Graphic novels and videogames seem to go hand in hand these days, with fans of either medium generally being connoisseurs of the other. Many action/adventure games and RPGs have ventured into comic-style presentations, but few have really nailed anime. Until now. Asura’s Wrath presents an incredible anime style and an appropriately wonky hero’s plot, giving you the feeling of playing an anime episode like no other game before it. But maybe there’s a reason behind anime’s non-interactive history, because as spot-on as Asura’s Wrath may be in the graphical and plot realm, it seldom ventures beyond “average” in gameplay.
Gamers play as Asura, one of seven guardian generals who’s charged with defending the planet Gaea from various threats, including a race of monsters called Gohma. As things get nasty with the Gohma, though, the other generals betray Asura, setting him on a predictable story of vengeance.
Problem number one: that story unfolds more through quick-action cutscenes than it does gameplay. In light of the great anime presentation, this isn’t necessarily the end of the world, but at the same time, you’ll buy Asura’s Wrath to play a game, not watch a movie littered with quick-action button presses. During the course of the game’s 18 episodes, you do run into a smattering of other mechanics, but none of them lasts long enough to really hook you. I’ve also never been one to like quick-action scenes, which this game relies on, so I’m predisposed to being less than pleased. Take that as you will; at least it’s honest.
Problem number two: the non-quick-action sequences feel like every other action game out there, which leaves Asura’s Wrath to stand apart on its presentation alone. As stated above, it definitely achieves this, but at that point you’ll be wishing Capcom made an Asura’s Wrath anime film rather than taking a crack at an interactive game.
In a different time I may have been open to a bit more experimentation in my game experience, but for some reason I’m looking for originality not only in presentation, but in presentation and one or two other elements (plot, gameplay mechanics, character viewpoints, etc.). Sadly, Asura’s Wrath just doesn’t deliver in that regard. As an anime experience, it’s frankly hard to top what Capcom’s done here. But as an entry in the pantheon of interactive entertainment, it doesn’t do enough to be anything more than marginally “interactive,” resulting in a merely average, albeit unique, game.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360