|Game Name:||Asura's Wrath|
|Platforms:||Playstation 3 (reviewed), Xbox 360|
|Genre(s):||Action, Beat 'em up|
|Release Date:||February 21, 2012|
|Big Ups:||Entertaining style choices, characters, and voice acting; varied scenery and gameplay|
|Big Downs:||Dated visuals|
It has finally come to this folks. Years and years of permitting poor game design choices and you get what you rightly deserve, Asura’s Wrath. I hear people parading around on their glorious hate train saying how stupid Capcom is for creating a game that ends up being a very expensive anime. Well it is you who are stupid, dear children. You like those quicktime events in God of War that show Kratos doing something ridiculously intricate after a single button press. You LOVE Konami’s cinematic and lengthy cutscenes void of gameplay. This is Capcom’s way of applauding you, sweet little ones.
You’ve earned it.
Okay, now that we know our places, let us admire Asura’s Wrath for all its successes. I was just as angry at Capcom as anyone else until I read about their intentions for the game. They stated that Asura’s Wrath would be an interactive anime series with each chapter acting as a full length episode. The pacing of the storytelling coupled with brief but interesting combat sections balances so well that the game literally matches the viewing length of an episode of your favorite Japanese cartoon. That’s impressive. My playtime for each episode landed roughly around 22 minutes, excluding commercials of course. To further illustrate their desires, Asura’s Wrath, when a player is about halfway through an episode, even has the typical commercial break splash images and the beginning and end of the “commercial break.” Not only that, at the end of the episode you are shown the typical preview for “THE NEXT TIME ON ASURA’S WRATH!” It took a minute to sink in what was happening, but once it did, I was overly pleased with the game. I would love to go on about how Capcom perfectly pays homage to and parodies many different animes, from clichés to direct jabs at popular series, but it would digress from the intent of this review.
I enjoyed the gameplay. You are forced to watch nearly every cutscene since almost every one is a QTE. What’s funny are some of the choices Capcom makes in designating a QTE; though a lot of them relate to the explosive rage of Asura, some QTEs are instigated by seemingly trivial actions. This becomes glaringly apparent where even simply staring at the voluptuous breasts of the scantily clad bathhouse girl requires a button press. Between the scene are brief moments of simple third-person action combat. It seems Capcom is trying to not only reduce the monotony of the lengthy interactive cutscenes but to also mock the disgruntled players who still consider Asura’s Wrath less of a game by saying, “Hey look, there is actual gameplay. It looks like our ‘interactive anime’ really is a game after all.” On the functional level however, these serve as a median point to each cutscene. The player fights until their Burst-meter fills so that they may initiate the next sequence of cutscenes.
Another notable feature of the gameplay is the absence of the ability to increase Asura’s strength which is almost commonplace for any third-person action game. Instead, Capcom opted to go all out and use its story elements to actually alter how the action sequences play out. This helps immensely in preventing that monotony that plagues most games. I won’t spoil it for you either, but some of the story elements add such refreshing changes that you will not ever feel fatigued of any sequence.
Visually, the game is close to gorgeous, taking a lot of its visual style from the watercolor effect showcased in the announce trailer of Street Fighter 4. The ornate character design is full of ridiculous outfits and complex tattoos (if that’s what you can even call them). The sets vary just as much as the gameplay which keeps the scenery fresh. My only qualm is that even though the visual capabilities are fully utilized, they still suffer from their nearly four year old limitations. However, this fails to make the game not immersive considering all of the excessive action and detail placed into every nook and cranny.
Usually when I write reviews, I typically compartmentalize each aspect of the game but it is so hard to do with Asura’s Wrath. I know I still managed to nearly do it so far, but when I decided to talk about sound and music, I realized you can’t just separate all of these things. From the music to the visuals to the storytelling to the gameplay, Asura’s Wrath achieves exactly what it intends to. The triumphant theme for Asura and the dramatic loner theme (which seems oddly influenced by Protoman’s theme) of Yasha’s are welcomed everytime they play because you know when shit is about to get real. With the promise of future DLC content, Asura’s Wrath is definitely a very worthy investment for those who can respect a developer for taking a chance at something most other major companies would not. It’s a captivating experience that deserves more attention that it probably will never receive.