Every tale has its origin. And yes, that includes even our favorite Umbra Witch, Bayonetta. And while I have never played any Bayonetta games, the primary detail that attracted me to want to play Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon was its very different gameplay from the usual mainline titles, and it seemed like an ideal place to begin learning about Cereza.
True to its name, Bayonetta Origins tells the story of Cereza, a young girl whose mother and father, an Umbra Witch and a Lumen Sage, fell madly in love. Sadly, having both clans’ blood in her veins, the Umbra Witches often shunned her as a “girl that will only bring doom” after being separated from her parents at a very young age. Her only memento of her mother is Cheshire, a stitched plushie that she treasures forever.
Now, when you think of Bayonetta’s personality, what first comes to mind? An eccentric and courageous woman who fears no one? Well, you’ll be surprised to hear that Cereza is anything but the opposite of those words. While she does have the urge to defy her mentor, Morgana, it is worth noting that she is still young and extraordinarily skittish. Make no mistake, however, because Cereza’s character development takes many twists and turns during the entire narrative.
After being fed up with Morgana’s scolding of her abilities as a witch, she sets out into Avalon Forest, despite the repeated warnings not to set foot inside, with the promise that the power to save her mother lies deep within, after being told by a mysterious boy inside her dreams. There, she manages to summon a demon that takes over Cheshire, her beloved stuffed animal. But first, she must destroy the four elemental cores to gain the power she wants.
Scattered across Avalon Forest are various dungeons known as the Tir na nÓg, distortions created by the faeries, where you must defeat enemies under certain conditions or solve specific puzzles. Being a puzzle adventure at its core, some puzzles require you to control Cereza and Cheshire simultaneously. A feat that is deceptively hard, mainly because Cereza and Cheshire don’t move at the same speed. This also extends to some enemy bouts, where Cereza must Thorn Bind an enemy before Cheshire can attack it.
Two of the main currencies you’ll use a lot are Onyx Roses and Avalon Drops. The former enhances Cereza’s skills, such as decreasing her Thorn Bind cooldown or quickly recovering Cheshire’s magic while in Hug Mode. In contrast, the latter currency is used for Cheshire, for skills that allow him to deal more damage to enemies and even powerful combos that can be triggered in conjunction with Cereza’s abilities. These can be obtained in several ways: Saving wisps, solving puzzles, and strolling through the forest.
Furthermore, there are also Inferno Fruits and Moon Pearls, which are needed in conjunction with the currencies to unlock even more vital skills located throughout the various forest areas. Finally, you can also find chests that can contain Petal Fragments. Think of those as the Heart Pieces from The Legend of Zelda. That’s the same idea here because you’ll obtain a Bloom Pendant after each Elemental Core boss, which serves as a Heart Container, increasing Cereza’s health.
One of the things that Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon allows for is significant customization regarding your difficulty. Instead of your typical Easy, Normal, and Hard toggles, you are given options that can either make your experience more challenging or forgiving, such as the amount of damage Cereza takes and deals, the option to simplify Cheshire’s attacks so that they’re easier to perform combos with, and a toggle to perform the prompts of the Witch Pulse dance automatically.
Throughout your adventures, paw prints of the white wolf appear, directing you on where to go next, and the objective of what must be done starts to pulsate on the top right of your screen. During boss battles, Cereza might occasionally hint at how to proceed during certain boss phases. Guiding lights can also lead you to a nearby Sanctuary, allowing you to save the game or use fast travel.
This might annoy some people, but I prefer this over wasting hours trying to figure out the solution. You can turn off guiding lights if you want to, though the objective will remind you constantly how to progress the story next. That being said, perhaps one of my main gripes is that this game lacks any minimap, which makes it incredibly easy to get yourself lost, especially if your curiosity makes you deviate from the path you’re supposed to take. This ultimately made me access the main map more times than I can count, especially in the later parts of the game.
I’m in absolute love with the storybook art style and presentation. From the cutscenes to the interactions between Cheshire and Cereza, it feels like I’m reading an interactive picture book. Admittedly, the soundtrack can get repetitive as you attempt to figure out the solution to the platforming puzzles to progress. Still, truthfully that’s a minor complaint, and I mostly blame myself for not figuring out the answer quickly enough. The ending credits song is also an earworm that won’t get itself out of my head, even as I write this review.
A significant point that also charmed me was the English voice acting. It felt like it fit perfectly with the story, and while I tried out the Japanese voices at some point, I had a fond liking for the British voice acting. I rarely think this way, so I praise the voice acting and localization team. Another recurring theme is the Celtic Mythology references the game throws out, from the location names to even the faeries.
From its charming storybook aesthetic to the beautiful presentation, Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon culminated into a phenomenal experience that anyone, be they a series veteran of the Bayonetta series, or someone who has never touched the games as I did, can enjoy to its fullest. Perhaps its only sin can be attributed to its brevity. Still, I strongly feel that in this case, we’re talking quality over quantity as you learn about Cereza’s past, making for a great entry point for those who are ever so slightly interested in the series, as well as a narrative that manages to patch some of the questions fans might have in regards to some characters of the trilogy.
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