Game Rant's Curt Hutson reviews Asura's Wrath
Asura's Wrath is unlike anything gamers have seen before. Whether they enjoy the game is a matter of personal taste, as it brings in a style of gaming that some will find brilliant and others might find irksome - but regardless of whether they like it or not, most will agree it is a very different animal.
However, Asura's Wrath is so well executed and so fun that gamers won't likely notice that it is more like an interactive anime experience - as opposed to an actual game.
The story, as the title suggests, centers around the demi-god Asura - a hotheaded, rude, and unfeeling jerk. Despite his obviously lovable personality, many will find themselves rooting for him after watching the character suffer trials that span 12,000 years. The world is plagued by creatures called Gohma that terrorize the human race. Human salvation depend on demi-gods, which include Asura and the rest of the 8 generals, and their vast armies. After an undisclosed time, Vlitra, the master of the Ghoma, arises from the earth once again to completely eradicate the human race -- this is where we join our Asura.
After successfully repelling Vlitra, Asura is caught up in power play by the other demi-gods who betray him, costing him his wife, his daughter and his life. Centuries into the future, Asura resurrects himself using the power of his immense wrath and heads begin to roll.
Capcom and CyberConnect2's Asura's Wrath is best described as an episodic interactive anime TV series and tells its story in a completely unparalleled way. The game is separated into 18 episodes, each running about 20 minutes long, within 3 parts. Each episode begins with credits and ends with a preview of the following episode. The middle of each episode cuts to still shots to break up the story, as if allowing for commercial breaks. Finally, story interludes occur between episodes. The interludes feature beautifully illustrated stills, while short scripts elaborate on the story.
In terms of actual gameplay, Asura's Wrath has several ways to play, but the majority of the game relies on quick time events and button taps. Think Heavy Rain. During story sequences, players are prompted to play out certain events using these quick time commands -- but the sequences typically rely on the player putting in some work first. The game works like this: the player will control Asura in battle, where controls are fairly simple, after laying enough hits on the enemy a meter will fill and once completed will prompt players to unleash their fury through a "burst" and start a series of trigger commands. Combat basics include a combo button, heavy attack, energy projectiles and then ways to counterattack and hit enemies while they are down.
There is just enough diversity and skill involved to make combat, which never feels like the main focus of the game, to be fun and fast-paced. Counter attacks are button prompts when an enemy attacks and successful counters fill up the meter the fastest. Outside of hand to hand combat, there is an on-rails shooter portion that makes regular appearances throughout the game.
Once the meter is filled, the craziness really begins. Players are required to hit a series of button prompts, swirl their analog sticks, tap the B button and more to succeed in playing out the prompts and subsequent actions. The events themselves, which are usually depicted as epic battle scenes, are the main draw for the game. It can't be overstated how exciting and original they are. Players' jaws will drop when they have to defend against a sword that can cleave the world in two, take on a fleet of gigantic Star Destroyer sized ships single-handedly, grow four additional arms, or kick butt using only their legs (because Asura's arms are regularly broken off).
The word insane was tossed around a lot during the play-through, especially when battling on the moon -- yes, the moon. A favorite command prompt was the ability to shut enemies up during a monologue, usually when they are trying to antagonize the character or reveal their dastardly plans. Don't want to listen? Punch them into outer space! The soundtrack just further accents the incredible action -- its memorable and will gets players' blood pumping.
The game isn't all fighting and combat, however, there is plenty of anime humor and quirkiness spread throughout the story. One unique portion of the game finds players in a hot springs spa, where a well endowed serving girl holds a tray of sake. Players are encouraged to look around, catch peeping toms and peer at, ahem, other features. Using the option to drink, chug or flirt, players will charge their meters up. Once full they can try to make their move and, regardless of the outcome, players will still score an achievement for drinking too much and for attempting to get fresh.
At the end of each episode, a score is tallied and performance results are displayed revealing a time score, battle points and synchronic rate (quick time event accuracy). This will rank a letter grade, the best being "S." As a result, players receive a lot of bonus content. A high score will garner them tons of concept art, story videos and CG art.
There are few complaints with this title - but a few bear mentioning. The story, outside of its action, is relatively stale. Players will find the plot confusing if they don't pay close attention - as it becomes a bit convoluted near the end and certain characters don't have clear motivations. Many characters are rather flat and feel like typical Japanese Anime archetypes.
The rules that govern Asura's world are a bit confusing as well, like why Gohma look like regular animals, why there aren't any regular animals and why humans speak a completely different language from everyone else. The gameplay outside of quick time avent action can get repetitive after a time - and the game itself is incredibly easy, making it simple to score S or A rankings on every episode in Normal Mode. At around six or so hours of game time, players could be left wanting - and replay value is low after the initial action high wears off.
Outside of those gripes, the game is an experience unlike anything players are bound to see. The action is out of control, creative, smart and funny - the ability to control that action makes the game immersive as well as intense. The constant button pressing may be crazy, but working your way up to filling the meter and then unleashing epic vengeance is truly cathartic.
Asura's Wrath is a full, multi-layered, interactive experience with style to spare and will rival your favorite animes with its gorgeous animation, art style and cinematography. If you're looking for a traditional beat em up or action game, look somewhere else, but if you want something outrageous, inspired and memorable, then Asura's Wrath is set to space punch your mind into gaming bliss.
Dragon Ball Z, eat your heart out.
Look for more wild Asura action when the character joins the Street Fighter roster in the near future.
Asura's Wrath is now available for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Game Rant played the PS3 version for this review.
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