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Asura’s Wrath has an impressive amount of gumption behind it judging by the the demo that hit XBLA recently. Comprised of two chapters from the full game, the demo for Asura’s Wrath is just as noisy and frenetic as one would should hope. What appears to be a gleeful celebration of soul-boiling cataclysmic rage is hiding a certain amount of depth from the player in numerous ways.
The first segment of the demo plays as a well-polished quick-time event, interspersed with direct control shooting gameplay and slight brawler elements. Safe to say, this was not the God of War clone we were expecting, it's more interesting. These sequences serve to both introduce the Player to the mechanics of Asura’s Wrath and familiarize themselves with some of the basic controls and the odd ‘Build-then-release’ tension raising mechanic of the quick-time events themselves. Fighting a giant God, one who only grows bigger to say the least, Asura is tasked with taking the God, Wyzen, down with his own bare metal fists, all six of them. Spectacle does not begin to describe the content, visual design and fidelity of the experience as a whole.
However, of the two chapters included, Chapter 5, alternatively titled ‘Chapter 5: Oh My God He’s Huge. He’s Bigger Than The Earth, That’s Ridiculous” is surprisingly the more disappointing of the two. That’s actually saying a lot for a six-armed man fighting off a giant finger with pure rage and fighting off a space sh-, you get the idea. Where Chapter 5 serves as a slightly ridiculous warm-up, Chapter 11, or as I call it “Chapter 11: Just How Gigantic Does That Sword Get, Like For Real!?”, is the real meat of the demo.
It plays like a 3D fighter reminiscent of many of the Dragon Ball Z fighters. A fight with Asura’s old master, Augus, demonstrates the biggest chunk of combat seen so far. It shows off slick gameplay and subtly cathartic use of the button indicators to bring a beautifully skillful edge to the fighting engine.
As a level, it feels much more rounded out, a small cutscene and quick-time event preceding the fight and then a good, lengthy battle. After the fact, when Asura’s rage bar has filled up enough, the quick-time events seen before in Chapter 5 return, with a twist that could be considered even more crazy and ridiculous. I won’t spoil that much.
With the general pacing of the second half of the demo and the addictive combat pacing of the fight sequences, the package of Asura’s Wrath is one of two sides; the first being interactive cutscenes, expertly done and interesting to watch, followed by buttery smooth combat sections. How well the game will be able to keep pace through an average game’s length is yet to be seen, but all the mechanics and little parts that make the minute-to-minute gameplay are available, functional and addictive. Time will tell whether Asura will be able to stay angry long enough for the rest of us to be satisfied.