Oh my. I can safely say that, for the past few years, four words I wasn’t really expecting to write at any time were “Bayonetta PC Technical Review.” Well played, Sega, for sneaking this one out.
For the uninitiated, Bayonetta is a somewhat legendary cult classic. Released by PlatinumGames for the PS3 and 360 back in late 2009/early 2010, and then remastered for the Wii U (which is where its sequel also landed) years later, it seemed like one of those games we were never going to get despite generally being acclaimed as one of the best third-person beat-’em-ups on the market. Think Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, only with a sexy witch using hair-based attacks to beat up angels, and you’re not far off.
It’s a bit of a big deal, in short, although one that never sold particularly well. Can the PC version fix that? I don’t know. Is the PC version good enough that it deserves to fix that? Let’s find out.
I’m running this on an i7-3820 with 16GB RAM and a GeForce GTX 970, and I had absolutely no framerate issues. This PC version is hard-capped at 60FPS for gameplay, while the cutscenes are stuck at 30FPS, which… honestly, is pretty much fine in my opinion. An uncapped framerate would be nice, but if you’re going to put a cap on it, 60 works fine for me.
Here are your graphics options:
This is actually better than I expected. Above 1920×1080 your resolution options are 1920×1200, 1920×1440, 2560×1440, and 5120×2880, which should account for the most common range of aspect ratios. Meanwhile, the lowest possible is your basic 1024×768, and there are a wealth of settings between there and 1080p.
I’m also a big fan of the VRAM usage at the bottom. It’s not a huge thing (especially not for a game that, frankly, isn’t particularly intensive) but it’s one of those little bits of attention to detail I’m really happy to see. It tends to indicate that some actual thought has been put into the PC version. Ramping absolutely everything up to full – SSAO Quality included – puts things just over 1GB, at 2560×1440 resolution.
Anyway, have some comparison screenshots between high (with SSAO also ramped up to High, which the default “high” settings leave off) and low.
I’m not really going to complain much about either. It doesn’t look fantastic (the cutscenes in particular actually look a bit rough, thanks to a really nasty film grain filter plus the noticeably lower framerate) but it’s still visually quite splendid, and the difference between low settings and high settings largely seem to be “Xbox 360 game” and “Xbox 360 game with significantly sharper textures.” An HD remastering, if you will… although that term obviously doesn’t apply because the original was in HD anyway.
The other screenshots you’ll see scattered around should all be on High, for what it’s worth. No comparison shots during high-action sequences for what should be fairly obvious reasons.
The rest of the menus don’t have much of particular note. There’s a UI on/off toggle, for some reason, and subtitle language appears to be tied to your Steam language. There are various volume controls, the ability to invert the X and Y axes separately, and both a mouse sensitivity option and a camera speed option… which I think are both essentially “camera sensitivity” but for the mouse and the analogue stick respectively, depending on the controls you’re using.
Keyboard controls are rebindable, although default binds are alright. Not ideal, because this isn’t the sort of game I’d want to play on mouse and keyboard, but certainly designed with human limitations in mind. There’s a bit too much clustering around Shift and Alt and so on for my liking, but once again, this really isn’t the sort of thing I’d want to play on mouse and keyboard.
Nonetheless, I did. And hey, it’s playable. It’s not great, but it’s playable.
WASD movement? Check. Two attack buttons, bound to the mouse buttons? Check. Space to jump, Shift to evade? Check. A basic gun attack tied to the middle-mouse? Check. Alt for lock-on? Uh… Still, playable.
Sadly, it does that association thing where it usually shows action indicators rather than key-prompts. If a tutorial tells you to punch, it’ll have a little punching icon rather than “left mouse button”, as a few of the Dynasty Warriors ports are famed for. On the other hand, it does tell you to press Tab or whatever to skip through things, so… it sometimes has key-prompts?
In any case, yes, it’s playable. Mouse control of the camera is rough, but not rough enough to make it unplayable. Still, I’d strongly recommend a controller.
Still, I did have some controller-related issues. I’d assume an Xbox 360 controller would work fine (I don’t have one, so can’t check) and my Steam controller handled it without issues, but it refused to recognise the PS4 controller without using DS4Windows. Still, this isn’t much of a surprise. Steam’s native support for the DualShock 4 is still very much in its early stages, and it’s a total crapshoot whether or not it works.
I’m not quite sure what else there is to say about Bayonetta‘s move to PC. Its framerate is rock solid on my specs; its loading times are near-instantaneous; it has more graphic tweakables than I expected; it largely controls fine on a gamepad (barring the moments where the camera gets in the way, because third-person game). Hell, it’s not even completely hateful on mouse and keyboard, which is a minor miracle.
It’s not the best-looking game in the world, not least thanks to that filter on the custscenes, but otherwise it holds up remarkably well, and it’s hardly an ugly game. I’ll concede that my expectations are somewhat low – something like this getting ported over would lead me to expect the bare minimum of control and graphic options – but even in a vacuum, this isn’t a half-bad port of a game from 2010.
If you’ve yet to play Bayonetta and want to see PlatinumGames at what’s arguably their finest, then, there’s little reason not to try it out on PC. And unlike certain other games I could mention, it’s even pretty reasonably priced.
Tim has been playing PC games for longer than he’s willing to admit. He’s written for a number of publications, but has been with PC Invasion – in all its various incarnations – for over a decade. When not writing things about games, Tim can occasionally be found speedrunning some really terrible ones, making people angry in Dota 2, or playing something obscure and random. He’s also weirdly proud of his status as (probably) the Isle of Man’s only professional games journalist.