If you have played Okami on any other platform, especially the Wii, then there isn’t much that I can tell you that you don’t already know other than the visuals have been improved in HD. If you have never played Okami, then this review is for you.
Okami feels like a love letter to the Zelda franchise. More in particularly, if you have dabbled in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, it feels a bit like controlling Link in his wolf form. Amaterasu, the white wolf you control in Okami, can dig and attack much like Wolf Link can. The similarities do not stop there, however. There are certain areas that can be considered “dungeon”-like and will evoke puzzle elements for you to solve reminiscent of those featured in Zelda titles.
But enough harking on the Zelda similarities.
The story in Okami HD is your basic run of the mill “the land is in peril” theme where a seven headed dragon named Orochi has resurrected and has turned the land dark, denying it of vegetation and life. Sukuya, a wood sprite, summons Amaterasu, the sun goddess, to take on the task of confronting Orochi and bringing life back to the land of Nippon with the assistance of a little Poncle named Issun. Some of the elements of this game actually harken back to Japanese folklore and fairy tales such as The Samurai’s Daughter where Tokoyo, the daughter in question, visits a land where the people make a young female sacrifice annually to keep the dragon, Yofuné-Nishi, at bay.
The controls are quite easy to master as you essentially have one attack button, a dig button, a bark button (yes I said bark), and a jump button. A big feature in the game is the ability to use the Celestial Brush which allows you to paint the environment in order to accomplish various things such as slash, make a tree blossom, create sunlight, create missing elements, and more. Accessing this mechanism is quite simple as all one has to do is press and hold “R”, then press and hold “Y” while moving either the left stick or using motion controls built into the joy-con. Here is where it gets a tad tricky. In order to make motion controls available you have to access the menu using the “-“button (minus button) and set your control scheme there. Out of the box I was expecting motion controls to be available when you had the joy-con detached but that isn’t the case. The great thing is that the motion control options takes the user into consideration and allows you to set either the left or the right joy-con as you preference for the “brush”.
Although Okami was originally planned to have a more realistic look, Clover Studio opted for a cell-shaded, sumi-e art style that absolutely brought life to the project. The Japanese aesthetic, combined with the vibrant colors add an element to the game that a more realistic approach could have never achieved. Adding to the overall experience, the music and sound really make the title stand out above other similar titles, ultimately instilling a great sense of Japanese culture to the environment.
The difficulty is one aspect that probably could have been improved upon. Enemies are often engaged primarily with your attack button. Often there is little skill necessary in order to bring your adversaries down. Additionally, you will learn other brush techniques that will enable you to slash your opponents, sprout trees in order to “confuse” your enemy and other such defenses. While engaging in combat is a bit bland and watered down, it does little to detract from the overall experience of the game.
Okami was originally released in 2006 on the Playstation 2 just before the Playstation 3 released. Although sales were poor due to this unfortunate timing, it still acquired the 2006 Game of the Year award by IGN and for good reason.
I consider all games to be a work of art that reflects the work of an entire team of people to produce an experience that people can enjoy. Isn’t that what art is? If there was one game that I have encountered that is more deserving than all the rest, it is definitely Okami. The aesthetics, control, story, gameplay all hit the right notes, albeit not very challenging, but it isn’t simply a game that is played. It truly is an experience to be had and one that every Switch owner should partake in.
After spending the weekend with Okami I can say with assurance that it remains one of my top games of all time. Only costing $19.99 in the Switch eShop, I almost feel as if I’m stealing from Capcom. Have you picked up Okami HD yet? Give us your thoughts and opinions in the comments below or let’s chat about it in our Community forums!
SourceCode, aka Lucas Hughes, is the creator/owner of Nintendo Playroom. He spends his days primarily as a husband/father/programmer/gamer. He loves all things Nintendo and is very passionate about the Nintendo community.