Asura is a top-down hack ‘n’ slash game which draws heavily from the rogue-like genre for a unique procedural experience designed to challenge players. This indie game is unforgiving and it doesn’t hold the players hand during the first level. Gamers looking for a relatively easy experience should look elsewhere as Asura is only for the determined and players looking for a challenge.
The plot to the game is pretty straight-forwards and leaves no room for sympathy towards the bosses in the game. The player takes the role of a demon who was created by the Rakshasa Lords after being snatched from the jaws of death. While the player may control a demon now, it once was a young boy who has been kidnapped and sacrificed to the Gods in blood and fire. Naturally, the boy doesn’t die and is transformed into Asura to seek vengeance for the crimes committed by the King.
It’s a very simple plot however, the game doesn’t place much emphasis on the story. The fantasy setting is clearly inspired by Indian mythology and results in an interesting setting for the game that helps Asura stand out from the crowd. While the plot is quite simple, it suits the game nicely and helps build up to the gameplay.
Asura is spread across five randomly generated fortresses which each have their own unique setting, enemies and environmental challenges. The player must explore the fortress, killing enemies as they fight to reach the boss room for each fortress. After the boss has been defeated, the player can either explore the fortress further or travel to the next location.
As a result, each run at the game is a completely different experience and players are forced to adapt or create an entirely new playstyle. In addition to randomly generated levels, the skill tree in the game is procedurally generated with over 80 different skills for players to select from. Each run may result in different skills for players to level into which forces players to adapt their playstyle to suit what they game is giving them.
In addition to the procedurally generated skill tree, there are a large number of weapons and armor for players to collect as they fight through the fortresses. These weapons provide a range of different playstyles however, the player can switch between a melee weapon and a ranged weapon at any point in the game. This is great for strategically managing combat rooms that are filled with a large number of enemies or for dealing with bosses.
Combat in Asura is very straight-forwards where players can attack enemies with a single button. It’s also possible to use items during and outside of battles to regenerate health or access other benefits. As the game progresses, the player can unlock special skills that allow the player to perform special abilities during fights. It lets the player summon special shields to avoid taking damage or perform more powerful attacks.
Bosses in the game have their own movement and attack patterns so players will need to watch them carefully to determine their movements.
Death in Asura is heavily punished. Dying will result in a game over and the player will need to restart the game from the first fortress. To make matters more difficult, the player has a limited inventory which prevents the player from carrying too many healing items. It makes managing the inventory a little more tricky and players will need to strategically choose between which item to take with them on their quest.
The biggest downside to the game is fact that there’s no warning later in the game about certain objects. As a result, it’s possible to run into traps and environmental dangers which quickly kill the player with very little warning. It would have been nice to be introduced to these types of dangers earlier in the game but it just adds to the learning curve of the game.
Another minor issue with the game is the control system. Players move their character by clicking on the ground with the mouse. As a result, the game can almost entirely be played with just the mouse. While this isn’t a major issue, some players may find this control system to be quite frustrating.
Asura is a difficult hack ‘n’ slash game that offers players a great challenge while also being set in an unusual world with great aestetics. The game offers quite a bit of replay value and the procedural nature of the game makes each attempt a different experience. However, some players will find this style of gameplay too frustrating so this game isn’t for everyone.
Lots of content
High replay value
Bit of a learning curve with environmental dangers
Can end up with useless items and skills due to the random/procedural generation
Controls may be too awkward for some players