on 24 October 2007
Initially, I thought this game was nothing to get excited about, it just sat there on the shelf next to the millionth FIFA game and some rubbish film-tie in. How wrong I was.
You see, Okami is something special, I'm just kicking myself about the fact I never looked into it sooner, as it's turned out to be one of my favorite games of all time. A classification, I can assure you, I don't use lightly.
You'll be forgiven for being slightly cautious about purchasing the game; after all, I'd say it's for more open minded gamers. If you're a casual gamer, who buys every football game out there and think the GTA series is God's gift to mankind, then it might not be for you. However, to the rest of you, read closely and get your money ready.
Plot and lifespan: The game is set in Ancient Japan, in a place called Nippon. The Wolf-God, Amaterasu (who you play as) is brought back to 'life' after the Dragon Demon Orochi, is causing a bit of bother. Amaterasu had previously beaten Orochi 100 years before the game is set, with a man called Nagi, who is long dead. So Amaterasu now has to finish the job properly, with the help of Issun, The wandering artist.
Yes, it's complex, it's Japanese after all. However, you'll soon understand the plot and remember the complex names of characters, or at least something that sounds like their name. You should be warned, that the plot does get even more complex as you go along, so lazy gamers who want to mindlessly push buttons may want to get back to their film-tie in games (yes, I hate the majority of them). The game's lifespan is partly the reason why it's got such a good rating. I thoroughly enjoyed the game as I was playing, but was always worried that I was getting near the end. It's a 60 hour game folks, give or take a few hours. This will keep you playing for a long time.
Gameplay: Anyone who's a fan of the Legend of Zelda series will notice the similarities, Clover studios (R.I.P) did state they were influenced by it at one point I think. Anyone who hasn't experienced the Zelda series, (quick, there's still time!) the game is a mixture of adventure and exploration of the large game-world and puzzle solving. Battles have RPG elements in that they are represented by flying carpets in the main world, contact with these will make a battle arena and the real-time battle will start. It gets slightly repetitive, but money and the choice to avoid most battles in the first place makes up for it. So you're not forced into countless brawls.
Okami also has a unique game mechanic dubbed the "Celestial Brush" which let's you pause the game and action, use a brush to draw onto the game screen, making certain things happen, for example, drawing a straight line across a tree would chop it in a half. This makes the game much more interactive and is essential for the game to progress and to kill various enemies. You'll get more and better abilities as the game proceeds.
A minor gameplay element is fishing, but I found it very enjoyable and addictive, you draw a fishing line from the rod to the fish, and then pull using the analogue stick, trying not to pull to hard or too softly. Not the most innovative part of the game but it's a great break from the adventure and you can do it for hours at a time, catching bigger fish as you progress and selling them at a shop for lots of money.
One drawback of the game, which becomes apparent if you're a more experienced gamer, is the difficulty. I died only once in the game and had something to revive me even then. It's really easy, and Issun, your helper, sometimes gives obvious information away when you'd rather work it out yourself. However, the game is still extremely enjoyable, whereas it isn't the challenge that will make you play on, the deep plot and it's overall quality will.
Graphics: You'll notice instantly that Okami has a different approach to how the game looks. The, frankly gorgeous, cel-shaded visuals provide an experience in itself. When first playing the game, it actually looks like you're looking into a painting. The Japanese art style looks so good you expect it to be hanging from a frame. Those looking for uber realistic visuals won't find it here, but it's purely and fantastically artistic look is easy on the eyes and looks 'right'.
In conclusion, I highly recommend Okami, it's emotional and deep plot keeps your interest as well as the stunning, artistic graphics. Whereas, initially you might think it as a serious game, it is, but has a really good sense of humor and sometimes it's laugh-out-loud, especially when you meet "Busty babe" I'll say no more on that. The gameplay is solid, the musical score is excellent and despite the easy difficulty, it's highly enjoyable. You must experience this game.
I'm reviewing the PS2 version; however, apparently a Wii version is being released at some point, so Wii owners may want to wait for that. Otherwise, Okami, buy it, play it, love it.