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Asura’s wrath is a genre defying video game developed by CyberConnect2 and published by Capcom. CC2 is probably best known for his work on the dotHack and the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja franchises. Here they have crafted an elegant and exaggerated tale of revenge, loosely based on Hindu and Buddhist mythologies, but with a touch of science fiction. It is also one of the most underrated titles of 2012.
That does not mean that everyone will enjoy Asura’s wrath. The game’s harshest critics have criticized it for being too awkward, calling it more interactive anime than video game, and it’s a difficult point to argue with. The game alternates between third-person fights, rail-style shooter segments, a host of cut scenes, and numerous fast-time events. (For those of you who don’t know, fast-time events are those segments in games that play as a scene, but involve pressing timed buttons or other controller inputs in correspondence with the action on the screen.) Be a fighter, the combat is almost too scarce to keep some players interested. At times, you will feel like you are watching the game rather than playing, and as a result, you may have the feeling that you are no longer helping to shape the events, but are alone for the journey. At least it’s a good trip.
If you like more diversity than a first person shooter or third person shooter in the games you play, Asura’s Wrath is worth checking out. The phrase “interactive anime” really hits the spot here. The game even takes place in 18 ‘episodes’ instead of levels, with a few opening credits and, around the mid-point of the level, a couple of splash screens where the commercial break would be. Everything from the graphic style and the way the characters are shaded, to the exaggerated combat aromas of the anime, comes to life. (Now I know I’ve used over-the-top twice in this review, but what do you call a game where a man runs his sword all the way through another man, and oh yeah, THE WHOLE PLANET BEHIND FROM HIM??) This anime presentation really suits the style of the game and the gonzo fights. It’s a shame all those cutscenes aren’t telling a better story.
It’s mostly Asura’s fault. He’s not really a nice guy. Take Akuma from the Street Fighter games, give him Goku’s Super Sayian hair from Dragon Ball Z, and then give that guy all the personality and rage of the Incredible Hulk and you won’t be far from Asura’s baseline. He’s so angry all the time. Okay, sure, he was betrayed by his seven fellow demigods. Yes, his wife was murdered and his daughter kidnapped, and then yes, he was sent to what is essentially hell for 12,000 years to think about it. I’m not saying that the guy has no right to be angry, I’m just saying that scenes full of monosyllabic growls and lots of screaming aren’t really a compelling drama.
It’s good that you don’t play this game for history.
You play this game because you want to see a guy who is so angry that he grows four extra arms. A guy who’s so angry that he throws a flying shellfish the size of a blue whale at a snapping turtle the size of a small town. You want to see a guy who’s so angry that he hits the ground hard enough to propel himself into space … where he proceeds to destroy an entire fleet of warships. You play this game because you want to see a guy make his way to the core of a planet. You play this game because it’s the craziest, stabbing planet-est, the most EXTRAORDINARY (yeah, I said it) bunch of crazies out there right now.
Like I said, the game is not for everyone. It’s one of those polarizing experiences, and you’ll probably love it or hate it. However, if you like unique gaming experiences or you like anime, you will find something to enjoy. Asura’s wrath. Go to Slackers and find it today.