These days every game loves to guide you down the path towards a massive set piece, but the makers of Asura’s Wrath clearly decided that that wasn’t nearly good enough. Rather than bolt on a few set pieces to their game, they bolted a game onto a sequence of set pieces so wild and varied that you’d better buckle up for the ride!
The plot of Asura’s Wrath is... well, there’s a character called Asura who is one of seven deities who are either gods or very strong people or possibly robots... it’s never really made clear. They have to fight to protect the Earth from the Ghoma, which are mostly normal Earth animals painted black with red paint splattered on them, until after a big battle where the other deities gang up on Asura and kill him in order to kidnap his daughter who can do.... actually, that’s never made all that clear either. But being killed makes Asura angry and he’s out for revenge.
If it sounds like I’m having trouble here it’s because the story is both overly convoluted and under-explained (if that’s possible) and one suspects that the guys at Capcom just made up a bunch of insanely cool set pieces and tried to build a story that would incorporate them all. To their credit it sort-of works and you are kept engaged, but by the end you’ll still not be all that sure what was going on.
The gameplay is pretty lacklustre too. The times when you control Asura directly are split between Space Harrier-style rail shooter sections and enclosed arenas packed with enemies. The controls and gameplay are both extremely simple – you won’t find any big combo’s here. This is because the only purpose of these sections is to build up Asura’s rage meter enough for the next set-piece cut scene to start. This makes things a little repetitive and to be honest way too easy, with only a few bosses giving you any real trouble; even then that’s primarily due to the dodge command being too unresponsive to allow you to get out of the way on time.
The rest of the time you’re sitting through cut scenes laced with thousands of quick time events, but again these are pretty pointless as there’s no penalty for missing them except that they reduce your score at the end of the level. Admittedly they do try to make them fun and engaging by ensuring that they match the action on-screen as much as possible, and it does mean that you keep your eyes on the screen as a result, but all-in-all its very clear that Asura’s Wrath would have been better off as a film than a game.
There are however some positives to look at here. The soundtrack is good, both the English and US voice actors do a great job and together with the animation there’s a lot of genuine emotion on the screen - not to mention that there’s a hot spring scene that will have you rolling with laughter and boasts some very funny achievements to snag as well!
Also, as I’ve mentioned this is a game about set-pieces and in this area it shines. After playing a few levels you’ll want to rush out and tell anyone who'll listen about how awesome the last scene was. It’s for this reason that you’ll keep playing despite the sub-par gameplay – you absolutely have to see what happens next! The closest I can come to in comparing this game is that this is Dragon Ball on acid, except with all the filler cut out and a hundred times more fun!
Given that you can now grab Asura’s Wrath for around £25 I’d definitely recommend people try it out just for the experience. Its not going to be making anyone’s top ten lists this year but its still a real blast!