It’s no surprise that Asura’s Wrath divided opinion when it was released earlier this year. It’s a game that can be broken down to being approximately 75 percent cut-scenes, 20 percent hacking and slashing, and 5 percent QTE events. For the most part you’re simply sat holding the joypad, waiting from a button prompt or battle to appear.
As such, calling Asura’s Wrath an interactive anime isn’t far off the mark at all. The storyline – which involves Asura being framed for murder and having his daughter taken away – is very typical of what you’d find in an anime with plenty of shouting, over the top attacks and drawn-out talks of revenge. It’s spilt into 18 episodes each lasting around 30 minutes, and like an episode of a TV show there’s a quick recap and a preview of the next episode at the start and end respectively.
It’s because of this episodic nature that I found myself treating Asura’s Wrath as I would a DVD boxset, playing (read: watching) one or two episodes a night. I even took a break from it for a few days to play through The Walking Dead: Starved for Help and some other random XBLA games. After playing the tedious Feeding Frenzy from start to finish I was quite glad to get reacquainted with Asura’s angst-ridden ways, I can tell you.
I think another reason for playing Asura’s Wrath in stops in starts is because the plot never really had me on tenterhooks. It’s not a poorly told story by any means – some of the sights you see are incredibly grand in scale – but I found that it didn’t flow too brilliantly. It peaked in the middle and although the twist (which I won’t spoil) at the end is pleasing, it was hardly jaw-dropping. That peak? An incredibly outlandish boss battle with Wyzern, one of Asura’s former cohorts. Wyzern expands in size to the point of being able to push Asura deep into the ground with just one flick of a finger.
This boss battle isn’t the most memorable moment, however. About half way through the adventure Asura finds himself having some downtime at a hot spring with his former master. The two should be at each other’s throats, but instead Asura finds himself listening to his master’s moral standpoints. We’re told that he doesn’t care about right or wrong – he just fights for the thrill of the battle. A battle between the two does inevitably ensue, but before this happens you’re given the option to have a few drinks which are bought over by a busty servant girl.
Some much needed comic relief can be had here. Stare at her chest and you’ll gain an achievement for “giving in to your male instincts” which is promptly followed by a slap around the chops. As you talk to your former master and knock back the beverages a few little ‘peeping Toms’ appear too. Focus the camera on them and they’ll scarper. Amusing, but not quite as amusing as pulling the camera to the far side of the screen to find one of the larger enemies haplessly trying to hide while having a sneak peek at the busty servants. He too scarpers, but not before falling on something slippery while retreating.
Even with moments such as this, Asura’s Wrath didn’t sell too well on release and as a result it’s not exactly the most common game around. If you can find a copy though then it shouldn’t cost much more than £20 as the price is starting to drop. Fans of anime would do well to consider it – although it costs twice the price of a typical anime DVD, there’s a good six or seven hours of play to be had.
It’s a shame that Capcom didn’t think to release Asura’s Wrath on PS Vita. It would have been an ideal game for the playing on the move due to being spilt into bite-sized chunks. Perhaps it will find a way onto the system in the future – it’s not like Capcom are afraid to re-release games from their past on as many formats as possible. There’s even another Street Fighter II collection not too far away from release.