Dante or Bayonetta? Jeanne or Vergil? Niko or Rodin? The Devil May Cry and Bayonetta franchises are both top examples of what makes an action game.
For some reason I could never get too into DMC (in fact, the one I liked the most was DmC, which most fans of DMC despise), but I love Bayonetta. If I had to guess, I'd probably say it's because of Witch Time. Puling it off feels really rewarding.
DMC has the more complex and deep combat system (and since they've had 5 games that's not surprising) whilst Bayonetta is far more fast paced. A personal fault I have with both games is the lack of difficulty both series once had. Bayo1, DMC3 and hell even DMC1 were hard and challenging games but made you feel like you accomplished something special when you defeated a difficult boss/hard level.
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