Games: Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is pure witch fulfilment
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon (Switch)
THE origins of a wanton, well-proportioned witch seem like odd subject matter for a cutesy, kid-friendly adventure – rather like a Disney cartoon about the young Pamela Anderson. But this wholesome companion piece to the Bayonetta trilogy defies the odds.
Given a Studio Ghibli makeover, its charm offensive replaces the guns and sex appeal of the mainline series with fairies and cuddly toys for a pubescent fable that's pure witch fulfilment.
Set hundreds of years before the original game, Origins shows how a shy witch-in-training started down the path to becoming the Bayonetta trilogy's all-conquering star. After taking no heed of mistress Morgana's warnings about the Avalon Forest, young Cereza heads into the haunted woods on a quest to save her mother with nothing but a stuffed cat for company.
Like the best fairy tales, there's a dark edge to its cutesy, storybook presentation in a Grimm tale of peril that drip-feeds titbits of Bayonetta's backstory.
Our wiccan whelp and her plush puss will stretch your grey cells as you control both at the same time for pat-your-head-and-rub-your-belly style gameplay. With Cereza mapped to the left stick and Cheshire to the right, twin-stick witch trials abound as you manoeuvre both around the environment, using their unique skills to tackle enemies and crack puzzles in tandem.
While our tween witch summons plants and freezes enemies, her feline companion is a brute force that can smack baddies around. In Hug Mode, Cereza carts her stuffed moggy around for nimble platforming. When things gets spicy, however, Cheshire transforms into a hulking beast coven-ready for destruction.
Replacing Bayonetta's saucy trigger-happy action with family-friendly puzzles, this is like alcohol-free Bayonetta, but it's all the better for it, with lashings of Zelda-style dungeons riffing on puzzles where the pair need each other to reach a goal.
A witch's brew of hidden paths and psychedelic illusions, Avalon Forest is lifted straight from the Tim Burton playbook. Its haunted groves are rife with sylvan spirits, its thickets stuffed with resources to gather, while Tir na Nog challenges offer optional mini dungeons that, when cleared, reveal more of the map.
The little witch on the little Switch is a gorgeously-rendered Celtic charmer that'll cast its spell over younger players. For fans of the original games, though, it's rather like opening Playboy to find The Beano.