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One of the weirder bits of people getting pulled into this is definitely the number of people for whom this was their first exposure to the Kamiya Twitter Experience. That is a guy who interacts with that website in only the most begrudging of ways no matter what's up.


Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
No one told me there was going to be Elevator Action-style 2D stealth missions with Jeanne!


Geno Cidecity
Phew, I thought we were repeating the mistake we just made of accusing people of things on the flimsiest of evidence

I mean this is the same argument by which we're establishing that she's conservative and revanchist -- frankly I think what she says and supports on twitter says enough about her; people don't accidentally follow accounts about following women into restrooms with cameras, and accounts that do so to keep tabs on bad actors definitely don't like their posts.

Frankly I would be more surprised if a conservative british woman wasn't a terf at this point, they've become so ideologically captured. And they have a specific way of arguing and communicating and Taylor is 100% a mark for it based on how she talks about this issue


Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I'm in agreement with the stated criticism--as far as it applies to a game I haven't played yet--but I also think this is a series that has been consistently failing its own inferred thematics from the start, and increasingly so as it's gone on. If the third game ends on a sour note, I'm likely to take it as the completion of an already present and ongoing trajectory. At best the games have "allowed" the possibility of more palatable reads on character dynamics and themes than is surface, so the erasure of that avenue for interpretation is my worry in this, which might indeed be what's being insinuated has finally happened.
I will probably enjoy the game in spite of this because Witch Time is very fun, but I've enjoyed Maddy Meyers' writing on the series in the past and her review was the one I was most anticipating. So, I'm sad (but not surprised) to hear that this entry foreclosed some of those readings for her.


Geno Cidecity
I got past the first stage of 2 before someone stole my copy, so I'm not in any hurry to play 3 because I gotta get myself caught up in the first place. 2 had a few bits that I've seen where my reaction was something like "uhhhhhh, dude" so I'm not surprised that 3 seems to put more of that front-and-center.

However, the plot being based around
an alternate reality where Bayonetta is straight
is funnier to me than it should be I think
On a different note, TIL that my favorite track from the first game was actually a remix of the After Burner theme. What a banger.



Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Impressions on 3 after a handful of chapters. Open discussion of mostly mechanics, presentation and game structure, not so much narrative as of yet. To contextualize a little, I'm speaking as someone who likes but does not love both of the prior two games, for different reasons.

bayonetta 3 is very good, turns out

they're doing a lot more with level design, to an extent that it almost resembles a collectathon platformer. more wide spaces with hidden tangents, and secrets absolutely everywhere. the game has like the most fun movement of any game in its genre so you get a lot of opportunity and incentive to poke around

it is significant because bayonetta 1 in particular has maybe the worst level design of any "character action" lineage game in terms of spaces to move through and find things in. completely narrow line, and its idea of hiding things is to drop them five rooms behind you at some invisible threshold it'll never tell you about
in this you can just find stuff through your own means, not consulting a walkthrough, and it's fine

i'm not sure what to think of the aesthetic overall. it performs probably the worst out of the three games on their respective native hardware, and the chosen dominant palette is grey and teal--all the enemies have that colour scheme and so does much of the world. makes for a very cold, and in worst cases dull-looking game
but because it's fundamentally and literally a multiverse mashup i expect it'll have increasing diversity as it goes on

it's already working with three different parallel currencies sourced from the three games, and while the main enemies are the new homunculi, 1's angels and 2's demons pop up on occasion as secret optional verses. i already fought alraune again and got her whip from 2

there's just a lot of Stuff in it. every chapter has five optional objectives to meet, and if you find one each of the umbran tear-holding witch familiars--cat, crow and toad--that unlocks a side mission after clearing the chapter where you're dropped into some closed-off section of it and have to do something particularly challenging. even those little slices have three unique optional objectives each


