I'm not sure where I stand with Bayonetta, even now that I've technically "finished" it. Sure, I've completed the story mode on Normal difficulty, but there's still so much left to do.
The story may have come to an end, but I feel my time with this game has just begun. As soon as the last credit rolled, I felt a wave of relief run over me: I'd done it! I'd finished one of the most challenging games of recent years. However, the last two or three levels had been a relentless barrage of waves of enemies and previous bosses, culminating in three outrageous boss fights. I'd gone through all of that in one sitting, unable to leave my seat, through sheer will to see the story to its close. However, fate was not on my side. I may have finished the paltry Normal difficulty, but the game seemed to know my weakness: It tempted me with HARD.
The fact that you're not given Hard mode until you at least complete Normal is basically the game's way of saying, "You're worthy now... I guess.". It's at this point that I face a dilemma: Do I challenge this hallowed Hard Mode and see if I am indeed worthy? Or do I piss about on Very Easy Mode and make myself out to be some kind of God?
Mistake number 1.
Hard mode wants me dead and it's not afraid to let me know... over and over again.
I thought some of the boss fights in Normal Mode were a bit tricky, but I truly stand corrected. The simplest tasks are elevated to tests if mettle and sheer patience in Hard Mode, and so after a couple of attempts at the first few levels, finding myself irritated, I decided to pop back onto Normal and find the hidden "Alfheim" minigames within the game proper.
Mistake number 2.
These minigames are without a doubt some of the most infuriating moments I've ever put myself through in my almost twenty years of gaming. The feats you are demanded to perform are (to me at least) outrageous. Defeating thirty foot tall, giant axe wielding Angels with only six punches and seven kicks is something I cannot be asked to do successfully... and yet I can't stop myself from trying. It's maddening.
I've managed to finish a few of these "Alfheim" rooms and the pure elation that courses through me upon collecting the treasure for completion of the challenge outweighs the fury I burn with after failing twenty times. It's totally worth it and I both love and hate Sega for it. They've made a game that makes me so angry, I want to beat it, just for beating its sake.
That's not to say that I don't like the game anymore. Hell, I'm probably only mad because nothing has challenged me like this since Bloody Palace from Devil May Cry 4, a mode I stopped playing, because I thought I was going to suffer from a stroke. I'm going to keep playing until I beat every single one of those minigames and Hard Mode, then I'm going to finally but Bayonetta back in it's box... or I would, but today, I learned there's a difficulty higher than Hard. Sometimes I think game developers want me to die young.
SERIOUS PLOT SPOILERS AFTER THIS POINT!
Massive rant aside, I'd like to put it out there that I think that the ending of Bayonetta is one of the more outrageously epic of recent years. The game plays a few clever tricks on you, making you think you've beaten the game TWICE before you actually have. However, the first time, it's slightly obvious, as Balder goes down almost without a fight, which, to be fair, had me thinking, "It's too easy... I don't like this, it's all going to go to shit any moment now." and I was right.
The last boss (I say this in case you have no intention on playing Bayonetta, but just want to know what happens) is none other than, essentially...God. You are forced into combat with Jubileus, "The Creator", who apparently is so powerful that she cannot be awoken, lest her sheer power DESTROY THE EARTH. Now, I'm not what you'd call a God fearing man, but if a game asks me to kill THE CREATOR OF THE WORLD as a gun toting Witch, I'm going to feel a little sinking in my stomach. However, having pushed through dozens on unimaginable horrors on the way to this point, there was no way I was going to stop. I went at Jubileus with everything I had and I was treated to a spectacular final boss fight, laden with massive swords, being reverted to my childhood form and clambering over thousand foot long dreadlocks. It took a monumental effort to beat God, but cooler than the fight itself were the events preceding and succeeding it.
Before getting to the battle, in which Bayonetta was put to the ultimate test, we have to get to where God resides... space. To do that, we have to find some form of transportation, obviously. Now, what could be better as a mode of space transportation than a MOTORCYCLE? That's right, in Bayonetta, you ride a motorcycle vertically up, into the infinity of space. This is followed by leaping from your bike, onto a massive pillar and running up that too, in the form of a jaguar if you so choose.
After riding into space and fighting Jubileus, you are tasked with guiding her recently punched out soul into the sun... after making sure it doesn't hit any planets in the solar system on the way. Take a moment to think about that: You punch God so hard, that her soul flies out of her body, across the solar system, into the sun itself. Can you you think of anything more epic? Didn't think so.
So, you've done it: You've killed God, you've saved the world, the credits will roll... for about twenty seconds, til they cut out and you have to destroy Jubileus' body before it crashes down to earth, destroying it. Then you get a few more cut scenes, then the real credits... which force you to relive various key fights from the story as they roll.
I may have finished Bayonetta, but I'm far from completing it.