Developer(s) – Clover Studio, Ready At Dawn & HexaDrive
Publisher(s) – Capcom
Director – Hideki Kamiya
Producer – Atsushi Inaba
First released late into the sixth generation on PlayStation 2, Okami was released to an overwhelming amount of critical acclaim; even winning the awards of Official PlayStation Magazine’s and IGN’s game of the year for 2006. Later being ported to the Wii and HD-rendered for release on the PlayStation Network, Okami’s cult following over the years has grown, with fans fascinated by the amount of various sources of inspiration that inspired the game’s development. After finally playing this game for myself, I also consider it to be a timeless classic.
Graphics – 9/10
Released in the time when the industry was seeing an influx of games incorporating cel-shaded visuals, a time I talked about extensively in the fourth week of this blog, the scenery and style of this game is eerily lifeless when an area hasn’t been restored by the player, and achingly beautiful when it has. The level of influence taken by the developers, ranging from things like Japanese folklore, legends and stories, is so vast that an entirely separate article can be written about it. In my opinion being one of the best looking games on the PlayStation 2,the overall atmosphere of the game also creates a very intimate contrast between common elements such as beauty and ugliness, light and darkness and good and evil. It also touches on Japan’s great admiration for the preservation of nature, which has been prevalent in other parts of Japanese culture, such as the many films released by Studio Ghibli.
Gameplay – 8.5/10
The gameplay in Okami is very reminiscent of that of Ocarina of Time, which was more than enough to intrigue me. But in this instance, the formula has been taken by the developers and modified to present something insanely different. There are some excellent boss fights as well as a strong presence of puzzle solving and other individual features, such as the celestial brush mechanics, which allows players to pause the game and paint on the scenery in order to interact with it. Aside from all this, the game also has a decent amount of side quests in between, as indeed any great game should.
Controls – 9/10
The only gripe I have about the game’s control scheme is that the celestial brush system was a little bit hard to work with at times. As a feature new to gaming, it was always going to be a question of trial and error, but I found there were times where it would unnecessarily hinder progress. Otherwise, I found no problems.
Lifespan – 6.5/10
An average of 20 hours is tolerable compared to many other games out there, but it’s certainly not great for a game of this magnitude; especially considering that Ocarina of Time can be made to last twice as long. Even for how much content there is in Okami, I would welcome the release of a third game in the series following Okamiden on the 3DS; solely to improve even further on what has been achieved with the first game.
Storyline – 8/10
Heavily based on Japanese folklore, the story of Okami follows the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu on her quest to seal away a great evil; the eight-headed demon Orochi. Though it’s basic premise is simple, this game’s story is fantastic, extremely well-written and very well pieced together. Like Kisareth Studios with Chronicles of a Dark Lord, the developers at Clover Studios did a flawless job of taking inspiration from so many different sources and coming up with a fully cohesive concept. In relation to what I discussed earlier, elements of the story seem to have been influenced by the likes of many Studio Ghibli films directed by Hayao Miyazaki, such as Princess Mononoke, Ponyo and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, in that much focus is put on the beauty of nature and the importance of preserving it.
Originality – 9/10
In every aspect, this game has been influenced in one way or the other, but in my opinion, there is nothing else like it. Especially for a video game, I think it’s in a class of its own. It’s games like this, Ico, Legend of Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus, which remind me of how fascinating Japanese culture is, and since this game is one that goes into much more intricate detail of that than in many other games out there, it certainly makes it stand out.
In summation, Okami is one of the greatest games I’ve played in quite some time, and I would advocate that anyone who hasn’t played it to give it a try. Though it doesn’t last as long as I personally believe it could have done, it’s certainly investing the half-decent amount of time required to play the game to it’s fullest.
8/10 (Very Good)