Game Comment: “Okami” (PS 2)

3 Aug

Info: Clover Studio (Developer); Capcom (Publisher)
Genre: Action-Adventure

Started: May 2008
Finished: July 2008
Playing time: over 50 hours

Links: Official Website; Currently Playing post with video

Okami contains a lot of references to Japanese mythology. You play the wolf incarnation of a Japanese sun god, Ameratsu, and your task is to get rid of the evil that came over the world and restore the world to beauty again. For that, you have to regain your magical powers which you wield with a paint brush and (that’s for the most part optional) fight demons on the way. To lighten things up you’re accompanied by a side kick character, Issun, who looks like a small bug, rides on your back, and does the talking.

The paint brush thing is what sets Okami apart from other games in the use of magic and makes it fairly original, IMO. For example, you can restore broken objects and make trees bloom by going into paint modus where you pause time and paint on the screen using the game controller. This may sound complicated or difficult, but it isn’t. In fact, the controls are easily learned and smooth and that makes Okami fun to play.

Although the game is linear in that certain areas are only accessible after you did certain things, there is a strong focus on exploration in this game with all the extra stuff to find and do. Learning a new (brush) technique often means you can go back to already visited and restored areas and then do things you couldn’t before like digging on different ground. You also feed animals and help people with things. For that, you get praise which you use to improve yourself (for example, you can store more ink or money).

What I liked:

  • what I probably liked most: bringing order back to the world and restoring it to its former beauty
  • story
    Of course, it is a rather generic story when you look at what it comes down to: good vs evil. But there is actually a real story there and it is actually told (no “and then…”). The story even has some twists. It also has a nice (told) ending, not just a “the end” screen, and something like a message.”
  • graphics
    I don’t know what to say. I liked the water-colour painting look. And when you restore an area back to life and all the green and flowers spread and cherry blossoms floated through the air – just beautiful. Just letting Ameratsu run around and see more and more flowers swirl behind her the faster she runs is fun.
  • side quests
    There are quite a few side quests to do so you can take a break from the actual story line when you want and go fishing or go looking for objects. I just like to have some extra stuff in a game.
  • boss fights
    I liked that I had to figure out how to beat them. Just smashing buttons wouldn’t do for most fights. There is a strategic element involved in that you first have to get the enemy to a stage where you can attack him (smash the button) and often it involves the use of the paint brush techniques. Once you figure that out, the boss fights get rather easy.

What I didn’t like:

  • some of the extra stuff is quite difficult to get; even more so when you compare it to the rest of the game
  • sometimes the control is a bit tricky
  • sometimes the text messages are a bit slow to appear on screen and you can’t make it faster

Last thought:
Despite the rather dark story, Okami is actually a rather hopeful and cherry game, IMO. It easily is one of the best, most original and most beautiful games I played on the Playstation 2 with a near perfect balance between its elements.

Did I enjoy playing this game? Yes.

Would I recommend this game? Yes.

Grade: 5 – / 5


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