|RELEASE DATE||October 30, 2012 ( Original: April 20, 2006, Wii: April 15, 2008 )|
|PLATFORMS||Playstation 3 ( Original on Playstation 2/Wii )|
|DEVELOPER||Capcom ( Original by Clover Games )|
Ōkami is set in a Nippon (Japan) based on Japanese folklore, and begins with a flashback to events 100 years prior to the game’s present. “The narrator” – the unseen character telling this story – reveals how Shiranui, a pure, white wolf, and the swordsman Nagi manage to defeat the evil, 8-headed demon Orochi and save Kamiki Village as well as Nami – Nagi’s love who was doomed to be sacrificed to the demon.
Unable to truly defeat the demon, Nagi and Shiranui manage to, instead, seal Orochi away.
Skip forward to the game’s present – 100 years later – and a suspicious, masked individual slinks into the cave where Orochi is sealed. He steals the sword that kept Orochi at bay, thus awakening the demon – all because he didn’t believe the legends about it.
Orochi, of course, escapes and instantly begins to wreak havoc on the world, cursing the lands and sapping the life from everything. It’s here that the wood sprite Sakuya calls upon the Goddess Amaterasu – who awakens from the statue of Shiranui that was erected within a shrine in Kamiki Village.
After meeting Issun, the “Wandering Artist” – Amaterasu sets off to rid the land of Orochi and his curse.
Along the way, you’ll meet a lot of varied, unique characters – a lot of whom will have smaller stories of their own that fit into the main narrative. It’s worth it to do as many of these side stories as possible to get the whole picture of what’s happening in the world.
The story is told mostly through text – there’s voice-acting..but it’s similar to “Sim-speak” – no more than gibberish to give the character personality, and to help ease the actual text reading – since there is quite a bit of it.
Overall, the story is really well done. I loved all of the characters – and seeing different creatures from Japanese folklore being brought to life in a genuine fashion was really cool. The story starts to lose a bit of momentum towards the end, but it resolves itself nicely.
I always thought the original PS2 game was beautiful. The woodblock painting on canvas art style fit absolutely perfectly. After seeing how the game was going to look originally – I am extremely glad they went with the cel-shaded look.
Enter the Wii version – which lessened the look of the paper filter of the game, and made the colors brighter. On one hand, this looks great – it’s a very vibrant game. On the other, that filter also added character to the look of the title. It made it look more like a painting brought to life than a colorful game. This change garnered a fairly mixed response.
Now, we have the HD port on the Playstation 3 – and the game has never looked better. The visuals are sharp – though the opening demo scene is a bit blurry and low-res – colorful, and the filter is back, and actually adjustable, meaning you can have the canvas look as strong, or weak as you’d like.
The game is also finally in true widescreen. The Wii version wasn’t completely widescreen. The game also runs at a beautiful framerate, in 720p. I never once had the game slow down on me.
Seeing a Guardian Sapling bloom on the PS2 was an amazing thing. Seeing it again in HD over 6 years later made me fall in love with the game all over again.
This is why I’m glad they went with cel-shading. It holds up much, much better, years later than “photorealistic” styles do.
Okami is by far the best HD remaster Capcom has released. It feels like they actually took their time with it – which I appreciate. I was a bit disappointed with the DMC collection – and the Resident Evil “HD” releases were disappointing as well. They stepped up for this one, though.
Amaterasu controls well. Left stick moves her. Hold it in your chosen direction, and she’ll start to sprint – hold it for a while longer, and she’ll actually start running. The camera, however, is still a bit stiff and finicky – it doesn’t seem to have changed since its PS2 incarnation.
Square attacks with your main weapon in battle, and does a dashing headbutt in the world, Triangle attacks with your sub-weapon and lets Ammy either dig in the ground by rapidly tapping the button ( Soft ground early on, Harder surfaces after an upgrade. ), or pick up items/small animals, or bite people. The circle button is probably my favorite – in the world, tapping this button makes Amaterasu bark. In battle, after acquiring the right skills – it allows Amaterasu to either pee ( tap the button ), or drop an explosive poo ( hold it for a few moments ).
Cross button jumps – which can be upgraded to a double jump later in the game. The R2 button acts as an evade once you’ve purchased the upgrade. Upgrade it enough, and your evade can be used as an actual attack – allowing you to escape danger and still damage an enemy.
