Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon Review – An Enchanting New Take on a Familiar Witch
The fairy-tale prequel to Bayonetta we never knew we needed.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon on Switch
When it comes to gaming, I tend to be a bit picky with what I play. If I see something that looks colorful, whimsical, or wholesome, I will likely grab it immediately. On the other hand, I generally stay away from games that seem too combat-heavy or dark and difficult. Due to this admittedly horrible tendency to judge a game by its cover, I have missed out on some key franchises that many other gamers swear by. One of those is the Bayonetta series itself, despite my inner desire to give it a real chance. When I first heard about Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, I was surprised to feel myself become quickly interested as I knew the other games under the Bayonetta umbrella had never drawn me in. The colors and setting of Origins, however, called to me. I thought to myself, this could be the perfect opportunity for me to finally get into this series. Well, I was right.
Upon starting the game, I was immediately enchanted by its storybook-like qualities. From turning pages to well-versed narration, Bayonetta Origins has provided me with one of the best story experiences I have had while playing a Nintendo game. I personally had Japanese set as my language, but I listened to the English as well and both hold up well. The writing itself was fantastic, from the introductory parts of the story in which you learn about Cereza’s backstory as a witch born to parents in a forbidden relationship to the latter pieces of the tale that take place between puzzling levels.
I always felt as though I was playing for the story in Bayonetta Origins. The story never felt as though it depended on me, which was unique to me as a player of many choice-based games. It felt more as though I depended on the story instead. When I struggled with controls briefly during puzzles, I did not feel frustrated because it was difficult but rather because I wanted to know what would happen next. This is a strong marker of a well-written story within a game for me—my own desire to proceed so that I can listen and read even more.
Getting to know about Cereza or Bayonetta herself in this accessible, immersive format made me fall in love with a character I had never even given a proper chance before. From her backstory to the developments throughout the game, I feel as though I understand Bayonetta as a character much better than I would had I picked up another of the series’ titles first. In that sense, Bayonetta Origins truly plays as a perfect introduction to introduce new fans to the franchise while also playing as a fresh experience for older fans who will only grow to love Bayonetta more through learning her beginnings in such an intimate way.
Other characters, such as Cheshire and Morgana, regardless of their role in the game, are also well-written and serve a unique purpose within Cereza’s origin story. Did this game make me want to have a Cheshire of my own to carry around in a compact form, only to release him whenever necessary? Yes, it did. The fact that his character held a double meaning made me love him even more, as he was a demon summoned by Cereza herself but he inhabited a plush toy that her mother had given her. I could feel Cereza’s fear of Cheshire dwindle quickly as she was partnered not only with a strange new demon but her familiar soft friend through the world’s puzzles.
The puzzles themselves are unique, too, as they depend on your use of not just Cereza herself but of her companion, Cheshire, as well. I found this to be a bit difficult as I started my journey with the two since I had just played through the introductory area with Cereza and Morgana, the Umbra Witch who raised her, which only taught me how to control the one character. It was there that I also learned to use Cereza’s powers, meaning that I had a bit more time to get used to hers than I did Cheshire’s.
Once I understood how to control the two simultaneously, though, it became a lot of fun. It only took me a couple of puzzle areas to really grasp it anyway, and I do feel that players who are not comfortable with similar mechanics in other games will adapt well to those in Bayonetta Origins. The game thankfully allows players to make their experience easier if needed (e.g. you can set Cereza’s magic to be automatic). I loved pulling Cheshire out when I needed to, tossing him up onto ledges, having Cereza traverse areas he could not, etc. The two characters are balanced perfectly in my opinion and truly complement one another.
The art and world of Bayonetta Origins also had me hooked. Up until this point, I have not really gotten the chance to experience a game that draws on lesser-known mythology such as that of Ireland much. I have definitely not had the chance to experience such mythology in a colorful, vibrant setting. As a girl who is still very much obsessed with all things to do with fairies and magic, my heart was immediately full as I stepped into the woods with Cereza and saw all sorts of creatures I had spent so much time reading and writing about before.
References to fairytales and other storybook tales also run rampant throughout the game, too, such as Alice in Wonderland. From Cheshire’s name to other creatures you later come across, these little allusions to other magical worlds make Bayonetta Origins feel as though it is every beautiful piece of your childhood sewn together into a colorful, crystalline blanket that envelops you and pulls you into an enchanted world with fairies, forests, and witches. At times, it felt almost surreal to me to consider that I was in fact playing a Bayonetta game as I was so deeply drawn into Cereza’s origin story that I forgot about her future self in the series’ other games.
If I had to put my verdict of Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon into one compact sentence, it would be this: this new prequel presents players with the perfect introduction to a well-loved character and series. This game absolutely does not respect player boundaries when it comes to genre—you will fall deep into its whimsical embrace whether you are usually a fan of action-packed games or more of a cozy gamer. What seems to be a wholesome tale of two companions journeying together toward different goals quickly blooms into a deep, heart-warming story about the origins of one of gaming’s most loved female protagonists.
- Well-written and narrated story with familiar fairytale aesthetic.
- Perfect introductory game to an established series.
- Enchanting world with beautiful design.
- Unique levels and puzzles.
- Controls are confusing at first while controlling two characters.
March 17, 2023
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