Okami is one of the prime examples of Japanese culture, art and game design all rolled into one unique package.

User Rating: 9 | Okami HD PS3
It's been seven years since the original version of Okami graced the PS2 and the game is still just as strong as it was back then. The HD version updates the game graphically with higher resolutions, but everything else is intact. Just as well, because everything that's here is still absolutely brilliant.

The most striking thing about Okami is its distinct art-styIe, the game basically looks like a ukiyo-e painting straight from the 17th century Edo period. If you have any appreciation of Japanese history and mythology, then this is the perfect game for you. Everything about Okami, from its art-styIe and music, to the storytelling, is deeply rooted in Japanese culture.

The player takes on the role of sun god Okami Amaterasu reincarnated as a wolf in order to battle an ancient evil force which is plaguing the land of Nippon. It is a lengthy adventure in which you will traverse many different locations, each wonderful in its own way. Each area is rather expansive and the exploration is a joy. The land is cursed by an evil nine-headed demon Orochi, everything has withered and died. Happily, Amaterasu has the power to rejuvenate life. Going through all these locations and transforming them from lifeless wastes to wonderful forests, lakes and villages is extremely satisfying.

The combat system is extremely simplistic, you basically just mash on the square button. You have three main types of weapons at your disposal which don't really vary significantly. The reason why the combat and the exploration shine is down to the brush mechanic. Amaterasu has a powerful tool called the Celestial Brush which enables control over the elements such as fire, wind, lightning and water. You can also control the sun and the moon. You don't start off with these powers, but rather acquire them throughout the game. There's a large amount of extremely unique enemy types which require different brush techniques. The brush techniques make the bulk of the gameplay, they are seamlessly and ingeniously integrated in the combat, the exploration and the puzzles. The level design is fantastic, there's always something new around the corner - again, mostly thanks to all the brush techniques.

The writing is surprisingly strong. However, it is long-winded at times and the characters tend to repeat themselves pretty often. The mythology is handled extremely well, it's interesting and engaging. You'll meet plenty of memorable characters along your journey.

When you get down to it, everything about Okami is memorable. It is one of the prime examples of Japanese culture, art and game design all rolled into one highly unique and enjoyable package.