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Tubatic avatar 11:08 PM on 02.24.2013  (server time)
A Father's Fight: Asura's Wrath is Awesome


The right trigger glyph flashes on the screen as Asura's blazing anger reaches yet another limit break, flames licking the chrome on the thin and understated health/rage meters. I slam my index finger against the button with more force than even necessary. Asura's Wrath has got me invested in action of play. I'm not just tapping to a rhythm or plainly meeting a quick time requirement. CyberConnect2 has managed to make me care about this angry character and his ever growing struggle against righteousness gone wrong. Good fiction asks you to care a little. Great fiction manages to make you care.

I was surprised by how effective this game is at creating that investment. The core gimmick is pretty transparent, with the game giving you a prompt that you simply have to match. Its an easy and age old mechanic the rules the overall flow of the game. However, there's a hearty plate of content built around those basic play elements. There's a third person 3D shmup in Asura's Wrath. There's a well rounded brawler in Asura's Wrath. There's even a basic Test-Your-Strength button masher in Asura's Wrath. And draped over all of this, there's a serial fiction narrative in 4 parts holding it all together.

Smart people shouldn't fall for this, right? Surely, a mature gamer with a mature gaming palette should get one good bite of this and realize she's done this and she's far above it from an emotional and gameplay dexterity consideration.

As it turns out no. No, not at all. In the same way adults end up liking tart juices and maintain an unhealthy sweet tooth, so too does a raw sweet treat like Asura's Wrath splash against my old-enough-to-be-your-dad's game-buds and trigger all the senses necessary for an appreciation filled “MMMM!” to slip my lips.

No one part of Asura's Wrath makes the experience. The shooter sections benefit from the very active background and enemy elements. The brawler sections have the player managing a simple palette of moves against two overdrive meters. The animation-like artstyle comes alive through excellently on point sound design. However, the story content made a big impact on me mostly for the beats that hit me as a new father.

To take nothing away from the execution of the story, the main theme of the game is Asura's battle for the safety of his family, and the happiness of his daughter. As Asura grows 4 arms and punches the infinite square in the jaw, I relate to the anger just a little bit more than I would have 4 months ago. I get the frustration against things that can't be controlled and understand the release of rage that Asura seeks. The story feels personal and real, impossible physics and meta-physics aside. Everything matters just a little bit more.

Asura's Wrath may not look like the most engaging game, and it may look excessively simple with an extreme anime flare. What Asura's Wrath actually delivers is a finely crafted, digestible burst of gamecraft that I wish I had played sooner, though I'm glad to have had the extra bit of context to really enjoy.

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