Of all of the game's that Capcom showed last week at its annual Captivate preview event, CyberConnect2's Asura's Wrath is at once the most beautiful and the most difficult to talk about. It's a big game simply in terms of the scale of things; the demo we saw pitted Asura, the game's protagonist, against a demigod that eventually grew to more than double the size of Earth. The best place to start is with the story's basic setup, which Kazuhiro Tsuchiya, the game's producer, walked G4 through in an exclusive interview.
"Asura's Wrath is taking these elements from Asian mythology and blending them into a world of science fiction," he said through a translator. "Asura himself was one of the demigods who was protecting this Earth and the people who live there."
What happens is, Asura is betrayed by the other deities, and because of that, he is expelled and sent to Earth. They also kidnap his daughter, so now he is going to try to get her back. As he tries to get his daughter back, he's going to be fighting all of the demigods who betrayed him, and he's going to be going through a large number of brawls to get to the end."
There was much talk during the gameplay demo -- which, it should be said, amounted to an extended and, admittedly, stunningly beautiful quick-time event -- of how Asura's Wrath works to create a new sort of genre, one which blends the story's dramatic elements with the action-oriented gameplay in such a way that there's no clear pattern to follow, simply an unfolding story that dictates when you watch and when you play.
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And how you play when you do play. "A lot of times in your average action game, you start out with a cut-scene, then you go into the stage to play in and you fight some minor enemies, at the end there's a big boss fight, and after that there's another cut-scene," Tsuchiya said.
"That just repeats throughout the whole game. With Asura's Wrath, we're looking to do something different. Everything is contingent upon the dramatic beats of the game. Depending on how the story unfolds, that will dictate how the game and gameplay unfold. So it won't be this set pattern of cut-scene/fight/boss fight/cut-scene, it'll be a much more organic flow. It'll feel more seamless to the player."
The hands-off gameplay demo shown at Captivate exemplifies this approach. First, we see a cut-scene in which Asura exchanges words with Wyzen of the Seven Deities, one of the demigod betrayers. A playable moment then unfolds in which Asura races toward the skyscraper-sized being, shooting incoming projectiles out of the air with a handy on-screen reticule. A cut-scene ensues once Asura closes the distance, jumping all around Wyzen's body and dishing out attacks as occasional QTE pop-ups keep players involved.
Eventually, Asura is knocked away. Far away. Remember, skyscraper-sized demigod. He flicks the human-sized protagonist away, and away he goes. The whole scenario is absolute chaos. The boss butt-smashes Asura, and a button-mashing QTE pops up; succeed and Wyzen gets tossed as Asura sprouts one, two, three, four more arms.
With Wyzen temporarily out of the picture, a giant, flying warship floats into view. It starts firing all manner of projectiles, lasers and missiles, which Asura blocks -- even catches and throws back -- with his flailing limbs. Eventually, the ship is brought down under our hero's return fire. That's when we return to Wyzen, now floating far away in deep space. He says something about "showing you the true power of the Mantra Reactor" and then grows to an even more enormous size, one that dwarfs the planet Asura is standing on.
Wyzen extends one finger and sends it hurtling down to the planet's surface to crush Asura. Naturally, the six-armed former demigod catches the finger and another button-mashing QTE ensues. One at a time, Asura's limbs crumble until only one remains. Fortunately, that's all he needs. With one final act, he throws a mighty punch at the finger, one which reverberates through Wyzen's entire body... until he finally shatters. 10, maybe 15, minutes have passed, and we haven't seen any gameplay beyond this elaborate QTE. And yet it is impossible not to be impressed.
"This isn't the type of game where you level up and you get new attacks or you obtain new weapons," Tsuchiya told us. "What we're trying to do is something different. Yes [Asura's] attacks will change, but it's not really tied to this experience points or leveling up system that you are probably familiar with."
"All of the action elements of the game and Asura's fighting style in particular are all predicated on the different story beats, the drama in the game," he continued. "At certain points in the game, Asura is going to be very angry. You'll see his six arms come out, and he'll fight in a certain style. At even later points in the game, as you progress, Asura might get beat down, and he might lose his arms. He might have just one arm that he has to fight with. So everything is contingent upon the way the story unfolds."
You can probably start to see why this is not just a difficult game to talk about, it's a difficult one to demo. Tsuchiya made a point of ensuring us that the team isn't building "set patterns" into the game, like the cut-scene/fight/boss fight/cut-scene mold he had spoken of earlier. "There's going to be more variety to the game than people might even realize."