Review: Asura’s Wrath (** stars) (Part 3)

Asuras_Wrath_Backgrounds_WallpapersPart 2

As for Asura’s Wrath and its Panzer Dragoon/Star Fox copycat sections, do these work out? Both yes, and no.

Frequently, the game will place you in a sort of “fixed rail” sequence where a crosshair will appear. Your goal, not surprisingly, is to shoot the things. All of the things. Honestly, these sequences tend to blend into one another, so it’s hard for me to describe them in detail; a few make you stand absolutely still, attempting to defend yourself while you can’t move, but they all function in a similar way regardless of how much the action moves. You simply try to shoot everything using square. However, like Panzer Dragoon (hence the reference up above), placing your cursor over an enemy also locks onto them, or locks onto their many, many body parts depending. Pressing triangle will unleash your accumulated lock-on missiles, thereby dealing a ton of damage.

This is where part of the strategy comes from: the normal ranged attack functions almost identically to the way it does in normal combat sequences, so it performs much of the same function: shoot missiles before they hit you. Enemy unload a ton of projectiles at your character, and you need to have total awareness to avoid your untimely death (not surprisingly, Hard mode exacerbates this significantly). For some of these “on-rail” sequences, you’ll also need to attack enemies in melee range and avoid obstacles, which add additional concerns to the basic shooting on display.

Asura's Wrath Shooting

It also looks really cool, which is a bonus.

And here’s where I surprise you, and say these parts contain some of the most fun Asura’s Wrath has to offer. They take advantage of the graphical prowess of the game, allow it to show you some exciting sights, and also place you right into the anime-style action. In fact, because of their dynamism, they make the rote action-combat in dull arenas seem rather boring by comparison. As well, they require skill to not die, since getting hit with a ton of enemy projectiles or melee hits (which don’t provide much invincibility time) proves fatal more often than not.

The problem is, Asura’s Wrath often uses these sequences for transitional purposes in its myriad cutscenes and fight sequences, rather than fleshing them out as a game mode in themselves. Just like every other active “playing” mode in the game, you’re still filling up a Burst Meter so you can press the Burst button and move towards the next story beat. I hate doing this when I’m actually playing a competent game for once, and especially when it pulls you right out of it for some more exposition. Goodness, I’m not sure how this happened, but the non-fighting parts actually turned out the worst of everything Asura’s Wrath has to offer – and it’s supposed to be an anime video game!

Asura Fighting StuffHonestly, beyond this point, there’s not much more to say about Asura’s Wrath. Given its commercial prospects, I doubt we’ll ever see a sequel, mostly because the idea came into being and utterly failed on impact. But, I still respect the game for its commitment to its central goal, even if I don’t find it an experience that I will return to in the future. Sometimes, risks pay off, as in the lepers of 2 Kings 7:

Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why do we sit here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ then the famine is in the city and we will die there; and if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us [c]go over to the camp of the Arameans. If they spare us, we will live; and if they kill us, we will but die.” They arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Arameans; when they came to the outskirts of the camp of the Arameans, behold, there was no one there. For the Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear a sound of chariots and a sound of horses, even the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.” Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents and their horses and their donkeys, even the camp just as it was, and fled for their life. When these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they entered one tent and ate and drank, and carried from there silver and gold and clothes, and went and hid them; and they returned and entered another tent and carried from there also, and went and hid them.

Often times, they don’t pay off at all, but a failure is often an opportunity to try again in a different way. Failure does not mean the idea isn’t worth pursuing, but that the current form of the idea does not function correctly. I say this as a person who loves NieR to death, yet recognizes that it’s a flawed masterpiece at best (one that deserves 10,000 words of text, but still!). Asura’s Wrath fits squarely into that camp: if you like this sort of thing, and understand its notable flaws, then you will enjoy yourself immensely. Otherwise, like me, you’ll nitpick this product to death until it frustrates you. Consider the two star rating a result of locking the ending of a story-based game behind a DLC wall, too!

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.