Please note that — as you might expect — this article includes extensive spoilers for the first two games in the series. Read at your own risk!
If you’re new to the franchise, you might have watched some of the recent trailers for the game and found yourself at a bit of a loss as to what the heck is going on. What triggered the Witch Hunts? Who’s this Jeanne character? What on earth is a Lumen Sage?
We hear you; worry not. While you can quite easily play through a Bayonetta game and completely ignore all the narrative yet still have a pretty decent time, we reckon you’ll have a much better experience with Bayonetta 3 if you’ve got a bit of a foundation to work from regarding the series’ lore.
Of course, the best way to get up to speed is to just play the first two games, both of which are readily available on the Switch. But in case you’re absolutely itching to dive into the upcoming entry head first without trying out Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2, we’re going to break down all the major characters in play along with a brief overview of the narrative so far.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so we’ll be skipping over some aspects of the story, but hopefully this will provide a good starting point that will bring you up to speed with the Bayo basics.
Bayonetta Who’s Who – ‘Old’ Characters
The great thing about Bayonetta is there aren’t actually that many characters to wrap your head around. The story so far revolves around a few key players that show up in both Bayonetta and its first sequel. A couple of newcomers are introduced in Bayonetta 2, but it’s largely the same group of people.
That said, it would be swell to find out exactly who these folks are before diving into the third game, right? So let’s do it. This is your final spoiler warning!
Still here? Let’s start with the obvious…
The titular protagonist of PlatinumGames’ franchise, Bayonetta is an Umbra Witch who awakens in the present day after a 500-year slumber with no memory of her past. What are the Umbra Witches, you ask? Well, they’re essentially a clan of dark arts practitioners who, along with their counterparts, the Lumen Sages, work to maintain the balance of the world’s light and dark forces. Umbra Witches are able to call forth the Infernal Demons, while the Lumen Sages have buddied up with the Angels of Paradiso.
Born with the name Cereza, Bayonetta’s parents, Balder and Rosa, were a Lumen Sage and Umbra Witch respectively. Bayonetta’s conception broke a sacred law between the two clans, leading to a deadly war in which the majority of the Lumen Sages were extinguished, leaving only Balder as the lone survivor.
Following on from the war, Balder was deceived by the Angels of Paradiso into launching a series of events known as the Witch Hunts, which would ultimately lead to the destruction of the Umbra Witch clan. After the death of her mother, Bayonetta was sealed away by Jeanne to prevent the Angels of Paradiso from retrieving the Left Eye, a powerful treasure that forms one-half of the Eyes of the World, with the other half in Balder’s possession.
Prior to the events of the Clan War and Witch Hunts, Jeanne was next in line to lead the Umbra Witches. She grew up as a best friend and rival to Bayonetta and sealed her away after the destruction of the Umbra Clan and the death of Bayonetta’s mother, Rosa.
In the present day, a corrupted Balder brainwashes Jeanne to ally with the Lumen Sages. She and Bayonetta meet and fight several times during the first game, after which she comes to her senses and breaks free of Balder’s influence. The two team up to defeat Balder and the Angels of Paradiso before returning to normality, leading directly into the second game.
At the start of Bayonetta 2, Jeanne’s soul is pulled into Inferno after Gomorrah, one of Bayonetta’s demon summons, breaks free from its bonds and attacks Bayonetta. Jeanne is subsequently absent for much of the game, but returns after Bayonetta travels to Inferno and retrieves her friend’s lost soul.
Introduced at the start of Bayonetta, Enzo provides a good dose of comic relief during both games, acting as a clumsy, vulgar informant who thinks of little else but his own welfare and wealth. After a few narrow escapes from the Angels of Paradiso, Enzo is subsequently absent until the end of the first game.
He plays a similar role in Bayonetta 2, once again falling foul to the oh-so-inconvenient attacks from the Angels of Paradiso. After an action-packed opening, Enzo returns to guide Bayonetta to Fimbulventr, the main setting for the second game.
Although not present for much of the series, Enzo is nevertheless a key character and a favourite among fans, if nothing else for his absurd potty mouth and unfortunate ability to consistently find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As a young boy, Luka accompanied his father Antonio to investigate a mysterious sealed coffin; coincidentally, the very one that houses the slumbering Bayonetta. After her reawakening, Antonio was attacked and killed by an unseen force, leading Luka to believe that Bayonetta was the culprit. Since then, Luka has harboured an intense hatred for Bayonetta and uses his journalistic skills to hunt her down.
