Ten years ago, a dynamic duo of video games was released. They come from the genius minds at Platinum Games. Those two games were Bayonetta and Vanquish. One story follows a witch who has lost her memory. Twenty years prior, she awakens after a long slumber from a coffin at the bottom of a lake. Her journey inevitably redefines her as she regains her memory bit by bit. The other game, Vanquish, follows the journey of a DARPA agent to save the world with his motivations a secret. Let’s take a trip back down memory lane in the remastered versions of these two games in the Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle.
Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary bundle
Developer: Platinum Games
Price: Bundle – $39.99, Individually – $24.99
Release date: February 18th, 2020
*Thanks to SEGA of America for providing a PS4 Review Key for Both titles*
Both plot summaries below are from the official webpage for both games.
Bayonetta plot summary:
Twenty years ago, from a coffin submerged beneath a gloomy lake, a mysterious woman awoke. Unable to recall her past, or even her own name, only a single memory of her unknown origin was left impressed upon her: the horrifying “witches’ power” to summon forth ferocious demons and annihilate the servants of heaven.
Returning to life in the modern world after centuries of absence, Bayonetta followed the clues of her hazy memories, eventually reaching the remote European city of Vigrid. Unimpeded by the countless legions of angels assailing her… Fateful meetings drawing out lost memories… What lies in wait for Bayonetta…?
Vanquish Plot summary:
Since the late 20th century, the precipitous pace of population rise on Earth pushed the total number of humans on the planet past 10 billion. The lack of consumable food and energy for this expanding population led to numerous wars over depleting natural resources. It was in this period of fear, uncertainty, and doubt that America placed her hopes in the skies with the SC-01 Providence space colony.
The colony was not immune to social evils that had become prevalent on earth. The Order of the Russian Star, a faction of the Russian military who had taken power in their homeland via coup d’état, immediately launched a surprise invasion of the colony. They began work converting the microwave energy array into a powerful weapon in the skies, then unleashed this fearsome power upon the residents of San Francisco. The Order’s declaration of war via weapon of mass destruction complete, they demanded the unconditional surrender of the United States within 10 hours, under penalty of the destruction of New York City.
In steadfast refusal to cooperate with aggressors, the President had no choice but to order a military strike to annihilate the invaders and recapture the colony. The strike was to be led by Lt. Col. Robert Burns. DARPA operative Sam Gideon has also been assigned to the mission with an advanced weapons prototype.
Both games have unique stories. Bayonetta gets complicated rather quickly. Without spoiling much, it gets complicated due to time fluctuations. However, that story does become more evident as you progress more throughout the game (much like Bayonetta’s memory). More of that story is elaborated in Bayonetta 2 (currently exclusive to Wii U and Switch). While the story was understandable by the end and delivered well, this could cause players to scratch their heads in confusion at times. Although, by the end of Bayonetta, the player should understand the general story of the title.
In Vanquish, the story seems like a typical terrorism story. However, throughout playing the game, some unexpected twists in the narrative occur. This will find Sam questioning his real motivations and reasons as he forces himself to continue the mission each time.
I preferred Vanquish over Bayonetta here because the story was much easier to follow, and delivered at better pacing. However, both games have great stories overall, and it is understandable to see why the fanbase loves it.
Gameplay for both games is completely different while being easy to pick up at the same time. In Bayonetta, the players will utilize all of the Umbra Witch’s powers at their deposal. The game delivers tutorials whenever a new mechanic is introduced so players can practice it. It is very quick to learn, yet takes time to master (if that makes any sense).
As the game progresses, more weapons and skills are added to Bayonetta’s arsenal. This allows the player to have freedom at what weapons and combos they will be used against the enemy. For those who played a Devil May Cry game, the combat is very similar in its own way. It is very satisfying to learn effective combos against enemies. The player can dodge (which triggers witch time), attack with their sword, use the torture attack, and much much more, which results in great things when mastered. The key is learning to balance it all out.
I can also happily report that playing Bayonetta on the Playstation 4 Pro utilized the best performance from the game. I was getting 60FPS the entire game with little to no drops in frames (outside the prologue which slightly dipped, nothing major). Also, there is very little to no load time in Bayonetta, which is incredible. Only issue with this FPS upgrade is that during QTEs players would have to tap twice as quickly. It serves as a notice that this game wasn’t originally made for 60FPS. Not a deal-breaker and easily adaptable.
In Vanquish, players take control of Sam, who is a member of DARPA. He is armed with the ARS suit and gun. The suit allows for extra strength, quicker movement, slow down time (increase reflexes), and improvements all around. When the player is dropped into the game, they are given a tutorial immediately. It can be skipped, but I advise you to take it.
