Asura is angry. He’s very angry.
If I was never sure of anything else during my 15-minute jaunt through the Asura’s Wrath demo, I was always sure of that. In fact, the demo decided to forego the “whys” and “hows” of Asura’s vein-popping rage and just drop you straight into the action – in this case, a fight with a colossal Buddha-statue-god-thing who, after you blow up his spaceship, decides to show you what’s what by growing large enough to blot out a continent – and Asura – with a fingertip.
Which, in true Manga form, he promptly does.
Leaving the plot holes aside, Asura’s Wrath seems to want to poise itself as one of those ventures that asks what is and isn’t a game. It’s interactive in the sense stuff happens on screen in response to button presses (although, the whole game sort of flips that formula on its nose). It’s visually pretty, for sure. But is it fun? The answer it seems is: Not really.
The developers went for broke in the gameplay department by centering most of the action around cutscenes and quick-time events. The smaller portion of the game, which is more classically “action,” feels like frantic button-mashing – the only goal of which is to fill a rage meter at the top of the screen to, of course, activate the next set of quick-time events. And if you mess something up, it’s back to the beginning of the sequence.
As far as the story, the demo doesn’t give you much. I gleaned Asura was a demigod of some sort who had betrayed or been betrayed by the gods … possibly resulting in the kidnapping of his daughter and/or wife. The full game, I’m sure, fleshes that out a bit.
Ultimately, I think Asura’s Wrath would be a lot more fun to watch than to play. Quick-time events are interesting in games like Shenmue, where they build tension and offer a different challenge, but I’m not sure they make for a good core-gameplay mechanic. The visuals are great, and I suspect the absurdly exaggerated anime-ness of the game (at one point, I incinerated a god with a single punch) will appeal to fans of the genre. For everybody else, though, your money is better spent on a movie ticket.
A collaboration between CyberConnect2 and Capcom, Asura’s Wrath was released Feb. 21 in North America for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.