Asura’s Wrath – Capcom’s upcoming beat ’em up – is shaping up to be pretty epic in the classic sense of the term. Cosmic clashes between deities make the void between Earth and moon a playground, Asura’s quest for vengeance twists and turns over the course of millennia, and mortals hold a subordinate but involved role in the great drama of the gods. Descriptions of the new IP cite a fusion between Asian mythology and science fiction. In my time with the developers from CyberConnect2, they narrowed down the influence to Japanese, Chinese, and Indian mythology, which pertain to the game as a whole in an aesthetic sense more than anything.
The game certainly oozes style, and the gods unmistakably belong to a divine circle by their appearance alone. The protagonist looks like an artificial construct, with deep inky grooves seemingly connecting his composite parts. Another heavy hint towards artifice are the tattered cables apparent and sparking when Asura loses his arms (all six of ’em). The entirety of his skin seems endowed with the texture of a fingerprint, and white frayed hair will surely draw comparisons to Super Saiyans.
Cyberconnect2 has managed to create a likable character in Asura, who despite the game’s title is capable of emotions other than flat anger. While he is a paragon of manliness, he still looks like the runt of the litter compared to the rest of the pantheon (and is often treated as such). When Asura is found closest to the inexplicably deceased emperor, accusations of treason fly, and the saga is underway.
So yes, Asura’s Wrath is strongly “tweed jacket” epic. Whether it will also be EPIC *sticks tongue out* is another story. The gameplay draws together a few different elements.
Firstly, the beat ’em up side of things is standard fare but rad. Light attacks, heavy attacks, an “unlimited mode” that can be tapped into after sufficient ass-kickery, etc. Asura will often be squaring off against “gohma,” or demonic animals who look as if they wear their nervous systems on the outside.
Secondly, breaking up these bouts are chase scenes, where Asura is made to dodge incoming missiles while shooting off energy balls of his own. In this department Cyberconnect2 hasn’t nailed the sense of speed or relevance quite yet, but hopefully by launch these sequences will prove more akin to Panzer Dragoon Orta – an obvious inspiration – than to less inspiring rail shooters.
Thrown into either of these modes are quick time events that invite the player into Asura’s plight, whether he’s steeling himself for an upcoming trial of strength or bringing to rubble the stone formation that has been his tomb for the past 500 years. Epic…
Among the QTEs is a “synchronic impact” feature sure to keep your eyes glued to the screen as you progress through a fight. During cutscenes, you’ll need to hit a certain button at just the right time – usually when Asura bashes a larger-than-life enemy with godly strength. How successfully you nail the rhythm (the developer going through the game for us got nothing but “Excellent”) won’t affect the outcome within the game, but it will increase your score and unlock goodies; my hawk eyes spotted both an “Extras” and a “DLC” section in the game’s main menu. Here’s a bonus: Yasha, the stoic gentleman on the left of this article’s first screenshot, will be playable in some form. Sweet!
Asura’s Wrath is certainly on my radar as both a visually unique game and a promising action experience running on Unreal Engine 3. Be sure to tell us what you think in the comments below!
As for a release date, Asura’s Wrath will be smiting the gods themselves on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 February 21st, 2012. North America will be seeing the game’s release first! Thanks Capcom!
Update: Be sure to check out GotGame’s video interview here!