The controls themselves require a bit of a learning curve to master. However, once learned, players can take Sam for a wild ride boost dashing across each level, while destroying tons of enemies, and looking stylish to boot. This is a great thing. However, the game itself ramps up the difficulty. Towards the later part of Vanquish, enemies are introduced, which can give you one-hit KOs, and it becomes very “bullet hell” as well. While it gets frustrating, it is also a significant indicator if the player mastered the controls or not. The player can become overtaken by enemy attacks really quickly if not careful.
As in Bayonetta, the developers implemented the best performance possible for Vanquish. This means the game itself runs entirely at 60FPS. There were a few dips in FPS, all during cutscenes. None of the drops in FPS happened during gameplay. It made for a very smooth experience with one minor issue. The in-game QTEs are also tied to this upgrade. It serves as a reminder that the game was not made initially for 60FPS. Players will find themselves mashing the QTEs much more than previously before.
Visual and audio:
Visually, Bayonetta has never looked better. As I was playing the game on 4K through the PS4 Pro, I was taken aback. The game was just beautiful all around. I noticed every detail in the environment, during cutscenes, and gameplay that I usually did not see through my journey in the PS3, 360, and Switch versions of the game. The 4k treatment shows in Bayonetta, and it is well done.
Audio-wise, Bayonetta was always top-notch. Once again, the audio continues to remain top-notch. With a fantastic soundtrack, voice work, audio cues, and overall sound immersion, it complements the upgraded visuals. It is masterfully crafted to be a full package.
Visually, Vanquish received the same 4K treatment on PS4 Pro. Environments were upgraded to look great. I cannot say I noticed every single detail during the game as I did with Bayonetta, as due to the overall “same looks” most of the area has. That is understandable considering the location of the game. However, with this upgrade, it was easier to locate all of the hidden gold statues throughout the levels.
Audio-wise, Vanquish feels at a whole other level. I found myself immersed in the audio more than I thought. While the soundtrack itself leaves something to desire, the overall audio cues in the game are something else. Players hear all of the immersive mechanical sounds as if they are within the suit themselves. It blew me away on that. Voice work in the game is well done, with some issues. The lines are well written, but delivery seems a bit off, namely for Sam. It didn’t deter from the experience because, throughout the game, Sam changes as a character (i.e., character development). So the delivery could be interpreted as Sam having second thoughts himself.
Both Bayonetta and Vanquish are fun games in their own right. In Bayonetta, I found myself fully immersed and having fun in the gameplay and overall charm the game provides. Bayonetta, herself, is a very lovable and sassy main character. Give her an all-star cast of partners with their charms, and it is a fun time. I found myself doing my best to master combos, witch time, and all while having endless fun.
Vanquish is a fun play. However, the game does get frustrating as the difficulty curve ramps up (even on the normal setting) mid-way through act 2. It provided a great challenge but was frustrating at times. There were plenty of cheap one-hit kills that regularly came in, and the slow mode system is tied to your health, which puts you in compromising situations if not careful.
While Vanquish was fun in its own right, Bayonetta is the better and much more fun title for me.
Replay value for both Bayonetta and Vanquish are high. In Bayonetta, there are secret missions to discover, music LPs to find, combos to learn, and to top it off a level rating system. Players will find themselves invested in trying to find everything while attempting to obtain the best rating possible.
Vanquish has multiple difficulties and hidden items to find through each level. Some are obvious to see, while others are hidden well. It will keep many players coming back for more to master the ARS system while locating everything. It is a unique game that provides fun and replayability on its own merits.
Both Bayonetta and Vanquish were amazing games on their original release ten years go. With the visual and performance upgrade, two classic games were given the “remastered” treatment. It is prominent as both games are visually stunning and perform wonderfully on a Playstation 4 Pro. When I was playing through Bayonetta, my jaw would drop at times because I can notice every single detail I missed on the different versions of the game I played in the past (PS3, 360, and Switch).
Replaying Vanquish was a delight. The last time I played the game was about ten years ago, so it was a fresh experience once more (as I did not remember a thing in terms of story). All that I remembered is that consoles back then couldn’t hold a stable framerate at all during gameplay. It was always inconsistent. With this boost in performance, the games in this bundle were locked at 60 FPS and delivered a great experience.
Outside of the update in performance and visuals, Bayonetta and Vanquish are fun games. I forgot how fun Bayonetta was until I played this version. For Vanquish, while it had its frustrating moments, it was a fun game as well. Both games deliver in replay value as well.
For veterans of the Bayonetta franchise and Vanquish fans, I highly recommend picking the bundle up. You will appreciate the upgrade all around. For newcomers that have never played either title, it is time to grab it now. Grab a physical copy if possible, and you will get a sweet steel bookcase with fantastic artwork on it. You will not be disappointed with your time invested in either game.
- Until next time, Mgs2master2 out
*Special Thanks to Sega of America for providing a PS4 review key for both titles*