Whenever Cyberconnet2 tries something new, I can't help but wonder what goodies they have in store for us. Their games, while not the most critically acclaimed, manage to be distinct enough in their own right to warrant checking out.
From the Niche games that they've created, such as Silent Bomber and Tail Concerto; To the unexpectedly popular Dot hack franchise, to the mother of all anime license, the Naruto series. Cyberconnet 2, has always tried to outshine the competition while at the same time playing it safe. None of the games that they've developed ever tried to do anything truly revolutionary. So most of the time, any new ideas often take a backseat to what is expected in a game from the genre. Now with Asura's Wrath, CC2 is hoping to see just how much they can do differently while still keeping the game within the genre that we all know as "action."
The game wastes no time thrusting the player into the shoes of Asura, a Demigod tasked with protecting the world from an evil infestation that causes gigantic tentacles to rise from the earth's very core and unleash a savage fury.
An on-rails shooter segment quickly turns into a button masher. I use all of my divine strength to diminish the evil that ravages the earth. With the evil sealed away in the center of the earth once again, it is a time for celebration. But like any anti-hero, Asura soon finds his quest for peace transforming into a quest for revenge, as your wife gets murdered and your daughter is kidnapped. To make matters worse, Asura is framed for conspiracy and is then sent on a 12000-year quest to rid the world of evil and clear his name. The gameplay and story go hand and hand in this quest for redemption and revenge. Anime fans will feel right at home with this story, especially when Asura is cast downwards from heaven and forced to climb a seemingly endless tower that will no doubt remind Dragon Ball Z fans of Kami's tower, the place from which he watches over the earth.
As intriguing as the story may be, the gameplay is far from being your standard button masher. Yes, you primarily rely on one button to attack your foes while occasionally waiting for a QTE to occur on the screen to counter an enemy's attack. However, the way in which you traverse each battle, as well as the different opponents that you face off against, offer a unique blend of challenge. Depending on how skilled you are can either be a cakewalk or a pain in the ass.
While at first glance it may just look like another god of war or devil may cry clone in actuality, it has more in common with games like Mike Tyson's Punch-Out.
Now I know that that's probably one of the last games that anyone would think of referencing when playing Asura's wrath, but when you grind it down to its core, and you think about what made Punch-Out on the nes so great you might see the similarities. The greatest innovation of Punch-Out was that it wasn't just a sports title, it was more centered around the rhythm/timing genre in which you had to memorize every enemy's set of moves until you were good enough to create a pattern that worked out best for you.
In Asura's Wrath, you pretty much do the exact same thing. You have to memorize every enemy's unique attack pattern so that you could develop one of your own; while thinking of a strategy to successfully dispatch incoming threats in a way as quickly and effectively as possible. This will help you get a higher rating at the end of each stage or " episode."
The most prominent difference between this game and every other hack and slasho button masho on the market is that you don't win levels by killing enemies. Instead, you have a bar on top of the screen that tells you your "Rage" level. Defeating enough enemies, or countering enough attacks via quick-time events are the two primary ways to build up your rage meter, even getting hit will slightly increase your rage meter as somewhat of a consolation. Once your meter has been filled up all the way, the word "BURST" will appear on your screen, indicating that you are to perform a series of quick-time events to progress to the next area. This unnatural means of progression may turn off die-hard action game fans, but as I stated, this isn't so much an action game as a Timing/Rhythm oriented game.
Another significant aspect that should not be overlooked is the game's art style. Mixing together the canvas like the art style of Prince of Persia with sketch models via Valkiria Chronicles and well-placed lighting effects you get an incredibly unique art style that looks like all the characters are made out of woodcarvings. Yet are flexible enough as to avoid looking too much like a cardboard cutout during cutscenes.
Roughly two-thirds of a way into the game, your perspective will be switched over to another protagonist named Yasha who's move-set is very similar to Asura's except slightly more fast-paced. Though this also serves as a way to introduce new equally fast and ambitious foes at you, so the slight tweak in gameplay is gradually appreciated as your new characters' powers are a perfect match for your new foes. I also loved his theme whenever Yasha appears a spaghetti western-style theme begins to play, and it fits his personality just perfectly. The rebel without a cause in this game who's true intention is unknown until the ending climax is a great way of changing up the pace. Though only ever so slightly, it shows that the development team at least had enough common sense not to have you playing as the same obnoxious four-armed hero throughout the roughly 8-10 hours that you will be playing this game. Being able to view the story from different perspectives is a great way to avoid making the antagonists seem one dimensional.
Top all of this off with an unlockable ending that sets the stage for further DLC you have a great story that aims for the sky and doesn't know when to give up.
Asura's wrath can come across as a variety of things.
And while I definitely can't recommend it to everyone, the sheer scope of events that take place here are defiantly evident that a game doesn't need to follow the rule book as so many action games before it in order to be good.
It's a unique game loaded with potential that will make you feel like a total badass. 8.5/10