Circle button broken, fist in air, and a smile on my face: I finished Asura’s Wrath. It’s devotion to itself, absurd and ridiculous as it is, warrants some kind of appreciation. Like Saints Row: The Third, I like a self-aware game, however subtle, or blatant, it may be. It’s a rare trait, and one that is difficult to pull off.
While Saints Row: The Third felt like it was one step away from sitting down and having a chat with me, Asura’s Wrath would take a very precise moment to turn toward me and wink. In the moments of steadily increasing chaos, it teased me as I wondered when we’d hit the cap of insanity. Flawlessly, it kept the answer to my question hidden away until I was ready for it.
It’s attitude toward giving me the unexpected was a taunt. Back and forth, I fought to see what it would toss at me next. We were butting heads to see which one of us would give, and by the end, we were holding hands. The final moments were a triumph in partnership. I knew what to expect, and it knew what to give.
Games have a choice to ignore the connection with a player, they can feel like routine. It’s not always a bad thing, sometimes I want to play solo. It’s why I can drone out to a podcast with World of Warcraft, or dig for hours in Minecraft.
Every so often a game comes around that wants to become buddies, that wants to play with me. Asura’s Wrath did it without excellent writing, a barrage of jokes, or a mute protagonist, but a relentless battle of exaggeration.