The worst thing that can be said about Ōkami is that many gamers thought it marked a new era of games, a watershed moment, after which games would be filled with incredible beauty, wonderful adventures that stirred the soul and controls that would pull you into sublime fantasy realms but it wasn’t. It was an anomaly. No game has surpassed its beauty. This was a game that could make you weep with joy at its exquisite aesthetic. How do we know it’s never been surpassed as a gaming experience? Just look at it in high definition. The only thing that blurred Ōkami in our minds was it’s blurriness. As a game bound by the technical limitation of the last generation it had begun to fade away in our minds. Now there’s no question. It’s perfect.
Ahh, but only Allah is perfect. Well yes, fair enough. Ōkami’s opening cutscene is far too long. You’ll be jabbing at the buttons to speed along the dialogue, not really reading it and this becomes a regular feature. The pacing is off, too. It’s too long, there are too many collectables, as charming as they are and the loading times between areas poke irritatingly at the otherwise cosy, loveliness of the playing experience. The PS3’s move controller can be used but isn’t as good as the traditional controls so they’ve missed a trick there. So okay, Ōkami is not absolutely perfect.
For those who missed out on this game’s original release six years ago, it came at the end of the PS2’s life cycle, bringing together watercolour landscapes, paper scroll textured landscapes, ancient Japanese stories and characters and clever controls that allowed you to draw objects into existence with your celestial brush. You play the Shinto sun goddess, Ameterasu, in the form of a big white wolf. This isn’t some cartoonish animal charter like Crash Bandicoot. You really feel that you are embodying an animal, with all the agility and wolfishness that goes with it. In combat, you can use your celestial brush to slash at enemies and create bombs. Out in the world you’ll have to bring colour and life back to the land, rebuilding bridges with your brush and changing the time of day by drawing the sun in the sky. Along the way you’ll meet and help a variety of characters and eventually have 13 abilities to use with your brush. In the tradition of a Zelda game each new ability give access to new areas and tasks.
The originality lovingly woven into the story, structure, abilities, music and of course graphics is every bit as astounding today as it was in the last console generation and the sharp 1080p graphics add a luxuriousness to the whole experience. It’s almost depressing that the game stands out so much against most titles today. It’s true that there have been some special titles attempting to push the boundaries in the last few years such as Fez, Dear Esther, Braid, LittleBigPlanet and Portal but whether they actually match Ōkami in transcending the medium is hard to say.
Regardless of all that poncey bollocks, though, it is a great game. It’s bloody fun. They’ve done a great job with the HD update and whether you’ve played it before or not you should give it a punt because there’s a lady in it wearing a dress with butt cleavage.