Okami, as I mentioned in an earlier editorial, is a visually stunning game of good versus evil. You play as the sun goddess, Amaterasu, who takes the form of a white wolf as she battles to rid fairy-tale Japan from the forces of darkness. She does not embark alone, however, accompanied by the bug-sized wandering artist, Issun, and her celestial brush. Since its release several years ago, this game has gained quite the reputation in the gaming world and I was eager to see if it lived up to my rather high expectations.
One of the first things that the player will notice after setting off to fight evil in Nippon is that the gameplay itself is not particularly challenging. This is very much an adventure game and its dungeons are filled with platforms and puzzles and very little in the way of enemies. The enemies Amaterasu encounters are often weak; once the player discovers the best celestial brushstroke to use, the baddies are toast. This simplicity, surprisingly, does not make the game any less enjoyable. The gameplay, while not terribly challenging, is varied and as the player obtains more of the 13 brushstrokes the opportunity of character-environment interactions grows.
Celestial brush? It sounds gimmicky, doesn’t it? The player uses the brush by turning the screen into a canvas on which he or she paints a few simple shapes that impact both enemies and environment. One of the first brushstrokes Ammy learns is a simple line, or power slash, that can be used to cut through barriers and enemies alike. Throughout the game there are 13 brushstrokes ranging from water, to fire, to time-slowing abilities. The game cleverly incorporates these brushstrokes into the many little puzzles that appear throughout the game. The best part of all this? You don’t have to be particularly accurate in your drawing-an important aspect when you are trying to draw with a joystick.
The boss battles in this game, for the most part, are quite fun. Ammy fights with a combination of button-mashing weapon wielding and artsy finesse. It makes these battles both entertaining and varied throughout the game. There is one move, however, that many of the bosses seem to be fond of: throwing swords, daggers, icicles, and so forth at Ammy. Couldn’t they have come up with something a little more original? Oh well.
The story starts out a little slow but picks up after the first few hours of game play. For the most part, you can skip through much of the text (there is a lot of it) and still know what you have to do. The game starts with a relatively simple storyline-the battle against Orochi-and evolves into something much more later on. All told, this game took me just over 30 hours to complete, but if you were to complete all of the side quests and mini games I can certainly see the player taking another ten or more hours. Fear not, these little side quests and mini games are quite entertaining and not especially tedious.
All in all, if you’re looking for a visually stunning, not particularly difficult, but still dynamic game I would recommend picking this up.