Capcom are rightly regarded as a giant of the industry, based upon a rich heritage of great games, often blending the game design of the West with their own Japanese elements. Nothing is more apparent when playing through Asura’s Wrath than the simple fact that it is Capcom’s riskiest title yet, and should be applauded all the more for it.
The first thing I have to say is that Asura’s Wrath really tests the waters in a way that few others have attempted recently. Essentially the game takes the form of an interactive piece of anime. Quick time events, button bashing and Devil May Cry/Bayonetta style combat sequences ensure an unusual feel, that while familiar, doesn’t engage in the same was as either of the two previously mentioned titles.
Bayonetta and Asura’s Wrath actually have a lot in common, but are presented in two wildly different styles, whereas Bayonetta concentrates on putting you in the centre of the action, with a range of moves, Asura’s Wrath puts more emphasis on the story-telling aspect. In fact I can confidently say that during my playtest there were sections of the game that required little more than a dozen inputs on the controller in ten minutes.
This is not a criticism.
It would be in other titles, but as Asura’s Wrath sets out right from the very beginning with this style, it’s clearly a design choice, rather than a design flaw. What it does mean, however, is that a large amount of gamers will automatically dismiss the game as being crap, but I think that is ok. Trying to do something new will invariably mean that you have to run the risk of not being ‘popular’. Of course game sales are important, but I find it comforting that at the same time as releasing Streetfighter X Tekken, Capcom are sneaking out a curio title.
Asura’s Wrath embraces it’s anime stylings, offering up advert break style title cards, to be continued screens and more. My personal favourite touch was the ‘trailer’ that runs before each chapter, offering a glimpse of what is to come, while expanding on the plot. This dedication to the TV anime style gives the game character, and comes coupled with exceptionally illustrated plot forwarding scenes. These scenes are traditionally drawn images with dialogue that gives more depth to the plot, with each set being created by a different artist. All of this attention to the artistic and the storytelling aspects prove that what Capcom intended was to create an interactive story, rather than a more traditional shoot/beat ’em up title based around mythology, because that’s been done to death already. Taking elements of Hindi mythology and splicing in science fiction, while also making good use of ‘animals’ in the role of one enemy element – not to mention a ‘zombie’ elephant, a favourite in games here at the Lolocaust – the game is familiar but also fresh.
The storyline, as far as I got at least, deals with General Asura, one of eight guardian generals who are fighting against an unrelenting foe, the Gohma. The game begins with an assault on a huge creature living inside a planet being struck by General Asura, who returns to his family, and a hero’s welcome. Things go wrong when he finds himself with blood on his hands and the Emperor murdered in front of him. This sparks off a tale of betrayal that leads to Asura finding his wife fatally wounded, his daughter kidnapped and his fellow Generals throwing him to his doom. The rage inside Asura results in him refusing to die, the need for vengeance fuelling his on-going survival as he awakens twelve thousand years later with only a golden spider to guide him on his path to revenge. Soon enough he is battling the former Generals, now calling themselves the Seven Deities, whom have used his daughter’s powers to turn themselves into gods. This works perfectly, and the game is designed around the story, making good use of quick time events and over-the-top visuals. Asura in particular is a being whom looks sculpted, with lines across his face emulating the brush strokes of an artist perhaps, and other characters taking on very stylised, mythology-influenced looks.
In summary my time with Asura’s Wrath was interesting. I hadn’t read much on it in the lead up to release, and as such had assumed that it would have been, as previously mentioned, much like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry. Instead it is more a blend of those titles, Heavy Rain, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and God of War. Normally this would dictate that the game would feel conflicted, but it really doesn’t. There is a clear focus on story-telling that will divide it’s audience. If you want to try something new, that includes a protagonist that one minute fights with six arms, before losing them all and having to fight one of the main enemies with just his head and legs, then I cannot recommend it highly enough. I was expecting to find the game passable, and instead I am now contemplating buying a full retail copy.
If you believe that games should all feature America-focused war scenarios, walk away now. Asura’s Wrath is not for you.
The Lolocaust Animal Equivalent Rating: Peacock