Title: Asura’s Wrath
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Rating: 4 out of 5
Asura’s Wrath is a rather unique gaming experience. It combines epic mythology and space opera with gameplay mechanics from beat ‘em ups and rail shooters to create one of the most insane titles to be released in recent years.
The premise of Asura’s Wrath is something akin to an Asian God of War. Drawing on Hindu, Buddhist and Shinto influences, the game’s story centres on a demi-god called Asura who is extremely angry, and quite rightly so. Asura is one of the eight demi-gods who have spent eons trying to eradicate the demonic hordes of Gohma from the Earth, and the story begins as Asura succeeds in defeating their colossal leader, Vlitra. However, once the battle is over, Asura’s fellow demi-gods promptly betray him; murdering his wife, kidnapping his daughter and casting him down from the heavens. After spending 12,000 years in the underworld, Asura returns from the dead to exact brutal revenge on his former comrades. It may sound absurd, but the story is strangely compelling and is always kept firmly centre stage.
The focus on narrative admittedly makes the game rather linear, but this linearity fits Asura’s Wrath surprisingly well. Rather than being given a vast world to wander at your leisure, Asura’s Wrath is delivered at an electric pace, in an episodic format hinging on a successive series of impressive set pieces interspersed with brawling and shooting. The fighting sections may not be as sophisticated as in other games but they are very accessible and enjoyable, with a straightforward control system consisting of regular, special and projectile attacks. As fights progress, Asura’s rage increases, he sprouts additional limbs and becomes ever more vicious until you fill up the game’s burst gauge to unleash devastating and visually stunning special attacks. The rail shooting sections are reminiscent of the N64 titles, Sin and Punishment and Lylat Wars, with Asura taking on vast space armadas singlehandedly (or more accurately, six-handedly).
The key strength of Asura’s Wrath lies in how dazzling its set piece battles are. Featuring enemies larger than those seen in Shadow of the Colossus, and utilising over the top techniques ,which should please fans of anime and manga such as Naruto, Fist of the North Star and Dragon Ball Z, there is no denying how truly epic the boss battles are in Asura’s Wrath. The battle against Augus on the surface of the moon is particularly incredible.
The disappointing thing about Asura’s Wrath however, is that despite how enjoyable it is, it is over quite quickly. You’ll probably finish it in less than twelve hours, but on the plus side you get to punch a planet in the face, and who wouldn’t want to do that?