Well it’s been a long time coming, and Okami is finally in stores. It found its way in to my PS2, replacing the demo discs that have been released from time to time. And after playing those discs, it made the beginning of Okami slow going, and I was almost alarmed that I wasn’t fully enthralled and in love with the game. I don’t know what it was but after clearing that initial game play hump where you sort of establish yourself with the beginning powers and you move on to the real meat and potatoes of the game I fell head over heels for this game. Many comparisons to the magic of Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series have already been made about this game, so I’m trying very hard to avoid them because that’s really all that’s been said, but is that really a bad thing? I don’t think so, but let’s see if I can avoid doing it.
First thing that is immediately noticeable about Okami is its stunning visual art style. There are many a pundit in Hollywood who sit back and say that video games are not art; I’d say that this game is the perfect argument towards those who talk about just zoning out and playing a mindless game. Watching this game in motion is absolutely amazing; everything is fluid and feels alive. There will be times where you’ll be taken aback by the scenery and I say, just pause, and take it all in. Clover Studios has done such an excellent job at giving us a living and breathing world, it’s great to just sit and watch flora come to life behind the white wolf Okami Amaterasu as she bounds through fields and goes about righting the wrongs of ancient Japan. Strong presentation goes hand in hand with the graphics of this game. Encountering new enemies will give an old haiga art style display before the fight begins which just looks cool. Little and I do mean little things are what make this game beautiful, the attention to detail and emphasis on the beauty of nature only strengthen how good this game looks.
The pseudo cel-shading and post production effects in this game also lend to its visual style very heavily. It also does a good job hiding a lot of graphical issues, like clipping and texture fighting, but seriously, you’d have to be very meticulous to find these kinds of things and they really don’t take away from the overall experience. For all that the graphical bells and whistles hide they also help bring out the best in this game. The visual style and design at times had me sit back and just listen to the music and let Amaterasu take a short nap. To put it in a very short explanation, you will not find a more unique and beautiful game on the PS2 or any other system for a long while.
The audio is also a really strong point of the game, well at least from a musical stand point. The music sounds great and fits everything perfectly, running through the hillside while the music is going through one of its powerful tracks just kind of helps emphasize how big of an adventure this is and how success is the only option. The music for battles with regular enemies and bosses is also very fitting and sets the mood perfectly. The sound really takes you back to ancient Japan and only strengthens the mood, and I could just go on and on, but I’ll stop gushing. The only weak point in the sound department is the lack of voice acting, but considering how large this game is, I’ll happily put up with the Animal Crossing style of speech.
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