It’s hard to find a game that’s quite like Okami. Originally releasing for the PlayStation 2 in 2006, the game wowed everyone with its excellent art style, fun gameplay, bizarre characters and engrossing world. The game has had its remasters previously, but now it’s back for another round in 2017. Many years have passed, but it is aging gracefully and is still well worth checking out today.
Despite this originally being a PlayStation 2 games, the game’s unique art style has ensured that the game doesn’t look dated a bit. The new HD remaster here is excellent, with the colorful world popping even more and making it even more of marvel. It remains one of the most beautiful games ever made, with its various and large serene locales giving the appearance of an ornate painting. It’s easy to catch yourself regularly just looking around in awe at the areas you traverse through.
I’m happy to report that the game still controls perfectly fine, with the jump to PlayStation 4 being seamless. Controlling Amaterasu is a breeze and performing various attacks is very responsive, with the paint brush mechanic livening things up to great effect. The camera can occasionally cause some issues in combat scenarios that are taking place in particularly close quarters, with it being a little difficult to get a solid view on all of the enemies on the screen. Luckily, these instances aren’t too common.
There’s also the plain old fact that this game’s bones are just endearing no matter what year it is. The game is set in classical Japanese history, containing lots of relative legends and folklore to create a world that is oozing personality. The story tells of a world saved by the Shinto sun goddess, Ameterasu, taking the form of a white wolf to stop the evil Oroshi. Amaterasu is tasked with removing the curse that covers the land brought on by the reawakened Orochi, restoring the land by killing the demons and bringing life back with the Celestial Brush.
As you progress through the game you will come to new areas that require you to vanquish the demons and solve puzzles in a manor that isn’t too far removed from The Legend of Zelda series. Each area is well-designed and stands apart from what you have seen before, with new enemies entering the mix to keep the combat engaging. Amaterasu will also gain experience points (called Praise here) to improve various stats, as well as gradually learning new moves for the Celestial Brush to bypass obstacles and provide new combat maneuvers. It’s a gameplay system that still works very well, as you constantly feel like you’re getting stronger while still needing to play your best to best your foes.
The game’s various enemies will require you to take them down with different techniques, which will typically involve you utilizing the Celestial Brush. Sometimes enemies will throw up a big shield that you’ll need to break with the celestial brush in order to damage them, whereas airborne enemies need a swipe of the brush to be taken down to your level. It all keeps the combat from getting repetitive or too easy, as you regularly need to utilize the latest moves you’ve learned to progress.
Despite there being the obvious comparisons to the older Zelda games with its exploration, puzzles and dungeons, Okami is a much more relaxed affair than its inspiration. The dungeons that the game offers are simpler and the puzzles typically pretty basic, with the game never getting to the point where you’re pulling your hair out to best its obstacles. This works in the game’s favor, as it keeps each gameplay session breezy and almost meditative thanks to the gorgeous visuals and music.
Making your way through the main campaign itself takes somewhere around the 40-hour mark, which is fantastic considering the shorter length of many similar games these days. However, that length can easily be doubled if you take on the various side quests that it offers, of which there are many. Considering that the game’s world makes it easy to want to scour every nook and cranny of it, it’s likely that you’ll feel inclined to seek out the optional content.
The game may have originally released over 10 years ago, but Okami isn’t any less endearing in 2017 and the new coat of paint makes it even better. In a current gaming landscape that is overflowing with generic AAA releases, popping in Okami HD is a refreshing change of pace. If you’ve never played it before then it is absolutely worth checking out, but even those who might have checked the game out previously will likely fall in love with the game all over again with this new remaster.