Rona-Dhona with Asura
Asura is one of the few damn games out of the country to be worthy of being called a “game”. Nope, it’s not a frickin port, it’s not some Bollywood starlet’s latest “game”, it’s not cricket, it’s not a rip-off and it’s not a clone … wait … as long as you haven’t played Bastion or Diablo, then this is definitely new. We’re just yanking your chain, this is indeed a pretty good game; enough to be deemed export worthy! At its core, Asura is a top-down hack-n-slash (or roguelike) title brought to you by a team of just two, that’s right, two talented guys from India. So yeah, as far as Indie titles go, this is the sh*t. Buuuut, since this is an indie title, there are a few kinks that need to be worked out. Scratch that, THE PC MASTER RACE DEMANDS THAT THESE KINKS BE IRONED OUT! Like immediately!
We start out with a pretty well done cinematic that could give the likes of Karan ‘what’s-his-name’ Johar and his kindred a run for their money. It ain’t a tear jerker but for something squeezed into barely four frickin minutes, the opening cinematic lays out the story in a succinct manner. It’s even got a James Earl Jones-esque voice over adding to the charm. Perhaps we might have exaggerated there a little, but the deep baritone VO sure does go well with the demon lore of the game.
So there’s this Raja Hasirama, who’s got his heart at the right place but *BWAM!*, In comes, a twisted yogi who spews some bullsh*t prophecy about dire times on the horizon lest a human sacrifice is made. So his soldiers set out and ransack his empire to find that lucky citizen who’d be off on an all paid, super luxurious, mega deluxe vacation that involved stakes, some tinder wood, lighter fluid and a few demonic incantations. They nab an innocent kid and light his ass on fire and *BOOM*, kid disappears and all is well. Yep, end of story, the game got over in four minutes.
Except for this little teensy detail which involves a nasty demon getting resurrected. That’s where we start.
You start out with Demon #1 who’s the standard gym-addict dude-Bro swinging a weapon in each hand and start off in a pretty basic looking level very reminiscent of Bastion. Each enemy you encounter hits the floor faster than you can spell out his full name. Sri Venkatesha Kunjhirama Bhism Pal Singh Kaundhinya *DEAD!*, then comes his brother Sai Pallukepeeche Chupnewala Cho*DEAD!* and so on. That’s until you turn an inconspicuous looking corner and meet a slightly ‘buff’er dude-Bro named Mahabala who also happens to be the first boss/mini-boss/champ. You blitz towards him to lay his arse to waste, only to find your puny ass getting whooped back to Hades’ backyard. Yuuuuup! Asura is FRICKIN’ HARD! The devs call it brutally difficult but “fair”… LIARS!
We’d used a controller and that’s when we noticed that the single stick for both movement and aiming can be frustrating. Not Dark Souls or Super Meat Boy kinda frustrating but a nerve wracker nevertheless. This is what makes console hating angles (like yours truly) run straight back to the calming bosoms of the keyboard and mouse combo. The movement is a little finicky and it took a little getting used to, so if you’ve come from playing Diablo, then Asura can be slightly disorienting, but only for a little while. What did feel terrible was the controls – even with the keyboard and mouse, you still move around with the mouse and hit with the mouse. Offering better control customisation + WASD would have made the experience much better.
It’s a fast-paced game and you really have to focus on dodging and switching weapons quickly to take down the more harder dude-Bros. We found ourselves spending a little too much time kiting around pedestals and other objects. It was as if each encounter ended up being a marriage ceremony with you and your beloved performing ‘saat phere’ every two minutes. Now, kiting is a pretty common tactic but when you have to resort to it way too often, then you’re losing out on the fun.
Asura has a normal learning curve but the randomness is what gets you. Yep, we’re talking about the Skill Tree here. The Skill Tree is procedurally generated and you never know if the next skill you end up with is gonna make your life simpler or end up being worthless. In a way, it’s like them Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans from Harry Potter, you’re in for a surprise with each skill!
The randomness does add to the game’s replayability value but coming from games like Diablo where you’d make careful build order decisions, Asura does pull a doozy. And the randomness extends to the levels which are … well, randomly generated. But we’d never complain about that.
Graphics and what not
Built using Unity, the game performs quite well across Windows and Linux. We couldn’t care about Mac OS X ‘cause that’s for nincompoops. We’ll take their word on that. The UI isn’t great and could surely use a little bit of re-arrangement. We’d rather prefer drag and drop functionality so that we can see our repetitive deaths with a little more clarity. You see, us dumbasses run a print magazine, so things like UI and pesky fonts tend to stand out for us. Perhaps, that won’t be the case with you guys.
We ran the game at its maximum possible settings on a GTX 760 and the FPS counter was constantly in the higher 140’s. So blessed by the Gaben, this game has been. The loading screens and the main UI all could do with a little re-working. Aside from that, the character and skill animations seem pretty neat.
|Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Price: Rs. 249 ($10)
Reviewed on: PC
Developers: Ogre Head Studio
Publishers: Ogre Head Studio
What’s the word, doc?
For something that came out of just two guys, this game is surprisingly well done. Sure, the control scheme and the UI could have been done better but it’s unfair to pull comparisons between this game and AAA franchises from the evil MegaCorp Studios. The game is priced right at Rs.249 ($10) so all’s forgiven. We’d call Asura a beacon for game devs in India who should venture out to try something new rather than sticking to games built around safe bets like cricket and kid’s shows. Overall, we liked the title but we’re going to put it on a hold till the controls get revamped.
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Deep in the suburban jungle roams the only member of the mystical species, Barbarianicus Ass-kick-us. This super awesome creature carries with it the answers to none of life's mysteries. Then what on earth could be so awesome about him? Being able to binge-game for countless hours and exercise remarkable restraint over his penchant for sarcasm around members of lesser species are just some of qualities that make him likeable...really likeable. xD