|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Release date(s)||NA February 21, 2012
|Genre(s)||Action, beat 'em up|
|Distribution||Blu-ray Disc, DVD|
Asura's Wrath (アスラズ ラース Asurazu Rāsu?) is an action video game collaboration between CyberConnect2 and Capcom that was first announced at the Tokyo Game Show in 2010. It was developed to be released in Japan, North America, and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It was released on February 21, 2012 in North America and February 24, 2012 in Europe.
The game follows the titular character, the demigod Asura as he seeks revenge on the other pantheon of demigods who betrayed him. The story is presented in the style and format of an episodic series of cinematic shorts, including opening and closing credits, with the gameplay being integrated into the cinematic where players switch between third-person combat and interactive sequences with player input in the form of quick-time event button prompts. Because of its unique style, the game has been described in the media as an "interactive anime". According to the game's producer Kazuhiro Tsuchiya, Asura's Wrath takes elements from Hinduism and Buddhism and blends them with science fiction, with the main character based on the ever combative and superiority-seeking beings of the same name that are part of the Hindu and Buddhist cosmology.
The gameplay of Asura's Wrath is a combination of multiple genres, while overall is presented in the style of an episodic anime series. The gameplay throughout shifts between a third person action and a rail shooter game. The game also requires the player's direct input during cinematic events in the form of interactive cutscenes with various quick-time event and context sensitive button prompts. In all forms of gameplay however, player progress is determined by two gauges represented at the top of the screen, the life and burst gauge. The life gauge determines the current health and damage taken by the character that if depleted results in a game over/restart screen for that current section. The burst gauge however starts empty at the start of every encounter that needs to be charged fully. In order to do this players must successfully defeat enemies, inflict large amounts of damage and press the current quick-time prompt correctly and in time. Once filled to maximum, players can unleash a powerful burst attack, which in the majority of cases is required in order to finish off strong opponents and advance the plot/gameplay, even commencing another cutscene. In addition to these two gauges, an additional one known as the "Unlimited gauge" fills up in a similar way to the burst gauge but instead can be activated to temporally increase damage that can be inflicted on opponents.
The third person action sequences resemble "beat 'em up" style gameplay where the player must defeat enemies in close combat, utilizing light and heavy attacks, counters, dashes and projectiles. While regular light attacks are fast, heavier attacks inflict more damage and can throw back multiple enemies yet can overheat requiring a cool down period between uses. Players can also perform counter moves if they input the current prompt during an enemy's attack. When an enemy is knocked down, special moves can be performed that further help fill the burst gauge. If however the player character is knocked back, they have a chance to quickly recover by landing on their feet and saving additional health. The rail shooter portion of the gameplay involves the player character moving yet on a fixed axis, being only able to move to dodge and maneuver against incoming attack and obstacles, all the while locking on and firing upon enemies.
The interactive cutscene element is integrated with the gameplay however. Correct inputs when prompted will advance the story while failure can cause the restart of a sequences and damage to health in a previous gameplay sequence. While a few sequences may continue regardless, certain quick-time events have degrees of success where the player may attempt to press at an even more specific time than when the prompt immediately and initially appears. For example a press too early or later might register a merely "good" or "great" while the exact correct moment will register as "excellent". The player's performance in this aspect, along with time taken to complete and overall damage inflicted is graded at the end of each episode, with the highest grade being an "S Rank". A certain number of S Ranks unlock the final hidden "true ending" of the game.
Each level is played out as an episode more akin to an anime television series, with subtle introductory and closing credits at the start and end of each episode. This is then followed by a brief promo with cut together footage for the next episode, along with a narration recapping and foreshadowing upcoming events. In between episodes, there are also snippets of additional narrative and back story that are presented in the form of a series of illustrations, with each different segment drawn by a different credited artist. The entire "series" is split into four chapters, each cutscenes overlaid with lengthier production credits.
Asura’s Wrath takes place on the world of Gaea, a world inhabited by human tribes. The game opens as the world is overwhelmed and under threat by a demonic, destructive race known as the Gohma. Attempting to "purify" Gaea of their presence, the powerful and technologically advanced god-like beings known as the Eight Guardian Generals, led by Emperor Strada lead an immense fleet of warships to fight the Gohma. The protagonist Asura is one of these generals along with Deus, Olga, Sergei, Wyzen, Kalrow, his training master Augus and Yasha, brother to Asura’s wife Durga. As the generals engage in battle with the Gohma, Asura and Durga’s daughter Mithra acts as the priestess of Shinkoku who has the ability to enhance their power. With this aid, Asura is able to defeat the most powerful and the source of the Gohma known as Vlitra who literally tears open the planet when it reveals itself. While only subdued, the generals claim victory over Vlitra.
