Developer: Clover Studios
Release Date: 9th Februrary
Format Reviewed: Playstation 2
Other Formats: N/A
The Playstation 2 has undoubtedly earned its place amongst some of the greatest consoles of all time, while the Xbox and Gamecube fell by the wayside a long time ago, the Playstation 2 has gone from strength to strength and the presence of some new consoles far more powerful than itself hasnâ€™t stopped it producing classic title after classic title even this late on in the generation.
Step up to the plate Okami, a perfect way to end what has been a remarkable 5/6 years for the Playstation 2.
Okami is slow to get going and itâ€™s going to take a lot of patience to get through its seemingly never-ending intro-sequence, but kick and scream your way through that and Okami quickly shifts through the gears and it only gets better from there.
Weâ€™ve all the heard the saying, â€œDonâ€™t judge a book by its coverâ€, but when it looks so utterly beautiful then itâ€™s hard to not be a little bit shallow. Screen-capture any moment in Okami and you have a picture worthy of any art museum, never has the line between videogames and art been so blurred.
You may well develop cramp in your jaw from the amount of times it will be left at full stretch, itâ€™s what the environments in Okami will do to you. There were plenty of â€œOoohsâ€ and â€œAhhhsâ€ at the beginning and I thought that it would surely start to get all too familiar to the point of monotony but every new environment just produced louder gasps of amazement and I soon found my jaw beating the distance it managed to drop every single time. It doesnâ€™t get old, and I could talk about it for another 10 pages, but behind the visuals there is a game and a damn fine one at that. Thereâ€™s plenty of substance in this masterpiece.
Considering the success of The Legend of Zelda series, it is quite surprising that not many games have taken on this winning formula. Okami has certainly taken inspiration and unlike most titles that have tried and failed to match the Zelda series; Okami stands toe to toe with it and introduces some inventive ideas of its own.
They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and in this case the paintbrush trounces both of them. With Amaterasuâ€™s legendary weapon, the Celestial Brush, you can manipulate the environment around you to help progression and even if your skills at first are limited you soon learn new brush techniques and the Celestial Brush becomes an essential and welcome addition to the gameplay.
The world of Okami, Nippon is a very vast one with a lot of things to do such as helping villagers with their problems, collecting little items and taking part in amusing little mini-games etcâ€¦ But the way in which youâ€™re gently nudged forward through the game makes Nippon seems like one giant road rather than a full game world where you go off in different directions to different places. Itâ€™s a small problem but one that will probably go unnoticed, as thereâ€™s far too much stuff to be doing.
And contrary to what the visuals may have you believe, the story is quite dark and the introduction of your little helper Issun helps keep the mood upbeat and his endearing personality is certainly one of the games high points.
There are few memorable characters in Okami and it doesnâ€™t help that none of them really speak but instead mumble ungodly noises in a variety of different tones. But there are some characters that you will grow attached to, along with Issun Okamiâ€™s false hero, Susano (descendant of the legendary Nagi) has some truly classic moments, which help keep the cut scenes entertaining.
Okami isnâ€™t at all challenging and I havenâ€™t faced a game over screen once in my travels, but as the game comes to its conclusion you almost wish it wouldnâ€™t end and for a good long while it wonâ€™t. Iâ€™ll certainly go through this game again in a few years, and time may age Okami but like all good art it will never lose that quality and Iâ€™ll bet every penny I have itâ€™ll still be as pleasing to play then as it is now. Okami is a symbol for everything that is right in videogames, a magnificent game and a perfect way to end an equally magnificant generation.