Asura’s Wrath might seem like a game firmly engaged in the throes of an identity crisis. It balances delicately on the line that separates interactive movie from game in an attempt to buck the negative connotations generally associated with the former characterization and its love affair with quick-time events. But the reality is that Asura’s Wrath gnashes its teeth, plants its feet, and pummels that line into a fine powder with a flurry of punches as it confidently declares itself an interactive movie first and game second. Unfortunately, that prioritization means the traditional action parts aren’t much of a selling point. The mostly hand-to-hand combat system is shallow and repetitive to the point that it isn’t any more intricate than the quick-time events dominating the rest of the game, and the surprisingly satisfying story becomes the sole reason to see Asura through to the end of his journey.
That’s not to say the plot is a beacon of originality. Asura’s Wrath makes excellent use of inspiration from various forms of Asian mythology, but the overarching themes are typical of popular anime. The dialogue is predictably festooned with non sequiturs from a hero who not only seeks revenge, but also discovers previously untapped power when suitably provoked by those who seek to subdue him. It’s a well-worn road traveled by countless heroes and villains before Asura, but it’s that familiarity, as well as the knowledge of what’s unfolding, that breeds a sense of gratifying nostalgia and comfort.
The question isn’t whether or not Asura can defeat the Seven Deities and save his daughter; fans of anime implicitly know the answer from the outset. The real question (and entertainment) comes from how he overcomes the odds when showcased at their outlandish peaks–punching a giant space finger or surviving a stab wound from a sword that stretches from the moon to the Earth are just a few such notable moments.