The combat itself isn’t that complex. Enemies are encountered in the world through floating Demon Scrolls or stationary Devil Gates. Passing through these causes a barrier to form around the area, while enemies spawn. Tap your attack buttons to hit the enemies, evade their attacks, and make use of your various brush techniques. Once they’re defeated you’ll be given a ranking at the end of the fight based on how long you took, how much damage you sustained, and how much money you gained ( Akin to Devil May Cry ).
When an enemy is defeated, time will slow down for just a moment – this is your chance to use a Celestial Brush technique to finish them off and earn a bonus. Use the right technique, and the enemy will drop Demon Fangs – an item that you can use later to purchase special, useful items. You can also gain them by using Ammy’s pee/poo attacks on enemies.
The Celestial Brush is useful outside of battle as well. As you progress through the game, you’ll meet the various Brush Gods, who’ll give Amaterasu her various powers back – ranging from the ability to make a tree sprout from the ground, to being able to control the time of day in the world, to restoring broken and destroyed objects to help with traversal.
A fun little distraction: Characters actually react to the things you do with the brush in the world. Sprout a tree out of nowhere, and they look around, shocked and confused. Create a gust of wind, and they almost get blown away. The funniest, and my favorite, thing to do, is paint over an NPC – they become doused in black ink, wondering where it came from.
Trees and rocks can be cut to reveal hidden passages or items, wind can be called to move platforms. Create a lily on the water and then create a gust of wind to propel yourself along the water.
All of Amaterasu’s powers have a use of some kind – nothing is wasted.
As far as the main story is concerned, there’s a lot to do. Tons of side quests and mini-games to take part in. Digging to help a character reach the bottom of a well, Fishing, racing against mailmen. Lots of collectibles as well – Prayer beads, animals to feed, fish to catch.
As you progress through the game, Amaterasu earns “Praise” for the various things she does – bringing a tree back to life, completing quests, catching fish – all reward you with Praise. This acts as your experience – allowing you to upgrade your stats, such as your Health, Ink Capacity for your brush attacks, the amount of money you can carry, and your Astral Pouch, which revives you from death once per filled pouch.
I was a little disappointed that the combat wasn’t more like The Legend of Zelda – open as opposed to being in a confined space – but it’s still fun to play. I especially enjoyed the bosses – all were quite unique, each requiring specific tactics making use of the brush techniques you likely just learned. For instance, one boss is covered in flame and is impervious to damage while he is alight. Your recently acquired Whirlwind technique comes into play, allowing you to blow away his flames and actually damage him.
Another requires you to use the mist power you learn to slow down time to be able to damage him.
While the combat is simple, it’s also varied – something that I really like. Not all enemies can be taken down by just mashing the attack buttons.
As before, there is a good bit to do in this game. Finding all of the prayer beads to unlock Amaterasu’s ultimate accessory ( Grants her infinite health, ink and makes her attacks 10x stronger. ), the fishing mini-game that you can play anytime after you’ve completed it, various treasures hidden in the world, special Devil Gates that have a series of challenging battles.
Adding a bit more replay value to the game this time around are Trophies. The platinum for this game won’t be too hard, but it can be a little time consuming – completing the bestiary, catching all of the various fish in the world, finding all of the prayer beads – these are the things you’ll have to do. among others, to earn it.
Everything can be done in one playthrough – but it’s unlikely you’ll do so without a guide of some kind. Thankfully, there is also a New Game+ mode that transfers everything but story related upgrades and your purchased weapons/skills. Items you had, bestiary entries you completed, the base form of your weapons, and your stats from the previous game all carry over.
Completing the game with a high ranking can also unlock special, extra costumes for Ammy – including one that’s actually the “realistic” version of her. Kinda weird using that one and seeing the contrast between it and the painting-like world.
Overall – you’ll definitely get your money’s worth here.
Despite a few gripes – the stiff, finicky camera, the sometimes annoying “Sim-speak”, the enclosed “arenas” that most battles take place in – Ōkami still stands as one of the best, most fun games I’ve ever played. Is it a Zelda clone? Sure – it has a lot of similarities, right down to highlighting important dialogue when it comes up – but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a well-crafted Zelda clone that actually has merits of its own.
The Celestial Brush, for example, is a very well-done mechanic – and the way the actual world reacts to it really makes it feel like a part of the world, more than just a tool to use.
At $14 – this game is a steal. It was worth buying in 2006 – and it’s even more worth buying now. It doesn’t have a lot of extra bells-and-whistles – no revamped UI, no extra bonus content that wasn’t already in the original – but it’s a well-done touch-up of a masterfully executed title. It didn’t need a lot of messing with, and I’m glad Capcom didn’t go overboard.