PlatinumGames as a developer are great, you must admit. They’ve stuck to one genre for sure, but it’s always interesting to see how they continually reinvent their gameplay mechanics to offer games that have the same sensibility but play dramatically differently. Platinum chose their name because it’s a metal that maintains its lustre forever. With the Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle, that mantra is upheld with the packaging of two of Platinum’s best – but also reminds us that a little bit of polish will never hurt either.
The collection packages together two of Platinum’s highest-rated games – Bayonetta and Vanquish – and touches them up for modern hardware. It’s a bit of an odd combination at first, but the sensibility is there – these are both two very different sides of the same coin. Bayonetta is, much like Devil May Cry, is an over the top action game that rewards players for playing stylishly and mixing things up. Vanquish is harder to describe, it’s a viciously fast-paced third-person bullet ballet from the same creative mind as Resident Evil and God Hand.
If you’ve never played it before, Bayonetta is great and campy fun. Without ruining too much, you play as a witch who can attach weapons to her arms and legs to fight off angelic creatures. She can also use her hair as a conduit to summon demons from the nether realm to not only end combos but finish off more powerful bosses. If that’s not crazy enough, Bayonetta can also summon medieval torture devices for some extra flair during combos. It’s Devil May Cry on steroids, and I struggle to find fault with it as a concept, it’s absurd, and I adore it.
Bayonetta is one of the greatest action games ever made, though it’s improvements as part of this package feel minimal. For one, the game now renders at a higher resolution, which does result in a sharper picture. Still, the game ran so well previously, the improvements feel less pronounced. The game is just as you remembered it – whether you played it on the 360, PS3, Wii U, or Switch – for better or for worse. There’s a lot to do and unlock once you’ve finished the games ten to twelve-hour story too, though those who aren’t score buffs may be done with it soon after.
The game performs as well as you’d expect it with a remaster of this caliber. Still, it does feel like a missed opportunity that the in-engine cutscenes revert to thirty frames per second after the silky-smooth gameplay has been running at double that. Perhaps it’s a stylistic choice, but it’s especially jarring after everything else runs so smoothly and looks so crisp. Beyond that, there are no other significant additions to the game – it’s Bayonetta as you remember it, just better looking.
Vanquish is entirely different to Bayonetta but is just as likely to appeal to action fans. In the game, you play as Sam, a DARPA agent outfitted with a unique exoskeleton suit. The suit is the key to what makes Vanquish unique to any other third-person shooter – Sam can slow time but also boost around the world as if on jetpacked roller skates. It’s a bizarrely simple addition to the third person formula that does a phenomenal job at increasing your mobility and giving you the tools to pull off some pretty great maneuvers.
The game is, of course, aware of this and throws as much stuff at you as possible. In fact, Vanquish does a great job of translating the bullet hell style of design that you’d typically find in a 2D game into a fully 3D third-person shooter. Things get frantic in Vanquish, but the game gives you so much mobility that it never gets tiring, but rather rewarding when you clear a crazy set piece or boss battle. It’s not without its issues, of course. It’s short, for one, with most players clearing the story in about six or so hours. It’s also incredibly cheesy, in both it’s presentation and story, but I feel like that’s entirely the point.
Having seen release on the older generation of consoles and PC, this rendition of Vanquish has a lot more to gain with its remaster treatment. For one, the game not only looks crisper thanks to the resolution bump, but it also feels significantly faster, with the framerate being doubled from what was presented on consoles. The result is something incredible – a fast game running at a buttery smooth speed at its highest resolution yet. Where Bayonetta’s inclusion in this package is a hit or miss when compared to the other renditions out there, this is the best way to play Vanquish period.
It’s just a little bit of a shame that everything hasn’t been brought together with a little bit more fanfare. With a name as celebratory as the 10th Anniversary Edition, it’d be nice to have this all tied together with some nice presentation, or even a glimpse of behind the scenes materials. Of course, we shouldn’t scoff at both games running admirably at 4K and 60 frames per second, but this package is literally just that. And nothing else. These are games that should be celebrated and played by many.
THE PLAYSTATION 4 VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED ON A PLAYSTATION 4 PRO FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle brings together two of PlatinumGames’ best, giving them a fresh coat of paint to stand up to the visual standards of this decade. Vanquish is the clear winner of the two here, with some visually fantastic improvements, but both play just as well as they did ten years ago. While it's disappointing that bonus content isn't included, they’re still games any action fan shouldn’t miss.