We've had to wait until the PS2 is on its last legs but finally we get a challenger to Zelda. It's glorious too! You're a Wolf / God, so you can bite people, charge in to them, dig up their Turnips or the floor of their house if you want. Alternatively, use your god powers to revive the cursed land or annoy people with them & go find treasure.
This is the most beautiful game I've ever played. The graphical style is genius & still pics really don't do it justice. It's one of those games which, at times is a bit more like reading a story than playing a game. There are loads of characters to talk to & plenty of side games & missions to complete if you want a break from the main story but the story itself is fascinating. The fishing sub-game is particularly satisfying. I found myself reading about Japanese mythology to get a better understanding of the characters and themes involved.
Gameplay relies on the Celestial Brush a lot (penty of people have explained about the Brush here, so I won't) but it's a lot easier to use than I initially thought it would be & doesn't get in the way of the action. Battles are reasonably simple to begin with but later enemies will require some specific tactics. Fighting without using the Brush is quite basic but the varieity of weapon combinations makes it more interesting & there are bonuses to be won for speed & avoiding enemy blows. Bosses are great too & some are tricky. This is a big game but not as huge as some Final Fantasy titles. I finished in just over 60 hours on my first run-through & I didn't stray from the story very much. I'm playing again to get all treasures, secrets etc. Environments are cleverly used & you have to re-visit many areas multiple times for different tasks or to access previously unreachable rooms, characters, treasure etc. Also, the people you'll meet in Nippon all have very individual personalities & appearances, so despite the vast number of them I never got confused between anyone.
Okami actually made me feel emotionally connected with the game. I often jumped with joy upon gaining weapons or certain items, felt sad at the sad bits & laughed at the comedy moments. It's very rare that a game has that effect on me.
I only noticed a couple of flaws. The most important is that it's a bit too easy sometimes. Your companion 'Issun' tends to give extremely obvious hints to most puzzles or just tells you exactly what to do without giving enough chance to work it out yourself. An advanced difficulty setting would have been great. Also the camera angle occasionally got confusing on some of the platform style bits & I ended up falling off things that take 5 - 10 minutes to climb because of this. Finally, the nonsensical jabbering used instead of speaking bugged me at first until I got used to it. The game rises above all this though & it's quality and unique character shine through.
I don't want to give too much away but Catcall Tower, The Dojo Sensei, Water Dragon & the bit with the Emperor are all classic. This is a top 5 PS2 game & one of the best & most original adventure games ever. Fingers crossed for a even bigger, better PS3 sequel.
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