Back in 2006, PlayStation fans got their own version of an enthralling Zelda adventure in the form of Okami. PlayStation players swelled with all that was given to them; an epic quest to undertake, characters to care about and a great evil to overcome. Now it’s 2012 and Capcom has decided to return to the title with updated visuals.
Okami places you in the role of the mythical wolf goddess Amaterasu. 100 years have passed since the goddess took on the evil monster Orochi with the help of the legendary hero, Nagi, and his legendary sword, Tsukuyomi. Now that the evil has reawakened, you have been reincarnated to once again slay evil and restore peace to the land of Nippon. This serves as the overall backdrop for the tale, but Okami quickly illustrates very effectively that legends may not be all that they seem at first in a very entertaining method.
First and foremost, Okami looks downright amazing. The watercolor art style completely recaptures the ancient watercolor style from ancient Japanese culture. From using the Celestial Brush to still images of enemies you run into for the first time, this art looks completely stunning. In widescreen HD, the black outlines around objects and characters look crisper that makes the colors pop out more making them seem more vibrant. Capcom really embraces the entire color palette with this title. Nearly every possible color is used in extravagant matters such as a violent mixture of yellow and oranges to show the ferocity of flames on an enemy, the red outlines over black fog to truly capture the menacing feeling of the cursed zones to the swellings of pinks, greens and blues to showcase the reemerging of life after to revitalize an area. Okami HD really knows how to fully utilize color and with it, it also imparts an emotional response while you are playing. The art style definitely conveys a magical tone even right down to Amaterasu sprinting across the land. With the first burst of speed, you can see stardust emerge behind her as well as grass begin to form beneath her paws. And when you reach top speed, stardust seems to just explode behind you as full flowers begin to bloom. It is beautiful imagery that Okami really captures in the moment.
For the most part of you experience you will be solving problems with the techniques you gain from deities using your Celestial Brush; the tool that seems to perform miracles in the eyes of peasants. Puzzles in the game are not all that challenging, but they do add to the magical story that Okami tells. The game is a supernatural tale of gods joining together to overcome great evil and the Celestial Brush adds to that filling while overcoming obstacles such as summoning wind to put down flames and conjuring vines to stop a log careening down violent rapids.
While the Celestial Brush works very well in the world of Nippon, it gets rather slow when trying to use it in combat. Combat in the world of Okami actually seems like it was a second thought at times. With most encounters occurring with you ramming Amaterasu into flaming scrolls, you can easily avoid most combat in the overworld. Amaterasu’s standard moves with his Divine Instruments are lightning quick and make skirmishes rather quick, but when trying to add in Celestial Brush techniques, it really slows down the combat when such a mystical and powerful move can be easily blocked. At times, it’s just best to use these techniques as a coup-de-grace to put down an enemy.
To add to the feel, Okami has a stellar sound design for the game. The sound of taiko drums and kabuki-theater inspired song choices incredibly convey the ancient Japanese tone of the game along with uplifting whistles that really accentuate the main instruments used for the score. Whenever I see the intro of the game, I always feel I’m going to well up with tears as the music begins to swell while watching Amaterasu starts sprinting across the landscape and when the music reaches its crescendo as she jumps from cliff to cliff, I am suddenly overcome with a wave of hope that I really want to save the land. The score will strike an incredible poignant cord with players and will fully bring you into the world of Okami. Even the Okami-speak for characters, which comes off sounding like a remix of the adults in Peanuts cartoons has its place in the game. I find myself actually wanting to hear them speak gibberish at times rather than skip through the dialogue.
Okami was a classic for the PS2 and for good reason; it was a great PS2 title. For PlayStation fans out there wanting a Zelda-like adventure, this was the game to get. This is definitely a title for people that perhaps never picked it up when it was originally released. With the stellar soundtrack and art style to go with quite the story of the savior of an ancient land, you should really play this title.