Asura’s Wrath would have you believe that it’s different; a game that attempts to separate itself from the norm, succeeding and failing in an unfortunately disparate measure. Problems on the back burner for a second, credit should be given to the scale and spectacle, and how compelling it all can be when in full swing. Asura’s Wrath is everything you can imagine in big Japanese action games and then some. Imagine a planet-sized boss inflicting catastrophe on an entire world with just his fingertip. Asura’s Wrath has that in droves. The basis of all the crazy action is anger – red, fiery anger. It drives everything along, including the eponymous hero, who, having been betrayed and killed by his fellow deities, returns to the land of the living 12,000 years later to ensure they know just how angry he is.
As a lead character, Asura is pretty weak, prancing between your hyperbolic Japanese stereotype to a more Kratos-like staple for endless “RARRRRGH” moments in the place of “ATHEEENAAA”. The surrounding cast are slightly more impressive, combating Asura’s monosyllabic sad face mood with a larger variety of personalities. Calm, cool characters highlight the ridiculousness of our lead, but they also serve as an R&R session from all the crazy madness.
Through all the carnage, there is something more emotive. Asura might be a man with six arms; he may also be X, the man with the X-ray eyes, but he’s also a father and a husband dealing with betrayal and loss. The misery and strife that envelops him are hinted at, hell they are pointed at with a big planet-destroying finger, but there’s never enough downtime for the story to take hold, or for you to really care that much about the outcome. He might be a badass, but he’s not someone you’ll really feel sorry for. SORRY, ASURA.
And then, finally, Asura’s Wrath remembers to be an interactive experience and hands you the reigns. When it does, and it barely will throughout the 6-hour period it’ll take for you to complete, it plays like crap. Imagine Child of Eden space sequences where you have to target your enemies and mash a single button, envisage Naruto battle portions where you have to beat the living daylights out of your enemies and mash two or three buttons. Sound like it’s worth £40? It’s probably not. The hugely impressive size of everything is absolutely fabulous to watch, but I want to interact with these sequences far more than I actually can. Why make a game that I can barely play, and when I can I wish I was watching again.
Despite the story – which I loved – and the spectacle – which I also adored – there’s little here to recommend at the current £40 price tag whacked on the front of the box. You think Asura is angry? Imagine if you’d just dropped 40 shiny sterlings on a QTE-driven anime show. It may have you believe it’s different, or that it is attempting to do something so innovative that it deserves your time and attention, but for such a hefty expense, it demands very little of the former to be worth the latter.
Words by Sam White