We’re living in the era of video on demand. Marathoning a TV series on Netflix is a common enough experience that it doesn’t turn heads when someone admits to watching all of Breaking Bad in a weekend. Whether the networks like it or not, the way audiences take in serialized entertainment is changing; the old model is on the way out. Asura’s Wrath is a video game, don’t get me wrong, but it stands apart from the rest of the medium. It’s interactive media, and it’s something you should probably be aware of.
Asura is an angry man. And by man, I mean demigod. It’s the future, or a world much like our own, and eight demigods, Asura included, battle evil monsters that look like inside out animals, led by an evil gigantic creature that lives in the core of the earth. As if that wasn’t enough to get pissed about, Asura is framed by the other demigods of some heinous shit and he’s killed… Or something. Asura’s Wrath is in the tradition of extremely over-the-top, melodramatic animes, completely with plot details that are hard to make sense of and best experienced first hand.
Developed by CyberConnect2, playing Asura’s Wrath is much more like watching an entire anime. They are really dedicated to the format, breaking the game into episodes, complete with comercial break bumpers, ending credits and even a “next time on Asura’s Wrath” bit. It’s pretty silly at first, but once I let myself get caught up in the format, I found the game scratching the same itch a good TV show does. It’s been a while since I watched an anime, and it was kind of fun to almost vicariously get that experience. I guess spending all that time making Naruto games gave CyberConnect2 all they needed to make their own show.
This is not entirely surprising, giving the developer’s track record of the .hack// and Naruto games. It plays in a variety of ways, sometimes its a fighting game, sometimes its an action game, sometimes its an on-rails shooter. Most of the time it is the most over-the-top cinematics in a long time, with quick-time events laid on top of them. I never played Ninja Blade, but I imagine this is the game it hoped to be.
Asura’s Wrath really isn’t that fun to play, but it makes up for it with its bonkers story. Which is why it’s a shame that the “true ending” of the game is sold as DLC. But I can’t stay mad at a game that made a habit of people jumping into orbit. And showed a man get impaled by a sword so long it penetrated the other side of the planet. And a giant trying to crush a man from space, only to have his finger punched so many times he exploded. Yeah, Asura’s Wrath is pretty cool.