The original release of Okami on PlayStation 2 was well received by critics. But it did not do so well when it came to sales. Its devoted fans are many though and Capcom finally decided to release a high definition version. Will this new version manage to capture the attention of more players this time?
The story for Okami may seem like the typical tale of a hero that is off to rid the world of a great evil. However, behind this great hero is the powerful goddess Amaterasu. This divine wolf is the one that the player controls. She is accompanied by a small side kick, that is reminiscent of the one that accompanies The Legend of Zelda’s Link. This side kick does talk a lot and perhaps goes on for far too long at times.
Players will spend a large amount of time reading text. Not that it matters much since the characters that the divine wolf encounters are unique to say the least. It’s always interesting to meet new characters. It’s easy to know why when one of these characters is a bear on top of a ball.
Talking to the characters is also encouraged since it means obtaining vital information to completing objectives. Amaterasu can only growl but her side kick comes in handy for once, since it can talk to other characters.
The great evil mentioned before is far too powerful. This means that Amaterasu must work hard to find new powers before confronting him. These powers all revolve around the concept of a celestial brush. The player uses it to paint certain brush strokes on the screen
Each different brush stroke grants Amaterasu a new power, such as being able manipulate wind and fire. It’s an effective way to keep the player amused, since it’s always a pleasure to see the stylish outcome for each power. It’s also handy that the screen is frozen, whilst the brush is being used, so the player has plenty of time to draw the intended brush stroke power. There are special exceptions but there is no chance of dying from not drawing the brush strokes in time.
These brush stroke techniques are all obtained from divine creatures found along the way. Finding them requires solving simple puzzles. Sometimes it involves helping out humans. There are also dungeons to go through and bosses to defeat. It’s fairly straightforward to get through the puzzles. It’s not exactly bad though since it means that players are able to take in the view.
If anything, Okami is a visual journey that will feel like a treat to the eyes. The various colourful environments and visual style are one of the highlights. Every small detail is thought of and even Amaterasu’s footsteps make flowers bloom.
It’s not possible to see how this high definition version has improved over the original, since it’s the first time playing Okami. However, it’s a glorious experience in high definition. This is easily one of the best looking video-games from the previous generation.
All of this beautiful scenery is at the mercy of demonic creatures that are found all over the world. Fighting them is as easy as engaging them and then making use of both brush techniques and physical attacks. Players are given money to spend on items at the end of a fight. The amount given depends on how quickly the fight took to end and how much damage Amaterasu took.
There are many enemy types to take on and each requires a new strategy. It’s enjoyable to take on each of them and find out the most efficient way to kill them. Bosses are often enormous and will take longer to take down.
Even a goddess has her limits and so players must keep an eye on her health and the amount of brush ink left. The ink slowly replenishes itself, but there are items to use too. These are found in various ways such as by buying them from the shop. The shop also sells food that the player can use to feed other animals. It will take a heart of stone not to feel moved by the tender cut-scene that plays whenever an animal is fed.
The world of Okami is huge in size and so the map is an essential resource. Sadly it’s not too easy to find the next goal this way. The map isn’t detailed enough to make it easy to know where to go next. It doesn’t help that objectives are often far too vague. Any subtle hints are often unmissable and it means ending up spending hours going round in circles.
The amount of backtracking doesn’t exactly help either. Some items to purchase much further into the story make fast travel possible, However, it still means doing a lot of backtracking before reaching this point in the story.
An inspiring soundtrack compliments this artistic glimpse at Japanese culture. The music unsurprisingly feels very Japanese. It manages to make the player feel the appropriate emotion for each occasion. For example, a cheerful music track will start playing whenever Amaterasu frees another section of the world from evil.
Okami is a difficult video-game to review since it’s clear that it focuses a lot on the visuals. This alone is enough to recommend it though The actual puzzles are a bit too simple at times, and it’s not so easy to progress, since it asks the player to do too many objectives at once. This makes it difficult for the player to progress, since the order to complete them is not always clear.
Still, it’s a very enjoyable experience and there is plenty to accomplish during the story and after it’s completed. Okami HD is an artistic masterpiece that anyone looking for something different to play should not miss out on.