Asura’s Wrath hands-on preview – Tis but a scratch!

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It’s been a while since we’ve stepped into the shoes of an angry god, and with Sony keeping mum on when Kratos will reappear for the inevitable God of War 4, and Death only pitching up later in the year for Darksiders 2, we’ll have to settle for a little Asian mythology in our deity-with-an-anger-management-issue upcoming game.

Asura’s Wrath is arriving shortly, but right now, gamers can go hands on with the demo instead. All six hands to be precise.

Set amidst a sea of betrayal, kidnapping and fights that occur on a cosmic level, the demo introduces us to Asura, former general of the armies of the gods. He’s got more anger inside of him than the heated animosity between Star Trek and Star Wars fans, and also happens to fight in a manner that is far more tenacious than the Black Knight from Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

There are two chapters on display to play around with in the demo, the first being a fight with the mountain sized god Wyzen, which revolves around getting close to the massive deity and firing off blasts, while also having to destroy his massive airship.

It’s fast and furious action, more in the vein of an old school space fighter shooter than a traditional brawler, but the constant switching of lock-on and rapid-fire energy blasts seems to be well executed, with the closer you get to Wyzen, the more he throws at players.

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Here is where players get introduced to the Burst System of combat, where events and moments are built up, as massive event eclipse the need for a boss health bar.

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Admittedly, the small section where players have to take down his flagship feels tight and restrictive, and could have used a little more work to make it more  challenging, or at least throw a few more nameless henchmen into the mix to make things more interesting.

After deflecting a few more missiles back into the massive spaceship, players get back to fighting Wyzen, culminating with a fight that sees the deity grow to the size of a planet, wherein he tries to finger Asura to death.

Well, his finger is the size of a small continent, so get your minds out of the gutter. The fight ends with Asura having less arms than John Cleese after fighting King Arthur, teasing players with a “To be continued” ending.

That’s where the first part of the demo ends, and we then proceed to a more traditional brawling format, as Asura battles with his former mentor, Augus. This is clearly where the strength of the game lies, as the combat feels polished and responsive, while the battle itself presents several challenges. The fight quickly escalates to out of control levels, with Asura being impaled with a sword that goes through the planet itself, ending the scene with the usual cliffhanger.

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I’m not the biggest fan of Quick-Time Events, but the manner in which Asura’s Wrath weaves them into the gameplay should be an example that other developers follow. It’s not overly obtrusive and allows for the action on screen to still be followed, while implementing itself into the gameplay as a fun mechanic instead of a hacked-on, last minute job.

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This is the QTE component that all games should make note of, as Asura’s Wrath is one of the very few games that does it properly. Otherwise, the only other thing to really report on is how fantastic the game looks, like an Anime episode with the budget of the federal reserve around it. Characters are beautifully designed, and it’s wonderful to see a more expressive and imaginative art style mixed in with the usual steroid-infused look of the unreal engine.

The voice-acting may be as choppy as a Shaw Brothers Kung Fu film, but it’s not too distracting, and hopefully, there are a few more orchestral tracks in the soundtrack, as listening to the same one is bound to get annoying after a while. 

If you’re a fan of beat ‘em ups, and don’t mind a little QTE in your action, then Asura’s Wrath might just be the very game that you’ve been waiting to play. Hopefully, the sections that feel more like interactive films will be eclipsed content-wise for the mind-blowing Have at thee! combat that is present here.

Last Updated: January 24, 2012

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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