Okami's stunning presentation and new, innovative, and familiar gameplay elements make it a wonder to behold.
The_Deepblue wrote this review on .
A legendary warrior named Nagi is celebrated among his peoples for slaying and forever imprisoning the eight headed dragon Orochi. Nagi did not defeat the vile monster alone however. Legend tells of the god Amaterasu, a white wolf, coming to Nagi's aid and giving him the strength to defeat the monster. Afterward, Amaterasu falls into a deep slumber, and is not awakened until 100 years later, because someone has removed the legendary sword that kept the beast sealed away. With the help of her little bug buddy Issun, Amaterasu must awaken and free the other gods from their slumber and bondage, and gain the powers necessary to put Orochi back in his place.
The goddess of plant life gives Amaterasu the magical celestial brush, the soul of Okami's gameplay. Its powers are many, but only Amaterasu can master all of its abilities. Amaterasu learns more techniques with it as she frees fellow gods and goddesses. The brush gives Amaterasu the ability to freeze everything on screen and paint. Cannot make it to the other side because the bridge is down? Paint a bridge. Dead plant life got you sad? Circle it to bring it back to life. Need to blow up a cracked wall to make a doorway? Draw a bomb.
Many puzzles and obstacles in the game can only be conquered with techniques of the celestial brush. It is a joy to return to an area and use a new technique to reach a certain point or retrieve a specific treasure. You use the Wii-mote and its motion sensor capabilities to paint on-screen by pointing, moving, and drawing with A button. Sometimes straight lines are needed to do slash attacks in battle or to slice other things up, so the Z button makes that much easier. Sometimes the controls can be unresponsive, but for the most part it works very well, and feels smooth.
You have probably heard the comparisons by now. Yes, Okami is very similar to the open-ended worlds and dungeon crawling of the Zelda series, but it never feels like a rip-off. Clover studios have successfully taken an enduring formula and made it their own in Okami. Amaterasu and Issun will travel across various lands, villages, and conquer temples and dungeons during their journey. There are also a few fun mini-games to be played along the way. You can buy health items, combat aid items, and even items that temporarily increase Amaterasu's defenses and attacks.
Amaterasu can "level-up" but not in traditional RPG fashion. Experience points are not gained in battle, but Yen is. Praise points are what give Amaterasu the ability to make his powers greater. Accomplishing small and grand tasks will often result in Amaterasu receiving praise from people, animals, and supernatural beings. The easiest way to get quick praise is to buy bags of food (herbs, seeds, meat, fish, etc...) and feed it to animals you encounter on your journey. Completing side quests and conquering dungeons will also result in Amaterasu receiving praise. You can then raise Amaterasu's health capacity, ink capacity, and more. This RPG element adds to an already deep game.
Okami's combat may be the weakest aspect of its gameplay. While fun, the typical encounter with common foes are nothing more than dodge and hit battles. Boss battles are far more satisfying than standard encounters with other enemies, albeit a tad easy. These dungeon masters usually require specific timing and brush techniques to defeat, and it is fun taking them down.
The wolf goddess begins her adventure with one weapon and a very basic attack, but will gain more weapons and abilities during his quest. You can equip Amaterasu with up to two weapons at once. One plays as the primary weapon while the other serves as the secondary weapon. Swinging the Wii-mote back and forth causes Amaterasu to attack with the primary weapon. The secondary weapon is usually a form of defense, such as a shield, or a weaker attack that can be used from a distance.
An old man who lives near a small village, skilled in combat, will teach Amaterasu new moves for a certain amount of yen. Not paying him a visit will assure a weak and stale combat experience. Some of the new moves really enhance the experience, but it will take some time and yen saving to learn them.
You do not have to be an art enthusiast to appreciate the gorgeous visual style of Okami. Everything in Okami is a joy to gaze upon. The wind is visible as it wisps through the skies. Plant life blossoms all around Okami's world, swaying in the wind, as if it is dancing to the game's vivid scenery. When Amaterasu touches the ground after leaping, a patch of grass sprouts forth from the ground all around her. When she runs, she leaves a trail of beautiful flowers, validating her goddess status. It looks as if watercolor paintings have been summoned to life. These unique visuals fit perfectly with the game's ancient China folklore theme. Okami's graphics have aged from a technical standpoint, but its visual art-style is timeless.
Okami sounds amazing. The music largely consists of stand-alone ancient oriental instrumentation that is sometimes mixed with more modern sounds. It always fits the lively, beautiful, and sometimes troubled world around. There are no voice overs, but only babble, which is fine.
Okami's presentation is magnificent. From the story telling, amazing visual style, and exceptional musical score, it is a beauty to behold in the world of gaming. Only a couple of things threaten to take away from Okami's presentation: a few goofy (but still likable) characters and questionable dialog. Not that the dialog is not clever or humorous, it simply, at times, feels out of place. Issun may be the prime example of annoying dialog in Okami. After defeating an evil beast in a dungeon, hearing, "Hey fur-ball" from Issun is not very rewarding. Also expect to see a lot of "Listen kid", "Hey man", "You crybaby", "Hey sweet thang!", and many other slang terms. In a way, some of the goofy characters and dialog take away from the serious danger in the story and the beautiful presentation.
Some of the controls can be irritating and the dialog can feel out of place, but those complaints hardly degrade the one-of-a-kind experience that can be had with Okami. Regardless of what system, rather it be Sony's or Nintendo's, Okami is a game that needs to be experienced by anyone who enjoys a breathtaking adventure game with gameplay elements new and familiar.