Okami was one of those unfortunate wonders that seemingly went unnoticed in the transition from last generation to this generation. Unanimously revered as one of the most creative, original and beautiful games on the PlayStation 2, in truth, not enough people actually played it – it too suffered from a touch of “ICO syndrome”. Capcom’s decision to bring Okami back after 6 years, this time on PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3 in HD, is a stroke of genius (pun intended). Okami is as timeless as it ever was. If you’ve never played it before, then you simply have no excuse with this flawless HD re-master.
You play as mercurial sun wolf-goddess Amaterasu. Some 100 years after she helped vanquish the eight-headed demon Orochi from Nippon, the demon’s seal is weakening and Amaterasu must return to earth to stop Orochi all over again. Amaterasu is perhaps one of the most graceful and refreshing playable protagonists in any game in recent years, and as such, she represents the game’s most defining strength. She represents all of the good inherent with this world and will stop at nothing to ensure its beauty, its tradition and its magnificence is retained.
There’s a beautiful urgency to Okami and how it plays out. Its momentum and pulse is motivated by how it implores the player to create beauty through wonder and curiosity, no matter what the cost. In reclaiming Nippon from Orochi, Amaterasu has the divine ability to manipulate and influence the scenery and settings with the celestial paintbrush. The brush allows you to paint the landscape and draw symbols, allowing you to bring colour to environments, fix and amend bridges and pathways, use water to quell fires, and restore life to a lifeless world canvas oppressed by its demonic captive through any number of interactic brushstrokes. The more you progress, the more paintbrush stokes you will learn, allowing for any number of environment interactions and attacks.
The presentation is simply wondrous. Even now, some six years on and with the help of a HD brush, Okami retains its immediate “wow” factor. From its organic floral combustions to its stunning watercolour and inked stylized visuals, Okami is all the more beautiful now that it weighs in with an enhanced 1080p standard. It is one of the most sensuous, wondrous, magnificent and awesome worlds ever recreated in a game. There are not enough synonymous and variations of “beautiful” to justify its gorgeousness. The characters and creatures that inhabit this world are similarly unique and interesting, and register as both refreshingly funny and ominously mysterious. The voice over and greater audio design add weight to the inventive and seamless presentation. It ticks all the right boxes.
This HD version allows you to utilise PlayStation Move controls akin to Okami’s Wii port and although they work quiet well, the old fashioned DualShock celestial brush manipulation still holds up perfectly. While holding down the shoulder R2 button, you can paint the scenery with your brush using the left analogue stick. It works just as well on a traditional controller and as such, none of the interactive feel is lost.
This HD upgraded version flawlessly recreates the game’s original beauty, and then some. One of the best looking PS2 games ever, Okami HD isn’t too far off from claiming that it looks like one of the best looking games on PS3. While its beauty is retained, so too are the minor niggling flaws. The camera has its moments and the game’s pacing can be frustrating, not least because there are protracted sequences where you will feel like you’re not doing anything. It can be a bit of a slow burner. The boss battles are also worthy of a mention. Though satisfying, they are somewhat few and far between and each one tends to mirror the last. But these are only slight gripes.
Okami has so much heart. It’s such a graceful experience, steeped in history, tradition and personality. Amaterasu and her colourful canvas of life deserves your time, now more than ever before. In 2006, for many, Okami never actually happened because it wasn’t relevant enough. In 2012, it’s as relevant as it ever was, probably even more so. As refreshing as it is an emphatically beautiful experience, Okami is a must buy. So just buy it then.
TGL SCORE: 9/10
Format: PlayStation 3, PSN, Move
Developer: Hexa Drive/Clover Studio
Release Date: October 31st 2012