author: Giancarlo Saldana
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon Review - Magical Beginnings
A totally different experience, Bayonetta Origins offers us a different view into the young witch’s past and with it comes a whole different type of game that still puts a spell on you.
The review is based on the Switch version.
Bayonetta games are known for being stylish, flashy, and frenetic while featuring interactive cutscenes, plenty of combos, and a protagonist that has confidence for days. Based on the games Platinum has dished out, you would think the Umbra Witch was born with all that sass so it’s a surprise to learn she started out very differently.
- Beautiful art style that is sure to lull you;
- Inventive puzzles that require to use both Cereza and Cheshire simultaneously;
- Fun Metroidvania-style gameplay that encourages you to explore.
- Combat is too easy;
- Puzzles eventually start to fizzle out;
- Controls can get confusing at times.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is completely the opposite of what you would expect from a main series game, and this style matches the kind of Bayonetta you will play as—a younger, innocent, less experienced witch who is discovering her strengths. This combined with its unique battle system, storybook-like art style, and engrossing level design are ingredients that make for one bewitching brew of a game.
A Whimsical Tale
Right from the start, you will notice that the game’s art style makes it feel like you are playing inside a fairytale. This approach along with its colorful palette and vibrant visual effects imbue life into your actions whether you’re out exploring your surrounding or getting into a fight with enemies. Its setting, the Avalon Forest, is amazing to behold due to little details that give it so much charm. Picture an abandoned amusement park in the woods or areas where everything around you looks like stained glass. A series of labyrinthine paths, the forest is also home to mischievous fairies that are the main antagonists in the game. Its many Irish folktale influences alongside its dreamy visuals and soothing narration give Cereza and the Lost Demon a magical vibe that relaxes and intrigues you the further you play.
Throughout your journey, a personable narrator navigates you as you learn of the young witch Cereza, who grows up to become Bayonetta, and her journey into the Avalon Forest in hopes of seeking out answers and discovering her powers. Cereza isn’t alone in her adventure as she is accompanied by a demon that has taken the form of her stuffed cat named Cheshire. At first the two don’t get along, but their relationship grows over time, and they depend on one another to make it through the forest and survive the threats looming around them.
Cereza and the Lost Demon is a charming title that sticks with you throughout its 15 or so hour runtime. It may not have the mature flashiness of its main series counterparts, but it doesn’t need it to impress anyone. Its inventive level designs are a treat to behold, and when you need to use both Cereza and Cheshire to solve a unique puzzle, the game shines. Sure, it could be more difficult and offer more varied combat elements, but fans and newcomers alike are sure to be lulled by its magic.
Cutscenes follow this book-like approach to telling the story, and you will often be treated to some wonderful conversations between Cereza and Cheshire and other friends and foes you meet along the way. The voice cast is excellent and really makes you feel like you are being told a bedtime story. Cereza exudes innocence but also curiosity in her voice, and you can hear her grow more confident as the game progresses. Its mesmerizing soundtrack ties it all together and makes for a Bayonetta game with a very unique art style that works for its subject matter and makes for one of the best looking games on the Switch.
It Takes Two
Avalon is a giant forest and while the game follows a linear story and path for you to follow, there are optional areas you can explore for extra rewards, experience, and other collectibles. The game’s map also has a Metroidvania feel to it as there will be areas you will need to revisit once you get a special elemental power that lets you thaw ice, smash rocks, or pull branches to open new pathways. The map itself is somewhat hazy so it’s easy to get lost sometimes, but it does feel great revisiting an area and realizing there’s so much more you can do now with the proper tools.
Cereza is still learning how to wield her witch powers so she starts out only being able to bind enemies with her magic while Cheshire is your main means of attack. As you play, you control both characters at the same time, Cheshire with the right Joystick and Cereza with the left. This unique way of moving and fighting requires some getting used to, but makes for some unique levels and puzzles that require you to work together. There are areas, for example, that Cheshire cannot travel through so you need to venture forth as Cereza to open a path for Cheshire to follow. Cereza can also call him back and have him revert to his stuffed animal form to carry him over tightropes or fling him on platforms she normally can’t reach.
This mix of controls is also present during combat where Cereza uses her magic to bind enemies in place for Cheshire to then pounce on them for damage. You are gradually introduced to more complex enemies that require you to team up and use these attacks to your advantage so while button mashing works at times, it won’t work against an enemy holding a shield or a boss that has a special weakness for one of Cheshire’s elemental attacks.
Battling can get confusing considering you are controlling two characters at once, and it may take your brain a few second to adjust who is who if Cereza and Cheshire swap places and you now are controlling the young witch who is on the right side of your screen with your left hand. Also, because Cheshire is the main attacker, Cereza sometimes won’t have much to do during a fight except run away if you can kill enemies faster than it takes you to bind them in place.
Puzzles and Prizes
Defeating enemies also rewards you with experience points for both Cereza and Cheshire which you use to unlock new attacks, combos, and upgrades to your stats. Most of these abilities can simply be unlocked as you gather more experience points naturally, but other stronger skills will require unique items like moon pearls you need to locate on your map. The time it takes in locating these special items is worth it as the more skills you unlock, the more varied and fun combat becomes even if it does feel too easy at times.
Following the game’s magical theme, there are areas throughout the forest that will distort your surroundings and force Cereza to enter special dungeons in the fairy world of Tir na Nog that act like challenge rooms where you have to solve their puzzle or defeat enemies to break the illusion. The story-driven dungeons get more complex over time and feature some great puzzles that, while simple overall, still require you to think on your next move. Some of these also feature inventive ways Cereza and Cheshire need to work together such as using him to move a platform while she stands on it or having him press switches that only activate on her side of the map while she outruns a dark cloud close behind her.
The game also offers you optional Tir na Nog areas you can find for rewards and extra experience, but these challenges become more reliant on battles that require you to utilize Cheshire’s elemental attacks he gains as you play. These change up the flow of combat slightly as you need to swap out attacks on the fly or beat enemies, but after witnessing some fun puzzles earlier one, I was left wanting more. In fact, if these areas had been solely puzzle-based then it would have given the game a better, more balanced feel.
Despite a gradual increase in difficulty as you progress through the story, Cereza and the Lost Demon is still a very forgiving game with plenty of options to make it even easier. You can also collect and brew items to recover your magic or health, but because it’s hard to die, I never ended up using them. The game also lets you set enemy damage to zero if you feel like enjoying the game at a very leisurely pace so the game is great for younger players who may need a helping hand. The opposite would have been appreciated as the game feels a bit too easy at times even near the end.
Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.
Its limitations aside, Cereza and the Lost Demon is a charming title that sticks with you throughout its 15 or so hour runtime. It may not have the mature flashiness of its main series counterparts, but it doesn’t need it to impress anyone. Its inventive level designs are a treat to behold, and when you need to use both Cereza and Cheshire to solve a unique puzzle, the game shines. Sure, it could be more difficult and offer more varied combat elements, but fans and newcomers alike are sure to be lulled by its magic.
Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com