Back on Gaea, Asura is summoned by the Emperor only to find him dead upon arrival. Guards storm the palace and accuse him of murder and treason. Asura, distraught, breaks out from the palace and does battle with fellow general Wyzen. Back at Asura’s home Durga has also been killed and Mithra kidnapped. Asura eventually locates Mithra who is guarded by the other generals, where Deus defeats Asura and reveals that he killed the Emperor and that Mithra will be used to save the world. Asura is then thrown from a height and killed. Asura finds himself in Naraka, a realm between life and death. There a mysterious Golden Spider talks to him, who appears to have suffered memory loss. After some goading, Asura begins climbing back into the mortal world. When he returns, 12,000 years have passed and Gaea’s situation hasn’t improved with Gohma still causing destruction across the planet. There he confronts Wyzen who claims that the remaining generals have become the Seven Deities through the power of Mantra, a cosmic energy collected with the souls of their now human worshipers. Filled with rage upon remembering his past, Asura is consumed with rage and battles Wyzen. Wyzen quickly begins to lose and calls upon the power of the Mantra to make him larger, even to the point of being the size of the planet itself. Asura destroys him however, destroying his own arms in the process. Yasha appears and easily defeats and kills an armless Asura, dropping him into molten rock
500 years pass where Asura’s body has been excavated and worshiped by a small village. As a young girl prays, the Golden Spider once again takes Asura back once more. It is not long before they are under attack from Gohma and the deities’ forces, lead by Kalrow. Here Asura witnesses the blatant slaughter of humans for Mantra. Asura manages to destroy Kalrow’s fleet before crushing him inside his own escape pod while he begs to Asura that their efforts are for Deus’s plan for "the great rebirth", their attempt to eradicate the Gohma for good. Following this, Asura falls back to earth where he encounters Augus, his old master. Augus however convinces him to instead drink and relax before their fight, while calling Asura the same as him. Afterwards, they have a duel on the moon before Augus impales Asura with his sword, with enough force to send him back into and through the planet. Asura, however, manages to break the sword and briefly wield it to gut Augus. He dies shortly after, content with having enjoyed the fight. Asura returns to the village with the little girl from before, but it is shortly bombarded by another fleet led by Olga. While Asura survives, the little girl is killed, causing his rage to overwhelm him. Fuelled by his anger, he transforms into a demonic version of himself, allowing him to destroy Olga's fleet with ease. Terrified by Asura's power, which has eclipsed the powers she and the other Deities have gathered for twelve thousand years, she instead prepares to fire the deities’ planet sized super weapon known as the Brahmastra, which is powered by Mantra. Yasha however feels that using the weapon this soon will waste Mantra and hinder Deus’s campaign against the Gohma, causing him to divert fire. Following the initial blast however, Asura goes missing.
Following his actions, Deus orders Yasha under the supervision of Sergei to strike at the Gohma who are about to attack a human city. Despite Yasha’s best efforts to purify the Gohma before they can reach the city, Sergei bombards both them and the city for more souls. As Yasha had commanded from space most of the time, he only now realizes the needless mass slaughter of humans for Mantra. Asura then reappears, still consumed by rage and kills Sergei, who before death reveals it was him who killed Durga. Realizing that Asura has become uncontrollable with rage, Yasha fights him while also becoming more powerful in the process, similar to Asura. He is able to subdue Asura who then returns to normal before both of them travel to Deus’s ship. They confront Deus where Yasha states that the cause is worthless if trillions had to die in the process while also at the cost of Mithra’s own suffering, shown to be drained of the Mantra she can collect and manipulate. Deus had apparently in the past warned the Emperor over Vlitra’s return but was dismissed, thus enacting his betrayal. Both Asura and Yasha battle Deus, with Asura nearly being uncontrollably consumed by rage once more but instead resists it despite indirect encouragement from the Golden Spider. Following a defeat, Deus with his last breath claims that only he could save Gaea where upon Vlitra returns once more, this time larger and more powerful. Asura and Yasha agree to battle it even at great odds, yet Mithra manipulates the Mantra in their aid where both of them break into the center then defeat and destroy Vlitra’s core. While Asura does not know whether it was truly been defeated, he and Yasha return and reunite with Mithra.
If the player attains five or more S Ranks for each episode, the ending continues where Olga, saddened over Deus's death, attempts to kill Mithra in front of Asura. The Golden Spider however appears and kills Olga as to not destroy his "vessel". The spider then weaves a golden web around Mithra. Reappearing in his form as a "true god," he claims to have been testing Asura the entire time, and tells Asura that he has succeeded. Asura's wrath however has not yet subsided before ending once more.
