System: PlayStation 2 Developer: Clover Studios Publisher: Capcom
Okami stands as a beacon of light to all the cookie cutter clones, yearly sequels, and drab run-of-the-mill software that populates gaming shelves. That reason alone warrants the game a look. The game centers around Amaterasu, a wolf sun god, and his traveling wee sprite friend Issun as they try to unearth 13 gods to destroy the evil force plaguing the world. Sounds generic, but the minute the game starts up you realize it's far from that.
The first thing you notice is the beautiful vibrant graphics straight out of the wood block paintings of Japan. They give the game buoyancy and personality rarely experienced in games. I stopped countless times spinning the camera around soaking in the marvelous sights. And there is a lot to see. The game marches to its finale at 40 hours, complete with numerous dungeons, bosses, puzzles, and locales to visit.
The biggest core element of the game is the celestial brush. By a simple tap of the R1 button, the brush comes down giving the player the ability to draw on the environment. You can create bombs, reconstruct bridges, slash enemies, and even slow down time all by a quick stroke. It's easy, quick, and well implemented into the game. I could use some more abstract puzzles using the brush, but that is nit-picking.
The real problems of the game are the text and difficulty. Every ten minutes I found myself talking to someone choking the pacing of the game. It's made worse from the amount of text Okami throws at you. There is so much that players take breaks in between them, hinting that even the developers knew there was a lot. Plus there is no speed text option to blaze through the stuff that are boring. Difficulty hurts the game in a too generous fashion. Battling enemies sport you cash to buy better weapons, power ups, and potions to heal yourself. But the game is littered with treasures to dig up that it makes you Bill Gates in no time. I did not even bother fighting enemies. You upgrade your health, ink, and wallet size by doing the residents favors earning you praise. There is so much praise to go around that my health and ink sizes were more than enough to tackle the epic bosses.
But as Amaterasu brings life to the poisoned lands, vanquishing it, so does this game with its problems. A special rare game that relies more on its artistic imagination than commercial convention.