Asura's Wrath Reviewed
As some question, whether or not it’s time for the industry to move on to the next generation of hardware, we’re seeing more titles that test the definition of what a “videogame” can be. Joining the ranks of Dear Esther and Journey is Asura’s Wrath a collaboration between Capcom and CyberConnect2, an interesting experiment that almost plays itself.
There’s not a whole lot going on in Asura’s Wrath in terms of control. The sum of its parts can be clearly broken down into three distinct areas; interactive movie sequence, on-rails shooter and melee brawler. The most complicated of these, the brawling, is still exceedingly simple by action game standards.
What’s really smart is the way the developers have created such synergy between these actions. For example, the Y button is used to perform heavy attacks during the brawls, fire powerful shots during the on-rails sections and land earth shattering moves during the movie sequences. It’s intuitive and consistent.
Pacing is also handled in an interesting fashion and is controlled by two gauges; Ultimate and Burst. Filling the Ultimate gauge increases attack power whilst performing attacks fills the Burst gauge. No major enemy in the game has its own heath meter. Instead, filling the Burst gauge and pulling the right trigger launches you into the next major sequence by way of an interactive movie.
If the gameplay described here sounds very slight that’s because it is. For the seven or so hours it takes to finish the story, little is asked of the player by way of input but is always required to be present. You won’t be tested but you will feel heavily involved. Nothing happens in Asura’s Wrath without you regularly pressing a button or twiddling an analogue stick, causing some insane event to further unfold the plot.
That’s where the true strength of Asura’s Wrath lies; in its story and keeping the player attached to the experience at all times. Whether it’s punching down a door or punching through planet Earth, the pad is always in your hand and you feel connected to what’s happening in a very natural way. There’s no disparity between the scale of what you see on screen and the simple action of pressing a button when you’re asked to.
The story concerns Asura and his comrades, which form the “Eight Guardians” and are battling to save humanity from an apparent force of evil that is, quite literally, covering the entirety of planet Earth. Opening with a huge space battle, which introduces the player to world that combines sci-fi imagery with Hindu mythology, you get to subdue a planet sized monster by punching it in the face. It’s the first level and you get to punch a planet in the face. Improbable as it sounds, the story increases the scope of the action through a further seventeen episodes.
Structuring the game like an animated series was a good idea because the gameplay alone gets stale after extended periods. Asura’s Wrath is much better enjoyed in short instalments. Though you might have to fight the urge to press on when a preview of the next episode shows off something ridiculously awesome. There’s a ranking system for each episode but, once you’re done, there’s not going to much reason to go back. This is a very linear, one shot kind of game with little replay value.
Like those titles mentioned earlier, Asura’s Wrath stretches the definition of what a “game” is. In reality, I’d say more than half of your time here is spent watching rather than playing. That said, it is unique and if you have any love for anime or are open to a more straightforward experience than anything else on the market right now, I’d recommend giving your time to Asura, and his penchant for world-beating.