This week, I would like to share with you one of my all-time favorite video games, “Okami.” Originally released in April of 2006 for the Nintendo Wii, the game sports a unique environment with interestingly new graphics, accompanied by a brand new set of game mechanics ushered in by the Wii’s then-novelty motion controls. Since its original release, it has received amazing reviews as well as a chance to be ported to the Sony PlayStation 2. Later in 2012, a high-definition port was developed and made available digitally on the PlayStation 3.
What strikes gamers initially about “Okami” is its graphics. Though off-putting to some, it parades its gameplay in a style mimicking Japanese ink-illustration mixed with modern game animation. The player takes control of a white wolf covered in bright red markings, revealed to be a physical manifestation of the Japanese sun goddess, Amaterasu. The gameplay itself features platforming and puzzle-solving most notably enacted through the use of “drawing” on the screen through the use of godly brush techniques that the player sets out to recollect. These techniques, varying from the power of rejuvenation, to water manipulation, to even control over wind and lightning, are meant to enable the player to journey through the game and solve the conflict to save the game’s world.
Naturally, I would hate to reveal any significant spoilers for the game, so I will avoid touching on much of its plot. My chief complaint about it, however, does concern the story, as the game is really quite long. At times, where the player might think the story is over, one might discover that it is really only the halfway point of the game itself. The story, though long-winded is both unique and rewarding. The story and side quests are all tied together through their inspiration from ancient Japanese folklore, making for a new learning experience as well as a touching one. The end of it all, late as it may come, is a tearjerker that swells the heart of its invested players.
By performing small tasks to aid the world and the people in it, the player will collect “praise,” a form of experience with which the player may level up certain stats, such as their health, wallet, revival pouches, and ink. Such tasks could be anything from fetch-questing to rejuvenating plants in a dead area, or feeding animals to digging up crops.
On top of all this, “Okami” is downright ridiculous. Not only are there very few video games out there in which you take control of a wolf/dog character, but the game provides plenty of opportunities to partake in various shenanigans regarding animal behavior. These include, but are not limited to, digging holes (which, done in particular turnip patches will prompt the field-keeper to chase the player madly; there is an actual side quest for this), urinating on enemies in battle, and leaving poop-bombs to literally explode on the battlefield to further damage foes. The characters are endlessly hilarious in their own particular antics, and the game balances its level of humor with its seriousness quite well. Overall, for what it is worth, I highly recommend giving “Okami” a run through. And if you find that you like it, there is a sequel, “Okamiden,” available for the Nintendo DS that is also very much worth investing some time in.