Ōkami HD User Review
Originally released in 2006, Ōkami told the story of a beautiful white wolf that held the power to banish evil from the land of Nippon (Japan) through the use of special painting techniques that mimicked the visual style of Japanese watercolor. Though Ōkami was critically acclaimed, it unfortunately performed very low in terms of sales (which makes sense, considering many people – including myself - had never even heard of it until this version was announced). Fortunately, because of that acclaim, we have the newly released Ōkami HD, and boy is it a sight to behold.
Ōkami HD begins with a flashback 100 years before the game's present; it tells the story of a white wolf, named Shiranui, who - with the help of a brave and skilled warrior named Nagi - successfully seal away a dreaded eight headed creature named Orochi that plagues the little village of Kamiki. Fast forward to the games present; the evil Orochi has been unleashed, and the sun goddess Amaterasu - sent in the reincarnated form of Shiranui - is called to save the land of Nippon from the evil spirit that is destroying nature and turning its residents to stone. Using various techniques learned from the Celestial Gods hidden in constellations across Japan, Amaterasu, and her hilarious sidekick Issun, will travel the land in hopes of eliminating evil and returning nature to her former beauty.
I don’t want to give too much away because much of the enjoyment of the story is seeing it through the gorgeous real time cut scenes that play throughout the game, but I will say that it is an epic game that truly should not be missed.
Most of the gameplay in Ōkami is a mix of action-adventure, puzzle solving, and platforming, and consists of traveling to different areas and exploring, clearing evil spirits by fighting monsters, speaking to/performing actions for NPC's, and collecting new weapons and helpful items. While many of this sounds perfectly ordinary, the world of Ōkami is anything but. Using a tool called the Celestial Brush, Amaterasu has the power to stop time and physically alter the real world by giving the player control of a paint brush that, through performing various wii-like gestures, can manipulate objects and the environment. Gigantic rock blocking your path? Just use the power strike technique to cut it in half. Water keeping you from getting to that island across the screen? Just hop on a lily pad drawn by you. Not only can you use these Celestial Brush techniques to solve puzzles, you can also use them to fight enemies. Enemies cut by the power stroke technique take more damage, and if you use one of these techniques as the final hit, you can earn special items. The environment too can be manipulated to your liking. Night time too dark for ya? Just paint a circle in the sky, and daytime it becomes.
Over the course of the game, the player will receive over thirteen unique abilities that will help them solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and interact with the environment. While many of the drawing actions are relatively simple - for example, a circle represents many objects in this game - it never becomes stale. Using your paintbrush to bloom plants or draw lillypads on the surface of water is enormous fun. It's this use of the paintbrush mechanic that brings so much genuine fun to the gameplay.
Defeating monsters, performing actions for NPC's and clearing areas of evil spirits not only advance the game, but also earn Ammy "praise", which can then be used to upgrade the amount of life, the amount of ink you can hold, and the amount of money you can hold.
However, there's so much more to do in this game than just fight monsters. There are mini games and side quests abound; whether you're collecting treasure, feeding the various animals scattered throughout the game, or searching for stray beads, there's always something to do. With so much to do, completing just the main game will take most people between twenty and thirty hours, and you're probably looking at over forty hours to collect and complete every item in the game, especially if you try to go for the platinum trophy.
Not only is Ōkami one of the most beautiful games of the last generation, it’s also one of the most beautiful games ever created. Whether it’s the incredible graphics to the unique art direction and style, Ōkami truly stands out from most other games, even from the current generation.
Every item in the game appears hand painted with an extremely smooth watercolor quality that fits perfectly within Ōkami Japanese theme. In fact, it's visuals are modeled after the colorful sumi-e style of painting, and it gives the game a completely original (and gorgeous) aesthetic. Some objects are outlined with wide short strokes, such as mammoth mountain tops seen way off in the distance, while smaller, more refined items - such as various plants and flowers, trees, and people - are traced with a much thinner and more delicate line. The colors used within these lines are also one of the most beautiful aspects of this game. Flowers and other delicate plants have soft, creamy pink and yellow hues, while the bright green grass and powder blue sky are vibrant and eye catching. The night sky is mesmerizing.
The actual environment in Ōkami is also one of the most visually appealing aspects of this game. Your legendary adventure as Amaterasu begins in Japan in a small village called Kamiki; as such the game borrows heavily from classic rural Japan, with sweeping landscapes, generous vegetation, and charming little villages nestled between mountains by the ocean. Many of the environments are simply breathtaking, featuring acres of trees and plants, grandiose mountains two or three screens high, and rivers powerfully pulsing through land. The environments are as varied as the gameplay; you'll explore ancient ruins, a forest drenched in water, a barren field, and more.
The interface in Ōkami is also faithful to the Japanese theme. When the game is paused, a traditional Japanese hand fan unfolds and displays information related to the game. Scrolls are "rolled out" on the screen to display information or when characters speak, and when the Celestial Brush is activated, the entire screen becomes muted and appears like a canvas. Every visual aspect of this title compliments the others so well, from the interface to style of graphics, and it truly brings a cohesive, authentic Japanese feeling to the game. Little touches, like the trail of small plants and flowers that Ammy leaves (ha!) behind as she quickly runs are just icing on an already delicious cake.
Because this game was just released in 2006, much of the natural beauty first seen in the game still upholds very well today, which only makes the game that much more bold and striking when seeing it in 1080p HD. Lines are smooth and crisp, colors pop, and detail is awesome. This is not Resident Evil 4 HD, folks. Capcom actually seemed to take their time with this one.
Ōkami HD’s audio is as strong as its visuals and gameplay. Characters, environments, and objects have crisp, dynamic sound effects. Every character in the game has their own original voice over that is mostly made up of a unique warbling/mumbling sound. They are all unique, with a various range of tones, pitch, and delivery. Some may find it annoying, but I found it cute. Every environment in the game sounds exactly like what you would imagine if your were lucky enough to go to Japan.
Musically, Ōkami HD shines. This is some of the most memorable music to be heard in awhile. The soundtrack is inspired by classical Japanese works, and it is simply beautiful. Composed principally by Masami Ueda, the music in Ōkami features a diverse range of classical Japanese instruments like flutes, string instruments, chimes, gongs, and drums that fit perfectly within this game. You'll be humming the Shinshu field song in no time.
Ōkami was truly one of the most original and engrossing games of the last generation, and is one of those games that every gamer needs to try at least once. Not everyone may like it, but it’s one of those games that if you do, you won’t want to put it down. Everything about the game is top-notch; from the graphics and visual effects to the passionate story and sound. If one exists, it is practically a perfect game, and with updated graphics and trophy support, this is the definitive version of a (new) classic.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.