2 put off the hardcores because umbran climax (essentially a screen-clearing devil trigger) was seen as rendering the game's other mechanics moot for its ease of use and power, so this doesn't have that anymore. instead you summon the demons whose appendages have always manifested in the combat from the start--now you can directly control them. it works, much, much better

like people flock to rival battles in these kinda games because you get to fight something of your comparable size. also ability, but you can cite any from game and ask how many people enjoy poking at toenails and asses comparatively; the scale is the big thing that usually deters if it does. the wicked weaves and such in bayo already addressed some of that mismatch when you could have hitboxes collide with the giant finishers you could pull out every few seconds, so full demon manifestation just supercharges the whole thing
and allows you to have "rival battles" with giant enemies of all kinds, because hey here's a 15-meter tall woman doing tetsuzankos, spinning bird kicks and shoryukens at it

you summon stuff and bayo dances mostly in place (you can move her a little and of course evade), but it's not this clumsy mode switch you have to toggle and commit to. you can press a button to have a demon pop up for a simple interrupt and dismiss them, or you can take full control and do combos and set-ups with them (they have their individual movelists which you unlock more stuff for as with bayo herself)

but also, your own combos have a flash at the end of some strings, which allows you to summon them just for a finisher
and if you summon them when you're about to be hit, they'll parry and counter for you

there's a lot they can do and you can always choose how exactly you want to make use of them, and they have mechanical parity with bayonetta's fundamental mechanics so they feel like natural extensions of things you're already doing--just scaled to a different level
they are not gimmicks, as it might sound when you first hear the concept described

so if 1 has its dedicated fans because of its mechanical "purity" and 2 is loved by those into increased spectacle and sense of power, this is probably the best possible fusion of those aspects that makes the retained fundamentals feel fresh again
and is more "hands-on" than the pseudo-passive play of someone like v in dmc5 was, which was divisive to say the least


also gotta talk about jeanne because what they do with her is a lot
she's on her own solo mission which takes the form of sidestory (but mandatory) chapters in the game progression

visual design is hyper-subjective and personal but i was always weirded out by some of the strong reactions of distaste people had for her look in this, because to me it was immediately evocative of '60s mod chic fashion

that's absolutely what it's thematically going for because her entire presentation in this is a spy genre send-up, with just the kind of music cliches you'd expect, her own credits sequence that's as much bond as cowboy bebop
and the way her chapters play is just straight up elevator action via the tonality of austin powers

infiltrating a base in 2d, doing stealth kills, hiding in doors and vents, finding items and expendable guns, evading guards, taking mission-critical showers. it's so on the nose it's burrowing into your skull

it's a really really fun old game tribute that's always been part of this series, but sometimes intrusively like the too-long after burner and hang-on bits in 1. this feels like a thematically and aesthetically justified integration and palate-cleanser that is more fun to interact with than any other retraux thing they've attempted before


anyway it's really good so far and i haven't even played as viola yet. there are definite warning signs in the narrative and i probably know where it's going to go with all that, but i'm happy with it


Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
On Viola:

viola is to be taken as the nero analogue here; the unfiltered and unrefined prospect for the mantle of protagonist who is being textually and developmentally groomed for the role, with us on the audience end as her effective playtesters. whether that intent is earned remains to be seen by the game's end, but that is the premise of why she's here

as such, she embodies neither the protagonist prime's casual virtuosity at her trade nor her diversity of options, instead dedicating her entirety to a limited and straightforward toolset; i would be surprised if her kit ever expands from the one melee weapon, one ranged sidearm, and one demon familiar

whether viola as she is written delights or grates (it's likely she will split reactions toward either extreme through the intensity of the portrayal) there is effective characterization at play in her for the most part shared but distinct play mechanics, contrasting with bayonetta's

the largest differentiator is that viola's dodge is short-range and fairly clumsy, and it does not trigger witch time. if there's any mechanic that has defined the series, it's time slowing down upon precise evasion--only the strictest modifiers in 1 will remove that fundamental from baseline play. viola does not go without, but she can only access a skill that's otherwise a regular occurrence--and sometimes a half-accidental input in the frenzy of chaotic combat--in previous series play through her unique block function, and even then only with parry timing

it is in objective terms a direct downgrade in effectiveness, as the punitive repercussions of mistiming a block are much more binary than the narrowly safe evasive flips and twirls which even on fumbling them are likely to position bayonetta out of harm's way--viola will instead eat every miscalculation, and the division of separate block and dodge inputs renders the act of baiting for witch time opportunities a more conscious decision instead of a welcome bonus that occurs when one gets into the flow of things

