Xbox360, Playstation 3
Action, Beat ‘em up
February 21, 2012
For some time now, Cyberconnect has been known for working on big Anime titles such as the .Hack series and the Naruto Ultimate series. No doubt that they know how to make big cinematic experiences, so what happens when they get to work on an original game? Pure beauty.
Asura’s Wrath tells the story of the demigod, Asura. His anger is so great, it puts Kratos and the Hulk to shame. (Not to quote the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past here, but you see) Thousands of years ago, he was one of the Eight Guardian Generals with his daughter Mithra as the Kingdom’s Priestess. They have been at war with the Gohma, an endless horde of mutated animals that try and cleanse the world. After Asura successfully subdues continent-sized Gohma, the Kingdom celebrates their victory until the Emperor turns up dead with Asura being accused as his murderer. He later finds out that his wife has been killed, and his daughter has been used as a Mantra battery as the other seven performed a coup d’état. Asura tries to stop Deus (who is the main leader of the seven) only to fail and gets cast down to Gaea. What happens here is Asura being so angry that he reawakens 12,000 years later and goes on an anger-induced rampage to get revenge on the now self-proclaimed “Seven Deities” and raging his way to save his daughter.
If you have played CyberConnect games before, you know what you are in for, if not, then you are going to be in for a treat. While I will explain more in the gameplay section, let’s just say that the look of the game is so beautiful to watch, while the animations are spectacular to look at. The game look great when in motion, but further excels when it goes into its cinematics. No doubt that if you get this game, your eyes are going to enjoy a feast.
If you have your graphics this great, surely you need to have the music and sound match the visuals right? Well, I’m happy to say that’s the case here. The original scores compliment the visuals well whether you are fighting or watching cutscenes, while the voice acting is great. You will believe that Liam O'Brien (who is normally soft spoken) can be incredibly pissed off. Not to mention the sound effects are also impressive. Each punch that is done sounds like someone just got punched hard.
Gameplay for Asura’s Wrath in particularly unique in the sense of progression: In each place you fight in, you will find yourself having to fight off waves of enemies, as you build your burst meter (located right under your Health meter). Your goal in each part is to get your guage to max so that you can trigger the burst and move onto the next part. This does help lend itself to the game’s narrative as well as the burst almost seems like Asura is getting pissed off having to fight the same people over and over again until he finally snaps and performs the move to either clear the battlefield or to KO the boss in the area. Controls for combat can be broken down into two parts: either you are punching enemies, or you are shooting them down. During the shooting sequences, it does get awkward as the aiming cursor also controls where Asura moves, so that takes some getting use to. If you are not a fan of repetitive beatings, you might get turned off, but at least the cutscenes are always there to reward you with the story while you play.
When you are not fighting, you have the quick time events to worry about. The thing here though is that the QTE aren’t really that difficult to do, meanwhile for a good majority of them, you don’t even have to press anything, as missing the event completely doesn’t affect what happens. That said though, when a cutscene plays, you should still do them as they help contribute to the final score at the end of each episode. You are ranked considering how long it took for you to finish the stage, how well you fought (attacks landed, how many times you were hit, etc), and your percentage level of how you did in QTEs.
If there was anything bad that could be said about Asura’s Wrath, it is sadly in this department. The chapters are short, the fight sequences can be short, and really the only replayablity there is here is just to get the achievements. Now don’t get me wrong, if you are an anime lover, you will probably enjoy going back and watching the story unfold again and playing through, but really there is nothing that the game has going for it to make you want to go back. If you are watching all the cutscenes, it may fall somewhere along the lines of 10-30 minutes per episode, where as if you decide to skip them all, it can fall to 5-10 minutes.
After you finish the game, you do have the option of getting the five DLC add-ons to expand the game even further. The first two are Episodes 11.5 and 15.5 ($2 each), which are actually anime episodes that shows what happened in between the episodes; there is no gameplay, but you still need to do the button inputs. The 3rd DLC ($7) is the 4th and final part: Nirvana that features four more episodes to play through and shows just what happened after the game’s ending and how the series really ends. Finally the last two DLCs (again at $2 each) are the “Lost Episodes” where Asura fights Ryu and Akuma in a very clever use of the street fighter 4 engine. It is about $15 to get all five DLCs, and if you don’t like anime or street fighter, then get the ones that matter to you; the DLC only helps to make the game even greater than it already is and helps add onto the time you play the game.
Asura’s Wrath is one of those games that you want to be angry at, but you really can’t. While the game can be short, repetitive and littered with Quick time Events, it does something that most games (that aren’t RPGs) don’t do: Tell a story from start to finish. You are playing to find out and see just how far Asura’s Wrath will take him and to see what kind of giant enemy will appear and how Asura will beat him down (even with no arms). At the current cost, it would be hard to recommend you to purchase it, but just know that if you do, you are in for a great narrative. In a world where we have sequel upon sequel, Asura’s Wrath shows us that we need new IPs now more than ever.