, I doubted Platinum Games could bring more to the table. I assumed it explored every avenue this genre could tread, but with 'Bayonetta 3,' the studio took everything from the previous entries and turned it up beyond 11.'Bayonetta 3' is a game that starts with a bang and just keeps sprinting forward as it brings in a mysterious entity called Singularity, which has been going around the multiverse destroying alternate realities and fusing them with his own world — the Alphaverse.

Each time, he defeats another version of Bayonetta and takes over until one day he meets a version of the hero who gives him trouble.INTERDIMENSIONAL TRAVELThat's the protagonist of this iteration, and through the campaign's 14 chapters, players will battle Singularity as he and Bayonetta fight for five Chaos Gears scattered through other parallel realities. It's the only way the Umbran witch can enter his dimension and presumably defeat him.To access the alternate universes, she and a new character named Viola, a dimensional traveler, head to the island of Thule, which acts as a nexus for other realities. It's the gateway in which players meet other Bayonettas and try to help them.

It takes players to locales such as Tokyo, Paris and worlds inspired by Egypt and China.The adventure is interspersed with side stories starring Jeanne, Bayonetta's best friend. Jeanne has her own mission, to find Dr. Sigurd, who can use the Chaos Gears to access the Alphaverse.

These missions are in 2D and reminiscent of classics such as 'Rolling Thunder,' albeit with updated stealth gameplay. The levels break up the rollicking chapters featuring Bayonetta.A NEW ALLY IN THE FOLDAnother new addition is the playable character of Viola. She's a novice Umbran witch and wields a katana.

She's more difficult to use compared to Bayonetta because she requires players to block attacks at the last second to activate the key Witch Time ability, which slows the surrounding world so players can safely damage adversaries. It takes anticipation and quick-twitch timing to pull it off effectively. Viola's attacks also have a lot of wasted animation that players will need to dash out of in order to be successful.

The higher skill level required to use Viola contrasts well with the polished movements from her veteran counterpart. Unfortunately, it can also be jarring when players become used to Bayonetta's playstyle and are transferred over to the newer character in another chapter.MASTERFUL AND REFRESHING GAMEPLAYAs for Bayonetta herself, Platinum Games gives her plenty of new techniques and abilities that make her a joy to play. Aside from her balletic moves, she now has a Demon Slave ability, which she uses to call on creatures to do her bidding, and players control them to add another layer to combat.

The one caveat is that she can't move while players control the creature, leaving her open to attacks.They're also used in puzzles and to augment combos.The second new ability is called Demon Masquerade, with which she fuses with the monsters sealed within each weapon in order to give her new means of traversal. The Ignis Araneae Yo-Yo turns her into a spider so that she can swing around a level and climb walls. Using the Simoon fans allows her to fuse and fly thanks to the feather wings of Malphas.During the campaign, she adds new weapons and demons to her toolbox, giving players more options to explore and complete missions and tasks.

It brilliantly ties combat, traversal and puzzle-solving into a tight package.Although players can't use these demons everywhere, their addition adds such a novel way to interact with the world that they make 'Bayonetta 3' more enthralling as players master each weapon and demon's quirks. Viola has a similar ability but it's limited to a demon called Cheshire and she doesn't have direct control of it.CLEVER LEVEL AND BOSS DESIGNLastly, Platinum Games takes Bayonetta and crafts cleverly designed encounters that play with scale and different genres. Players will encounter boss fights where players control Sin Gomorrah in a kaiju-type confrontation, where the monster and its adversary tear down buildings.

In another, Bayonetta will summon Baal Zebul for a confrontation based on a music-rhythm game. That's a wild twist.Much like the protagonist herself, 'Bayonetta 3' breaks through genre boundaries and expectations, so that each level has at least one moment of surprising delight. It's an adventure that brims with so many fun moments that players can overlook some of the more predictable plot points and just enjoy the jaunty ride.‘Bayonetta 3'STARS: 4 out of 4PLATFORM: Nintendo SwitchRATING: Mature Copyright 2022 Tribune Content Agency.