Asura’s Wrath – A Belated Review
Asura’s Wrath was released last spring, the same time that GAME in the UK went into meltdown and couldn’t shelve all the new releases. That and my rather dire financial situation hindered my ability to play Asura’s Wrath, until now. So this is my short and very overdue review of Asura’s Wrath.
Once in-game you take on the role of Asura, one of the eight demi-god generals tasked with protecting the Earth from the Gohma, an impurity that threatens to influence the entire planet. Having fought alongside his fellow protectors, Asura and the other seven guardian generals subdue the Gohma. Though instead of the usual celebrations Asura is framed with a murder, watches his wife die in his arms and also loses his daughter to his once so-called equals. Asura is banished and branded as a demon and falls to Earth and into the afterlife. But Asura can not be contained and after 12,000 years Asura rejoins the mortal realm to exact bloody vengeance and rescue his daughter.
Games are all about empowerment and those who enjoy the lunacy and crazy power auras of anime will certainly enjoy the hyper cell shaded visuals, and the stylized blend of old classical themes with newer sci-fi mech concepts, such as Asura’s Wrath‘s heavenly gold carved robotic arms. Of course, there’s also the feeling of epic power and strength the game imbues Asura with. The music choice is actually quite inspired, switches perfectly between classic music (e.g. Antonin Dvorak’s ‘Brave New World 9th Symphony’) and more contemporary rock music. Both the English and Japanese voice talent is quite good, and as a Naruto English dub viewer I did spot out one or two characters in the main cast, once again doing an excellent job.
Asura’s Wrath is very unusual and quite novel in the way it tells it’s story, but the true entertainment factor is the gameplay, even though it is quite repetitive. It’s the visuals behind all the action that really draw you in, waiting for that moment of badass-ery! I would expect nothing less from ConnectCyber2 who created the visually arresting QTE battles in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2.
The story is delivered episodically like an anime series. In every individual chapter you are given opening credits and ad break splash screens, and there are also teasers between episodes. These episodes can range from the biggest of fights to the most docile of flashbacks. There is a huge variety of scenes, including a hot-spring and some bikini clad waitress that gives you hot sake, followed by one of the funniest cock-blocks ever put into a game.
The little teasers between chapters are a fantastic way of keeping you interested after you finished an intense fight or if you want a break. It’s hard to ignore a game when it keeps peppering your pallet with the promise of more huge and mental boss fights or encounters to come. Asura’s Wrath is even ballsy enough to switch protagonist during the 3rd Act, but it only serves to create more suspense and eventually pays off as Asura and the new protagonist face off against the Big Bad together.
Asura’s Wrath will have you facing off against waves of enemies, and huge armadas of moving targets which you destroy in shooting gallery-esque sequences. But where Asura’s Wrath shines is in the huge QTE battles. I did write something about QTEs a while back here.
Though what really surprised me about Asura’s Wrath is despite having some of the easiest QTEs ever – they are pretty much always hit TRIANGLE, R2 or fiddle with the analog sticks – the game still manages to give you that sense of total, over-the-top empowerment with such little input. You can see the obvious nod to anime: it’s always sweetly satisfying when landing a ringing blow on an enemy followed by a moment of silence then the concave blast aura, an image anyone who has watched DragonBall Z, Naruto or many other anime will instantly know what looks like. It’s always the best and most joyous accomplishment in Asura’s Wrath even if you are only pressing TRIANGLE.
Verdict: Get it if you love silly anime tropes, but be wary: If you are easily annoyed by repetition you may be best off leaving Asura’s Wrath alone.