What do you get when you take the makers of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja & Ultimate Ninja Storm, and most of the .hack games? You get a game that plays like an anime, with an very basic gameplay mechanic, and the over the topness of Dragonball Z, and you’ll get CyberConnect2’s Asura’s Wrath. An original story developed by CyberConnect2 and produced by Capcom. The story focuses on the titular character, Asura. The game melds together Hinduism and Buddhism, with a splash of Science Fiction, giving the game an interesting blend with the anime style of the game. Now all these elements turned into a game is rather great blend, but to me personally, it fell short on quite a few instances throughout the game.
I’ll start with the good. The good revolves around the amazing story crafted from the tales in both Buddhism and Hinduism, and allowing for such a colorful story to be created, and played out in Parts, each named after the level of achieving enlightenment. The story centers around an age old war of apparent evil against the righteous elected Eight Guardian Generals to defeat the evil on Gaea or Earth. The evil is called the Gohma, and they ravaged the world and destroy anything that isn’t a Gohma. But behind the scenes, the leader of the Eight Guardian Generals, Deus, sets into place his plan to gain complete power over Gaea and the Gohma as well as be sole ruler in everything. But his plan requires Asura be the scapegoat for the Emperor’s murder, having his wife, Durga, killed, while kidnapping his daughter, Mithra. After being killed by Dues, Asura is sent to Naraka. Now Asura is already an angry demi-god, but once all these events transpire, and his death over the 12,000 years causes memory loss, he begins to gain them back and what he must fight for in a blood fueled and revenge induced rage to defeat all Seven Deities for killing him and his wife and rescue Mithra.
As I mentioned before, the game is played in parts, and each part is broken into a number of episodes, this is where the anime feel of the game comes in. Each episode starts with the naming the artist, producer, voice actors, and such. And at the end of each episode, it gives you a preview of the next in the form of the cinematics that will be played at some point during the episode. This nuance is quite cool, and makes you feel like you’re playing an anime, but after the 4th or 5th episode, its gets annoying and you just want to skip it, but you don’t want to miss anything. This and the way it’s played, its more on a level of a “interactive media” than video game. As you play, you’ll either love or hate the graphics of the game, which is a blend of anime, 3D CG graphics, and cel-shading, giving the game a gritty feeling, completely matching at times the mood and feeling of the characters. The level design, is limited since the arenas you fight in, are essentially set pieces, and no real exploration is given to you, the player, at any given time. You jump from one set piece, to the next, like an episode of any anime.
But as any high budget anime from any of the major anime production companies, the voice acting is top notch, and over the top as you would expect for a game like this. Each characters personality nailed down for the plot against the Emperor, to the self loathing of Yasha, the rage monster that is Asura, and the forgiving and imprisoned Mithra. The voice actors, be it in the original Japanese voices, or the English voices, they give their all to give you the player, the complete emotion of the scene present. As I’m not intimately familiar with Japanese voice acting, I’ll mention the outstanding voice action by Liam O’Brien (Asura), Robin Atkins Downes (Yasha), Kari Wahlgren (Mithra), and David Pizzuto (Deus), to name a few.
As the game, cannot stand alone on solely voice acting, high budget, and story, the gameplay is what brings people to the table to play, and the story is what makes them stay. And the gameplay for this game runs the gambit: Action, Beat ‘Em Up, Hack And Slash, Rail Shooter, Rhythm Game, Quick Time Events, and Third Person Shooter. At various points in the game, it turns into one of the many different game types. Each with a rather basic control scheme, nothing revolutionary, by no means. Much of the gameplay isn’t amazing; it’s rather pedestrian, and just to get you through an event that requires you to utterly destroy a Gohma, or one of the Deities. The game completely encompasses an over the top action, and consistently gives the player, the feeling, everything is certainly bigger and more angry from Asura, especially with the duel against Deus… but his anger is never abated.
The game comes down to, not in this exact order: cutscene, fight for a bit, cutscene, quick time, cutscene, button mash, and burst event which triggers more cutscenes. During some of these cutscenes, you’ll have to input a button that will appear on the screen for you to continue. This is where the gameplay is melded with the presentation of the game, allowing for the most over the top fights, and the badassery from Asura, and certain characters during their interactions with each other. For instance, the fight between Asura and Augus, you fight on the moon, and Augus, uses a Sword imbued with the mystic trait of extending no
matter the length, which ends with Asura and Augus plummeting towards Gaea with Asura being impaled back towards Gaea. But guess what, this all preceded by a hot springs quick time event involving a big busty servant.
Don’t get me wrong, Asura’s Wrath is an solid game, as long as you go into it, knowing full well, that you’re more so getting anime episodes in game form, where you slightly interact with the game and various quick time events, to spice up the ride during Asura’s anger induced revenge. The story with its roots in Buddhism and Hinduism, and sci-fi twist, allow for a fresh story, not done before. The game visually, isn’t stunning, but the gameplay melded with it, gives you a sensory overload, to a degree, allowing you to watch, somewhat at a distance, but still interact. At the end of the day, if you can get Asura’s Wrath for cheap, it’ll be worth the money, but when it was first released, I wouldn’t say the $60 price tag, was worth what was given at the end of the day.