Bayonetta is currently a widely recognized PlatinumGames property, of which as a franchise we have very little. His graceful rescue by Nintendo allowed him to distribute a second and even a third title. Bayonetta 3 was one of the most anticipated games for Switch and although he tries, the limits of the console compromise him. We never suspected that they had a surprise for the witch from Umbra a few months after the last installment of her (where she is hidden in the form of a short demo). But this time focused on Cereza and the origin of Bayonetta.
Thankfully, the Bayonetta saga takes a breather from the wacky multiversal combat to offer a simpler story. We say fortunately, because Bayonetta Origins: Cherry and the Lost Demon doesn’t have the same ambitions as the first three games. Having a teenage Bayonetta as the protagonist allows you to play with the aesthetics and the development of her mechanics. The most important thing to keep in mind is that Cereza is not Bayonetta yet.. That is, not the adult and brash Bayonetta that we all know.
In Bayonetta Origins, Cereza is the young daughter of an Umbra witch and a Lumen sage, exiled by her kind and in the care of the hermit witch Morgana. This powerful witch lives next to the forbidden forest of Avalon and trains Cherry in the arts of Umbra. Although Morgana is strict and sees enormous potential in Cereza, the little girl only wants the power necessary to rescue her captive mother Rosa from her. She makes a stuffed animal as a gift for Cherry, which she names Cheshire and clings to for comfort.
Guided by the figure of a mysterious boy in her dreams and nightmares, Cereza enters the Avalon forest, ruled by evil fairies. When she is chased by a group of them, through her inexperience she tries to summon a demon and it takes possession of the Cheshire stuffed animal. Cherry doesn’t know how to fight, so she depends on the lost demon to survive in the Avalon forest. The game narrates the story as if it were a fairy tale in digital book format. Likewise, its nice artistic touch of watercolors and paint gives it an original visual break from the main Bayonetta games.
In our review of Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon we highlight the power of the four elements of the Avalon forest.
Like all classic tales, it enjoys a mandatory linearity to unfold the story. Just because it’s a fairy tale, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s for children. Bayonetta Origins is a dark fantasy that readapts the bases on the witches of Umbra but makes it sufficiently accessible to all audiences. While traditional Bayonetta games require skill with control and use of combos, in Cherry’s shoes we take a slower pace and leave the fighting to Cheshire with the double use of ‘sticks’.
In the same way that Bayonetta 3 allows temporary control of hellish demons within the battlefield and the execution of combos, Bayonetta Origins puts all the weight on Cheshire. At first the unconventional relationship between Cherry and Cheshire causes problems. Cereza is no longer a shy girl, but she is rebellious, brave and determined to face adversity. Cheshire is a demon, and as such Cherry cannot treat him as a pet. Morgana well warns her that they are only tools for the witches of Umbra.
Still, they depend on each other to get out of the Avalon forest. Cherry to achieve her long-awaited power and Cheshire to get her freedom from the fledgling girl. We could walk alone with Cherry carrying Cheshire’s stuffed animal but we wouldn’t get very far. For this reason, we must control Cheshire with the right ‘stick’ while we move Cherry with the left ‘stick’. Sometimes it feels like a title designed for two players in a cooperative format and in fact we would have loved that option. During the exploration sections there is not much inconvenience and the environment puzzles are more of a light difficulty.
Sometimes we will have to return with new abilities to previously visited places.
In battles, on the other hand, we tend to focus on attacking with Cheshire (ZR) and with Cherry the main thing we can do is imprison enemies with Witch Pulse (ZL). Later on, a skill tree for each one allows you to expand the options for combos, magic recovery, slowdown, attack power and more. In the case of Cheshire it is more striking, since in the Avalon forest we have to collect four elemental nuclei with the powers of wood, stone, water and fire.
As Cherry is not Bayonetta yet, the one who shines is Cheshire with the transformations and powers of these four elements. It doesn’t take long for them to learn to trust each other despite Morgana’s advice. Without being her adult version, Cereza keeps that irreverent spark of her counterpart and a refined voice acting by Angeli Wall, reprising her role from Bayonetta 3.. She is a teenager according to her character and it’s nice that she respected herself.
Single-player puzzle-solving and cooperative exploration games are not new. Some decide to downplay the secondary character’s playable importance or make him part of annoying ‘escort missions’. Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon gives Cereza and Cheshire equal value on the exploratory world map, since we require both equally. Only Cherry can use stairs, boost with Cheshire as a spring, or cross sectors that demons can’t. But Cheshire can jump slopes and knock down natural obstacles, both complement each other.
Cherry in Bayonetta Origins is a self-sufficient young lady, but Cheshire is indispensable, as we say in our review.
Sometimes a certain parallelism with games like The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is inevitable. We know the comparison to a Zelda game can be lazy because it’s an action/adventure mainstay with ambient puzzles. Cheshire acting as Zelda’s spirit in Phantom armor and Cherry as Link makes a lot of sense. Said that, even Bayonetta Origins features space-time “mini dungeons” with mid-level enemies and bosseswith crystal rewards for skill trees or increased health.
While graphically placid, Bayonetta Origins’ Avalon Forest has an overall design with vague representational elements. When the map expands it is easy to confuse the roads, due to the few signs that exist between the sectors that compose it. Various layers and foreground vegetation give the impression that this would have been a perfect title for the Nintendo 3DS stereoscopic 3D. It has all the elements to be the portable version of Bayonetta that we didn’t think we needed but knows how to become independent from its older sisters..
Bayonetta Origins: Cherry and the Lost Demon In Summary
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon has the luxury of experimenting with the franchise as the work of a group of young developers at PlatinumGames. An action-adventure game where the inexperienced Cherry is as charismatic as Bayonetta and her forceful partner Cheshire a mighty beast of war. Moving away from the flashy combos of the Bayonetta series, we instead get an illustrated fairy forest with lights and colors in all its magical corners. A much more accessible entry point into the Umbra witch franchise and perhaps the mainstay of whatever potential spin-off games are. Simple puzzles, inquisitive exploration, and engaging storytelling.
Review made using a digital copy of Bayonetta Origins: Cherry and the Lost Demon for Nintendo Switch provided by Nintendo of America.