When it comes to making great action games few in the industry do it better than developer PlatinumGames. What I’ve always found strange about that though is that for as good as their games usually are they don’t seem to get played by near enough people. Ten years ago, Platinum and Sega released two such action titles on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with those being Bayonetta and Vanquish. Both were quality titles but neither one sold very well with one of them only getting a sequel thanks to Nintendo stepping in. Because Sega feels both of these games deserve to be in more player’s hands they have now remastered them and bundled them together in the Bayonetta and Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle. If you missed these action gems ten years ago I implore you to not make that mistake again.
This new bundle brings both Vanquish and Bayonetta to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both at retail and digitally. One of the perks of buying the game at retail is you get a fancy Steelbook case featuring art from both games. If you are someone who played these before and just want one or the other you’ll also have the option to buy them separately digitally. Now these aren’t remakes so the only thing you’re getting in these new console ports is better graphics and performance in both titles. For new players that means these will be among the best versions of these games you can buy but if you played them before and hoped for something more you won’t find it here. This version of Bayonetta though could be enticing even to returning players though as the PlayStation 3 version was well known for being a technical mess compared to every other version of the game out there.
If you aren’t familiar with the games though then let me tell you a bit about them before talking about the technical improvements. Bayonetta is a third-person, character action game similar to the Devil May Cry franchise, both of which were made by Hideki Kamiya. Bayonetta is an Umbra witch who has been asleep for years and years and awakens with no memory of her past. Over the course of the game you slowly put her memory back together as you stylishly fight her enemies using her guns and her hair. Just as you would expect from a Platinum title you wind up with a large set of moves and combos you can use and master over time.
Another key gameplay mechanic in Bayonetta is the ‘Witch Time’ mechanic. This activates when you dodge an attack at the very last moment and it causes time to come to a crawl giving you ample opportunity to dish out attacks with little resistance. New moves can be gained by spending the in-game currency you accumulate and there are some fun ones to get. One example of that is something called Torture attacks that summon different torture devices to deal damage. Between these, attacking with her guns, using her hair, and performing melee attacks you’ll never get tired of the options you have at your disposal in combat. The game has some awesome boss battles as well and some not so awesome vehicle segments that it would be better off without. They don’t detract too much though from what was and still is an otherwise fantastic action game experience.
As for Vanquish it is less of a melee focused action game and more of a stylish sci-fi third-person, cover based shooter. This isn’t a typical cover shooter though as you’ll spend so much time sliding and moving around at blazing speeds rather than sit behind cover and pop shots at your enemies. You play as space DARPA agent Sam Gideon who is on a mission to save an overpopulated Earth from a space colony called Providence who has been taken over by a rogue enemy group. Sam sets out to do this with the assistance of a BLADE which is an experimental cyber suit he wears. This suit gives him super speed and better reflexes both of which are key gameplay elements.
When in combat you can take cover behind objects but the gameplay is mainly driven by using the suits power to power slide around the environment at high speeds while shooting up your enemies. The suit has a power meter though and this drains as you are using the super speed as well as your reflex abilities that slow down time. Balancing out your movements while keeping an eye on your energy gauge is critical to coming out on top especially when you square off against the huge enemy bosses in the game. Sam can carry up to three guns on him at a time and while the weapon count isn’t large each one that is here feels useful.
When it comes to the graphics both titles do show their decade old age a bit but the resolution bump does help this. Bayonetta has been upgraded to 1080p resolution on the PlayStation 4 and it runs at a smooth 60fps. I played the game on the PlayStation 4 Pro and here you’re still running at 60fps but you also get to enjoy the silky smooth gameplay in 4K resolution which is nice. The part about the game that feels dated is the overall color palette which has that too much brown and gray about it that many last generation games had at the time. Another benefit of this remaster is that load times are faster than ever meaning you spend less time waiting and more time killing. Vanquish likewise runs at the exact same resolution and framerate on both of Sony’s systems making its gun blazing action look and feel better than ever. It too suffers though from some dated environmental visuals. As for the audio you won’t be disappointed with either soundtrack in these games as both are simply fantastic to listen to and when you combine that with some great sound effects you end up with two very well rounded titles.
As a fan of character action games such as these I can’t recommend the Bayonetta and Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle enough. Both games still look good even a decade later and performance wise they’ve never been better especially on the PlayStation platform. If you were a prior owner though and needed something more than just an upgraded look to sway your purchase decision I can understand that. Newcomers and die hard fans though will find two, very different yet also slightly similar action game experiences here that are fantastic from start to finish. Now when are we getting Vanquish 2?
*Bayonetta and Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle is available now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by Sega for this review.