Ōkami (2006)

By looking at my avatar on WordPress it should be obvious that I am a huge fan of Ōkami. That being said, I have not played it since it was released 12 years ago. When it was remastered for the PC, I was overjoyed to return to one of my favorite games. It is apparent to me now that while Ōkami is an inherently flawed game, it still remains overwhelmingly charming, unique, and cozy. The remaster itself came with a new host of issues, but the base game is not perfect either.

1

Ōkami is an action-adventure title that is based in Japanese folklore. You play as Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun who is represented by a white wolf. You travel the lands with your wood sprite companion, Issun, to dispatch of an ominous dark presence that covers Nippon. It is evident that Ōkami was largely inspired by The Legend of Zelda series, the format of Ōkami is nearly identical to that of its muse. A silent protagonist assisted by a small, incessant helper, travel the open world clearing dungeons as well as assisting townsfolk along the way. You gain new abilities to open new paths as you progress. Even though Ōkami took heavy inspiration from another series, it remains obviously distinct.

2

The core focus of Ōkami is that the player’s main tool is the celestial brush, a heavenly painting instrument. The player can paint across the environment in a variety of different ways to achieve different effects. Drawing a sun to change the time of day, or a bomb to blow a hole in a wall, or a tree, flowers, or other foliage to make local critters happy. Even in combat, the celestial brush plays a large role. You can draw lines to slash, blind, stun, or slow enemies, making the brush a versatile weapon and progression tool. It is seamless to use and master, and it is the main form of progression in Ōkami. As you travel the land you learn new brush techniques to assist in your journey. This unique gameplay aspect is what sets Ōkami apart from similar games and it makes for an incredibly memorable experience.

3

What I love about Ōkami is just how charming the whole experience is. It is obviously a feel-good game. Cleansing the environment of a malignant darkness and replacing it with foliage, cherry blossoms, and blooming natural features is immensely satisfying. Furthermore, Ōkami is centered around helping the citizens of Nippon, and it is rewarding to help around the countryside and solve problems. Amaterasu is both an adorable and fearsome protagonist, and she is incredibly expressive to make up for her lack of dialogue. The art of Ōkami was inspired of the traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e style of making woodprints. It certainly helps Ōkami stand out as this art style is rarely seen the medium of video games (and digital media in general). Its art style matches its story, as both are derived from Japanese culture. The story told in the game is a mixture of numerous Japanese folklore tales spun into one. All in all, everything about Ōkami is just relaxing. If anything, Ōkami just feels good to play.

4

While it remains a classic game for me, it is obvious that Ōkami has issues. An incredibly long introduction sequence that takes forever before you can really start playing. There is a ton of dialogue which pads out the game length and can frankly get annoying when you just want to play the game. Your companion, Issun, is the biggest example of this. If you thought Navi, Tatl, or Fi from The Legend of Zelda were annoying, let me tell you they have got nothing on Issun. He constantly interrupts and is a major source for the overinflated level of dialogue in this game. The other big issue was that at times Ōkami can be a little repetitive. For example, there is one particular boss that you have to fight three times with no significant changes. Other than the repetition issues and excessive dialogue there was a single issue that I think is exclusive to the PC port of the game. Hell, it might be exclusive to just me because I searched for other people who had this issue but I was the only one that I found. The issue that I am talking about is how text boxes would often get stuck and I would have to wait 15-30 seconds to see a new line of dialogue. This was supremely annoying but I think I was the only person in the world to have this issue.

5

Overall, Ōkami mostly holds up to my memories and standards. A few nagging issues brought the game down, but it is still a phenomenal game. It is incredibly unique, charming, and enjoyable to play. Whether you like similar games like The Legend of Zelda or action-adventure titles in general, definitely check out Ōkami. Ōkami is still one of my favorite games, despite its flaws. There is just something about it that draws me in, maybe I just like the fact that a cute wolf is the protagonist, but there really is something magical about Ōkami.

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