viola's struggles with witch abilities fit the character's attitude and role in the narrative exactly, with her being more barreling momentum than any kind of practiced finesse. she needs to supplement her inexperience with raw player skill to get the results bayonetta effortlessly would, and she cannot improvise with mocking bravado as she does it, reflecting the increased demand on the player end in inhabiting her

that apprenticeship to the true ringmaster of the traveling burlesque is further echoed in the only demon she has access to, the equally-as-goofy cheshire. contrary to bayonetta's (and jeanne's) demon catalogue, whom are pact-sworn to her and respect that authority and allegiance to a point as equals, viola has no such contract with cheshire whose autonomy and agenda are his own. he is there because he wants to be, and when summoned in battle, cannot be controlled at all--you simply let him loose upon viola's enemies and support the onslaught with barehanded techniques for the duration, viola's sword taken up for manifesting him

this partial automation of a significant new mechanic both underlines viola's neophyte status to the witching ways, and in effect balances out the whiplash and difficulty in coming to terms with her altered witch time mechanics. cheshire does what he wants, but he's incredibly tenacious and powerful, allowing players who might be struggling with either viola's own play, or that of bayonetta's manual demon control, a straightforward lifeline to depend on that is not functionally much different from how the rest of the game is played--just enough to communicate effectively the difference between the protagonists and what separates them. viola gets results faster through cheshire's help, and it is inferred to be him looking after her--bayonetta's skill ceiling is higher, but she needs to actually know what she's doing, and reaches those heights through exerting control and dominance over her allies to arrive at the results she and the player want

i don't know if viola's play is interesting or compelling enough in its raw mechanics--you can focus on parries if you wish through other means, and without that there's not much else to her--but regardless of what they may end up doing with her narratively on the more passive end of the production, the character is very evocative of her premise just through her practical mechanics, which is something to be valued

Additionally, a small amendment to how I described demon summoning movement options earlier: I believe "moving" Bayonetta during summoning was simply placebo on my part and unfamiliarity with the game in the early going; Viola's ability to freely move and attack while Cheshire is out makes the distinction between the two clear, with Bayonetta's attention fully being on her interpretive dance routine to direct her demons. Being able to evade during the process is not untrue, however, but it's also more nuanced: while summoning is active through holding down ZL, a simultaneous press of ZR will have Bayonetta dodge and break the summon instantly.

To avoid this, you can momentarily let go of ZL as you enact a dodge--but only if the respective demon is in the middle of a reasonably lengthy attack animation, so they do not vanish into the ether as soon as you release the input. Long animation routines such as Madama Butterfly's kiss projectile are ideal for seeing the use of this wrinkle, as you can "buffer" her to do so while Bayonetta herself moves in or evades out of harm's way, and if you resume the ZL press in time, the demon can continue her work without needing to be resummoned or repositioned. This is highly granular and frankly even extraneous in respect to the general demands of combat, but I love that the distinction exists in how the game reads inputs and accounts for the difference in finger gymnastics.
Hellena Taylor is now asking people to donate money to an anti-abortion group instead of buying Bayonetta 3.

For those that don't look into this beyond the headline, I want to say that the headline undersells how extreme and how ridiculous the group is. They're one of those groups that considers the brith control pill to be abortion, but also their main strategy is "awareness raising" by posting those corny billboards you may have seen if you've driven on US highways. Nice to see that sometimes it's not just people I agree with burning donor money with badly thought out "awareness raising" campaigns! She could have just posted 14 uncontroversial charities, but instead she slipped in "put up corny anti-abortion billboards" which she has to know will immediately polarize anyone who still has any sympathy for her.


Slam Master
(he, etc.)
That's super fucking gross. Women are literally dying out there and despite Roe having been overturned she has the absolute fucking gall to ask people to donate to shit like this? Eat shit, lady.


Post Reader
I played several hours of this and reached chapter 8. It's good! Jumping between universes and seeing different Bayonettas is a good premise. There are a lot of little things about the non-combat gameplay that are annoying and don't really work, but the core experience is still really solid. I really hate the Jeanne levels, though. They just feel bad.
Replaying the first game, and I forgot what a bad case of PS3/360 era interminably long cutscenes and massive damage/instadeath QTEs this has. The core gameplay is as fun as I remembered, though.


Post Reader
Finished it. So this Bayonetta is in love with Luka instead of Jeanne, but it also reveals that the three games each star a Bayonetta from a different universe, so you can still have whatever headcanon you want.


Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I finished the initial playthrough earlier in the week so I think it's time to discuss the story so I can free up some brain space... because expunging waste is what this narrative feels like and deserves to be likened to. Full Bayonetta 3 story details, and probably the earlier games too while at it.

Bayonetta 3 begins with an impossible boss battle and slow-walk segment which centers Bayonetta's struggle and suffering against her implacable foe, until she is summarily executed by them. Each game in the series begins with an in medias res slice like this, to be contextualized later, but never before has the game's stated and prevailing focus been spotlit so revealingly by an anticipation-building preview: this is a game about killing women--often the same woman--over and over.

The depiction of violence sits at an odd crossroads within the series. Bayonetta is fundamentally about performatively stylish combat, in which the infliction of injury upon opponents is not really dwelled upon both for their supernatural hardiness and the emphasis on slapstick pratfalls even in the moments most suggestive of bodily harm or gore--the violence, down to dismemberments, is tuned comical. Similarly, when the protagonist or other people-shaped folks take their hits, the effects are antiseptic and nondescript; the gravest injuries are shortness of breath and being knocked off one's feet. It is not important to emphasize the physical cost on the cast either mechanically or narratively, as the stories simply aren't about that kind of mundane consequence and mortal limitation.

This baseline is something that kept insisting itself in my head, as Bayonetta 3 is largely in keeping with it for much of its duration: the violence is choreography, it is an anodyne spectacle. Where it differs is in the framework for the action to occur in, through its multiverse crossover premise. Every Bayonetta in every world is in mortal danger, specifically targeted for murder by a superscience boogeyman invader, and it is the context in which you will meet all of them. The details vary in each instance--you could briefly play as them, fight alongside them, even fight against them--but they all conclude identically: after their fifteen minutes of fame, the game routinely disposes of each and every alternate Bayonetta by violently killing them before your eyes.

It's difficult to put into words how antithetical to everything I enjoy about the series this recurring, overpowering and unbreakable pattern is. It's not a momentary diversion to be compartmentalized away; it's the overarching narrative game structure of the entire game: meet a you-but-not-you in kinship and sisterhood, and watch her and yourself be murdered repeatedly for... what? To establish "stakes" or the villain's bonafides as a legitimate threat? I think the multiversal invasion force would have sufficed. The framing of these scenes is so out of step with the previously detailed attitude about violence and bodily harm in the series, as the Bayonettas are skewered and crushed, their physical pain and duress lingered upon uncharacteristically and uncomfortably until they expire.

This is the last series imaginable in which I could conceive an emotional or narrative appeal in seeing the protagonist struggle over anything; smug virtuosity is her calling card and that sovereign one-dimensionality is the reason to inhabit her role. To concoct a narrative in which alternate versions of Bayonetta are not elevated but offered up as sacrifices (mirroring the banal routine of the plotting, you are always awarded their weapon, demon, and even clothes once they've been killed--the worst spin on Mega Man ever conceived) to facilitate a sham of a murder-tour crossover is as far as I'm concerned a severe disempowering and undermining of the character, in reframing her from a single-minded dominator into a multiversal sufferer and victim. At least she's not alone, as multiple Jeannes die throughout the story as well, as well as Rosa, who has always been dead through her appearances in the series. The Jeanne whom you play as--the third protagonist of the game--is killed callously in a cutscene as an afterthought, barely acknowledged by the game, her assigned role rewarded and concluded in the only way the game knows how to do with women.

That is the ongoing and raging conflict inherent in Bayonetta, a series ostensibly about the adventures of a ridiculous funhouse mirror caricature of a woman, but which has always centered men narratively and emotionally as the subject of their timey-wimey stories, with Bayonetta herself often occupying the role of a sardonic spectator even when she has nominal personal investment in the proceedings. For the purposes of relative merit, the first game cashes its cheques the truest: Bayonetta and Jeanne spend most of it fight-fucking and working out their dynamic, with Bayonetta's journey of self-contextualization being in focus even by the time dear old mastermind dad shows up to hijack the narrative with his convoluted machinations. Even so, Jeanne gets to make a wonderful rescue assist at the eleventh hour for a genuine goodfeel high point in the series and how it utilizes its cast mechanically and narratively.

