Asura's Wrath is a title which has completely changed my expectations when it comes to video games. Even though I had a pretty clear idea of how the game would handle before I played it, nothing could prepare me for the journey that was to come. The experience is completely unique from start to end, and will without a doubt change what people think about video games should this style of gaming be successfully replicated in the future. It is important to keep this in mind as you read the rest of the review, as while it is by no means a perfect product, Asura's Wrath has the potential to completely revolutionise the entire industry.
The title takes on the story of Asura, a has-been God whose future turned after the being evicted from heaven by the other Gods. After losing his family to the corrupt plans of his former colleagues, Asura reawakens, and, after recognising what a mess the world has become, begins to direct his rage into a cleanup effort of the universe. The story is backed up action-based gameplay, however, there is one small difference between this title and games of a more conventional form: Asura's Wrath is composed almost entirely of sequences of quick time events and cutscenes. This title is, to date, the truest example of the phrase "interactive movie".
But how does it fare? Obviously, crafting an experience like this is a huge risk, especially given the average gamer's attitude towards QTEs. That said, the performance of this game at the stores seems more relevant than its reception for two reasons: firstly, this game is a first, and so any flaws present will be considerably more noticeable than in other titles. Secondly, its accomplishment over the counter is what will determine whether or not there is room for this model of game in the future.
What Asura's Wrath Got Right
Awesome presentation - Undoubtedly the most outstanding aspect of this title is its presentation, which is incredibly impressive in both audio and visual elements. The fluent movement and believable behaviour of characters in cutscenes accompanies an awesome soundtrack and beautiful visuals to create a title whose presentation never fails to deliver.
Convincing story - The story in this title isn’t likely to become part of a Hollywood thriller any time soon, but what’s there is told convincingly in a manner sure to evoke emotion in players. Players can connect with Asura, and a wider issue is explored thoroughly through solid voice acting in all cutscenes.
Insane scale - One of the coolest things about this title is the sheer scale of the events and characters. With some of the biggest bosses in videogame history (one is the size of a planet), enemies hundreds of times larger than the protagonist, and amazing space vistas, one can’t help but be impressed by the size of the game world. This also makes success feel much more satisfying.
What Asura's Wrath Got Wrong
Quick Time Events rule the game - Put simply, QTEs aren’t for everyone. In fact, it’s hard to be sure who they are for. The use of QTEs as a main interactive medium is something new. However, their appeal is limited, and they restrict the amount of control the player has over Asura.
Incredibly easy - Thanks to the nature of quick time events, it’s very hard to lose. Those looking for a challenging experience should look elsewhere, as Asura’s Wrath holds your hand, even through very linear events, making success too easy to achieve.
Not very long - Asura’s Wrath is, fittingly, split up into several episodes, each responsible for a segment of Asura’s story. Each episode is quite short, so despite their abundance, the total game time does not extend past a handful of hours. What makes this worse is that the title is completely a story-driven experience, resulting in limited replay value.
The Final Verdict
There’s no doubt that the use of QTEs in Asura’s Wrath is innovative and unique, but the fact is that it limits control over the protagonist, resulting in many scripted events which offer little challenge. Hence, the title is hard to recommend for its gameplay or replay-value. However, presentation is a saving grace, and will blow players away, contributing to a title which overall is still well worth playing.
By Harry Hughes