Alright, this week we have something new: not an indie title! A remaster from way back in 2006 from the folks at the now-defunct Clover Studios, a studio that I still fondly remember, we have Okami! Let’s go!
Okami is a game about being a dog and feeding other animals. That’s all you need to know. If you want to know more, I suppose I could elaborate.
Okami is a game where you play as Amaterasu, goddess of the sun and mother to all, restored (?) from a wolf from a statue of Shiranui, the wolf protector of Kamiki Village. The second half of that last sentence was not as important as the first half, you play as a wolf goddess, awakened to defeat the evils that have also awakened and are currently wreaking havoc on the normal folk of Nippon. With your Divine Instruments, whack, slap, and slash all manner of opponents, from imps and demon fish to the eight-headed dragon snake monster that lives out on the lake. Use your godly powers, guided by your Celestial Brush, to shape the world around you. Make flowers bloom with a smooth curve, cut down enemies with a sharp slash, or draw the sun in the sky to avoid going to bed on time. Recollect your lost celestial brush powers as you travel across Nippon and find out who keeps sending all of these demons to attack you, you don’t even want them, they smell. Fight and explore in the action/adventure title that is Okami.
Now, if you have seen anything of Okami, you already know that the game looks amazing. Okami uses a painterly, calligraphy-inspired style of cel-shading to draw and render everything, from the protagonist to the enemies to the in-game cutscenes, everything uses this art style, and it still looks amazing. Emphasizing this, the stylistic depictions of the people and environment thematically add to the story, being based in Japan and based on Japanese Shinto mythology. Enemies are all distinct, all of which are also based on evil spirits of Japanese myths. NPCs are varied and visually unique, such that mistaking one for another never happens, and the variety of designs is nice. In total, not only does this game look good, but those good looks help tie the visuals to the story to amazing effect.
When it comes to music, the soundtrack of Okami is fantastic. All of the music is beautifully orchestrated in the style of classical Japanese works, and is absolutely amazing. The music does what it should do, and translates the feeling of a scene into an auditory masterpiece. Listen to the original soundtrack here.
Like most action/adventure games, Okami has a rather in-depth story to it, the introduction of which I will summarize here. 100 years ago, a super chill white wolf wandered into Kamiki Village, and everyone thought it was a sign of bad shit going down. The local swordsman Nagi tried to fight the wolf, and sucked. Soon after the wolf’s appearance, a powerful evil spirit known as Orochi demanded a sacrifice of the town’s sake brewer in exchange for not eating the village. Nagi, who loved said sake-brewer, wasn’t having that, so he dressed up as the sake brewer and went to Orochi in her place. When he revealed himself, suffice to say Orochi was not pleased, but to help out Nagi in the fight was the white wolf, using supernatural abilities like blowing out the demon’s fire breath or sprouting trees under the beast’s head. Together they beat back the demon and sealed him away, but then we come to the current day where some fool unleashes the giant demon from slumber and shit goes sideways. At this point the game starts proper. Mush of the story after this point revolves around exploring the countryside, dealing with the return of evil to the land, and driving that evil out, taking Amaterasu across Nippon to do so. While not a complex overarching story, it is one that explores a lot of Japanese myths and stories along the way. Side stories and lovable NPCs abound throughout the story of Okami
Beyond exploration, which is an experience in and of itself, there are two major sections of gameplay that Okami be divided into: combat and puzzles. Combat is fun, and as you progress, more and more variety comes into play with more kinds of enemies and more ways to fight them. Early on, you have your basic weapon, which is a mirror on your back that you swing around. To complement this, you have your Celestial Brush, which can deliver a very strong slash attack to anything your brush crosses. As time goes on, you get access to different weapons, which can be used as main weapons and sub weapons. The first weapon you find is a rosary, which Amaterasu swings around like a whip. As a sub weapon, your starter mirror can be used as a counter move to deal a lot of damage, with good timing of course. As you progress, you also get more offensive brush techniques to use, like sprouting trees into your opponents, or throwing down a cherry bomb the size of a small child.
Puzzles vary from straightforward to complex. Some puzzles are as simple as, “Go talk to this person, and brick back the item they give you.” More difficult puzzles can be a sequence of Celestial Brush techniques, the more complicated ones using the Celestial Brush to change the environment, so that you can modify the circumstances for switch the environment back to its prior form. In Okami, puzzles are not too complicated, but can leave you stumped for a while as you try to figure them out, similar to some Legend of Zelda titles.
Okami is altogether one of my favorite games. Its fun, charming, and exploring the world is an experience to behold. I highly recommend it, and it’s easier than ever to find! The HD remaster is arriving on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, while previous versions can be found on Playstation 3, Wii, and the original release on Playstation 2.
Thank for reading, have fun.
P.S. – This review was based on the Wii version of Okami, so if there are any differences between what I have described and the newer releases, these discrepancies can be attributed to the version.