Asura’s Wrath is a game that is unlike anything I have ever seen before. An interesting new IP from Capcom, Asura’s Wrath takes you through the tale of a demigod’s revenge, and his wrath. A lot of wrath.
Early footage of Asura’s Wrath made it seem like some kind of crazy interactive cutscene, but it so much more than that. Its an experience, and its one I won’t soon forget.
The game’s story is about the Eight Guardian Generals, which are eight demigods employed by the Emperor to stop the evil impure beings, the Gohma. The game opens with an all out war between the Guardian Generals’ fleet and the evil Gohma. From there, Asura, the main character, gets killed, comes back to life, loses his memory, and fights beings the size of planets. The story is absolutely ridiculous, as are its characters. Each of the demigods have their own transformations and their own absolutely insane scenes all to themselves. For example, one Demigod may expand into the size of a mountain and crush you under is bum. He may then punch you into space, grow to the size of a planet, and try to crush you with his finger. This, mind you, is only one of the demigods you face and there are still six more.
An easy way to think of the story is as an anime, especially since a third or more of the gameplay takes place in cutscene form. The characters and story follow similar anime tropes, as does the character and level design. Fights that span large cities/canyons, over-the-top angry characters, lone-wolves, and characters that only speak by yelling are all pretty normal here. Also, you’ll traverse from a medieval town located in a fissure to giant space ships in the sky, because nothing about an anime universe like this feels the need to make any sense. Fight scenes last multiple “chapters”, much like those encountered in Dragon Ball Z games, which usually contained three episodes of grunting and two more of punching. Similarly, the characters have an anime feel to them as well. All of the Eight Guardian Generals have a similar robotic design, drawn in a cell-shaded style, with dark thick lines running through their skin that make them almost statuesque. It is well stylized in this crazy universe the developers have crafted.
Unfortunately, some of the environmental textures seem really low-resolution when viewed up close. A noticeable example is the side of a giant space ship looking blocky and zoomed in, where you can see giant pixels lining the side like you’re back on the SNES. In comparison to the the great character designs, this noticeably ugly level/environment design decreases the beauty of the experience.
Gameplay falls into three basic categories: flying around and shooting like your basic shoot’em up (top-down shooter), or ‘shmup’; third-person action where you mash buttons and perform combos; and interactive cutscenes which are full of quick-time events.
When I say flying around like a shmup, I really mean it. Think of Panzer Dragoon, where Asura is flying around the screen destroying everything in his wake, as well as marking targets and shooting them with red rockets. Mind you, you’re actually just a person, so you’re more likely throwing some kind of projectiles out of your hands, although the game isn’t really clear on this. Suffice it to say, its ridiculous and satisfying, because you frequently lay waste to entire fleets of space ships and other enemies.
The combat portions are very basic. You have basic attacks that combo themselves and heavy attacks that have to cool down every time you use one. The combat feels far less refined than similar games like Darksiders. It is much more rudimentary and lacks any real creativity. Since it is only a third of the game and these sections typically last two minutes or less, it’s really not that much of an issue. Also, even though the combat is relatively basic, you will frequently encounter performance issues in both the third-person combat and even when simply flying around shooting monsters.
When engaged in either of the two types of gameplay listed above, there is a gauge under your health bar that slowly builds as you blow up ships and punch enemies in the face. Once it fills, you have the option to “Burst”, which is really the game’s focal mechanic. Once you burst, you enter a cutscene which includes numerous quick-time events. Usually, these scenes are absolutely insane. You may grow four extra arms, punch someone the size of the planet or take a sword in the stomach and fall through the stratosphere. Yes, all these things happen. Even though you aren’t in direct control of your character, it’s still incredibly satisfying to witness and your mind will be blown at some of the feats Asura performs.
Some unfortunate drawbacks, however, are the constant performance issues. Frequently, when the action gets more frenetic, the frame rate will drop significantly. There are also some choppy audio issues. In addition to these problems, the game’s occasional blocky environmental designs can be frustrating. Luckily, however, there are only four or five instances where this is evident.
Although I loved the insane story and its ups and downs, it ends with a good deal of unanswered questions and leaves an enormous gap for a sequel.
If you can enjoy the game regardless of its lack of resolution and huge focus on quick-time events like I did, then you’ll have a good time with Asura’s Wrath. If you don’t like either of these things, you may want to steer clear. I must say, there are some incredible story moments throughout the game, that I will never forget. Even though the game is only about eight hours long, it was some of the most entertaining eight hours of gaming I’ve ever experienced.
This post was submitted by Alex O'Neill.