The Golden Spider reveals himself to be Chakravartin, and refers to Asura as the Redeemer. Chakravartin states that he unleashed the Gohma to test the inhabitants of Gaea, in the hope of finding a successor and ending his need to watch over the world. Asura and Yasha however attack Charkravartin only to find themselves outmatched. Asura is once again consumed by his wrath, fully unleashing it in hopes of saving the now imprisoned Mithra, but to prevent his destruction, she sends him falling down to Gaea along with Yasha. Chakravartin proclaims the world a failure and prepares to cleanse and remake it once more. He seizes the Karma Fortress for the cleansing and detaches the Brahmastra, causing it to crash down to Gaea. Awakening on the surface, Yasha realizes that the still-unconscious Asura is the only one who can save the planet. From the wreckage of the Brahmastra, Yasha installs the key Mantra Reactor into Asura, which will prevent his wrath from consuming and destroying himself while also augmenting the combined powers of the Seven Deities to stand against Chakravartin. Yasha also removes and installs his own Mantra core to revive Asura. As he awakens Yasha forces him into battle to see his new potential.
The reactor will prevent Asura from destroying himself in the final battle, and can augment his powers to stand against Chakravartin. Yasha removes his own mantra core to revive Asura, and prepares to battle him as a catalyst for Asura's new potential. Though confused, Asura accepts. After the fight as Asura prepares to land the final blow, he realizes what Yasha has done for him and stops, yet Yasha is already beyond help and dies with a smile on his face. Before departing, Asura admits he had always considered Yasha as a brother rather than an enemy. After meditating before his final confrontation he sees visions of Durga who reminds him how he always fights for the better. While he heads into space, Chakravartin fires a doomsday blast at Gaea but Asura transforms into a near-godly form called Asura the Destructor and deflects it. Asura engages Chakravartin, who once again requests that Asura become the new god of the planet only to be rejected once again. The very fabric of time and space begins to come apart as they duel for the fate of creation. Chakravartin is eventually brought down by Asura's sheer force of will. As Asura prepares to kill him however, Mithra breaks free and urges him to stop since if Chakravartin is killed, all mantra will cease to function, including keeping Asura alive. Asura chooses to destroy Chakravartin nonetheless, so long as Mithra can live free from danger. As the landscape around him collapses, Asura shares his final words with Mithra and vanishes, free of his wrath for the first time. Mithra is sent back to Gaea, where she integrates with the surviving humans. She spends many years recounting the tales of her father to the mortal children on Gaea.
In a post credits bonus scene, 870 million years later the world resembles modern day Earth with Asura, Durga, Mithra and the Seven Deities have possibly been reincarnated in present form. Suddenly, a giant meteor appears in the sky. Feeling a strangely familiar urge to defend the helpless, Asura stands prepared for battle.
Asura's Wrath began development in 2007. The development team wanted to create a game that everyone could understand. In an interview, Hiroshi Matsuyama commented on the principles behind the game's creation: "Our main concept was that we wanted to reach out to audiences all over the world with Asura's Wrath. That's why we focused on wrath as our main concept. It's something that anybody can relate to. It's an emotion that's very powerful. It's sometimes seen as negative, but it can be a driving force that helps you overcome any obstacle. When we came up with this backwards approach to the development process, first we thought of our focus on wrath, then focused on the story, so we built the story first. Who wrote the story? CyberConnect 2 did, as a group. It was a group effort throughout the dev team, but when we had the story, we passed that on to an actual script writer." In a different interview with Eurogamer, he stated that he was pleased by the site's impression of the game as "completely deraged" and went further into the game's core theme: "In Japanese entertainment and comics, and in games as well, there are a lot of interesting depictions of wrath already – things like Dragonball and Naruto – and we love those kinds of comics and games. So we thought, what can we do if we really, really focus on that? How interesting can we make it? That was our challenge to ourselves." The hotspring scene, a very traditional scene for manga and anime in Japanese culture according to Matsuyama, was deliberately placed as a change of pace and a chance for Asura to show a different face to players.
The game was developed on the Unreal 3 engine, which was specially licensed by Capcom for the task, and aided significantly in development of the game. In an interview, Kazuhiro Tsuchiya stated that "We tried a lot of different options and determined that Unreal Engine 3 was a perfect solution. Our developers were able to review the game in real time, and they continue to be productive throughout the process." Asura's Wrath was first announced during the Tokyo Game Show in September 2010. The announcement trailer showed the titular character battle multiple enemies before being confronted by a planetary sized foe. The trailer showed an earlier build that differed from the finished product in multiple aspects. While the character designs and Asian-style art design were similar, even identical in certain regards, the tone and combat was more violent and bloody, showing a greater emphasis on the combat mechanics rather the interactive cinematic features. Following its reveal, Tsuchiya revealed that he felt the game would serve to satisfy fans wanting a sequel to the 2006 PlayStation 2 game God Hand, which was lauded by critics, but failed commercially. He was later pleased that people had seen the deliberate similarities between the two games. A playable demo was released on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network on January 10, 2012.
