An amazing journey from the beginning to the end.

Okami was truly a joy from beginning to end. It's an action-adventure game that does everything right. The story is excellent and the presentation is top-notch. The way the story unfolds is seamless and very slick. Since the game is based on Japanese myths, you'll find plenty of very inspired storylines for the game. I loved the original myths so this game was great to experience. The story is still enjoyable even if you don't know the original myths. They managed to explain everything very well. I also loved all the characters I encountered along the way. Most of them are unique and very funny.

First things first, this game is absolutely gorgeous! The graphics are very smooth and the art direction is unique. The old Japanese style paintings used for the characters is wildly unique and a pleasure to watch in motion. I was also very impressed with the amazing art used for the cutscenes and Bestiary gallery. They look just like the old paintings from ancient Japan! Clover Studios has some truly talented artists.The designs for the characters and monsters are awesome. I loved the huge variety of monsters that you had to battle. Their designs are truly inspired and fun to see and hear in action. The only neg was that there were some minor slowdown in a few sections with a lot of particle effects, but that was quite rare so it's not a big deal. This is a game that will make you drool with its eye candy and art direction. Btw, if you look really closely at the screen, you'll see a paper texture filter used on the game which adds to the watercolor look. Very subtle but cool.

The sound is equally impressive. The music is breathtaking and really add to the atmosphere of the game. The old Japanese style music along with some minor bits of comical tracks really keep things flowing in a way that enhances the visuals and story. The soundtrack is definitely a must-listen. I loved every single track. The voices used in the game is nothing but gibberish sounds in different pitches. It's nothing special but it adds a bit of mysticism to the game because you don't hear any real voices. But there were several sections (particular cutscenes) that you wish it was a voice actor instead. When some characters made very long speeches, the gibberish actually sounded grating to me. The sound effects and everything else sounded perfect.

The gameplay is almost perfect. Many people will compare Okami to the Zelda franchise and they wouldn't be that far off. This game is heavily influenced by the 3D versions of the Zelda games (Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker comes to mind). But Okami actually does it better! The puzzles are not as difficult nor frustrating and they're implemented within the greater context of the worlds alot better. The towns, dungeons and even secret levels flow from one to another seamlessly. That was really great to see from a large game like this. The puzzles are excellent and will challenge your deductive skills, as well as your platforming skills since that's all required. The only neg is the combat. It's fun and exciting (especially against bosses), but there's no lock-on which is annoying against multiple enemies. The game focuses on the enemies automatically which hinders the camera sometimes. It's a minor setback for people who want more control in their battles.

The Celestial brush was a genius design. It's not a gimmick where you only use it a few times. It's a requirement! You'll need it from passing certain sections of the world, to fighting monsters/bosses, and completing puzzles. It's incredibly well implemented and very easy to use. I did find that the game was confused when i tried to use it a few times in some battles. Sometimes the brush didn't work even when I drew the design correctly. But it only happened at certain points of the game. I'm sure we might see someone copy this technique in some future games. ^^

In addition to the main quest (which is large enough), the sidequests and secrets are extensive. There is so much to do in this game! You can play little minigames, help characters out to unlock extra stuff and there's also a whole adventure in finding a bunch of items and accessories to enhance the gameplay even more. You might get hooked into trying to complete a sidequest that will take you hours to solve. The English translation is superb and well written. The humor and character interactions were entirely text-based so it was really important that they didn't flub the translation. Yay.

Okami was a very long game and it was full of surprises. Everytime I thought the game ended, it kept going. You'll find that the game will continually tease you with some climatic battle which seems like the end until you find out there's more to do. I was totally ecstatic everytime the game continued because I was totally addicted. If you love adventure games like the Zelda franchise, Dark Cloud 2 or more unique titles like ICO or Shadow of the Colossus (with a strong Japanese myth influence), then this game is a MUST-HAVE. It's a modern day masterpiece that sets a new standard for action-adventure games. You will not be disappointed. Gimme a sequel please! ^_^