Bayonetta 2 grasped onto the thread offered by the first game's time loop maneuverings and spun it into a story in which Bayonetta and Jeanne feel like guest appearances in their own gal pal-suffused story. It is not a game about either of them, even if Jeanne wasn't damseled immediately upon starting it, as the arc that occurs on the heroic side belongs to Loki with Bayonetta as his bemused babysitter, and the oppositional antagonism is played out by Balder, the younger incarnation of the previous dadly nemesis fought at the first game's conclusion. Bayonetta 2 is invested in "redeeming" and contextualizing Balder's actions above any other narrative purpose it might have; it is fully a showcase for him and his emotional arc, rendering Bayonetta (and her mother Rosa) an accessory for the character development of her posthumous, patricided father. If the cracks weren't already there from the series's conception, by the sequel they had widened into a gaping chasm.

It's for this consistent precedent that the nature of Bayonetta 3's story does not come as a particular curveball, though one might still fumble the catch for the level of gobsmacked disillusion it can inspire in the receiver. If Balder was the pet project and character of the previous game(s), Luka Redgrave rises to fill the role in the third game. Luka, the committed comic relief buffoon, the would-be Casanova, the aspirational sex pest and Bayonetta-botherer. Luka always had a purpose in these games, and it was to pine after the unreachable Bayonetta, whether as a presumed audience insert or an extension and avatar of her creators's personal kinks, and if the schtick wore thin it was always "justified" by him pratfalling out of frame, trying and failing to maintain the suave facade. It was a one-dimensional bit for a one-dimensional character, but in a series of static caricatures, who was really complaining? The just desserts of Luka were as had been ordained by the limitations of his archetype from the start, and it was enough to either take the character as read or to simply put him out of mind for the duration.

Bayonetta 3 does not allow you to forget about Luka. This is really his story, with both Bayonetta version 3.0 and their daughter Viola serving as extensions of his arc and importance to the overall trajectory of the story. From the start, Bayonetta longs after him, her attitude inexplicably (because this is an alternate her, the only real difference being her dynamics with said leading man) shifted from amused and performatively flirtatious to the sentimentally bereaved, as if instead of a momentary bit of entertainment and diversion Luka now defined her existence. When Bayonetta and Viola talk, it's usually about Luka; where is he, what is he doing, how could we help him--the entirety of Viola's playable chapters consist of simply chasing after her father's shadow, literally and figuratively. Luka's bumbling semi-competence is now reoriented into a multiversally empowered and crucial nexus, with him having some kind of faerie king-themed lineage and powerset which both informs Viola's passed-on abilities and his new role that plays into his inflated storyline status. From Jeanne to Balder, Bayonetta 3 decides that Luka as a magical werewolf should occupy the role of the recurring rival character and boss. It would be laughable if it wasn't so transparently forced as a way to endow the character mechanical relevance in addition to his newfound narrative priority. Instead of justifying the other, I found each half of the equation rendered contrived in the process, in mutually assured self-destruction.

The final insult of Bayonetta 3 is how much it banks on the romantic union of Bayonetta and Luka in context of all the rest of the production. You can peruse the copious character biographies and in-game notations, or the character dialogue, and everywhere in it you will find thematic reinforcement of the sheer destined inevitability of their relationship, paraphrased or verbatim. The terms "Arch-Eve" and "Arch-Adam" associated with each not only profess the intended hokey thematicism but also the grandiosity with which the game would like it to be observed. By designating the Bayonetta of this game as the most important (through her point of view, through her succeeding and surviving where all her sisters failed, through her taking up their cause in remembrance) of all, the game renders her as the truest incarnation of the character yet for whose arc the rest are literally sacrificed or play support for.

Was Bayonetta ever queer? Sure, if the queerbaiting ambiguity was enough to allow that reading; it was the indistinct status quo that propped up the series for those that saw that quality in it. Bayonetta 3 contrives a way to disassociate that history from its heroine by literally separating the prior two games' protagonists into their own distinct incarnations, whose life experiences are mostly identical but ultimately distinct, and it is they who follow the lead of the heteronormative focal point in front of them. Queerness always has the burden of proof placed on it to begin with, while heterosexuality reigns as a default, but Bayonetta 3 goes a step further in surgically excising the open-to-interpretation narratives from its central character, and dedicating its entire runtime to a tale of signing in print the definitive record of her heteronormative destiny so none who disagree can dispute it or claim the protagonist's power fantasy for themselves.

