Asura’s Wrath Review
The game follows Asura, a demigod – a type of species who were so genetically and technologically advanced they became something akin to god. He was also once one of The Eight Guardian Generals, fighting the impure beings, Gohma and preserving peace for the Realm of Shinkoku. In their latest war against the Gohma however, a controversial coup d’état occurred. Asura’s wife, Durga was killed, his daughter, Mithra was kidnapped. Most of all, the Emperor was murdered and Asura was flamed as the killer. His godly powers were then stripped and his soul banished into Naraka. However, even when in an isolated realm of life and death, through sheer willpower, relentlessness and rage, he crawled right out into the living world, with the simple aim of vengeance against the former Eight Guardian Generals, now self-proclaimed Seven Deities.
Being a game that is about Gods, it has a lot of religious references. Naraka, aforementioned, a place between life and death where sinners are confined in, is a genuine religious element found in Buddhism and Hinduism, and is also a place which played a central part of the story. The game’s interpretation of Asura in the game is true to real beliefs in some degree as well – what with Asura being an underdog compared to the other deities, Asura’s ignorance towards the ideologies of the other deities, and of cause, the most significant of all, Asura’s affiliation with anger.
“Mantra”, a source of energy behind most of the game’s supernatural powers, is also an interesting element present. However, each of the eight generals, who are bestowed upon a “mantra affinity” – mantra powered through certain emotions, seem to relate more on the Seven Deadly Sins in Christian religion, as five out of eight of them, are literally taken right out of that context. Asura, who is obviously assigned with the “Wrath” mantra affinity is a prime example. Additionally, there’s Olga’s “Lust”, Augus’s “Greed”, Deus’s “Pride” and Kalrow’s “Sloth”. In the end however, the way the story presented itself isn’t top-notch, just a simple quest for vengeance, but I do applaud it’s ability in using genuine religious aspects to help bring the story to life – begetting a darker, yet fresher undertones.
The characters they had, are all insanely flashy, but I sadly couldn’t connect and empathize with said characters, even Asura himself. Even for all the things he went through, he didn’t went through much character growth over the course of the story, he’s mad, towards the end of the game, punching wildly all the way to space, indeed, he does know how to stay flashy at least.
The game is hailed as being an “interactive anime” by fans, and it is indeed obvious why. Each episode of the game, is akin to an anime’s individual episode. There are even openings, closings credits and previews of the next episode soon to be played – it was certainly an unique way to tell a story, in fact, it might be actually one of the first. Throughout the game, it feels like watching an anime with gameplay implemented within.
Gameplay of Asura’s Wrath is definitely an odd one, but is still fun to some degree. The game is officially categorized as an action beat em up game though technically speaking, I would say the game can be divided into three parts.
The first part of the game is the obvious hack-and-slash actions. The battle gameplay is especially smooth and fluid, but is still bland – You have abilities to either attack a single enemy or charged into an wide area attack. Other simple abilities like dodge and blocks are also present.
Second part of the gameplay is the rail shooter. At this part of the game, you need to navigate the target cursor around and lock on as much locations as possible, before releasing your fires in all marked areas, all the time while evading enemy projectiles as well, in my opinion, this is probably the weakest part of the gameplay. In both of these, your primary aim isn’t to decrease your enemy’s HP (they don’t even have a specific amount of HP) but to keep on triggering quick time events by filling up your burst gauge.
Fans had been regarding Asura’s Wrath as an “interactive anime” and even though it’s TV series-like presentation of the story does played a role in that, the main source behind it is definitely the third and last part of the gameplay, and also the most significant of them all – the quick time events. Most games nowadays have quick time events in between scenes, where you have to press a few buttons prompted on screen with a limited amount of time. Games like Assassin’s Creed and Bayonetta has quick time events like these, but probably no games had ever used them at the level Asura’s Wrath did, to the point that these quick time events might be the game’s main gameplay itself instead of the hack-and-slash and rail shooter parts of the gameplay. The studio maker* does highlight the fact that he was trying to make a game that is like a Japanese animation, and the heavy reliance on these quick time events in battles reinforced that idea. I don’t particularly find them challenging, though this is a problem I find in most quick time events, they are considerably easy – it’s as if the game maker wanted something fresh in their CG scenes but on the other hand, they just wanted to move along with the story already. Another thing is that even when mashing the buttons or missing them altogether, it doesn’t have any significant difference.
The worlds of Asura’s Wrath is a chromatic one – fighting on human Earth, fighting in the moon, figting in a battleship, engaging in aerial combat in outer space and so on and so forth. You will fight just almost everywhere, and the game really brings all these intricate visuals to life. It is disappointing that it’s linear gameplay doesn’t offer as much exploration however.
As Asura’s Wrath is heavily reliant on quick time events, designs of boss fights are incredibly out-of-this-world – filled with extremely flashy scenes where you kick a huge cannon a hundred times your size and also where you had to block an island-sized finger from a giant from squishing yourself, all of which you had to control through buttons prompts on screen of cause. Some games these days had been relying on such flashy factors for epic boss fights, but Asura’s Wrath really is on another level altogether.
The soundtracks for Asura’s Wrath is also a relishing factor of the game. The main theme behind the game’s music composition is a signature orchestrated pieces with ethic vocals, such music is befitting of the game’s dark and gloomy nature. Not all are of the same nature however, as Chikayo Fukuda, the main composer of Asura’s Wrath soundtracks, cleverly fit in songs here and there that contrast the aforementioned songs. “Furueru Kokoro” is one such example, a calm and tranquil songs featuring mellow vocals, there are also various variations of the songs throughout the game – an instrumental version, a piano solo version, and an Asian ethic rearranged version, all exceptional tracks. Another track noteworthy is Orphan Wolf Legend, unlike the standard themed songs, Orphan Wolf Legend an odd track that gives an impression of a song originating from wild west – whistles, acoustic guitar riffs serving as the prelude, and electric guitars joining in during the meat of the song turning it into a rock fusion. Last of all, there’s even a classical piece – Symphony No. 9 “From The New World” 4th Movement.
In all of the game, I would comment on the boss fight between Asura and Augus having the best design of them all. The student and the master, after having some nostalgic dialogue and bonding, began their epic fight on the moon; as usual filled with tons of dialogues and flashy quick time events in between – all the while with aforementioned classical music, “From The New World” playing in the background. I always love mixes with classical music and the flashiness of Asura’s Wrath coupled with the classical music is a contrasting, and at a same time, an awesome combination.
Asura’s Wrath is an unusual, unorthodox game, featuring odd game system and method of storytelling. At that end, Asura’s Wrath is more of an experimental game, and is that experiment a success? In some level, yes, though with quite some noticeable flaws. Ultimately, it is indeed a fun game, but not something I would easily recommend though.