Lindsay Reviews: Okami

Posted: February 25, 2013 by theelindsayclarke in Games
Tags: , , , ,

I’m going to be doing things a little differently today with my review of Okami.

Lately I’ve really wanted to replay one of the more interesting games of the past decade: Okami. Unfortunately, I lent my copy to a friend who proceeded to lose it, and I don’t have money to re-spend on it. So here’s what I’m going to do: using my beloved Triforce of Power, I shall review what I remember about that beautiful game. Let’s see how this goes…

First off: plot. Damn. Dat plot. Seriously, when I bought this game pretty much on a whim, I apparently had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew it had a Japanese mythology thing going on, that much was obvious just from the trailer or two I watched. What I didn’t realise was what it would explode into. Early on I understood that there was an award given if you played the game for x amount of hours, and since I’d been playing for a couple days and I seemed to have reached the climax of the tale (battling the big multi-headed dragon thing), I thought the game was a cute, simple retelling of an old Japanese fairy tale. Then I beat that boss, and only then was the rest of that enormous, beautiful world revealed to me: the land beyond the tiny little village. It took me about 70 hours to complete the whole game, as I recall. The characters were cute and memorable, I teared up during the ending and the title sequence (with that really pretty, melancholy song playing), and I felt like I had gone on such a journey, such a conquest, that I had truly completed something, and had earned the title of ‘goddess’. This seemingly-simple game turned into an elaborate journey through the lands of Nippon. And as I recall, there was a tiny ‘twist’ of sorts at the end that had to do with my favourite bug-sized character that perfected the plot of this game for me. I very rarely complain about a game being too long. It’s really only an issue if I find myself walking up and down the same hall again and again, constantly being forced to switch party members, or a game is so hard it’s not really fun anymore (I’m talking about you, a couple of Final Fantasy games I’ve played). It certainly wasn’t an issue here. Okami’s extravagant plot helped to make the game into a true epic. And though it’s a daunting thought, I would love to experience it again.

okami1Obviously style is going to be the main portion of Okami one would remember. Surely the style’s been done before. But that certainly doesn’t mean Okami failed in any way. The game looks like an old Japanese painting, and since one of the main gameplay elements has to do with painting, it is very well-suited to the game itself. Everything about Okami is cliché-Japanese. The music also fits that style really well, as did the ‘language’ the characters spoke. It was just gibberish, but it sounded like Japanese. Like when someone pretends to speak Japanese, really. I promise it seemed more charming than racist!

The game was very cute and very beautiful; movement had this wonderful flow to it that made me want to jump around and slash things and paint things. This is always good. When simply running around in a game feels satisfying, I tend to believe that the developers are doing their job well.

Finally, gamer-friendliness. This depends on which console you play Okami on. Despite the fact that you’d think a game about painting would utilise the Wii Remote well… it doesn’t. I tried to play it for a second time on the Wii, and having initially played it on the PS2, I put it down. It was just too frustrating. But it worked damn well on the Play Station 2. It was very rare that what I drew wouldn’t register, or the game accidentally thought I drew something else. I mean, it happened, but not frequently enough for me to be annoyed with the idea of painting things to get me through the game.

okami2In ways, Okami was almost too easy though. I never saw a game over screen. Not once. I don’t think it would be possible to TRY and kill myself. I just kept getting more lives and collecting pretty much infinite yen from battles I could choose to do (I really liked the battle system and the battle arenas, which kept me fighting). I mean, when you think about it, I was playing as a god. But the game made it clear that there are entities in the world that can destroy gods. Well they were all napping on the job when I was making my way through Nippon, apparently. One version of the game worked quite well, and I certainly did get rewarded, but it can feel a little less like I earned it when I seem to be immortal.

okami3

Clearly I loved Okami; I want to play it again so badly it hurts. The game’s not for everyone though. Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to play blood and carnage games. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. But if you like atmospheric games, if you’re a fan of anything even remotely Japanese, or of wolves, and you can handle JRPG-style game length, I recommend trying to find this game. I maybe wouldn’t recommend the sequel quite as eagerly, but I’ll get to that review another day.

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