It takes guts to put out a game that tries to legitimately do something new these days. In a gaming era ruled by sequels, play-it-safe military shooters and zombie mashers, there’s little room for niche titles it seems. That’s outside of indie downloadable games, anyway. This is where Asura’s Wrath instantly appeals, and it’s a game that isn’t afraid to buck the trend.
You play as Asura, an ultra-powerful demigod, who fights alongside eight other demigod generals to protect the world against the Gohma, and impure and evil race of creatures. Asura is, perhaps, the most powerful of his kin, and is, for sinister reasons, betrayed by his allies, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, while his wife is killed and his daughter kidnapped.
He’s then banished from his own world and awakes thousands of years later to discover the world in ruins. Needless to say, Asura, who isn’t the most pleasant man around at the best of times, is a little upset, and he directs all of his considerable rage towards seeking vengeance.
Now, this sounds like a rather typical plot, and at its core, it is. Where this is different though, is that it’s all presented in such an impressive manner, with great characters, and some of the most ridiculously over the top battles you’re ever going to see in a game. Seriously, some of the confrontations here make God of War‘s epic-scale bosses look positively tame in comparison.
The whole affair is presented in a pen-and-ink anime aesthetic, which not only looks great, but also boasts some fine animation and overall design. It simply oozes the kind of off the wall style we’ve come to expect from the anime/Manga genre, and it certainly rivals some of the best movies and comic in terms of looks.
When you get to some of the game’s standout moments, such as the battle against a planet-sized enemy, the opening space war between another planet-sized creature, or even fighting a guy whose sword can slice through an entire planet, you have little to do but gaze on in awe. This is some truly crazy, but nonetheless impressive action, and for fans of anime, it’s a must see, and it really is as if the game is a love letter to the genre.
Push RT to win
Sadly, and here’s the major kicker, as enjoyable as it is to see Asura punch foes into mulch and smash entire space fleets to bits with his bare hands, often that’s exactly what you’ll be doing, watching.
You see, for the majority of the game you’ll be sat watching cut-scenes, and for a relatively small amount of the game’s length, you’ll actually be taking part in the action. This is no exaggeration either, and even the notoriously cut-scene heavy, Metal Gear Solid 4 had a better gameplay to cut-scene ratio than this.
Most cut-scenes do, admittedly, have QTE-style events in them, and so have some interaction, but these are often very basic ‘press this to punch guy in face’ or ‘mash this button to pummel big, evil creature to death; affairs. And, even if you fail these button events, it rarely makes any difference, and the scene carries on regardless, and you’ll simply get a worse rating at the end of the level.
I did enjoy watching the impressive scenes, and the action, as OTT as it can be is always absorbing, but if I wanted to watch an anime, I’d go watch Fist of the North Star or something. The bottom line here is I want to actually play a game.
When Asura’s Wrath does let you take control and mix it up in combat, it’s really rather good, with a combat system that focuses more on brute force, and powerful abilities than complex move sets or speed.
Light and heavy attacks can be mixed up to keep foes at bay, whilst you charge up Asura’s power meter to allow him to unleash endless heavy attacks for a period (usually you have to cool down after such attacks). You can fight with fists and can also use a ranged attack that can be manually aimed for rapid fire assaults on hard to reach enemies.
Eventually, in many confrontations, you’ll build up the Burst meter, and once this is done you can hit RT to unleash Asura’s mighty rage to inflict massive damage upon your foes with a QTE attack that often ends the battle, and continues on to the next section.
It’s a simple combat system but one that works well, and the variety of situations and enemies makes it appealing for all the right reasons, it’s just a shame there’s so little of it.
It’s not all melee combat though, and the game does mix things up a little, including several Panzer Dragoon-style on rails shooter sections spread throughout. These are fairly basic too, but break up the melee combat and cut-scenes.
Because of the limited level of actual gameplay found here, to say Asura’s Wrath is a short game in an understatement. It’s really only the cut-scenes that extend the game to its around six hour playtime, and for only a fraction of those six hours you’re actually in real, 100% control.
The harder difficulty does make for a challenge, espcecially some of the later bosses, but even then it’s hard to justify paying full price for so little actual gameplay, of which there’s little reason to come back and experience again once you’re done, except to unlock a hidden episode.
Asura’s Wrath is a game that simply lets itself down. It’s such a promising undertaking that I want to, and in many ways do, like, and the epic battles and great anime story are certainly enough to warrant interest, and there is enjoyment to be had here. But, with such little actual content, it ends up being a missed opportunity.
With more actual gameplay, Asura’s Wrath could have been a great game, but the cut-scene heavy nature of the title and far too much QTE, which isn’t even a challenge, damages the appeal. I can really only recommend this as a rental at best, at least until you find it cheap or second hand. Avoid it at full price, unless you really want to watch a new, and totally insane anime movie.