THE WOLF IS NOT SNEEZING!!
Man, I just don’t know where to start on this review… I lie to you not when I say it’s the best game I’ve ever played in my life. The story was amazing… the characters, the plot, the gameplay, the music… it was all spectacular. I bought a PlayStation 2 specifically for this game, and I had extremely high expectations, and it totally blew me away. (In other words, I like this game.) This is definately, without the shadow of a doubt, my new all-time favorite game ever.
Let’s see… well, you probably know that, in the game, you play a wolf. (Which is what caught my eye to begin with, heh.) The wolf is a personification of the sun goddess Amaterasu, who is called back to the mortal world after a mysterious being inadvertantly reawakened an eight-headed dragon named Orochi, who, incidentally, Amaterasu originally helped to get rid of the first time, but was “killed” in the end and slept for 100 years, letting things become neglected in the meantime.
So Orochi is reawakened and he decides to wreck as much of the mortal world as possible, Amaterasu is reawakened to help defeat him again, once and for all, and clean up the mortal world in the process. At the beginning of your journey, you’re joined by a tiny bug-sized guy named Issun, who acts as a sort of guide (and the comic relief), since he’s been travelling the world for some time. He also takes it upon himself to talk to people for you since… well, wolves can’t talk. Which they actually play on a few times, when you have to try to talk to people without him there. Personally, I thought he was very much like me, at least as far as his reactions to things go. I would see something that completely took me off guard, and then Issun pipes up with exactly what I was thinking… and then people in the game would answer him, which would essentially answer me, since I was thinking the same thing! (If you follow.)
So when Amaterasu (or… “Ammy”, as Issun affectionately refers to you as) reawakens, she’s pretty much without any of her former power, since she’s been gone for 100 years. Her power is displayed through the use of what Issun terms the “Celestial Brush”. You directly interact with the world using certain brush strokes that affect different things. There are 13 brush techniques that Ammy used to know, but when she “died”, the powers were scattered and you have to track them down before you confront Orochi.
So (third paragraph to start with “so”, just to point that out), Ammy and Issun embark on a quest to track down the brush techniques and regain her original strength. Of course, along the way, you have many, many, many side quests and an ever thickening main quest. (So many quests, in fact, that I completely missed several of them, and am currently replaying the game at a slower pace so as to find and finish each one!) As you finish these quests, you’ll earn “Praise” from whoever you were doing the quest for, which you can then use to upgrade your stats, like health and ink and a few other things. It’s interesting to note, however, that nobody knows you’re a god. They only see you as a plain white wolf wandering around. (If you run out of ink during insane usage of your Brush, your power will temporarily disappear and you’ll see yourself as everyone else sees you.)
The story is incredibly huge and complex with so many twists and surprises that it constantly kept screwing up my predictions, which was awesome. After hanging around the characters so long, you start getting attached to them. I mean, hey… look at my internet name. I had absolutely no problem getting into the role of playing a canine. Ammy was me, pure and simple. I got very attached to Issun, because he was always helpful and knew when to make jokes and was just an all around awesome character, and Amaterasu got attached to him, also, which made for some pretty emotional moments. I can’t really go into that, though… unless you want spoilers!
Although, speaking of emotional moments, there was a certain dungeon you had to work yourself through to get to the boss at the top. Of course, dungeons are never particularly easy, and this one was no exception. However, they mixed things up a bit for this one. This dungeon had a gate keeper… a little floating piece of paper that watched over the gates to each dungeon level. To pass to another level, you had to race this paper guy through some pretty rough obstacle courses. This paper was sentient, and was very polite and to the point, actually, calling me Sir even (even though I was a goddess, sheesh, mister blind-paper). Issun and I were getting pretty ticked off at Mr Paper, since, all this time, Mr Paper was actually having FUN racing us through this deadly dungeon
Eventually, it got to a point where he just wanted to race to play, and he didn’t care if we won and got to the next level or not… he just wanted to see our amazing abilities in action. (His words, not mine!) At the final gate we passed, Issun and I started gloating over the fact that we won against all odds and that we were going to head up to his leader and teach them a lesson. Rude, I know… but… yeah… we learned our lesson. The paper started talking about how wonderful it was to have known us, and that he was so happy to have seen such a competitive spirit in his life. Issun and I both came to the sudden realization that he was going to die, and I’m serious when I say we both went “What?!” at the same time, heheh. (I’m not joking when I claim Issun said what I was thinking.) But, yes… the floating piece of paper told us that having willingly failed his duty as gatekeeper, he had to forfeit his life, but he told us not to worry about him, since he didn’t regret what he’d done… and then he fluttered to the ground and disappeared in a flash of flowers.
