Friday, October 1, 2010

Okami (2008, Wii, Capcom)

I really never seen video games as works of art. Yeah, I understand that the developers for the most part put their heart and souls into their products, but I never constituted artistic value in video games.

Until I played this.

Okami was released for the Playstation 2 in 2006, created by Clover Studio and published by Capcom. It was released to near universal acclaim, some sites even giving it game of the year awards. But despite the critical success, it was not nearly as successful in the market, barely selling at all in the U.S. It was released a few months before the PS3 and Wii were released to market, so maybe gamers just seen the PS2 as a dying format?

Anyway, I have never played the PS2 game before, but I have played the Wii version extensively, so I will go over this edition of the game.

Okami's plot is complex and very compelling. You control the Japanese sun god Amaterasu, but strangely, you are incarnated as a white wolf. Amaterasu was summoned by the wood sprite Sakuya to save the land of Nippon (essentially Japan) from a evil force. This is the basis of the plot of course, but trust me, it's much deeper than that and there are many enjoyable characters that you will encounter on your quest. Okami's story is much better done than Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (a game I never cared much for anyway) and will keep you playing through till the end.

There is but one thing to say about Okami's graphics: absolutely brilliant. I have never seen a game quite like Okami. The game truly looks amazing, with a art style best described as looking like a Japanese watercolor painting. I haven't quite seen anything like it in any game, and in my opinion it is the most beautiful game I have ever played. Nothing looks bleak or bland, everything has life and color to it. It's really pretty.

The gameplay, however is where Okami truly shines. It is much like The Legend of Zelda series in structure, but it distinct enough to be it's own unique experience. You control Amaterasu through the land of Nippon exploring beaches, forests, caves, cities, and much much more. Okami's true call to fame is the Celestial Brush. By holding down the B trigger on the Wii remote, you will activate the brush and be able to "paint" images and objects that become real. This gives the player a lot of power, with such abilities as being able to cut the hardest stone in half with a stroke of your brush, or drawing the sun into the sky. It does a really good job at making you feel like a god and makes some truly unique puzzles that are a blast to solve.

The combat is similar to Zelda as well, but Amaterasu has access to more weapons than Link does. Her main weapon seems to be a flaming stone disc, but as you progress, you will acquire swords and bead whips to help in purifying the land of evil demons. Also unlike Link, Amaterasu can string together multiple hits to devastate opponents with her divine weaponry. On a added note, Amaterasu can also manually jump with the A button, unlike Link. You also have no transportation, but Ammy can run faster than Epona (Link's horse) can.

Like Zelda, there are dungeons to explore and epic bosses to be fought, but it seems less obvious than Zelda, it seems that everything seems to just seam together and give the game more momentum. The puzzles, like I stated before, are really fun to solve due to the versatility of the Celestial Brush. They are as taxing as Zelda's puzzles, and are equally, if not even more rewarding.

Okami is a lengthy adventure, even longer than Twilight Princess. I guarantee that you will not beat Okami in one sitting. The game runs about 30-40+ hours, and you will enjoy every moment of it.

The music is also fantastic, even on par with Zelda's or Mega Man's music. It has a eastern feel to it (which makes sense) and has an epic, sweeping effect on players. And I swear to god, Okami has the most epic final boss battle ever, just because of the music. (The Sun Rises)

As much as I love Okami, I don't like the amount of dialogue. It seems that you'll be doing a lot of reading thoroughout your adventure and that may put off some gamers. But the dialogue is very, very well written, especially Issun's dialogue. At least Issun isn't nearly as annoying as Navi from Ocarina of Time. On the same note, there are quite a bit of fetch quests, but it seems to be a nagging issue because every single game seems to have them in one way or another. The biggest gripe I have with Okami is it's difficulty, of lack thereof. The enemies and bosses don't seem to be particulary aggressive, and you can even avoid almost all battles outright. Your brush is a little overpowered, making the majority of fights, even the last boss, very simple.

From the very beginning to the very end, there is no better way to describe Okami other than beautiful. This game is truly a work of art, and is my vote for most underrated game of all time. All gamers, casual or hardcore, must experience this amazing game. The graphics are beautiful, the music is brilliant, the story is compelling and light-hearted, the gameplay among the best of The Legend of Zelda, Okami is truly best described as a brilliant work of art. And as far as I'm concerned, Okami has the best ending of anything. Ever.

Okami is a timeless classic in my book, and is one of my favorite video games. There is absolutely no excuse not to buy and experience this brilliant masterpiece.

Long live Amaterasu.

+ Best graphics in any game I've ever played.
+ Charming and compelling plot and enjoyable characters.
+ Brilliantly designed gameplay vaguely like The Legend of Zelda.
+ Unique "Celestial Brush" mechanic.
+ Sweeping, and even moving music score.

- Dialogue may disinterest impatient gamers.
- Combat is a little too easy.

OVERALL: ***9.8 out of 10***

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