is absolutely, unreservedly, mind bogglingly mental.
But then if you’ve been following any of the promotional material, gameplay trailers or spent some time with last month’s demo you’ll already know this. What might not be quite as clear is how close it comes to breaking the definition of what a game is.
The story concerns the plight of the titular Asura, a godly warrior and one of the Eight Guardian Generals who fights to protect the universe against the evil Gohma forces. After a heady victory, Asura returns to find that the Emperor has been murdered and he has been framed for the crime. As he tries to escape and save his family, he learns that his wife has also been killed and his daughter enslaved, while he is cast down to Earth to his death. Millennia later, he is resurrected by the power of his rage and seeks vengeance on the remaining seven deities.
Naturally, a storyline this exaggerated lends itself to some blistering scenes of violence and destruction, on a scale we’ve rarely seen in video games. Asura will battle giant statues, eviscerate hundreds of opponents, take down entire space fleets and do battle with a god-like enemy whose hand dwarfs the planet.
On paper, at least, it’s thrilling stuff and impeccably presented but the only problem is that, for the most part, you’ll simply be watching all of these amazing events occur. There are long stretches of Asura’s Wrath which require nothing from you other than the ability to see, occasionally waiting for an onscreen QTE.
To all intents and purposes, Asura’s Wrath
is a fitfully interactive anime series, with all the positive and negative elements you might expect – including great presentation and stupendous action but also a frequently nonsensical story. And developers CyberConnect2
take their commitment to the format far too seriously,with credits for each episode, pre-show summaries, ending freeze frames and (maddeningly) a mid episode ad break.
You’ll be lucky to get five minutes of actual gameplay out of any of Asura’s Wrath’s
18 episodes, which is a real shame because they’re often a lot of fun. A basic third person brawler makes up most of these sections, with light and heavy attacks and some fun QTE counters. You’ll also find on the rails shooting sections but in every case you’ll soon realise that all you’re really doing is hitting things to fill a burst bar so you can hit the right trigger and engage the next ludicrous cut scene.
There are also a bunch of insanely over the top boss fights which are where Asura’s Wrath really shines. Here, the mix of QTE, cut scene and gameplay blend together almost seamlessly to create sometime suitably epic and genuinely exciting.
It’s all short lived though – even the most spastic gamer could power through Asura’s Wrath in as little as six hours, earning consistent A ratings and likely never suffering the indignity of a single death. It saddens me to admit that a game in which you’ll punch a gargantuan break-dancing turtle to death failed to entertain me…
is an interesting experiment, stripping away gameplay to the bare essentials in order to present a barely interactive anime series. The presentation is stunning, particularly the hand drawn panels which crop up between episodes, but there’s simply too little going on. Perhaps with a better, more coherent story or less repetition in the action moments it would be worth a recommendation but with little challenge and a full retail price tag, it’s hard to recommend this as a journey worth taking.