Okami Retrospectiveon December 14, 2011 at 12:29 PM
What can I say about this game that people don’t already know? Maybe a lot, since what some of our readers might know about Okami is that I really, really, REALLY love this game, as is apparent by the Ammy character in the comics. Let’s start with the basics then!
The legend goes that a hundred years ago, in the tiny settlement of Kamiki, the warrior Nagi and a white wolf slew the eight-headed serpent Orochi.
The victory came at a terrible price, as Shiranui, the white wolf, succumbed to its wounds. The Moon Cave, Orochi’s lair, was sealed using Nagi’s sword Tsukuyomi and statues of the man and the wolf were erected to honor their heroic battle.
A hundred years later, darkness once again descends upon the land. The spirit residing Kamiki’s sacred tree turns to the wolf’s statue, calling upon the entity sealed inside.
That is where the adventure starts, as Amaterasu, the lupine Sun God and reincarnation of Shiranui appears.
The goal of the game is to rid the world of the curses upon the land and bring back peace. You do this with the help of the Celestial Brush, which is an integral part of the gameplay mechanics.
The mechanics themselves are very easy to understand. The game was originally released on the PS2, at a time where the next gen consoles were fairly new. A port to the Wii was released around a year later. Personally I’ve tried both versions and found that the PS2 version controls much better than the Wii version (for me at least). My problem with the Wii version is that in battles the Wiimote swings sometimes don’t register (I tend to get nervous and swing the thing too fast). I haven’t tried it with the Wiimotion Plus add on though, as that might help slightly.
It’s fairly easy to navigate through the different areas. Just move along with the left analog stick, control the camera with the right one and adjust the camera angle with the L1 button.
There are several ways to interact with the landscape as well. You can tackle objects, jump to higher areas and dig in the ground. A lot of the interactions will be done through the use of the Celestial Brush, giving you more ways of interacting as you discover more techniques (there are 13 total in the game). You can slash objects, go on water, open special chest and so on. You find 12 of the Brushes throughout the game (being the sun god, Amaterasu has the Sunrise brush technique by default), each ‘God’ you find representing one of the Chinese Zodiac animals.
As you roam the land you will undoubtedly spot what look like living scrolls in your way. If you walk too close they will rush you, triggering a battle if they touch you. Battle is fairly simple. Jump and run around to evade attacks, use the square button to use your weapon, the divine instrument, to attack. You gain several more weapon as you progress through the game, and you can equip two at a time, one as a main weapon, one as a sub weapon. Sub weapons will act differently depending on the weapon type (Reflector, Beads or Glaive). For example, the Reflector will act as a shield from enemy attacks if you press the triangle button at the right time. I’m not too sure what the other types do, as I don’t really use the equipped sub weapon.
You can also use the Celestial Brush in battle of course. Enemies will sometimes become immune to attacks for a short time. A Power Slash will usually solve the issue. Just draw a straight line across the enemy when this happens, pressing the square button as you hold the R1 button.
You can increase your ‘stats’ by using praise. You earn praise by doing certain actions. The stats are as follows:
Solar Units: Amaterasu’s ‘HP’, if this goes down to nothing, you die.
Inkpots: Used when using the Celestial Brush. Every drawing action depletes your inkpots. No worries as they refill after a short period of time.
Astral Pouch: You fill this pouch by gathering food. Food is gather by interacting with the world. Reviving trees, feeding animals or digging it up. If the pouch is full and you die, your Solar Units are replenished and you can keep playing. Basicallly an extra life.
Money Pouch: The amount of yen Amaterasu can carry.
When you finish the game you’re given the option to save. It’s advised to do so since if you load this up you start a new game in the New Game + mode. Starting like this will allow you to keep the stuff you had during the previous game, save for the last weapons and some artifacts. You also get a few other nifty rewards. It’s a cool thing to do to find everything in the game so you can get maximum rewards in the end.
I love the look of this game. Everything appears as if it was painted on canvas. It’s very different from other games, even other cell shaded ones like Zelda: Windwaker. The animation is very fluid and the cutscenes are very enjoyable. Some cutscenes are interactive as well, requiring the use of the Celestial Brush. The overall look is very artsy, and may take a bit getting used to. I’ve heard some people have stayed away from the game because they didn’t like the art style, but if you’re one of those people, I say BLASPHEMY! But no seriously, I advise to give the game a try even if you’re not fond of the style, because the story pulls you in.
THE ONE CON
I have exactly ONE problem with the game. Just one.
When characters ‘speak’, it sounds like a jumbling mess. Maybe it’s done this way to represent how alien humans sound to a wolf’s ears, but you have the text to read as they speak. My one problem? You can’t turn the speech sounds off. There is simply no option to do it in the settings, which is a bummer because it can become a bit grating at length.
What can I say, this is by far my favorite game ever. The main character controls very well, the gameplay is very easy and the story is very engaging. If you haven’t tried it yet, please give it a shot, I’m sure you won’t regret it!
PS: Excuse my writing skills, I’m in no ways professional!