Asura’s Wrath (2012)
Raging against the universe, one QTE at a time
Asura’s Wrath is a hybrid “game”, if you can call it that, it is more of an interactive experience than anything else, and most of the game is cutscenes, with QTEs during a good chunk of it, and even the gameplay is largely QTE based as well.
That being said, it does have so many different ideas crammed into this short 7 hour game, that it is always talked about as one of the standouts of the QTE being done “right”.
Asura’s Wrath follows Asura, one of the 8 demigod guardians of earth. You get framed as a traitor and have your title striped, family ripped away, and banished. Anger burns inside of you and you go on a revenge warpath. The game feels vaguely familiar to the God Of War series, as Asura has a very similar style of solving issues as does Kratos. The gameplay, when it does allow you to directly control the character, is normal 3rd person action adventure like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, yet most of the time, these small arenas feature around 2-4 minutes of fighting, followed by around 20 minutes of cutscenes.
The cutscenes and just the flow of the story bounces back and forth between present time and flashbacks, and the way the game is structured, in chapters and acts, also can be very confusing. Wanting to be part “anime” tv show, there are anime bumpers, to be continued, and even recaps of the episode you are about to play through. All of this can be very confusing if you don’t sit down and play the game in one sitting. It’s just a very unique and very Japanese way of presenting a game's story.
The only real complaints I have with the game is that I felt that the story became too big for what the game tried to be. It acts like these characters are well known and when they get screen time, we know nothing about them before they are cast off, killed off or just plain don’t show up again. With no real clearly defined characteristics, or character development, it is extremely hard to care about pretty much everyone in the game. Especially since the game wants to do TV Show style episodes, recaps before the episode giving away all story elements about to play out, and even more story told through stills and captions.
The pace of the game is frantic and decides to have QTEs as its main way to involve the player into “playing the game”. I personally think this should have just been a movie or a one season anime TV Show instead. Throwing QTEs in the middle of cutscene fights just distracts the player from the story more than anything else.
Where the game really does shine is just the bombastic out of the gate, over the top anime presentation of action on display. It’s truly incredible how insane this story is and the crazy amount of punches and laser blasts that take place. Somehow the game can ramp up the action even more than the Earth shooting gigantic laser beams into space against an entire armada of spaceships and demigods, within the first 10 minutes.
A stand out moment is where you and your mentor have a no holds barred battle on the surface of the moon while Symphony No. 9; a classical piece of music plays in the background. It’s incredible and again, the crazy insane antics don’t stop there. It still gets even more crazy.
Asura’s Wrath can be a bit too complicated of a story to tell, be an unnecessary “game” as the gameplay is so short and pointless, it might as well not exist. But there is something special about this game, something that even though so many parts contrast against each other, it somehow flows into an extremely interesting piece of gaming history. Capcom somehow created a new amazingly awesome badass character that they haven’t capitalized on, even though it cribs and takes a very influenced artstyle from Street Fighter 4. You can see the influences from several characters as well.
As many things are going against it, Asura’s Wrath is a game that is such an interesting game that it isn’t hard to recommend. The over the top nature of the game and the setpieces alone will draw you in and intrigue you enough to keep going and finishing the game. Take the time to revel in the insanity, like a good soak in a hot spring.