There is a board game called Betrayal at House on the Hill. In the game, three to six players move around a haunted house and discover rooms within the house. Symbols on the house tiles determine what kind of action is taken when the tile is laid down. Eventually one player turns into a traitor and the mission for that specific game is revealed. The game is mostly luck based, and there isn’t any reasoning as far as who becomes the traitor. Yet, I enjoy playing it for the experience. While there are winners and losers, no one really cares because of the fun experience we have. This is the feeling I had while playing Asura’s Wrath.
In Asura’s Wrath you play as Asura, a six-armed demigod that was a member of the Eight Guardian Generals. These Generals were in charge of keeping the peace and defending the people against the Gohma. After the Gohma were defeated, peace reigned the land. While still reveling in their victory, Asura is framed for the murder of the Emperor, his daughter is captured, and his wife is murdered. Needless to say Asura hasn’t had a very good day.
The gameplay in Asura’s Wrath is composed of two parts. Most of the game involves third-person fighting. Asura has a quick attack that can be performed from a short distance, a projectile attack, and a heavy attack. Sometimes when an enemy is knocked down, Asura can perform a special attack that will finish off the enemy. Dishing out damage fills up a Burst Gauge, and when it is filled Asura can perform a burst attack gives him extra power temporarily.
Quick-time events make up the other gameplay portions of Asura’s Wrath. These happen during the cutscenes, and they often come unexpectedly, so you’ll need to be on your toes even when you don’t think that there is anything happening. These usually involve hitting the Y button at the correct time or moving the analog sticks in specific directions.
This is where the main issue with Asura’s Wrath comes up. While there are fighting elements, the quick-time events take up a large part of the game. In fact, you aren’t introduced to the fighting until you have played the game for a while. Some of the chapters only contain quick-time events. The fighting segments don’t take long to complete either. While you eventually get a tutorial of the fighting system, it takes a while to get there.
When you start a level, you see a few scenes from the previous level reminding you of what happened. After completing a level, you get a sneak peek of what happens in the next level. It makes it feel like Asura’s Wrath might have been created as a downloadable game with short episodes. It’s probably better than this wasn’t created as a download game though, because the episodes are very short. Three slides are also shown with some dialog explaining the storyline. Unfortunately the text blends in with the artwork quite a bit, so you have to move the artwork so you can see the dialog. New content like artwork is unlocked after each episode as well. It makes you feel like you are making a lot of progress when finishing a level.
Asura’s Wrath is a good looking game. All of the cutscenes are done in game, and I almost didn’t catch when the game started because it looked so much like a cutscene. While many of the characters look like they look like they have come from some sort of anime or comic book convention, they work within the world created within the game. It is kind of funny to see Asura pushing against the index finger of a character larger than the earth, but sometimes you just have to move with what is given to you.
The voice acting superbly done, and when you look at the voice actors used within the game, you’ll see that they have participated in a wide variety of video games and anime. While names like Liam O’Brien, Robin Atkin Downes, Kari Wahlgren, Steve Blum, Tara Strong, and David Anthony Pizzuto might not be familiar to you, their voices should be. There isn’t any Cam Clarke shockingly enough, but they chose their voice actors with care and they each fit the characters they portray.
The tragedy of Asura’s Wrath lies in the sparseness of the actual gameplay. It’s too bad that there isn’t any real meat to the game, because it is a fun experience. The episodic nature makes the game easily playable in short bursts, but there isn’t any reason you can’t complete it in a day. Still, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy playing it because I wanted to see what happens next after every single chapter. The sci-fi and mythology infused story makes you want to constantly move forward. If you go in with tempered expectations and know there isn’t much of a game, you’ll have an enjoyable experience.