When Okami first released back in 2006, it was very clear to gamers that this title was going to be something special – something else entirely. It is one of the many reasons I will never part with my PlayStation 2, it was just that beautiful. From the unique art style that utilises the celestial brush that lets the player literally paint their reality, to the beautiful lore surrounding the storyline – Okami is “one of the greats” that will forever be a staple in gaming history. Now the new generation can experience its magic, now that Okami HD is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Okami is the apex of traditional Japanese folklore style, with a unique stylized twist to make the perfect game. For those unfamiliar with the lore surrounding this majestic title, the story of Okami centers around Amaterasu whose name literally means “heaven’s illumination”. She takes the shape of a large white wolf with unique markings artfully scaling her body and a tail that resembles that of a calligraphy brush, which is fitting for the game style. She is the Sun Goddess with a quiet, yet indomitable nature. Her intelligence, her self acknowledgement, and the overall personal aspects of her character make Amaterasu a beautifully done centerpiece to a game that was damn near perfection.
When the Kamiki Village faces a monster like no other, Orochi, an evil curse blankets the area and the people within. Leaving nothing but a trail of destruction, Amaterasu assumes her wolf-like form to once again face down this powerful foe with the help of a fairy sprite named Issun to reclaim the lost powers of the Celestial brush and ultimately defeat the evil that has threatened a once happy village.
With a fantastical world built on a lore that can't help but to enthrall, it should be of no surprise that the remake, Okami HD, continues on this beloved legacy. With the updated graphics, the hand-drawn art style manages to enrapture 11 years later. The mechanics of the gameplay itself, paired with its artistic nature, makes the narrative a naturally progressive flow that makes it incredibly easy for players to get lost in. It's fantastic to relive a revered title, while also providing an amazing first time experience for newcomers.
The world is literally your canvas, one for the players to craft as the game moves forward through the use of the most valued weapon in-game: the Celestial Brush. With a flick of the brush, the surrounding world can be changed into the eyes of the artist. This level of immersion is unique to Okami and is one of the many reasons it made a great choice for a remaster. But the Celestial Brush isn't just a neat little parlor trick for players - it's paramount to the success of the narrative and is an intricate part to crucial game moments.
Traverse rougher landscapes, solve puzzles, create new solutions - there are many ways this Celestial Brush is a god-given gift ... this brush is a formidable weapon against foes, and a vital tool for a creationary experience. In fact, the way many of the in-game mechanics are set up - there were many moments when creating unique solutions to a problem that the character faced that felt distinctly Zelda-esque in its function. Yet another reason that this title is a genuine treasure and was instantly hailed for its ingenuity.
For those that have a soft spot for Japanese culture, Okami HD provides an organic cultural experience while become a part of the very lore that has been passed down for centuries. The spirit world, pervasive gods, and long-standing mythology all play an important role in the game's overall function and for those that are hardcore lovers of Japanese cultures, or those looking to learn - Okami HD is the game to provide such a detailed adventure.
It's not all dire quests and fatalistic quests. Amaterasu provides an almost playful dualism from start to finish. Though the powerful wolf is an all powerful goddess, there were also moments prevalent throughout the game where she morphs into a more basic nature - an adorable puppers that can't help but to illicit an "awwww" reaction from players. The artistic companion of the goddess, Issun, also maintains some of these playful qualities as he presents a different side to the all important questline. Issun often offers a particular brand of hilarity that pairs well with the Celestial gods found along the way, as well as Amaterasu herself.
Though this game is easily one of my top games to play since its initial release, that doesn't mean it's perfect. There were moments where more of a challenge wouldn't have been amiss, and sometimes the camera mechanics were a bit off. There were also elements added within the game that really served no other purpose outside of storyline fluff, such as the title's power-ups. Though most games will have players take on side quests to gain favor with various NPCs while increasing in power - this aspect in Okami HD, much like its original counterpart, really didn't provide any significant change. The same thing could be said about the sporadic treasure chests - rarely something of import, but at least you can sell your finds to purchase something more usable.
The world of Okami HD is one that never gets boring. From the artistic adventures, the compelling story, and the littered twists and turns throughout the narrative - the world that Capcom has offered is one that has a lot more than meets the eye. From majestic underwater kingdoms, to rolling landscapes and quelling ponds - everything about Okami HD is satisfying, fulfilling, and will leave you thinking "What's next?" This pure-form nod to traditional Japanese culture is one that every gamer needs to experience at least once - and going back to it each time through the years has a distinct feeling of 'coming home'.
WWG's Score: 4.5 / 5