Asura's Wrath Review

Anger is a raw and powerful emotion. With bountiful amounts of adrenaline coursing through their veins, humans can accomplish feats of strength normally impossible under average conditions. Asura is a bit more extreme. This demigod punches planets in the face.

Now, given the gaming industry's current state of affairs, the term originality is not to be thrown about lightly. With some franchises seeing their fifth release in as many years this winter, consumers have plenty of the same old options. Sure, this method of generating an essentially identical product hasn’t been without success, but watching developers throw caution to the wind to bring gamers a change of pace is always refreshing. Who knew the publisher would be Capcom?

 

Talk about putting the weight of the world on one's shoulders.

 

The beginning of Asura’s Wrath does not immediately convey the sheer lunacy about to unfold. The atmosphere above Gaea plays host to thousands of warships massive in size. The Emperor and his eight Guardian Generals are in the midst of an all-out war with the Gohma, an impure race of creatures that seek to desecrate the planet. As Asura and his compatriots soar through space wreaking havoc and misfortune on anyone foolish enough to sustain a deadly blow, the head demigod Deus hatches a coup to kidnap Asura’s daughter, a young priestess notable for harnessing Mantra – the energy that constitutes a gods' life force and power. The seven remaining generals conspire against their rage-fueled brother, exacting a plan that leaves both Asura’s wife and the Emperor dead, and Asura labeled as a traitor.

A one-sided confrontation with Deus ends with Asura falling to the planet Gaea below, where he slumbers for 12,000 years. The fallen deity then awakes to the destruction of the world he once fought to protect. The other gods have deformed and reconstructed a bleak future for humanity during Asura's dormancy. Little do their troubles matter, however, as the general-turned-scapegoat intends to annihilate the scum that betrayed him. The familiar God of War revenge theme underlies the events that follow.

 

Some sunscreen will clear that chapped complexion right up (may not remove spears).

 

Japanese developed games like Katamari or Bayonetta have a reputation when describing unbridled ridiculousness, and Asura’s Wrath carries that torch to wonderful effects. Rather than shy away from the mockery of outsiders, the developers at CyberConnect2 embrace traditional anime tropes. Asura’s screams empower the reluctant hero, summaries and previews narrate the episodic story, and a late-game transformation shatters the boundaries between Super Saiyan (Dragon Ball Z), Perfect Hollowfication (Bleach), and Tailed Beast Mode (Naruto). If you recognize any of these transformations, you’re in for a treat. Clobbering worlds cannot remotely compare to the set pieces involved.

Meanwhile, the combat remains heavily context sensitive, like an interactive episode of Dragon Ball Z. The limited extent of light and heavy attacks – with ranged fireballs thrown in for appropriate measure – keeps the combos to a minimum. Instead, these attacks build to each climactic sequence in the form of Asura’s Burst meter. Once the bar fills, a quick RT press unleashes a quick time event that would turn Kratos green with envy. These scenes range from pummeling a Titanic-sized god into space, resisting the impalement of a planet-length sword, or growing Asura four additional arms. Smaller skirmishes between Gohma and disposable mechanized soldiers artificially extend the length of the campaign, which only fueled my excitement for the next boss encounter. Calling the combat “over the top” would be a disservice to the mayhem released upon television screens.

 

The climactic student versus master showdown. Who will come out on top?

 

With this heavy a focus on quick time events, the overall narrative length is understandably short. Six hours will net you a full completion percentage. However, Asura’s Wrath remains a prime example of why gamers should not judge the quality of a game per hour spent playing. The campaign doesn’t overstay its welcome. (The last thing I want to do is mash the B, Y, or RT button for twelve hours.)

Although, the plot tries to play on gamers’ heartstrings to middling success. Asura merely wants to save his daughter, but the gods would use her for their own selfish gains. Players unfamiliar with anime storytelling may find it hard to establish a connection to the jaded protagonist with a penchant for shouting his dialogue. And yet, I admit Asura’s attempts to protect a peculiar village girl evoked some feelings of compassion.

 

Prepare to kill hundreds of these guys.

 

My only real complaint is the shady ending. By word of mouth, future DLC will presumably bring true closure to the narrative. I hate to give in to rumors, but considering the unexpected cliffhanger, it would seem those leaks contain some measurable truth. DLC has earned a fair amount of flak in prior months. Capcom’s releasing of content integral to the plot is pushing the company’s luck.

Sadly, there is virtually no replay value, either. Concept art and cinematic rewards offer the only collectible incentives. Even the various gameplay-altering Burst meters could not encourage a return visit to Gaea.

So Asura’s Wrath is best described as one-and-done affair – no emotional attachment, no awkward silences as you fumble words for conversation, no pretending like the relationship has any sort of longevity. One awesome night of reckless fist bumps and jaw dropping feats of insanity will encompass your playthrough. More so than wrath, brevity is Asura’s greatest gift.

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: CyberConnect2
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Number of Players: 1 (Campaign)
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3 

Burchy's picture

Looks like a VERY interesting title. I used to be quite the fan of anime, so when the price of Asura'a Wrath  falls, I will not hesitate in picking it up. I'am all up for over the top combat!

Adam Page's picture

BURST. Sadly I hear that they chopped the ending off for DLC reasons, but once you're in you're in to the end to see what happens next involving exploding planets yes?

Goldteddy's picture

Perfect Review, tells everything people might like and which kind of people might get confused with what.

 

Buuut Using three Out-dated Pictures that showcases things that you'll never see in-game.

Josh Kowbel's picture

@Burchy:

Asura's Wrath has been sitting in my GameFly queue for a couple months now. I only received it this past week along with Naruto Shippuden: Generations. This game would be a perfect rental or great $30 purchase. If you're still unsure, I recommend watching some walkthrough videos just to get a feel for what constitutes "normal" in Asura's world. 

@Adam Page:

I haven't seen the second piece of downloadable content (Episode 15.5) for Asura's Wrath, but intentionally holding back closure for profit is a serious violation of the consumers' trust. I pray the ending will just lead directly into a sequel anime-style, meaning the episode just ends, leaving you with only your thoughts to ponder what will happen next.

@Goldteddy:

It was fairly difficult finding HD pictures of this game. Most of the screenshots I browsed were smaller in dimensions than WGG's layout. The outcome would be stretchy, blurry images that I'm sure no one would enjoy looking at. 

Remy Brown's picture

Another Great review Josh, every time your reviews are improving and they are getting even more pleasurable to read, great job mate

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