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Developer:
Clover Studios
Publisher: Capcom
Platform: PS2
Release Date: September 19, 2006

by Felipe Faria Lemos




Okami is the kind of game that only comes around once in a great while, especially from a third party company. It has absolutely everything that makes a game the best kind of entertainment. It has the depth and grip a movie has when storytelling, the beauty of true artwork, and the culture, philosophy, and schooling of books.


Okami floored me completely. I was stunned the very first time I laid my eyes on it during E3. Since then, I have followed it and have watched the amazing videos and drooled at the concept art. After playing this game for dozens of hours, exploring every corner of the vast world, I can say with confidence that Okami has become one of my most beloved games of all time. It is comparable in quality with the likes of Zelda, Metroid, and Shadow of the Colossus. It definitely shines bright among the seemingly endless titles on the PlayStation 2.


Okami follows the story of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, who is reincarnated in the shape of a wolf (also a pun with the name of the game in the original Japanese, which means Great Deity [Oo – kami], which is very close to the word “wolf” [okami]). Naturally, since the game's story conveys an incredible vast number of legends, myths, and tales from the Japanese culture, many might find the game a little too focused on the land of the rising sun. However, this is exactly also what makes the game so enriching. Amaterasu herself (shortened to Ammy in the game) is drawn directly from the indigenous religion of Japan, Shintoism, and so are other characters in the game. Susano, Izanagi (shortened to Nagi), and Tsukyomi are some examples. Another tale present in the game is the one inch-boy: Issun, a self-proclaimed traveling artist, joins Amaterasu in her quest so he can learn the God brush techniques. He acts mostly as a guide throughout the game, and does all the talking, enough to cover for Ammy, since she never utters a word (being the wolf she is). Also throughout the entire game, players will be exposed to numerous kanji, Chinese zodiac characters, Japanese artwork and culture, and even names of people and places that are very traditional. Despite the localization to the American market, most of the feeling of a truly Japanese game was retained.


The main game play element found in Okami is the celestial brush. With it, players can draw freely on the screen, which is transformed into a sort of canvas (or scroll) when R1 is pushed down. Using the analog stick, it is very easy to draw the patterns you learn throughout the adventure. Mostly, they are simple circles and lines, and even a rough shape will be recognized as a certain technique. It seems this sort of game play would be just right for the Nintendo DS or Nintendo Wii, given the absolute control the player could have over the brush, nonetheless, it also works beautifully on the PlayStation 2.


Okami is a lengthy, intricate action/adventure game, and comparing its mechanics to Zelda is not a leap. It has numerous “dungeons” to explore, with keys, maps, and treasures at the end to find and all. NPC characters are very well developed, with meaningful dialogs, and the parts they play feel important and worth the time to appreciate how everything connects.


The soundtrack alone is a masterpiece, with an over-the-top effort put into it. Such effort can be proved by the official soundtrack, which is 5 discs long, with over 200 tracks. As expected, all the songs and sound effects are very traditional, with Japanese drums, flutes, and chords. Clover did a great job matching the song with the mood of a particular area, and the sheer quality of said tracks is outstanding.


Some areas of the game are so pretty, some people might enjoy just running around with Amaterasu, absorbing the wonderful backgrounds and music. Controlling Amaterasu alone, by the way, is a pleasure in itself. She (although in game it is not very apparent what her gender is) moves so gracefully and with an extremely fluid animation, it is difficult to not push her to sprint just to see the blossoms she leaves behind on her tracks.


Okami is not a difficult game overall, with fairly easy combats throughout the entire game. This is a bit of a letdown in an action game, since it does not offer much challenge to more experienced players. The puzzles are quite easy until the game is nearing its end, where it picks up the pace a little. Often, the side quests can be a little overwhelming, since there are no indicators where to proceed with them next. The over world is vast, and exploring every corner of it can be great, but can also be tiresome. Perhaps the biggest negative aspect of this is that after a certain point in the game, it is impossible to backtrack and complete the side quests. This will leave picky players annoyed that they cannot complete the game 100% after this point. With that said, however, an attentive gamer will draw so much from this experience. It is a lengthy quest, easily over 30 hours (not counting the side quests), and is worth every minute of your contemplation. After the first dozen hours, the story’s twists will surprise the player, and it’s possible by this time one already has created a bond with the characters. To the ones that will devote themselves to savor the experience as a whole, Okami will be perceived as a nearly flawless game, and blur the boundary between entertainment and an art form.


In the end, Okami most certainly stacks up as one of the best titles ever released on any Sony system, and even among all platforms. Although it is not quite up to par with Zelda, it certainly is in a category of its own. It has a true sense of art and unique style, will captivate many players, and will make a sequel a must. Any owner of a PlayStation 2 should pick this title up, and take the time to appreciate it as a fine work of art.


Final Grade: 96%




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