The end of July is just around the corner, which means that Otakon is right on the horizon. Don’t miss your chance to come down to the Baltimore Convention Center for a beautifully air conditioned otaku gathering. Speaking of anime, this week we have a rather atypical selection. This week, we cover Azura’s Wrath.
The decision to review this was a back and forth battle which ultimately won out with doing the review, obviously. Asura’s Wrath is however ultimately a video game, and not the norm for reviews by this examiner. The one thing that makes Asura’s Wrath stand apart though and worthy of review is that the game plays out like an interactive anime.
[Synopsis of game] Long ago in the realm of Shinkoku, eight deities known as “The Eight Guardian Generals” battled to protect civilization from a destructive force known only as Gohma. Asura was one of the most prominent of this group. During the victory celebration, the Emperor of Shinkoku was assassinated in a sinister plot and the blame was placed on Asura. In the middle of the commotion, Asura’s wife was also murdered and his daughter kidnapped. With even his brother-in-law and rival Yasha turning against him, Asura was banished from Shinkoku. Awoken by a voice after 12,000 years, Asura vows revenge on all those who have betrayed him.
Now what makes Asura’s Wrath stand in this anime and manga review is the fact that this video game plays out like an anime. That’s might sound strange, but it’s true. There are eighteen individual chapters that play out like episodes, not counting the bonus DLC. On top of that, at the end of each chapter, there’s a prelude to the following chapter. Not to mention that there are variable smorgasbords of cut scenes that make you’d think this was an anime if not for all the button mashing. The story and the animation are nothing short of beautiful. The world is painted as this blend of religion (Hinduism) and science, which is portrayed very well, visually and literally. The graphics lend to add to the awesomeness of the game/anime as you often quite literally smash and RAGE your way through levels crushing whatever’s in your path while ruining one of the buttons on your game controller.
Obviously, the story follows Asura, and while it may not be the “true to fact” Asura from Buddism and Hinduism, he’s still pretty amazing. His wrath after his betrayal is something akin to Kratos from the God of War series with a bit of Super Saiyin Goku thrown in there just to keep it spicy. In following his story, he dies (a few times) and you watch him climb back up and look at a changed world each time. What makes the story interesting are some of the plot devices employed, and definitely the humor. The villains’ reasoning for doing what they’ve done makes you realize that perhaps there’s something deeper here. But of course, you don’t reach the end of it so easily. Asura’s Wrath does a good job of doing a plot twist in a non-obnoxious fashion. Like all animes and mangas (or so is hoped), you eventually learn that there is more to Asura than just this undying and bottomless pit of rage he has. It is what dug into his story as you find not only an appeasement to his anger, but who he points it at.
Switching it up, looking at Asura’s Wrath from a gamer’s perspective; it’s somewhat hard to classify what the game is. There are a lot of cut scenes and sometimes, little gameplay. Even when you do get lots of gameplay, there are several different kinds of it all rolled into one: quick time events, shooter, action, etc. At times, it can be hard to gauge Asura’s Wrath as a game, but more of an anime where you get to do stuff in it. That said, the gameplay and what not is enjoyable. However, another of the downsides to this logic is that no matter how good or how bad you perform or if you miss a quick time event, it has no impact on the story. The only thing that’s affected is your end of the chapter score. As someone investing time into something, it would be great to know that even if the story is leading to a single point, that what you do matters. There is also the shortcoming of the fact that Asura’s Wrath is short, like six to seven hours short. However, one of the redeeming qualities of the game are the boss fights. While interweaved with the storytelling, they are very fun even when Asura takes all those hits to the face.
All in all, Asura’s Wrath would make a great anime if it wasn’t a game. At the current price, the shortcoming of the short gameplay is balanced out and it is very fun to watch. If you’ve ever had the drive to feel very much a part of an anime that you’re watching, definitely pick up Asura’s Wrath and let the rage flow. Till next time all.