One of the most brutal and shamelessly sexy games of the year is out on the Wii U, of all systems. Femme fatale Bayonetta is back to bare nearly all in Bayonetta 2, a rapid-fire action game that shows what sort of pyrotechnics Nintendo’s oft-ignored system is capable of. Also in the mix is The Evil Within, a tantalizing survival horror game in the mold of the older Resident Evil and Silent Hill games. The sadistic and grueling horror trek is an excellent mood-setter for Halloween.
(Wii U, $60, Mature)
The most feverishly awaited Wii U exclusive, featuring a supermodel-like supernatural protagonist, clothed in her own flowing hair, who obliterates armies of avenging angels with stylish, hypersexualized kills and running commentary. The sequel picks up where the 2010 Xbox 360/PS3 sparkler left off, hurling you into a mesmerizing realm of disturbing religious iconography. Taking on the hyperviolent, combo-friendly feel of Devil May Cry, the narrative has you flip, dive and assault all comers in a relentless blur.
Taking apt advantage of the tablet-style screen, which helps you keep track of your whereabouts, objectives and other helpful info, the game feels oddly at home on the usually family-friendly-to-a-fault console. By far the naughtiest and most violent entry on the struggling system, Bayonetta 2 is also among of the most impeccably made, hanging along with the system’s stellar first-party creations. Sweetening the deal, there’s also a copy of the original Bayonetta included in the package. For once, Wii U owners have a game to make Xbox One/PS4 players jealous.
The Evil Within
(PS4, Xbox One, $60, Mature)
A brooding, nightmarish creation from Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, survival horror returns in a brutal, grotesque form not seen since the Condemned series rocked the Xbox 360. Playing as an investigator who checks out a mass murder. Things don’t go quite as planned, leaving you trapped inside an asylum-like environment, subjected to nasty experiments and fleeing from an assortment of stalkerish monsters.
The Shutter Island-like premise is good for relentlessly invigorating twists, shocks and well-crafted chases. Even more engaging than the fast-paced moments are the methodical, stealth-oriented sequences that force you to closely manage your resources as you hide out behind cover and inside of lockers, awaiting your chance to scamper free. The game’s scares are fluid and well-designed, and so intense that you may find yourself needing to take breaks more often than you’d think. A well-crafted example of brilliantly executed horror, The Evil Within is an excellent pickup for Halloween scares.
(PS4, Vita, $15, Teen)
Blocky graphics and an Atari 2600-style feel make Nidhogg a lovable throwback to the origins of console gaming. The fast-moving, couch co-op friendly action title puts you in control of a sword-wielding hero who sprints and fences his way through challenging battles. There’s an impressive amount of nuance to winning the sword-on-sword clashes, which require precise timing and skilled assortments of lunges, parries and dives in order to move along.
Reminiscent of Call of Duty‘s online component and its many imitators, kill streaks grant you mounting rewards that make you more powerful. Matches start slowly but quickly escalate into frenzied mayhem that rewards quick wits over lucky breaks. Environmental hazards test your ability to adjust and adapt on the fly, and online multiplayer benefits from cross-platform play that lets Vita and PS4 players throw down together.