A rejuvenation of the adventure game genre, worthy of it's fan-following.

User Rating: 8.5 | Okami (French) PS2
Okami is the story of God in wolf's clothing – which is to say the God is in the form of a wolf. You play as said God, Amaterasu, on a quest to rid evil from the land while working to gain all of your celestial powers back.

Okami provides a cell-shaded, water-colour look that I've seen in no other game. It's like a functional art piece that you enter and live inside. HD photo-realistic graphics are not required to make this a spectacle worth watching.
In additional to the textures used, the movements of the characters and environments are also very fitting, and masterfully crafted. Details right down to the trail of flowers that follow you as you run will keep your eyes joyfully focused.

The other major item that makes this game unique in it's delivery is the brush techniques. During the game, you are able to stop the action so that you can take your celestial brush to paint special moves on to the canvas that is your playing screen.

There are 13 brush techniques in total, which include special attacks, the ability to summon the wind, moon, and sun, and more! These techniques allow you face formidable opponents in combat, as well as navigate the terrain and solve puzzles. Some of the brush techniques can even be upgraded!

The controls to do all of this are very well managed, and makes it easy to handle Amaterasu in most circumstances. Even the camera is forgiving and easy to manage.

So you've got the look, the feel and the skills. Lucky for you there's a huge adventure in which you can exploit them. The main goals as mentioned is to gain back all 13 brush techniques and rid your world of an evil force. To accomplish this, there are many characters you will meet and help to be able to move forward. The way these tasks are played out will vary, but most of them involve searching for something or someone, and usually require either a fight or some clever puzzle solving to complete. There are hours of enjoyment in the main quest alone. I'll admit that the first few hours of game-play were not overly captivating, however there was a turning point after obtaining a few skills where everything seemed to come together and the adventure really took off. The experience thereafter was very enjoyable, and fun to take part in. Even nearing the end of long journey (which took me about 40 hours), it was still exciting with a drive to keep going, although I did occasionally get the feeling of some repetition sprinkled about.

There's also many optional side missions to keep you busy. They all feel purposeful and fun, and not just tacked on for the sake of adding game-play hours, although like a few of the main story goals, some will repeat themselves. Many of these side missions will earn you additional "praise" which you can then use to upgrade certain qualities of your character (life meter for example) even faster, adding to the role-play elements of the game. Unfortunately once you beat the game, you can't go back and wrap up loose ends. Instead you start all over, but with all your upgrades.

Among the extras to keep you busy, there are an abundance of items and artifacts to find and collect for those that enjoy treasure hunting. You'll also be seeking out and collecting new Devine Instruments, which are your weapons in the game. Some are hidden, and some are earned through the natural course of the game. There are 3 kinds of devine instruments, including ones that are disc-like, chain-like, and swords. As you progress you will find stronger versions of each devine instrument, and be able to upgrade your skills with using them.

I felt the difficulty level was spot on. It wasn't a breeze to get through every quest, however it wasn't hours upon hours of sweaty, nerve-breaking challenges. I think an adventure this long with a torturous difficulty level would be far to taxing to want to fight through. Luckily the combat is engaging, but not frustrating. The puzzles were thought provoking, but did not induce insanity. The platforming required some concentration, but didn't give any threats of despair. I also found that it had one of the most fun boss battles I've been involved in for some time.

The final point I wanted to mention is the sound of the voices. There aren't really any voice-overs, and with a story this fleshed out, plan to do a lot of reading. What is done instead of recording narration, is a kind of indiscernible babbling that sounds human, but isn't using any words. Some of these voices are very fitting; in particular the deep voices. Some of the higher pitch voices become quite irritating however. Unfortunately this includes the voice of the companion that does all your talking for you.

Character voices aside, it's definitely an odyssey that a wide audience can appreciate. It's a wonderful mix of action, adventure, and role-playing that I wouldn't hesitate recommending for discovery.