|System: Xbox 360*, PS3|
|Release: February 21, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
Dragon's Lair, and the best of the laserdisc games it spawned, weren't necessarily explicit with what needed to be done, creating a need for players to do more than simply follow what was prompted onscreen and demanding that they show a little insight. These moments of decision and action also came in rapid succession, never letting players rest and keeping them on their toes for the entire experience. Asura's Wrath, in contrast, took so long between its prompts at times that I had forgotten they existed and put down the controller, leading me to fumble for it as I scrambled to follow the onscreen command. It didn't really matter when I missed one, though, or even a few, as penalties for failure were incredibly light, the game just continuing on and occasionally taking away a little bit of my massive health bar and reducing my score at the end of the level. This is in stark contrast to the laserdisc adventure ethos, which punished failure with an appropriate death sequence before throwing the player back in to try the sequence again. Without any real consequences, the QTE segments are just filler between the moments of actual gameplay, but those are too simplistic to be enjoyable.
Not only are those segments simplistic, but they're short, too. Each episode in the game is maybe thirty minutes, making the game a nine-hour journey or so. Through the game's eighteen episodes (and its one secret episode), the longest I spent actually playing in any one episode was a little over eleven minutes, and that was far too long for the game's tastes. It gave me a "C" for that. Most levels last between three and six minutes. You might think that the game would be extended by its challenge—that you'll die a lot and replay those five minutes over and over again. Yet, in my playthrough of the game—admittedly on normal—I died a total of twice. Both times were at the end of the game, and the second was due to negligence, since I was playing through a "hidden" episode that was, for the vast majority of its run, completely identical to another episode I'd already played. I'd mentally checked out at that point, and stopped caring about whether or not I lived.
If Asura's Wrath had Avatar-quality CG sequences during its button-prompt gameplay, it might be fun to watch, or to play once. While the art direction is amazing, though, and the Unreal Engine does its best to handle the hectic visuals, everything is done in-engine and doesn't look spectacular enough to justify a game that never feels fully playable. It's like gaming through proxy, and I don't like it.
Also, as hard as this may be to believe, the game sets up for a sequel as it makes its way out. They want to make more of these?
Date: February 22, 2012