The video game which brought Japanese mythology to life like no other game before without offering itself to Western tastes. Highly praised by fans and critics. However, it meant the end of the Clover studios by a commercial flop. Before you take a look at the remaster Okami HD, you’ll want to meet the very first Okami game in this review.
PS3, PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
|Release||April 20, 2006|
|TEEN - Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.|
Okami is the only game that shares not only the genre but also the quality of Zelda. And that says a lot. And with that, in principle, the whole idea of the game is summarized. It is so similar to Zelda in many respects that it would not even be wrong to call it a “copy.” But unlike most plagiarisms, it not only steals the good in Zelda but also mixes it with a lot of its ideas.
The resulting mix tastes a little like Nintendo with a dash of dramatic color. Literally. The main aspect of the game is the “divine brush,” with which you can paint into your surroundings with a Wiimote. But why was it that only a few people bought this game at that time? A little detour into the mythical Nippon will undoubtedly give some answers.
Long, long ago in the land of Nippon, the mighty wolf goddess Shiranui defeated the evil, eight-headed dragon Orochi, who had innocent virgins sacrificed to him for years. Only with the help of the great warrior Nagi did the wolves manage to stop the dark monster, even if she had to give up her life for it.
Many years later Orochi was awakened when someone drew Nagi’s sword from a rock. A little resentful about his death at that time he covers the country with darkness. Well, what any decent lousy guy would do. To let the then conqueror go into battle again, the tree ghost Sakuya protects a small village that was terrorized by the dragon many years ago and serves as Shiranui’s tomb.
The reincarnation of the white wolf goddess is now called Amaterasu. That’s how Okami starts. It tells us the whole prehistory, unfortunately also very long and persistent. Especially for troubled minds, this is a nerve test. It doesn’t get any better after that. Now follows a long conversation with Amaterasu and Sakuya, which gives a small introduction to the current situation.
That’s not entirely true, though. The she-wolf herself does not speak a word, but she has a little sidekick called Issun, who immediately at the beginning without warning between Sakuya’s breasts protrude. This little jerk calls himself a “wandering artist” and now hangs himself on the barker’s fur to serve as a mouthpiece for Amaterasu and as a tipster for the player. Here you can easily see the parallel to Zelda. Yes, Issun is like Navi, but only if you make the Zelda male and give her a big-breast fetish.
So how does the pair defeat the dragon? They set out to free all the gods of brush art and learn their powers to gradually take all the elements of the world into their own hands.
There is more to the story than just “hero saves the world from a villain.” It probably won’t say too much when you know that Orochi is just the beginning of a much more significant adventure. The story that the player follows is not only substantial, it is incredibly long and full of twists, there are also some smaller stories in the form of side quests.
That’s why she remains exciting and interesting for a long time, thanks not least to the many kind characters. Whether the boastful offspring of Nagi, the odd village eldest or the little jumping point Issun, they all have their own small but essential appearance. No matter how insignificant their role in the game is.
Graphics in a game is indeed not everything, owners of the small, white Nintendo box know this best. In some video games graphics are useful, in others it’s pretty, and in Okami it’s art. Every object, every spot in Nippon and every figure are hand-drawn objects in a traditional Japanese style, which not only looks impressive in a moving form, it almost looks like a living painting made of ink.
A screenshot can’t express enough how good Okami looks. You have to see the game in action. The graphics are not only pretty, versatile and incredibly detailed. It also carries with it a unique atmosphere that leaves its permanent mark on the game. Whether the broad plains of Nippon or the dark tomb of the dragon Orochi, everything sucks you into the world of Japanese myths and legends.
The many figures you meet as Amaterasu also have their little charm. Whether it is the Sparrow-Clan, the evil witch Zungenschneider or the sea creatures, they all contribute their part to an epic fantasy story.
Creativity meets imagination, an interaction that can be described as a stroke of genius. The world of the wolf goddess is as pretty as it is alive. Between dense forests, open beaches and even dark caves, there’s always something to discover, whether it’s wandering animals, sparkling secrets or quarrelsome devils.
A dynamic day and night change and countless other details inevitably make everything feel natural despite the stylized graphics style. It is particularly impressive when an entire zone cursed by Orochi vanished by Amaterasu. If the atmosphere is so dense that you could almost cut it with a knife, then the developers have done something right. And Okami lives on it.
