- Platforms: PlayStation 2, Wii, PlayStation 3 (HD).
- Suggested Platform: PS3.
- Developer: Clover Studio
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Puzzle
- Release Date: 09/19/06 (NA)
- Why Play It?: Does Legend of Zelda even better than Legend of Zelda. Beautiful.
- Why Skip It?: If you don’t like Legend of Zelda Adventure/Puzzle/dungeon style games. The intro is 20 minutes long.
Okami. This is another one of those games that I’ll end up buying no matter how many times they re-release it. I have yet to play the sequel that got released on DS, but this game is amazing. I’ve 100%ed it twice on every system it came out on because I love it so much. It takes the Legend of Zelda style of puzzles, problem solving, finding and using the new item/power you found to conquer your next dungeon and just does it so well. Even better than the Legend of Zeldas I’ve played, in my opinion.
In Okami, you play as a wolf. Now, mind you, this came out a few months before Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, before you stall calling copy cats. Now, let’s try this again. In Okami, you play as a wolf. Specifically, the reincarnation of the sun Goddess from Japanese lore, Amateratsu. Apparently, many years ago, you slayed the dreaded 8 headed serpent, Orochi, and now someone has lifted the seal, bringing darkness back into the little hamlet of Kamiki Village, and the rest of the land of Nippon.
Now it is your job, Sun Goddess, to get your lost powers back, slay Orochi and the forces of darkness, and restore peace to Nippon. During the way, you’ll meet and help many different unique characters, upgrade your weapons, and rediscover many of your lost powers. In my opinion, Okami does a great job of story-telling. At times, it’s cheerful and fun loving, other times, sad and heart-wrenching. To me, this is far more interesting and engaging than (most) Legend of Zeldas can be. Not to say that LoZ is a bad series, because it’s not, I just think Okami does everything a bit better.
In Okami, like I stated above, you’ll play as a wolf. You’ll acquire weaponry to attack foes with and new powers to unlock and find hidden areas, but the most interesting concept in Okami is the Celestial Brush. When you hold down a specific button, the world around you freezes and goes sepia tone, giving the effect of old parchment paper and giving you time to draw on the screen. This is where many puzzles and monster battles become very interesting. You may need to draw a straight line to slash through a barricade, draw a bomb to blast open a cracked wall, move water from a nearby river to a desperate sapling, and much, much, more. Each power will receive plenty of use throughout your adventure, and you can use most in battle and may even be rewarded for doing so. In fact, some monsters require specific brush strokes to breach their defenses.
The world of Okami is beautiful. It’s cel-chaded (which you’ll know I love if you’ve read my Jet Set Radio review) and has a neat brushstroke style effect, even when you’re not drawing. Shadows seems to trail off, much like a calligraphy brush would. Amateratsu (that’s Ammy for short) leaves a trail of flowers sprouting up behind her as she runs, and you’ll spend many hours beautifying the country by battling awesome monsters. Everything in Okami is based on Japanese lore and mythology, so you’ll learn a lot about ancient Japan.
Okami was first released on the PS2, and it was another one of those games that are fantastic, but just fly under the radar. It is, however, in any player’s mind, a fantastic game. It received a re-release on the Wii with motion controls, which makes sense, due to the brush stroke mechanics, but I personally preferred the PS2 version. Sometimes the shapes just wouldn’t register with what I would draw. Not only that, but fights became a little more annoying because in order to attack, you have to swing the Wiimote.
Eventually, they released Okami HD on the PS3 as a download only (except in Japan), it is, in my opinion, the superior version of Okami. It’s gorgeous, loads quickly between areas, and even supports PlayStation Move. They did, however, change the controls for the PlayStation Move from the Wiimote; no more swinging wildly on every attack; that’s now bound to a specific button. Not only that, but it also felt, to me, that the Move motion controls were just a bit more responsive that the Wiimote’s.
Okami is a beautiful, wonderful game that is a joy if you can make it past the heavy story introduction and tutorial. And once you do, you’ll be very happy you stuck with it. I would recommend Okami to any gamer, much in the same way I’d recommend a Legend of Zelda game.