Ombra Reviews: Okami HD
Drawing (ha, get it?) on the action/adventure mechanics of The Legend of Zelda series, Ōkami offers fairly open-world exploration, dungeons and boss monsters, and a colorful cast of characters that are sure to be remembered. From the valiant Susano to the horrific Orochi, each element of this game blends together to create something wonderful.
The story of Ōkami revolves around the sun god Amaterasu in wolf form whose journey involves restoring the land of Nippon back to its beautiful and peaceful state after a wave of evil was released. Using the powers of the Celestial Brush and the techniques gained from the Brush Gods, Amaterasu must paint her way to victory alongside her sidekick, Issun.
With its initial release in April 2006 for the PlayStation 2, Ōkami was met with positive reviews praising its art style reminiscent of Japanese artwork and ties to the Shinto mythos. Twelve years later, I felt my eyes water with joy over being able to replay one of my favorite video games on an updated console.
Ōkami is in my top three video games; I invested many hours playing and re-playing the game and never tiring of it. I love that the game offers incentives to go back and revisit areas you’ve already been to as you progress in order to uncover new treasures and brush techniques. The biggest draw for this game is the art style. Based on Japanese watercolor paintings, the world is colorful and designed as if someone took a paintbrush to a canvas and brought it to life. This is best exemplified when clearing an area of it’s curse to return the flora and fauna back to normal. Just for the visuals alone, which is a key point in the game, it definitely deserved an HD release.
The musical score that accompanies the game is just as exquisite (although I may be biased considering I own the soundtrack as well). From swelling orchestral pieces to the soft strings of the biwa, the music almost always matches the atmosphere.
Aside from the updated graphics, nothing has changed in the game in terms of story or mechanics. The camera controls can be wonky at times, as well as the painting controls. This can be frustrating depending on the circumstance. For example, you’re trying to make a tree blossom, but you end up turning night into day because the game registered a circle drawn in the sky. Another drawback is the speed in which the dialogue is presented. During cut scenes, you’re unable to fast-forward the dialogue (although you now have the option of skipping the scene entirely), whereas at other times you can button-mash your way through the talking. This is an inconsistency that has remained since the game’s initial release, and it would have been nice to see an improvement made there.
This might be a nit-picking issue, but there is no definitive voice-acting in the game. Rather, the characters make sounds and speak their own sort of language (which reminds me of Animal Crossing) and it can be annoying at times. The characters do have great personalities that more than make up for it.
If you haven’t had the chance to play Ōkami yet, I highly recommend picking it up. It’s a beautiful game with an interesting story that will give you at least thirty hours of game play. Enjoy changing the fabric of nature and taking down disgusting baddies as you do it!