I don’t know exactly WHY… but I was pretty choked up at that. Edrick laughed at me when I told him… but hey! Papers have feelings, too! But, yeah… that totally took the wind out of my sails and I didn’t quite have the energy I had to go and get rid of the boss. I’m telling you… Okami is an awesome game to make me mourn the death of a PIECE OF PAPER!!
Okay… I think I’ve got the point across that the story was really, really good. Especially the end… man… so good. Better than most books or movies. It was perfect. Music, too, was phenomenal. I’m contemplating buying the soundtrack. I don’t do that for most games, but… wow. You can listen to each track and it will flawlessly recreate the emotions from the game. I’ll let someone hear a track because it’s just plain good music, but they don’t get that whole emotional inflection with it.
The graphics are what’s called cel-shading. Nowhere near realistic, but incredibly awesome. The little banner up at the top is what the game looks like. It’s designed to look like something painted on old Japanese scrolls. You can even see the grain of the “paper”. That’s not a compression problem… that’s what it looks like in the game. It’s crazily stylized and… it’s amazing. It’s the kind of game that will make you look at 3D photorealistic games with no story and just laugh at them. Okami proves you don’t need real looking graphics when you have a knock-your-socks-off storyline.
The gameplay style is a lot like Zelda (no, I’m not going to compare the game TO Zelda… but it DOES play LIKE Zelda). Realtime battles with a small amount of moves, but never boring. You can actually skip battles (that aren’t required, like… say, a boss battle) really easily and just go adventuring. Although fighting enemies is your primary way or making money, so while you CAN skip fighting, it’s probably not the best thing to do.
There’s even a button for digging and barking! Both of which are incredibly fun to use. I like to run around and just bark… because it’s fun… I don’t know… shut up… Digging, though, actually has a use in some quests, and for digging up treasure chests.
You know… I guess this isn’t really a review… or… maybe it is. I’ve covered story, music, and gameplay. Oh! I didn’t talk about the Celestial Brush, duhhh… You hold down one of the trigger buttons anytime, anywhere, and the game world turns into a sheet of paper that you can actually draw on. There are so many things you can do with that Brush it ain’t funny. Especially during fights. You can use weapons in the fights, yes, but I guarantee you’ll be using the Brush, too. Hold the trigger, and draw a simple pattern on the paper and then let off the trigger and voila! The brush stroke goes off and does whatever it was you wanted it to do! Sometimes it gets confused with a couple of similar stroke patterns, but nothing really serious.
If I had to score this… it’d be a perfect 10. There’s absolutely no reason NOT to play this. Well, unless you don’t have a PlayStation… or can’t afford it… But I would even say that you should get a cheap used PS2 JUST for this game. It’s so goooood… and I’ve been blabbing about it for days now… and it’s getting late here, so I’m gonna end this.
In closing… get Okami!
(Oh, by the way… I forgot to say that this game is probably around 30 hours standard gameplay time, but you can easily have more time spent on it by hunting and completing all the side quests. I was expecting maybe 15 hours of gameplay time. So I actually reached a boss battle at around 15 hours and thought the game would end there. Silly me, I should have known since I only had about 6 of the 13 brush techniques… but the game was over twice as long as I expected it to be, and I would have been plenty happy if it had ended there. But it didn’t… I think I have 35 clocked hours on my first time through, and I missed lots of quests.)
I had a nice review all planned out, but I got distracted by making a banner image and now it’s late and I’m not in the mood for writing it now! So you’re just going to have to wait…
I did make a category for game reviews, though!