Asura’s Wrath is an exciting game. Mythological adaptations fighting each other while screaming at the top of their lungs plus space ships? How can you go wrong? To be honest, I loved the game. On a basic level, the game works really well. The melee combat and Quick Time Events (QTE) work great, the voice-acting is… enthusiastic, the art style is really emotive, the core aspects of the game are great. It’s the extraneous stuff that really screws up the game.
The shooter segments are little more than you mashing buttons until a QTE occurs. Everything in these segments is a barrier between you and the next fight. While I can understand the placement of some random bosses to break up the story, these just seem odd to me. Similarly, story events between “episodes” are still pictures (drawn by different artists each time) with voiced dialogue. It’s little better than telling the story through random text files. Considering how great some of the cutscenes in this game are, it seems odd for them to resort to this.
When you’re in the melee combat segments, the game is great. Brutal and dynamic. Why the game couldn’t be just this is beyond my understanding of game design I suppose. It starts off relatively easy, seeming to skip from QTE to QTE, but the battles get harder and harder (if not bigger in scope), with more on the line. It reminds me more of Enslaved than Devil May Cry, however the controls are responsive and I encountered no glitches. Asura has a huge amount of unique animations for different enemy types, and Liam O’Brien’s yelling really brings out the brutality. Considering how short his effective range is I was surprised how smooth the combat was. The character animations remind me of Street Fighter IV, and you really see it when getting a close-up of character’s faces. Speaking of faces, what is Ganondorf doing in a Capcom game?
Speaking of storytelling, why in the name of all that is anime are there episodes? Why not just continue to tell the story? If they wanted an anime, why not make an anime? It interrupts the action at the worst time, every time. Not only that, but they show a “next episode” preview literally seconds before the next segment is about to start. It makes me want to go to a restaurant and punch it so hard it turns into a TGI Mondays.
There is also a fundamental flaw in the presentation of the game’s story as a whole. They present a prologue telling you who the character is, what he’s fighting for, and what happens to set him on this path of revenge. Immediately afterward, there is a tutorial segment establishing that Asura has amnesia. Throughout the game he learns of his past. This is redundant and stupid. It’s poor storytelling, and ruins any attachments to the reveals later on in the story. Without the prologue, we would be learning about Asura’s past and the world at the same time as him. Instead, we already know, and so the reveals are negligible.
That’s not to say the story isn’t good however. The tale of revenge, religious idiocy and awkward parenting is awesome while it lasts, and while short, combines some of the best elements from not only God of War and CyberConnect’s Ninja Storm series, but Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil 4 and Zelda as well. I’ll let you find those references for yourself.
Still, the real meat of the game is in the melee combat. The game has been described as an “eastern god of war” in some publications. While that certainly seems to be what CyberConnect went for (with a touch of shonen anime), it doesn’t measure up as a game. In fact there’s almost no “levels” in this game. You’re either in an arena combating enemies with melee or running through a rail-shooter segment. QTEs placed between cutscenes round out the levels. I swear to god the next time someone complains about Final Fantasy XIII I’ll simply reply that “at least it wasn’t as bad as Asura’s Wrath.” Only… XIII-2 seems to be doing the same thing as seen here. Oi…
In the end, this game tried to get me emotionally involved, but the episodic bullshit coupled with the sporadic storytelling quality kept it from being as good as it could have been. In the end, as badass as some of the characters are and as interesting as the story ended up, all I really wanted to do was punch things. Thankfully, this game delivers that in spades. Then again, maybe I should expect this from Capcom. Goofy storytelling that you shouldn’t take seriously coupled with typically good gameplay.
I think I’ll just draw from the wisdom of Augus: “Relax my son. Enjoy every moment: You fight, then eat good food. You fight, then drink fine wine. You fight, then sleep with beautiful women. Hell, fight with beautiful women! That’s what it truly means to live.”
Asura’s Wrath was developed by CyberConnect2 and published by Capcom.
If this review seems to have mixed opinions, it’s because Capcom.