Oh Amaterasu, origin of all that is good and mother to all PS2 games
- A real treat to the eyes.
- An original idea with excellent execution.
- The story will really get you emotionally attached to the game.
- A painfully long intro that is unskippable.
- Repetitive moments in an already very long game.
- Lack of challenge.
The Bottom Line
I recently bought a new PS2 after my old one was starting to fail (I had one of the big earlier models for years), and decided it's about time I gave this Okami people speak of a shot. My Okami experience is special for me, because I think Okami is the only game which I hated at first and ended up loving.
This game was actually the first I intended to play on my new PS2. I put the disc in, prepared for some exciting gameplay to commence within minutes. But no, little did I know I'm facing the longest unskippable intro I've ever seen! I was forced to stare at a bunch of drawings and text while a mumbling voice is playing in the back for no less than 18 minutes! Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for a good detailed plot, but I really wanted to get a general feel of the game, and if I was forced to get a back story first, it would've been great to have an express version. This was so unbearable that once it was over I quickly saved and decided I'll start playing the actual game later, and switched to Shadow of the Colossus
I ended up not going so quickly back to the game, before I played Okami again I completed Beyond Good & Evil
and Spider-Man 2
(Colossus is currently on hold). After I completed those two, I talked to a friend of mine and he happened to be playing Okami as well and pestered me to give it another chance.
I loaded up my weeks old save and started playing, slightly oblivious to the plot as at some point in the intro I just rested my head back and just kept pressing X for the monologue to make progress. I started playing as the wolf Amaterasu (or simply Ammy) with the most annoying green dot jumping on my nose. Issun, the comic relief and your only way of having conversations in this game turned out to be a really annoying guy and also a gameplay killer, because in the first hours of the game you face really simple puzzles which he simply has to ruin for you before you have a chance to give them a try. I'll already say this now: later in the game he stopped doing that (and I actually missed him in that sense at some points), and I ended up being quite fond of him (even though he sexually harasses every female character in the game), and at some scene towards the end of the game I realized how much I got attached to the little bugger.
I'll now try to focus more on the gameplay itself. Okami gives you the power of a brush that has many abilities, such as drawing bridges, the sun, slashes to hurt enemies, giant bombs, vines to swing you around and many more. Before playing I had the impression I'll have at least most of the brush skills early on in the game, if not all of them, but I ended up slowly gaining one brush skill after the other. It was great because some skills could be used in previously visited locations, adding to the open world feel of the game, even though it was partially level divided.
The two main problems in the game are that it's really easy and how the developers recycled a lot of things in the game. I'll start with the difficulty: when I finished the game and got my stats, the game reminded me that I didn't die a single time throughout the entire game, not even in the 20 minutes long final boss fight! But yes, I was slightly threatened when I faced bosses, and even then I was stacked with health items (which are pretty cheap and can be bought virtually as much as you want). The problem with the boss fights is also that once you figure out how to defeat them, you probably won't need a single health item to defeat them again, and that brings me to the other problem - recycling. It's not much of a spoiler so I'll just say it (if you don't want to know, just skip this paragraph), before you face the final boss you once again fight all the previous bosses. The game never tells you why, you just do. And at that point they're really easy and feel like a pointless nuisance in the way.
Spoilerphobes, you can join back here. Anyway about recycling, the game makes you for no proper reason face some puzzles you did before (like a digging game which I hated already in its first time around) and visit locations you were in. I really don't see why they insisted on doing that, I didn't finish the game in 100% but I still had about 40 hours of game time. Would it be that terrible to make it, say, 35 hours? Still longer than my two previous PS2 experiences - combined.
After two paragraphs of (partially) bashing the game I'll start wrapping up and saying some good things. First of all it's probably pointless to say as you all know it already, the game is visually beautiful. The art style is pleasant to look at and fresh, and some scenes couldn't be done better in another graphic style (like when you remove a curse from a location and everything blooms again). Another thing is that the gameplay itself, even though it's mostly easy, is still great fun and once I got into the game it was a little addiction of mine. Clever dungeons, great brush skills, fun side quests, you have it all here. And finally the story, excluding the intro, is fantastic and the last hour of the game is no less than awesome.
If I wasn't clear enough then you should get this game, don't give it any further though. Even though it's not flawless it's still one of the best games I played. I'm writing this review one week after I completed the game, and since then I briefly experienced a few others, and all of them make me sigh and say "It's just not Okami".