I’m torn about Asura’s Wrath. CyberConnect2’s action "game" is mostly cutscenes with quick time events. Did you play any of the boss fights from Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm? Most of the game is like that.
The opening scene is a mix of movies introducing the Eight Guardian Generals and Panzer Dragoon style rail shooting where you shoot fists at asteroid-like Gohma battleships. Asura deals bigger blows like mauling a Gohma a multi-armed barrage, but all of these scenes are controlled via quick time events. After a massive battle, he returns to Gaea victorious and hugs his daughter Mithra. Asura’s homecoming is abruptly cut short when he is framed for murdering the Emperor. Scowling guards surround Asura as he holds the Emperor’s corpse in his arms.
This is where you get to try the fighting system in Asura’s Wrath for the first time.
Asura’s Wrath plays like a brawler where you can pummel enemies with light and heavy attacks. When he has two arms, Asura can explode and push any attackers back. Asura’s move set changes depending on how many arms he has. Sometimes you have to win fights with just kicks. Perhaps, the most unique mechanism in Asura’s Wrath is you can switch to rail shooter mode and unleash rapid fire energy blasts. There are nuances to learn like dashing towards enemies to knock them over and following up with a heavy attack. However, these scuffles are primarily added to fill up Asura’s burst meter, a powerful attack that moves the chapter forward by triggering more quick time events.
Since this is the beginning of the Asura show, he loses the bout even if you hit all of the QTEs. Asura wakes up in Naraka clinging to a ledge when a gold spider advises him to climb up. This is (surprise!) another QTE. A single flick of the analog stick starts Asura’s long ascent. 12,000 years have passed and the Guardians he worked with rule Gaea like Gods. Asura could care less about who is in power, he just wants revenge.
CyberConnect2 used this back story to set up outrageous fights. Asura will have to obliterate Wyzen who grows larger than the entire planet. In typical Shonen style, this is broken up into two episodes complete with credits playing before each encounter. Wyzen is long winded and in one of the coolest moments in the game you can shut him up with a straight punch to the jaw. You can do this to skip the dialogue and get straight to the fight… which is a little bit of rail shooting and QTEs where Asura tosses missiles back at the giant guardian. Sure, the fight is dramatic with Asura bursting through Wyzen, but you’re watching it more than "playing" it unless you’re trying to hit all of the QTEs perfectly. Asura’s Wrath grades you at the end of each episode and rewards you with concept art if you have high marks.
The game is actually designed in episodes too. Just like anime serials, Asura’s Wrath cuts off epic fights with a "to be continued…" and begins the next episode with a recap plus a credit roll. Between episodes you can view artwork from various anime artists and read text that fills in the plot.
I like how outrageous Asura’s Wrath can be at times. What other game has an armless hero headbutt a giant mech to death and a hot springs event with custom controls just to splash water? However, most of the playable parts have Asura fighting in a small area just to fill up the burst gauge. While CyberConnect2 imagined some of the most over the top scenes in a video game, you spend more of the six hours watching Asura’s Wrath than controlling it. The epic sometimes farcical battle scenes are the highlight of Asura’s Wrath, but I wish I could have fought the fight of them instead of hitting "A" at the right time.