Critic Reviews add missing review
Average score: 92% (based on 149 ratings)
Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 88 ratings with 2 reviews)
What better role to step into than the role of a God? As Amaterasu, the Sun God, you are the embodiment of life itself. Flowers spring up as you run across the fields, your strikingly white form zipping across the landscape. If there were a contender for the ambiguous "Are Games Art?" prize, then Ōkami would certainly be in the running. The supporting cast are also an interesting lot. From the crazy old village elder with an orange on his head, to the lazy Susano, supposed descendant of the village hero, to the terrifying eight headed beast Orochi - each character is rich in personality and their own particular quirks that make them quite memorable.
And it's not all just about a pretty face, either, although the presentation does help. As you hold the Analog Stick in the direction you want to move, Amaterasu will simply get progressively faster, giving an amazing sense of speed. When you learn new Celestial Brush techniques, you'll be able to paint stars in the sky, slice rocks and trees in half, conjure cherry bombs from thin air, slow down time, and more. There are a total of thirteen techniques to master (some of them upgradable), and getting them all is quite a feat. The techniques can both be used to solve puzzles in the game world, or turn the tide of battle when fighting assorted demons in the many cursed zones that you'll encounter.
However, like all games, Ōkami is not perfect. While the story is engaging and fascinating, the opening story is told in a series of images. This is not the problem - the problem is that accompanying the images is unskippable text that t-y-p-e-s i-t-s-e-l-f o-u-t l-i-k-e t-h-i-s. It's agonizingly slow, and the player has to wait before it's fully typed out before they can progress to the next set of text. Because of this long-winded way of opening Ōkami, the game takes literally half an hour to start. And by start, I mean that you can actually interact with Amaterasu. The 'tutorial' section of the game takes about another half an hour, taking away an hour of the player's actual life before they can even begin the game.
Compound this with the fact that any story progression parts of the game are told in a similar fashion (slow typing text with a series of stills) and your game's play time is artificially inflated. It's such a painfully obvious flaw in an otherwise great game. How could this be missed? Surely testers played the game - did they waste an hour of their life before each playthrough? Did they skip it? What happened? Either way, the final product becomes needlessly frustrating.
Aside from the excruciatingly slow storytelling, the other main flaw of the game is the lack of the ability to quickly travel between the vast land. You do eventually gain an ability that allows you to do this, but in a game like this, quick and easy travel is something that should be acquired sooner rather than later. By forcing the player to backtrack and go between assorted parts of Nippon that they've already seen, the attention of the player begins to waver and instead of thinking what a beautiful, entertaining game this is, thoughts like "What do you mean I have to go back to that village again for? I was just there!" begin to creep in.
The Bottom Line
Ōkami is an exquisite game, no doubt about it. The art direction is incredible, and the illusion of a living, breathing Japanese painting is maintained visually and aurally throughout the game. The things that break this illusion, incredibly slow story progression and pointless backtracking, minor as they may seem, are significant. As a result, you're annoyingly jolted back to reality because of stupid game flaws that keep getting repeated. Just because a game can be forty hours long, doesn't mean that it should be.
PlayStation 2 · by Ben K (23862) · 2007
- 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".
PlayStation 2 · by Solid Flamingo (1432) · 2009
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