|Image from PopMatters|
Actually, there's not much to be angry about, as I liked the game quite a bit. I had been casually following Asura's Wrath up to its release, so I was surprised by the final product. I expected a more formulaic character-action style game in the mold of God of War. What I got was more like an interactive Dragonball Z show.
The actual direct-control fighting isn't all that interesting compared to other games; you have a weak attack, a strong attack, and a handful of contextual moves. The game's quicktime events aren't all that challenging either. What's special is the framework in which all this happens. In a bizarre, yet highly-entertaining move, the game is presented episodically.
We're talking full-on, Saturday morning cartoon style episodes here: intro credits for each chapter, episode previews, dramatic breaks right before a confrontation. It takes a little while to get used to, but I think it was ultimately a great design decision. The game is repetitive in multiple ways: combat is the same basic charge-to-special move every time. There are only so many possible QTE prompts. Even the sound effects and musical themes get reused regularly.
In short, it's a lot like an episodic television show. Watch enough episodes of anything in a row and you'll quickly see familiar plot arcs, the same sets, and reused soundtracks. It's something that I hadn't thought about too much in the context of gaming, largely because even the most "episodic" games rarely span the length of a single TV season, let alone an entire series.
Like many folks, I've all but abandoned broadcast TV at this point. If I watch a series, it's usually in a compressed timeframe made possible by Netflix. My game habits have followed this model for a long time. If I don't set aside a large chunk of time, I'm probably not going to play anything. Asura's Wrath reminded me that this method might sacrifice enjoyment for efficiency. Playing an episode every day or so helped me appreciate the game's structure and cadence. Suddenly, something that might have first like filler was a welcome ritual.
I'm not sure I'll be able to serialize my play sessions when it comes to other games. Experiences like Far Cry 3 have a habit of lending themselves to marathons. Still it's a good thing to keep in mind when facing the prospect of devoting an entire day to a single game. Familiarity can breed contempt. In Asura's case, it would probably breed rage. That guy makes Kratos seem easy going.