Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon Is a Bewitching Deviation From Its Predecessors (Preview)
The beautiful story of a lonely witch and her lost companion.
When I first saw that Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon was coming, I was actually genuinely excited. I had never really gotten into a Bayonetta game in the past, at least not properly.
This prequel title looked like it would be the one to finally draw me into the series’ extensive lore with its unique art and heavy focus on storytelling. The way that the game felt, at least to me as an outsider to the fandom, was very different from any other Bayonetta experience I had dipped my toes into before and I was instantly drawn to it.
After having finally gotten the chance to experience its enchanting premise for a hands-on preview, I learned that my premonitions about it were correct. Bayonetta Origins is not your typical Bayonetta game and is in fact anything but. It starts off with heavy story elements in the style of a child’s fairytale, from turning pages to charming storybook art.
Cereza is a young girl born to both an Umbran and a Lumen, meaning that she is cast out by the other witches as a sort-of black sheep. Her mother has been imprisoned due to her relations with Cereza’s father, leading the young girl to frequently visit her cell to see her. Unfortunately, Cereza is unable to visit her mother after her tenth birthday as she has been relocated to a cell that is impenetrable to any outsiders. She dreams of a boy telling her that he can help her reunite with her mother once again as long as she goes to the forbidden Avalon Forest and finds the power she needs.
This is complicated by the fact that Morgana, the Umbra Witch who has thus far raised Cereza and trained her, is strictly opposed to any entrance of the Avalon Forest as it is said to house dangerous faeries. Cereza is still not powerful enough to even consider herself a witch yet, meaning that she would not have any way to defend herself.
I spent a little bit of time at the beginning doing chores for Morgana in what the game offers as a tutorial. This consisted of bringing her water and tending to her herb garden so that I could learn how to interact with the environment properly and use my magic on plants. I felt that this tutorial was unique and even fun in a way as it drew on the story.
Cereza was not some all-powerful protagonist, but rather an orphan girl who needed to take care of chores for her guardian so that she could grow and train properly. I also got to understand the dynamic between the child Bayonetta and her superior well this way, seeing that while Morgana had a cold exterior she understood the girl and wanted to make her strong.
After failing to summon a demon correctly for Morgana, Cereza spends a long time sulking and consulting her stuffed animal companion, Cheshire. Cheshire had been gifted to her by her mother and went everywhere Cereza would go. It is at this moment that I witnessed what I had been waiting for, Cereza’s decision to delve into the forbidden woods.
One of my favorite features of the game is introduced shortly after Cereza’s entrance into the Avalon Forest, and that is the ability to control Cheshire. Originally summoned by her as a demon, he takes the form of her stuffed animal companion and can be used as a large combat-ready aid or held as a small plush that can extend onto ledges or allow Cereza to jump further.
The catch here is that I had to control both of them, separately. I do feel that there may be some criticism of this mechanic as it can prove to be a bit complicated at first, especially if your brain is all over the place like mine is. One Joy-Con controls Cereza while the other controls Cheshire, meaning that you need to have a good grasp of using both at the same time to accomplish different things.
For instance, Cheshire needs to take another path more often than not because he cannot go through herbs that Cereza can go through easily. The trick is that both of them cannot stray too far from one another, however, meaning that you need to solve small puzzles to get them both where they need to go without separating them too much.
I have found this to be quite a unique way of creating in-game puzzles and have only really seen it as a mechanic that makes the story feel more immersive. Cereza and Cheshire are two separate personalities but they need to work together to help each other. The demon wants to find his way back to Inferno while Cereza wants to find the power that will help her be with her mother once again.
To do those things, they need each other’s abilities. I loved freezing enemies with Cereza’s magic and then striking them down with Cheshire’s strength; it has felt like a challenging yet fun combination of abilities. I have also really enjoyed being able to carry Cheshire in a smaller, stuffed animal form and releasing him as a large demon when necessary for combat.
The game is also inclusive of players who find it to be a bit too much at times, allowing you to toggle Cereza’s magic ability to make it more automatic instead of manual which is quite nice for those wanting to experience the lore. Cheshire is quite strong and his side of the combat is not too difficult to grasp, either.
Between moments of combat and exploration, there are those captivating storybook moments I mentioned at the beginning. These are present all throughout the gameplay and work as cutscenes would in other games. I think that the way they have incorporated these page-turning, narrated, and animated storytelling elements make the experience feel like an immersive fairytale that I am playing through. It feels as though I have opened one of my old childhood books and have taken on the protagonist’s form while also hearing the story as I move forward.
The music and voice acting are also beautifully implemented, and I cannot help but feel that this is one of the stronger lore-driven experiences Nintendo has to offer. I feel for the characters and am constantly finding myself looking forward to knowing more about Cereza, her future, and the faeries inhabiting the world. As an avid fan of Irish mythology and all things to do with fae, I think that Bayonetta Origins draws on these elements wonderfully while also maintaining originality.
Even though Bayonetta Origins might not appeal to the series’ usual fanbase, it definitely feels like a title that will attract new players such as myself. The experience has thus far been anything but daunting to me and has left me entirely enchanted by its vivid colors, unique setting, and fairytale story.
I have no doubts that Bayonetta and Cheshire will both continue to impress me as I delve further into the game’s charming world and would recommend other people keep a watch out for the release regardless of their familiarity with the rest of the franchise. This truly seems to be a title for all flavors of the gaming community, whether that be fans of more wholesome experiences or long-time Bayonetta players, and I am excited to keep exploring.
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