Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is enigmatic, stylish, and one of the year’s most unexpected surprises

In an industry where big budget products often play it quite safe, it’s refreshing to get hands on with those that don’t.

And in particular those that really deviate from what you might expect. See, I don’t need to tell you that Bayonetta is big, brash and bold. My colleagues on the site have told you that plenty of times in the past and you’ve seen the videos.

But this time, Cereza and her witchy powers are anything but. This is a game closer to a childhood retelling of Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz, and definitely much less a stiletto shooting variation of John Wick.

And ultimately, this does bring about a very valid, perhaps pertinent question – why? Why are we completely and utterly reimagining Bayonetta in such a way that it’s nothing like the past three games and probably totally alienating the audience that would play this game, while also confusing those who’ve never played.

Because I’m going to be blunt about this one – it is most definitely not for everyone. This is the very definition of a passion project, of spinning off and trying something different, of trying to add dimensions to a character we’ve already learned so much about and crafting a setting that takes her out of her comfort zone.

As someone who plays a lot of games in my spare-time, and equally plays a varied bunch for review, this works for me. I love a puzzle adventure as much as a shooter or a strategy game or a heavily focused narrative action adventure. I play it all. But the average consumer who sees Bayonetta in the title and is hoping for more of the same is going to be readily disappointed.

This title is a risk. It’s quite possibly one of the biggest risks Nintendo have invested in for years – because on Switch in particular, if they’re not re-releasing Wii and Wii U titles, they’re bringing back classic franchises they know people love or adding big blockbuster sequels to huge franchises. This one is out of everyone’s comfort zones and considering the huge lineup of games over the next few months, seems set to fall through the cracks.

And yet, here I am, sitting here so incredibly happy, glad and excited that this game exists. I am ecstatic that this pitch made it past the cutting room floor, got turned into a game and has potentially opened up the Bayonetta series in a way I never imagined.

In fact, this is going to sound incredibly odd, but this game could very well be one of the sleeper indie hits this year. Because, even though it has the backing of Nintendo and Platinum, this game has all the halmarks of a classic indie that you simply must play and see for yourself, even though it doesn’t have an indie price tag.

This time out, you’re playing Cereza as a kid. She’s under the tuteledge of Morgana, but of course has that defiant streak we’ve all come to know and love. When Morgana isn’t looking, Cereza decides to venture into the dangerous Avalon forest she’s forbidden to visit. And of course gets into all sorts of trouble.

So, then, I guess the pitch for this game would have been something like – imagine Bayonetta but young, vulnerable, without all her witchy powers, and not a gun to her name. And she relies on an oversized Cheshire cat to protect her.

Yeah, this is where that Alice in Wonderland reference came from. Because Bayonetta needs to stay behind and rely on an oversized cat to do all her fighting by swiping and biting. Which was originally her stuffed toy and now turned demonic spirit. And so it presents an intriguing scenario where you have to protect Cereza by blocking rockets, close-quarter sneak attacks and other projectiles.

As you play, you control Cereza with the left stick (and indeed Left bumpers) and Cheshire with the Right Stick and Right Bumpers. Kind of similar in style to Brothers where each side of the console controls one character. Of course, the beauty here is using detachable Joycons and a buddy can help you out should you so wish.

This, of course, opens up all sorts of possibilities for puzzles, particularly since you have two key modes to remember. A ‘Hug’ mode where you keep Cheshire close as a cuddly toy, but in this form you can stretch Cheshire out to latch onto things and throw him to higher ledges to bypass certain obstacles.

There’s also the Unleashed mode where, he can kick some serious butt and tear everything limb from limb. Well, in a family friendly way at least.

This is a very stylish game, which at times feels a little bit Zelda with its Tir Na Nog styled dungeons which have varying conditions, such as defeating enemies in a certain way or unlocking doors by cracking crystals in the right combinations. But as mentioned, there’s a bit of Brothers in here, and even Bayonetta as Cereza picks up familiar items, uses powers you’ve seen before and some of the presentation definitely nods and winks to the base games.

You can also level up each of your characters and acquire new abilities over the course of the game by collecting gems and add rolls for evasion, bite attacks for extra damage and of course more vitality and stamina. You can even mix up potions using the left stick, as long as you’ve gathered the correct ingredients.

It does stagnate a bit in its second half, with the game relying heavily on its storytelling and less on creativity we’ve come to know and love from Bayonetta games. And while this is a good story told, the principle might be a bit disappointing to those who’ve just come off Bayonetta 3, a game that definitely dared to be different and are hoping the trend keeps up.

Which, again brings us back to the original issue of where the game is targeted at. There’s no obvious answer, frankly, and if it’s not really targeted at anyone in particular, that’s also great. In a way, it’s a game you feel shouldn’t exist, like one of those fantasy projects you read about but never got off the ground.

But this one is actually real, it is very good and in a strong year for Switch games, off the back of a surprise reveal of Metroid Prime and Zelda hitting in May, it definitely shows the variety Nintendo have at their disposal.

On the one hand, I want to recommend you play this and check it out because its style and creativity is unmatched this year and it truly is a pleasant experience. On the other I’m not sure who I’m recommending it to. And at the price tag, honestly, it’s a bit of a tough sell with what’s ahead and what’s already released in 2023.

Cereza and the Lost Demon is an intriguing take on a multi-million selling franchise and it’s a game that may not even find its audience until several years from now when we’re all pining for them to remake it on Nintendo’s next console as it becomes a forgotten classic. Or maybe it becomes a rare Nintendo multi-platform title. Who’s to say?

What is clear is this game tries and dares to be different. It succeeds, managing to expand an intriguing universe in a way none of us could have ever imagined and tell a compelling tale with mechanics that, for the most part, are fun, enjoyable to play with and unlock more possibilities in the future.

I guess what I’m saying here is, it may not be obvious who we’re pitching to, but I hope the game finds its audience, nonetheless.


Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is one of the most unexpected, unusual releases of all time. It completely goes at odds against the original source material, it has no obvious audience base as a result, but it remains an enjoyable, creative, bold take on a character we felt we knew inside and out. A stagnating second half and a steep price tag let this one down from an outright recommendation, but there’s still enough in here that deserves your attention, embossed with a trademark signature style and quality that could only come from the Umbran Witch herself. 


+ Smart, creative way to expand the franchise
+ Good gameplay flow as you control both characters simultaneously, solving puzzles
+ Very stylish and distinct, fitting within the Bayonetta universe and beautiful on OLED.


– Probably won’t appeal to core Bayonetta fans who will be confused by it
– Second half stagnates and slows down
– Price tag makes this a hard sell 

Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is out now on Switch

Code Kindly Provided by Nintendo for purposes of review

About the author

Sally Willington

Sally is relatively new to gaming since a newfound addiction to Nintendo Switch. Now they just can't stop playing, anything and everything. Sally especially loves a good RPG and thinks that Yuna may just be one of her favourite characters ever.
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