The accompanying background music is not in itself a great masterpiece in the real sense of the word since you forget many pieces after the game. But of course, the Japanese sounds are here only to support the game. They may not be able to stand on their own feet like some Zelda tracks. But they form a dense symbiosis with the game itself. That’s why they also contribute their part to Okami’s short presentation.
Unfortunately, the voices of all the characters are off the music. It’s quite disturbing at the beginning and during the long narrative phase. Even that settles at some point and then doesn’t even stand out any further. The whole presentation of the game is highly coherent and artistic. It always draws you into Okami’s world of ink and color.
Without any previous knowledge, one could almost believe Okami was developed exclusively for Wii. Amaterasu’s powerful ability “The Divine Brush” is probably one of the most imaginative ideas in the video game world and the brushstroke via Wiimote feels almost natural.
If you activate the drawing tool, the game freezes into a kind of paper roll. You can now influence the game world with a little ink. It ranges from felling trees through straight brush strokes, creating bombs through drawing or diverting water, lightning, and fire as long as enough ink is available. What is often used not only in combat, is even a little more cleverly represented in bone inlays.
Blow up, combine, assemble. With the increasing abilities of the brush, the ideas of the developers don’t seem to come to an end. Rarely do you see a tool so versatile and consistently implemented in a video game and can still convince again and again.
Even opponents and bosses have common Zelda weaknesses that have to be solved with thought and found with a brush. This one technique replaces Link’s entire arsenal of weapons. Grappling hooks, arrows, bombs or boomerangs, all a question of use.
But those who think that a wolf goddess only has to swing the brush to defeat the henchmen of Orochi are wrong. Amaterasu also has her weapons to offer, which serve her as a kind of melee weapon. Weapons can be roughly divided into three categories: Discs, beads, and swords.
A real shaking like that is the case with “Sonic and the Black Knight.” One experiences here only with the pearl necklace, all other weapons must be swung in a unique bar. On the other hand, to execute a punch combination. If you shake the remote like a blender, you will get a slightly unsatisfactory result.
It requires a certain adaptation period, especially at the beginning, but overall the overall control is satisfactory. Unfortunately, small misfires appear from time to time while drawing with the brush. Especially if you don’t have the calmest hand.
Entirely out of control is the evasion of the white goddess. No matter where you swing the small plastic device, Amaterasu always seems to want to move in a different direction. A quick step to the left becomes a step to the left. A step to the back also and if you want to the right, the wolf finger also goes left.
But if you’re going to jump to the left, it jumps backward. If you want to escape an attack, shake the nunchuck and then merely ‘somewhere.’ Annoying, but fortunately not significant enough that it would hinder the fighting on a large scale.
Away from the hustle and bustle of devils and demons, gamers have a vast world to explore. Okami invites you to explore because the world offers enough secrets and treasures. In addition to collectible valuables, search in the world for “luck.” That’s another term for “experience points” typical of role-playing games.
You can’t achieve it by defeating enemies, but by solving tasks, fighting and restoring cursed zones and feeding animals. These you can invest in additional ink, more solar energy, new stomachs or a more substantial purse. The former prolongs the duration of the successive brush-inserts, the latter represents Amatersus’ life points. In Okami’s case, the stomachs are something like the fairy in the bottle of Zelda.
If you fill a stomach by avidly eating scattered food, it revives the goddess in case of an emergency. Thus, it prevents a quick death of the wolf. But also additional stomachs and solar units you can find in the full world of Nippon itself. More than 100 hidden pearls. So if you feel called to explore, treasure hunt and study in addition to countless side quests, Okami is a real pleasure for you.
You could tell pages and pages of what you could still experience and do in this game, and surely something else would come to your mind. As far as the size, the player is almost aggressively overwhelmed with content. So many collectibles and hidden things you can find with a game length that somehow never wants to end. You can calculate a good 40-50 hours for a quicker Okami game. Not to forget all the bonus contents.
Okami is outstanding in graphic style, scope, story, and atmosphere. It doesn’t hang on the mainstream. It breaks the boundary between entertainment software and moving art. The title is a masterpiece, both on PS2 and Wii.
Okami once again illustrates why video games as a medium can easily fascinate so many people. The game takes us so intimately into the world of Asian mythology. We can almost hear the crackling of old parchments. Nevertheless, it remains fresh and new and can inspire its difference.