It might be one of the least enjoyable video game stories ever realized! A fine game I'm personally disgusted by.
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Post Reader
Thanks for writing that. I've never paid much attention to the stories in these games but this one rubbed me the wrong way and you articulated the reasons really well.
Finished the first Bayonetta for the first time since around when it and Bayonetta 2 came out on Wii U.

This game makes some really weird choices! I love it when it's focused on using the core combat mechanics, or when it's Bayonetta and Jeanne doing anything, or when Bayonetta is with other characters I don't find interesting but she is acting like Bugs Bunny.

I know this follows in Devil May Cry's footsteps, but is Devil May Cry kind of like this but but without Witch Time (which I would really miss) but ALSO without tons of constant gimmicks outside the core combat mechanics (which I would be happy to be rid of) ? I think I could sacrifice Witch Time if it cuts a lot of the other cruft... I'd like to get this kind of gameplay but without ever having to for example search for the invisible spots on floating rocks rock that activate a contextual jump command to complete a cinematic platforming sequence.

My memory is that I liked Bayonetta 2 more than the first, so maybe the solution is just play that again, though.... It must improve some of these issues or I can't imagine why I looked back on these games so fondly...
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does the Underpants Dance
I think I could sacrifice Witch Time if it cuts a lot of the other cruft... I'd like to get this kind of gameplay but without ever having to for example search for the invisible spots on floating rocks rock that activate a contextual jump command to complete a cinematic platforming sequence.
I think you will have a good time with most of the DMC games, yes.


Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Devil May Cry's design sense and language from the first has more to do with poking around a survival horror environment for additional flavour and atmospheric texture, as that's where Kamiya's pedigree and headspace was probably still at, in the thick of the genre's heyday. Those elements gradually diminish as the years roll by, leaving more of a discrete rhythm between segregated combat arenas and traversal corridors, with less reason or opportunity for pausing to divert one's attention to anything that's not either or. What you're asked to do in those intermissions is still able to be sold more compellingly than Bayonetta, I think, because Dante and co. while just as supernaturally ridiculous in their own way are more rooted to their surroundings in a compactly mortal way because of the genre intersections that begat them, and thus their actions in them are framed on a more localized, comparatively restrained stage. Bayonetta solving even the most rudimentary navigational puzzles never seemed to fit because the character wouldn't care about them and should just be able to break through them at will, whereas Dante playing demon detective to jumpstart some contraption or another to be on his way always gelled.

DMC5 as the only "modern" game in the series possesses the faintest vestiges of the hereditary design wrinkles to it anyway, content to be a forward-propulsionary genre resuscitation with little in the way of obscure secrets or elements that don't factor directly into its combat spaces and situations. It's a "flatter" game, but as something of a service piece for genre enthusiasts by genre enthusiasts, it hyperfocuses on the elements that tend to be the most fixated upon by the audience.

Bayonetta in the form that it has maintained still speaks to a shaky codification-busting irreverence rooted in Kamiya's own gleeful fandom and interests, derived from the '80s arcade games he cherishes more than his own history as a creator. It's always going to be more diverse for all that, and turns into a question of whether or not those tributes end up working for the piece or against it, as "restraint" isn't usually in the vocabulary when they're in play. The first Bayonetta in particular to me always had significant trouble integrating its combat into any kind of navigational flow in world design, nor could it reconcile its twin-headed lineages of both the survival horror action game strain and quarter-munching arcade sensibility as expressed and filtered through late 2000s design trends.
The 80s arcade stuff is probably my favorite of the excesses in Bayonetta (although it's criminal that the final Jeanne showdown follows a long arcade gimmick instead of being its own easily selectable/replayable chapter like other major boss encounters...), but yes a lot of the exploration elements don't work for me either mechanically or thematically as part of the character fantasy. Bayonetta's moveset is interesting enough that I think it could basically work as an exploration based platformer, but the level design is rarely strong enough to support that in practice, so I tend to enjoy it most when the levels design is basically a funnel that provides a short breather that breaks the rhythms of combat, like the 3D equivalent of walking to the right in Streets of Rage.