Thousands of years ago a powerful demon called Orochi plagued the world, demanding a sacrifice every year. Eventually it was defeated and bound by a great hero, aided by the White Wolf Shiranui. A hundred years later the binding breaks, and Orochi destroys the world leaving only one small shrine untouched. In the shrine the White Wolf is reborn as Ammy, and begins her quest to revive the world and defeat the demon by restoring people’s faith in the gods. Accompanied by Issun, a wandering artist determined to learn her skills (even if everyone thinks he is a bug) Ammy wanders the land, restoring the broken landscape, defeating enemies and performing miracles to bring back faith.
Okami has many standout features, but in general its execution puts it head and shoulders above most other games. Plotwise, the game has an exceptionally strong story, supported by well-rounded characters and good script-writing.
The sound and music are good, and fit the atmosphere well. I would say there are no voices, but it would be more true to say there are no intelligible voices: Ammy uses a wolf’s yips, whines and howls while other characters speak in gibberish with text to display what they are saying.
The graphics are unique and outstanding. The entire game appears as a stylised Japanese watercolour, which means that it looks like no other game you will have played. Although it may be jarring at first, it quickly becomes normal within the game world, partly because of the integration of gameplay with graphics. This also ties in well with the game’s unique feature, the Celestial Brush.
Ammy can freeze any scene within the game, turning it into a watercolour, and then make changes with her own brush. Once the scene is released, her corrections remain. This is her main tool for repairing the world, and her greatest power. There are twelve techniques, but they are used creatively throughout the game, giving Ammy a wide range of powers as the player gets used to them. Making trees flower, repairing items, attacking enemies and more can all be done with her brush.
In summary, Okami offers a strong story, excellent characters and an outstanding script. In a game with atmospheric sound that literally looks like a work of art as you play it, it offers a unique and enjoyable playing experience to almost anyone.
Okami on the Wii
Unfortunately Clover Studios had been closed by the time Okami was released on the Wii. The game was ported to the console by another studio in a frame by frame remake. However there are two drawbacks: First, the original game used muted colours deliberately to make it appear like a watercolour. The brightness on the palette has been turned right up for the Wii. Second, the credits for Okami were famously one of the best features in an already outstanding game. Due to copyright issues they have been completely omitted from the Wii version.
The Wii controls should have worked excellently for the Celestial Brush, but many gamers say that the PS2 controls are easier to manage and more precise. This may be an issue of playing style however. Also, as Okami is not a short game, you do run the risk that your arm will get tired.
For fans of the games design, an Art Book has been released with character concepts, designs and more.
More about Okami
For videos, trailers and more reviews see Okami