Asura’s Wrath is the prototype for The Walking Dead. I’d think to think that Telltale Games spent many hours pouring over the mistakes of Asura’s Wrath to create the perfect episodic game experience. Everything that The Walking Dead gets right, Asura’s Wrath gets wrong. Which would make the game unworthy of a recommendation, yet it is so polarizing that you have to play it. Like Asura himself, the game will push past its own limits and take you on a journey so over the top that it will force you to like it. There are times where I want to hate Asura’s Wrath, where the faults of the game would usually keep me from finishing it. But I had to see what’s next, I had to see how far this game would go. And took me to the only logical destination–God…or something above it. Or on the same level, hell I still don’t know.
The Asura’s Wrath Show
Remember when I said Asura’s Wrath was the prototype for The Walking Dead? It’s the only game I’ve ever played that is structured like a television show. The game is broken up into 22 episodes. Episodes begin like typical anime, with a recap of the previous episode, bumpers(commercial breaks), and sneak peek at the next episode. CyberConnect2 wants you to feel like you are a part of an anime series. And it would have worked if the pacing wasn’t so terrible. Bumps seem to happen at random intervals, interrupting the flow of an episode. Some episodes are so short that bumps aren’t even necessary, yet they find their way into the segment anyway. The previews for next episode don’t happen until after an episode is finished. For example, I finish episode 4. The preview for episode 5 doesn’t show until the beginning of episode 5. It’s a weird stop-gap that shouldn’t be there. If the game combined episodes into longer set pieces the bumps and previews would make sense. Instead we get bumps for an 8 minute play session.
Characters are Fun, But Boring
If you’ve ever watched Dragonball Z you know the drill. Asura and the seven deities each have their own distinct personalities and fighting styles. But even with these different personalities, everyone comes off as flat and one-dimensional. Asura has one mode–rage. As you progress through the story you’ll want more emotions from the main character, but you won’t get it. You’ll only get more rage. Asura’s motivation is so bland that it ceases to move you along, even it is the source for Asua’s rage. There are some characters that are enjoyable, like Augus, who is the group’s Kenpachi Zaraki.
If you’re going to play this game you’ll need to be okay with Quick-time Events(QTE). Fighting is handled in the traditional action game genre with a lock-on mechanic, simple combo system, and open range battles. Bosses utilize simple, but challenging patterns during combat. The goal in each battle is to build your Burst meter. Once you build the Burst meter you press the right trigger to initiate the Burst sequence. It is during the Burst sequence that the QTE occur. You’ll spend timing trying to watch the action on-screen while making sure you’re pressing the correct button. Failure to hit the correct button can cancel the sequence putting you back in control of Asura to build the meter again. All battles end with a Burst sequence so there is no avoiding QTEs.
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Over The Top Action
I’m sure by now you’re probably wondering “why the hell should I even play this game?” I haven’t painted the game in the best light, and honestly you will get frustrated with the same points that I listed above. But this game is so damn fun. It’s so over the top and ridiculous that you just have to play it. After the first battle with Wyzen you’ll want to see what happens next. The game finds a way to go above and beyond the previous chapter. Just like Asura uses his rage to push him past his limits, this game uses it’s set pieces to push you past the faults in the game’s presentation. You’ll never play another game like this. The episode pack IV DLC really drives this point home as the last boss battle is something out of Final Fantasy VI. It’s one hell of a ride.
Great Moments, Bad Presentation
Asura’s Wrath could have been a better game than what it was. It is amazing experience, only hindered by the developers decision to present the game like a television show. There is a diverse cast of characters, but don’t expect much in the character development department. But you’ll forget those things the moment you press the Burst button. The action sequences in this game are so over the top that you’ll want to see what’s next. It’s an experience like no other and it’s something that you should be a part of. You’ll want to download the DLC to get the full experience and see just how far the developers can push the action. For under $40 this is a game that you should buy just for the experience.