Asura’s Wrath is an upcoming title from CyberConnect2, the studio most notable for their work on the .Hack series. My feelings about the demo are mixed. What intrigues me is that I can’t seem to label this game. It feels like equal parts God of War hack-‘n-slash adventure and fast-paced side-scrolling shooter with a heaping portion of quazi-cutscenes (think Indigo Prophecy) thrown in for good measure.
The main question is whether the heavily QTE (Quick-Time Event)-oriented gameplay is going to stand up to the criticism and general disdain the community seems to have for it. The problem with QTEs is that in most cases they’re indicative of lazy design. Is your game bogged down with pointless cutscenes? Throw in some quick button-mashing to keep people from falling asleep between point A and point B.
Fortunately that doesn’t really seem to be the case with Asura’s Wrath. In this case it feels a lot more like an aesthetic choice. The developers seem to be trying to convey the feeling of being a god by attaching overblown and over-the-top actions to simple button presses. I’ve taken to calling it the Kratos Effect. The player feels untouchable if he gets to punch Poseidon’s face in just by pressing “B.”
But even if QTE was deliberately chosen as the game’s main vehicle of interaction, it’s still got to be lame and boring, right? I can’t say as I felt that way. Sure, Asura’s Wrath doesn’t feel as involved as some adventure games, but the experience certainly wasn’t terrible. Personally, I’m intrigued by it. Like looking at abstract art, I can’t tell if this is some bold new form of expression or just some smears on a canvas. In other words, it’s either genius or immense stupidity. The difference is going to present itself in the parts of the game that aren’t boss battles, and in how well those sections carry you from one QTE-heavy event into the next.
I’m cautiously optimistic that this game will be really cool.