Downloadable content includes a two-dimensional fighting mode using the Street Fighter IV engine, as well as two characters from the game, Ryu/Evil Ryu and Akuma/Oni as opponents. Also, "untold" chapters are included and use hand-drawn animation with quick time events, mostly to fill gaps between the game's chapters.
|Asura's Wrath: The Official Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Chikayo Fukuda|
March 7, 2012(Japan)
|Genre||Video game soundtrack|
The game's original soundtrack is scored by Chikayo Fukuda, and was released on March 7, 2012. A track listing has been provided in Japanese. In addition to the lead recording artist, other composers and pieces of music outside of development were involved. Kaoru Wada composed the main theme and its variation, entitled "In Your Belief" while the vocalized version was sung by Tomoyo Mitani. The game also featured Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 in E Minor From the New World in the set piece battle between Asura and Augus on the moon.
|Asura's Wrath: Disc 1|
|2.||"Main Theme of ASURA'S WRATH"||1:52|
|3.||"In Your Belief"||5:24|
|6.||"Six Heavenly Weapons of Indra"||0:30|
|7.||"The Gods' Military Forces"||2:45|
|11.||"Only Happiness For This Child"||0:52|
|12.||"A Place to Return To"||2:46|
|13.||"One Who Spins Ideas"||2:38|
|16.||"Orphan Wolf Legend -Wind-"||0:49|
|17.||"Orphan Wolf Legend -Fang-"||3:03|
|18.||"A Change of Fortune"||1:37|
|19.||"One Flower in the Wasteland"||0:58|
|21.||"Those Who Borrow Power"||2:33|
|23.||"Symphony No. 9 from "The New World" 2nd Movement"||2:39|
|24.||"Symphony No. 9 from "The New World" 4th Movement"||3:54|
|25.||"I Don't Need a God Who Only Takes Away"||1:07|
|Asura's Wrath: Disc 2|
|1.||"Even a God Must Dirty These Hands"||1:19|
|2.||"Sink Into Ostentation"||2:24|
|3.||"Open Your Friend's Eye"||3:06|
|4.||"Sakra Devanam Indra"||1:08|
|7.||"Already You Must Recite It"||4:35|
|10.||"In Your Belief (instrumental)"||5:26|
|11.||"Becoming the King of the Round Ring"||2:03|
|13.||"Orphan Wolf Legend -Bonds-"||2:53|
|14.||"Proceed to the Earth with a Decisive Battle"||0:59|
|15.||"One Who Destroys the Ring"||1:17|
|16.||"One Who Spins Samsara"||4:11|
|17.||"In Your Belief (Piano Solo)"||4:42|
|18.||"In Your Belief (Ethnic Arrange)"||6:00|
|26.||"That Strength is Ugly"||0:47|
|27.||"Green Youth, But..."||0:42|
When released in the Western market, critical reception of Asura's Wrath was mixed to positive, with many critics praising the story and highlighting the "interactive anime" style as a positive, while others felt is detracted from regular gameplay. In a review for G4 TV, Alex Rubens in regards to the episodic narratives stated "I found myself anticipating the next episode as if it were my favorite TV show, making me want to jump right back in and play even more", going on to detail that the story "manages to keep from being predicable by the sheer craziness of the twists that [it] takes". TeamXbox praised the overall presentation as "the best adaptation of the Anime episode structure ever in a videogame", that is suited the characters and overarching narrative. Brad Shoemaker of Giant Bomb praised the game's over the top spectacle, in that the "sheer craziness isn't enough; it's also about the way the craziness is presented. The visuals have a tremendous scale, and the action is masterfully framed by someone who really knows how to work a camera angle".
Critical response to the balance between the "interactive anime" style and gameplay was varied. Jeff Cork of Game Informer commented that "the combat may not be as deep as other hack and slash offerings, but it does a great job of making Asura feel (and play) like the unhinged demigod", in which he felt the story was the focus rather than the combat, finding it "a nice change of pace from other hack-and-slash games, featuring an interesting story that’s not blocked off by insurmountable difficulty." Keza MacDonald of IGN stated that this unique element was "self-evidently, an excellent thing – and a rare one, if you've been playing games for a long time", praising the presentation in particular, in her opinion calling Asura's Wrath "one of the greatest achievements in Japanese animation in a very long time". Despite this however she responded negatively to the longevity, concluding that "as an episodic download release Asura's Wrath would be brilliant, but as a premium-priced game it can only be recommended with strong reservations." In a more critical review, Giancarlo Varanini of GameSpot called the reliance on quick-time events "uninspired" and a "distraction", while also being critical of the difficulty of the combat, in a statement saying "There's no challenge; no enemies that put up an engaging fight. It's all very safe". GameTrailers echoed this view saying that if approached as a game, Asura's Wrath will leave you wanting, but as a piece of multimedia, it's intriguing.
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