I just kicked an Elephant into orbit, shot down a spaceship with my fists and I also destroyed a Deity that was the size of a planet. I am playing Asura’s Wrath.
Sometimes you are introduced to something that is just so out of the ordinary that it couldn’t have been created by people living in the same culture as you, sure we Westerners have some crazy ideas that anyone who has ever watched Dragons Den would know, but after playing Asura’s Wrath I would love to know what just happened!
You are Asura, one of the Eight Guardian Generals. Their mission is to protect Earth and the heavens from an evil, destructive force named the Gohma. The Eight Guardian Generals all possess god like powers in order to aid them in their mission of the destruction of their foes. Asura has a wife and a daughter, Mithra. Within Mithra is a great power that can strengthen and heal the Generals. With the war against the Gohma becoming stagnant desperate measures are taken. Asura is framed as a traitor by his comrades, his wife killed and Mithra is kidnapped by the other generals. A grief stricken Asura then attempts to save his daughter only to be defeated and sent falling to earth from space. With Mithra contained and her powers syphoned the Generals become more powerful than ever. With Asura marked traitor they become “The Seven Dieties”, their powers strengthened and their morals weakened. 12,000 years later Asura re-emerges from the depths of Earth. His memory all but lost, the Dieties will feel his wrath as reclaims his memory and battles to save his daughter.
Asura’s Wrath is at its core a hack’n’slash game, bursting from the seams with quicktime events and some great cinematic moments. Combat in the game can be separated into two core experiences, shooter and melee. In the “shooter experience” you find yourself using lock on attacks as well as rapid fire techniques as you are led through battles by the camera and control a crosshair on screen and with that, Asura. It’s a very much a Llyat Wars/StarFox experience during the shooter moments of the game and although there is no barrel rolling to be done there is plenty of dragging your cursor over groups of enemies to achieve a lock and releasing guided projectiles at them whilst dodging attacks against you. The melee combat has you chaining up light attacks against waves of enemies, periodically releasing heavy attacks to take down multiple enemies. To slow all this down the heavy attack also has a cool down timer. As you perform light attacks your “unlimited” bar fills and, once filled, you have a short amount of time to perform as many heavy attacks as you’d like with no cool down. As you perform heavy attacks your “Burst” Bar fills and bar is filled and with a tap of the right trigger you perform a cinematic quicktime event attack, normally with the goal of finishing off your enemy. The game is best described as extremely linear as there is no free roaming and most battles are comprised of the same formula. Asura will be ambushed by a group of enemies, as you defeat them and your burst bar starts to fill a mini boss will show up, as you fight the mini boss your bar will fill completely allowing you to perform a burst attack on him. Once defeated it is rinse and repeat once more until the main boss shows up and you defeat him in a similar method. To the credit of Capcom this does not get old, the set pieces are spectacular (spectacular as a word does not give them enough credit, they are out of this world!) and varied. No fight is the same as Asura blasts his way through to his daughter. It is one game that actually benefits from repetition and does not fall into feeling like a grind.
The game is presented to you like an Anime television show. It is split into episodes and each episode has its own “previously on” section. They also all end with great cliff hangers making you ache for more as you watch the credits roll by from the last episode. Loading screens even have little title cards like that of what you would see before advertisements play for breaks in Manga shows like Cowboy Bebop and Full Metal Alchemist. The games art direction is vibrant and strong with a distinct Japanese anime look. Characters look great in particular as they are extremely stylised, you could look at a character and know they belong in this game. This great bold art is all brought to life by some of the strongest animations I have seen in a long time with lips quivering while hair and clothing is blown all over the place as planet destroying explosions are going off in your face. Vivid is a good way to describe the overall art direction and I would almost go as far to say it’s the best unique portrayal of the Manga style in a video game to date. I would like to point out that some of the battles with a lot of enemies on screen did introduce some performance issues for me on the Xbox360 build of the game. Between parts of episodes you are also treated to comic style cinematic story fillers. Unlike others games that use these as lazy excuses for cut-scenes(I’m looking at you Mirrors Edge) they provide the game a chance to show off some of the great artists it had working on it, as well as provide a medium for fleshing out the story.
The game sounds as vivid as it looks too, with strong thumps and roars as Asura fires on all cylinders with his six arms. Voice overs are given by some of the industries veterans and give the characters grounding and emotion, really hitting home as Asura roars with rage! The musical score helps solidify the origins and influences of the story, reaching back into the Asian mythology in which it was inspired from with the use of classical Asian instruments. Of course when the battle is raging and Asura’s rage is growing and growing heavy rock comes in giving you the adrenaline needed to help get you through some of the battles.
The game surprised me, I normally get tired quickly by the repetitive nature of hack’n’slash games, however with Asura’s Wrath I find myself wanting more and more. The action is fast, brutal and completely absurd, the story a blend of Asian mythology and Sci-Fi epic. If you like action in its purest form or are partial to enjoying anime then Asura’s Wrath is something you will not want to miss!