Asura’s Wrath is the newest game developed by CyberConnect2. They’re probably best known for making licensed Naruto games based on the anime & manga series. Our own Aaron Sirois has reviewed them all and he’s found them ranging from mediocre (Naruto Shuppiden: Ultimate Ninja Impact) to enjoyable (Naruto Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress games. However, there’s a big difference between developing games based on anime (which people tend to have low expectations for) and developing one of Capcom’s biggest titles for the first quarter of 2012. The demo of Asura’s Wrath hit PSN today and after spending some quality time with it, here are ten quick thoughts about what I encountered.
1. The demo contains two chapters: Hollow Victory (Episode 5) and The Final Lesson (Episode 11). With an episodic format, the game looks to definitely be following the same structure as licensed anime games like Bleach: Soul Resurreccion or some of the Naruto titles. Even though this isn’t an anime related title, it makes sense for CyberConnect2 to stick to the structure they do best.
2. Hollow Victory pits the main character against what appears to be a very large stone giant. It also seems that the giant and his allies are powered by the protagonist’s daughter. Way to make it personal.
3. Is it just me or does Asura look and feel like a reskinned Akuma/Goki? Maybe a topless Evil Ryu. His powers remind me of a cross between either one and Goku from Dragon Ball Z, albeit it Asura goes Shiva rather than Super Saiyan.
4. The demo’s action start off with…ugh, Quick Time Events. Definitely not a way to win me over. In fact much of Hollow Victory is QTE based, which was a turn-off to me. I wanted something more action packed or beat ’em up based. Instead it felt more like the Jurassic Park episodes telltale did recently. I know people tend to either hate or love QTE, so if the full game is anything like the demo, expect the bulk of your time to be spent with those. There’s a little bit of button mashing for those looking for something different.
5. There’s a terrible segment where you are shooting energy projectiles as a giant spaceship. All you do is hold down the Square button. The problem is that the fixed camera angle has your character almost out of sight. This would be fine except that occasionally you’ll be attacked by a melee goon and you’ll have to stop what you’re doing to shoot at them instead of the ship. See the problem? Or rather…you can’t see the problem very well as it’s hard to tell when you’re being attacked. I tried to see if this was just not fitting into the screen format my TV was in, but after trying different resolutions, angles and the like, it appears the problem is simply a bad developer decision. Unfortunate as if the camera was better positioned, this would have worked a lot better.
6. The Final Lesson is somewhat similar. Here the QTE’s are more precise button presses for countering and the majority plays out like a button masher. Dodge, spam a button, dodge and repeat until you get a bar full, and then hit R2 to trigger a QTE series. It made me happy to see that there’s going to be variety to Asura’s Wrath gameplay as even Heavy Rain mixed things up by having investigation bits between QTE segments, even if what’s here bored me immensely.
7. The combat in Asura’s Wrath is so over the top I’m not sure how people are going to take it. It’s either going to come off so ludicrous than a gamer will be turned off and/or make “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” style jokes, or they’re going to absolutely love how insane things are here. I couldn’t take this thing seriously at all. It’s that cheesy.
8. “I have had carnal knowledge of the fairest maidens in Heaven.” Lines like these are what await you dialogue-wise. Again, things like this make me think Asura’s Wrath is going to be made fun of A LOT – and not for “arrow to the knee” or “The Cake is a Lie” reasons. More a “Master of Unlocking” thing. I was honestly thinking of Bert I. Gordon or Sandy Frank films while playing this. Or Uwe Boll’s The House of the Dead movie.
9. The game’s graphics and voice acting are decent. I wasn’t floored or even impressed by them. In fact, I thought the acting was a bit hokey in the similar to voice acting for games in the mid 90s (or budget PC titles today), but what’s here gets the job done and I think the average gamer will be satisfied with what they see on their screen. What little of the soundtrack you get to hear in the demo is very good though and is the most impressive aspect of the game that I encountered.
10. All in all, I can’t say this is a game I’ll be picking up, nor is it something I can recommend from playing the demo. I found the game to be extremely dull. Bits of the game seemed like a bad action anime, such as punching your opponent into outer space or watching said opponent then grow BIGGER THAN THE EARTH, but something tells me this is unintentionally funny rather than purposeful camp. Here’s hoping the real thing is better than the bad taste in my mouth the demo left me with. Asura’s Wrath hits 02/21/2012 if you’re still interested. Either way, play the demo and decide for yourself if this this game feels like something you’ll want to pick up. After all, I might have found it to be on the level of a Full Moon Entertainment movie, but you might actually enjoy it.