Nintendo’s New Bayonetta Prequel Is My Favorite Zelda Appetizer

I had absolutely no idea what Cereza and the Lost Demon, Nintendo’s unexpected prequel to the Bayonetta trilogy, would be like. After playing it for a couple of weeks now, I’m still not sure I can explain. But this is definitely one of Nintendo’s most interesting Switch games in a while. Am I the only one who’s getting some Zelda vibes playing it?

Bayonetta games are violent, snarky, combat-based and surreal. Cereza and the Lost Demon feels like a storybook children’s game in comparison. With narration, page-turning, lush hand-drawn-style illustrations and an overhead perspective that weaves through tangled forest mazes, it’s not frenzied at all. It’s a relaxed puzzle adventure through a creepy fairy kingdom, with an enchanted stuffed animal possessed by a demon as your companion.

This isn’t a co-op game, either, but the mechanics feel like one. You control Cereza (young Bayonetta) and her demon companion Cheshire at the same time, the left controller moving one and the right controller moving the other. Solving some puzzles and defeating some enemies requires clever teamwork between the two, and a bit of patience to figure things (and the controls) out.

Discovering hidden treasures and little secrets are also a part of the game, as well as unlocking extra abilities and upgrades through finding items or earning rewards by solving little puzzle world challenges in fairy dimensions. The lyrical music, and its little riffs and chimes when you discover something new, reminded me of the feeling I get when wandering around Zelda games. Cereza and the Lost Demon is limited to the tangled forest maps and their branching pathways, so it’s not an open world. But the game’s indie-like spirit makes it great to settle into for an hour or so, like reading a chapter of a book.

But Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is coming soon. May 12, in fact. That’s less than two months away. If you’re only buying one Switch game in the near future, by all means that’s the game to wait for. Yet as I play Breath of the Wild again to prepare for it, I’m also finding that Cereza’s adventures are giving me some of that fun spirit, too. Not the open-world part, but the crawling-around-and-solving-little-dungeons part. And I’m enjoying the game more in its own way than even the Bayonetta games, mostly because the whole thing’s a bit less combat-focused.

Nintendo already has a free demo of the game to download, so that’s likely your best path. At $60, it also feels expensive for what it is. However, if this game ever goes on sale someday soon, it’s a great one to consider snatching up.

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