OkamiOooookami! The story begins with a flashback to Nippon, a hundred years prior to the game’s present, where a battle between Shiranui/Nagi and the demon Orochi takes place. Shiranui, a pure white wolf and Nagi, a swordsman, together fight the eight-headed Orochi to save Kamiki Village and Nagi’s maiden Nami. They fail to defeat the monster, but manage to seal the demon away.

In the game’s present, we are introduced to Susano. He’s a self-proclaimed greatest warrior in the world and a descendant of Nagi. He doesn’t believe in the legend that happened 100 years ago, so he tries to break Orochi’s seal to prove his theory. Orochi escapes and curses the land. In a desperate plead for help, the guardian of Kamiki village, Sakuya, summons Amaterasu. She is known as the reincarnation of the white wolf Shiranui. Sakuya begs her to rid the curse of the land. Issun, an inch-high painter, joins Amaterasu in his journey. Together, they join Susano in saving Kamiki Village and head out to rescue Kushi from Orochi and restore the land’s beauty.

In Okami, you will be controlling Amaterasu through many terrains. The game is a mixture of action, platform, and puzzle gameplay. It is similar to the structure you see in The Legend of Zelda series. You will converse with people in towns, travel the world, fight in different lands, and discover upgrades/powers. Hideki Kamiya, the director of the game is a huge fan of the Zelda series. You can see how the game is influenced by this.

The battle system uses a combination of the Celestial Brush and Amaterasu’s normal attacks. Amaterasu can be equipped with items that help you in your journey. They can be used to increase your strength, defense, protection of certain aliments, among other things. A unique feature of the battle system is the use of the Celestial Brush. The gameplay will pause and a canvas/scroll will appear. To open it, press the R1 button and hold it while you draw. You can also tilt the canvas to get a better view. Then you use the left analog stick to paint. The image on the scroll will be the same one currently on the screen. You then use a paint brush to create different actions and results. There are a lot of techniques you can use. When you visit the Dojo you can learn new ones. The following are just a few of them:

Drawing through an enemy with a line motion will result in a Power Slash.

Circle motion on water will create a lily pad for you to jump on

Semi-circle shape in the sky to create a moon.

Draw a circle with a line going through it to make a bomb.

Draw a circle in the sky to create a sun

The Celestial Brush isn’t just used in battle. Using it during exploration is a big part of the game as well. There are many more to discover and upgrade during the game. You’ll have to use every motion to progress in the game. You have a limited amount of ink you can use at a time. The ink will refill each time you reopen the canvas. You will enter a battle if you touch a demon scroll that floats around the land.  A temporary boundary will form around you and the enemies will appear.  After you defeat the enemies the boundary will disappear.

Leveling up your stats in Okami isn’t done by experience points. Okami uses the system of praise. Each time you do a good deed (rid an area of a curse) or help nature (feed animals, flowers to bloom) gives you praise points. Things like rescuing people and bringing life to dying plants will give you these points. You then go to your menu and upgrade a particular stat. The harder the mission or quest is, the more points you will receive.

The characters have a great personality and sense of humor. Issun is Amaterasu’s helper. He is an artist who has a short temper. He is always bouncing around Amaterasu’s head giving advice and being sarcastic. Susano thinks he’s the greatest warrior of all time. He’s still got a good heart and is helpful to people. Amaterasu is the stoic and strong willed warrior. She and Issun get on each other’s nerves but they respect each other. And then there’s Waka the sword fighter who is also a prophet. He occasionally visits Amaterasu and gives a vision of the future to her. The other characters in the game all have a unique personality to them and a comical sense of style that will make you chuckle.

The soundtrack consists of music using traditional Japanese instruments. The sounds of the ryuteki flute gracefully take you back to ancient times and you’ll want to stay. There are also a lot of percussions and stringed instruments for epic, dangerous, and mellow parts of the game. The audio is crystal clear and if you like traditional Japanese music with a little bit of synth elements, you’ll love it. As for the voices, the characters just talk jibber-jabish, but it’s actually quite good and gives the game its charm. It’s better than some games that have real spoken language.

The sumi-e style of traditional  Japanese painting brings life to the environments and the visuals are spectacular. The peaceful Kamiki Village is filled with cherry blossoms, birds, and rivers flowing through it. Agata Forest has you going through a lush land of green colors. Fireworks light up the sky during a festival. And you’ll see a haunted sunken ship just to name a few. The sights will make you want to stop in amazement and appreciate the beauty of it all.

Okami is a beautiful game with its Japanese influences and ink wash graphics. It takes you on a journey that few games can. The game is available on the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii. Other than motion controls and slight difference in graphics they are essentially the same.

Pros: Graphics, Art Style, Atmosphere, Gameplay, Replay Value, Game Length, Humor

Cons: None, except a sequel would be nice.

Score: 9.5

VGM: “Dragon Palace”

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