After multiple encounters with Bayonetta, Luka soon learns that it was the Angels of Paradiso that killed his father. He subsequently works to assist Bayonetta throughout the first and second game, utilising his skills to gain key knowledge to help our favourite Umbra Witch find what she’s looking for.
Despite his dark background, Luka is nevertheless a confident and charismatic character, often making attempts to flirt with women during both games. Despite this, he can often be clumsy, though maintains a deep sense of duty throughout.
A key ally during the events of the first two games, Rodin is the proprietor of the Gates of Hell, a bar that moonlights as a demonic weapons dealership. He was once an Angel before being exiled into Inferno, eventually making his way into the human realm and starting up the Gates of Hell.
As a weapons dealer, Rodin’s role in the games is to provide Bayonetta with new items, weapons, and abilities in exchange for Halos. He provides Bayonetta with key information to save Jeanne’s soul in the second game before roping in Luka to promote the Gates of Hell at the end.
Rodin is often portrayed as aloof, preferring to sit on the sidelines and watch Bayonetta put his products to good use. He is nevertheless a powerful entity and ally, and effortlessly dispatches enemies should the need arise.
Balder is perhaps the most complex character in the Bayonetta series, serving as both an antagonist and ally during key events. After the events of the Clan War, he is sent 500 years into the future following the death of Rosa, encountering Bayonetta during the events of the second game.
After multiple fights with Bayonetta, the two form a truce to take down Aesir, the God of Chaos and former keeper of the Eyes of the World. After successfully defeating Aesir, Balder ensnares the latter’s soul to prevent the God from returning once again. He acknowledges Bayonetta as his daughter before returning to the past.
Having absorbed Aesir’s soul, Balder becomes corrupted and follows through with the Witch Hunts. Years after, he hires Antonio Redgrave (Luka’s father) to assist in discovering the whereabouts of Bayonetta’s coffin. Shortly after, he brainwashes Jeanne, kickstarting the events of the first game. After his eventual defeat by Bayonetta and Jeanne, Balder finds himself free of Aesir’s grasp and dies in peace, taking the God of Chaos with him.
Introduced during the events of Bayonetta 2, Loki is a supernatural being that acts as the good personality of Aesir, the God of Chaos. When Aesir created the Eyes of the World, his personality was split in two, creating Loki and his evil counterpart, Loptr. Arriving in the present day, Loki assists Bayonetta in locating Jeanne’s soul, but is constantly pursued by young Balder and Loptr.
Loptr eventually captures Loki and absorbs his ‘Sovereign Power’, gaining both the Left and Right Eyes and becoming Aesir once again. However, Loki manages to use an alternative power to destroy the two Eyes, weakening Aesir and allowing Bayonetta and Balder to defeat him.
With the world seemingly in a balanced state, Loki departs, stating his need to take a break and potentially return at some point in the future.
Aesir is known as the God of Chaos and serves as the primary antagonist of Bayonetta 2. He reawakens when one of his two split personalities, Loptr, gains the two Eyes of the World alongside Loki’s Sovereign Power, making himself whole again.
Once defeated, Aesir’s soul attempts to escape, but is absorbed by a young Balder. Travelling back in time to the point of his wife Rosa’s death, Balder is corrupted by the soul of Aesir, thus leading to the events of the first Bayonetta game. As such, Aesir could be considered the main antagonist of the entire Bayonetta franchise so far.
Bayonetta 3 New Characters
Not a lot is known about Viola as of yet, which is good, because that would spoil all the fun. What we do know, however, is that she’s an Umbra Witch in training from another reality. When Bayonetta 3’s new enemies — the Homunculi — launch an attack in Viola’s world, fighting alternate versions of Bayonetta and Jeanne, Viola escapes and winds up in an alternate reality.
In the “real world”, Bayonetta and her allies are being attacked by the same Homunculi force, before Viola arrives to assist and warn of their enemies’ threat. She will serve as a key playable character in Bayonetta 3, wielding a sword and throwing knives as her primary weapons.
Cheshire is Viola’s sole demon companion from the world of Inferno, taking on the visage of a rather plump cat resembling the Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Given that Viola is still in training, it’s possible that she’s only allowed one demon companion at this time, whereas Bayonetta is able to summon several.
When Cheshire is brought forth during gameplay, he cannot be directly controlled. Instead, he will attack at will, leaving Viola defenseless, since its existence is tied directly to Viola’s sword.
On the next page we summarise the story events and narrative thrusts of Bayonettas 1 and 2…