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Product Features

Genre
Other
Publisher
Capcom
Release Date
December 12, 2017
Available Platforms
PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii, XBox One, XBox One

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Okami

If you ever thought it odd that two CGI kids movies about talking ants could come out at the same time, followed by two about talking fish, consider the odds of two video games coming out within months of each other which involve controlling a wolf in a Legend of Zelda style game world. In actual fact Okami first came out in Japan almost a year ago, a long time before Twilight Princess. Nevertheless, this is the best Zelda style game ever on a non-Nintendo console and likely to remain one of the very best games released all year. Not only that but it features probably the most beautiful graphics ever seen on the PlayStation 2 with a completely unique cel-shading effect that makes the whole game world look like it is painted in Japanese water colours. Throughout the game you control the goddess...

  • Ross McIndoe February 27, 2010 WII
    ****

    Okami is the story of sun goddess Amaterasu's quest to defeat the evil monster Orochi and restore the lands he has cursed to their former beauty.

    Okami was released for the Playstation 2 in 2007 but sold fairly poorly and went largely unnoticed. This is absolutely criminal. Literally, I would have every PS2 owner of that time arrested for ignoring this amazing game. (I would of course be exempt because I'm singing its praises now and because......shhh!)

    It was then rebuilt for Wii to make use of the unique motion controls and to try and find an audience. I'll get back to how it did on the former but it certainly failed on the sales front and I suppose it's not surprising as its a really weird game, drawing a lot from Japanese mythology and Shintoism, most of which will be lost on western gamers.

    The first thing you'll notice about it is its unique art style which has the entire game looking like a Japanese ink painting come to life with some amazing bloom effect used when you return the land to its original state. Overall the game is truly gorgeous and leads you to spend hours just wandering about taking in the games beauty and exploring its landscape which is truly massive.

    However, this style probably accounts for a lot of lost sales as many will have been put off by how strange it looks which is a great shame.

    The story is a very Japanese take on a fairly standard "oh no there's an evil monster killing everything, AAAHHH!!!" tale which is brought to life by the large cast of brilliant characters. From your comic relief sidekick Issun who is the size of a bug and not half as good with the ladies as he'd like to think to the more bizarre (yes Issun will seem pretty normal after about 20 minutes of this game) like Mr Orange, the village elder with an alcohol problem and a love of oranges and performing strange dances. (See? Issun seems almost boring in comparison).

    The dialogue between them is equally impressive and often genuinely funny which is a true credit to the writers as few games achieve this.

    The music is equally fantastic with an amazing orchestral score to add to the fantastically atmospheric Japanese countryside that most of the game is set in.

    Of course, all the pretty views and funky characters in the world would be worth nothing if the game play wasn't up to scratch but thankfully it goes above and beyond the call of duty in this department.
    Okami is compared to Zelda by most reviewers and it's obvious that the developers - the amazing "Clover Studios" - used it as a blueprint for how to make an adventure game.

    This is no bad thing as they emulate Nintendo's juggernaut in the games formula with such a high level of quality. The similarities are most pronounced when fighting through one of the games many dungeons which work almost exactly the same as Zelda and when exploring the vast rural areas that are reminiscent of Hyrule.

    It avoids being a pretty Zelda-clone by introducing a fantastically innovative gameplay mechanic in the "Celestial Brush".

    You play as Ameterasu the sun goddess and acquire an array of ways to manipulate natures in a host of ways by painting things on the screen by using the Wiimote's pointer. For example, drawing a circle in the sky will cause the sun to shine down from there whereas drawing one on the water's surface will create a lily pad you can jump on to traverse lakes and rivers (yes, you're a god that is killed by water - go figure).

    This is implemented in hundreds of ingenious puzzles which become steadily more devious as the game goes on and you have a larger arsenal of brush techniques to play with which is what you'll spend a lot of time doing - messing about with your godly powers.

    Sadly, with this clever new mechanic comes the game's biggest flaw - imperfect motion controls. Painting can be fiddly and you'll often need several attempts before it accepts the circle or line you've drawn as being good enough to activate the power. Whilst this rarely has serious consequences - usually you just immediately try again - but it gets just annoying enough to detract from the overall experience, albeit only very slightly.

    It also plays a part in the battle system to which it is quite odd. Instead of fighting foes as you come across them, enemies pop out of portal and a barrier appears, marking out a fight arena and which disappears after you've dispatched with the monsters.

    On top of your brush powers which all have more violent applications as well as their puzzle-solving uses, you'll acquire various equip able weapons which you shake the Wiimote to attack with, doing your best to rack up combos. This at first seems overly simple but a constant supply of new weapons, abilities and ever more bizarre enemies keeps it from getting repetitive.

    Boss fights are a much less frequent occurrence than in Zelda but are often on a similar gargantuan scale and are always equally epic and inventive.

    So that's about it, one minor flaw in an otherwise spectacular, often funny and hugely enjoyable experience which deserves a place in any gamers library as it truly is one of the greatest games ever made.