Capcom are no strangers to remastered games this gen, and why would they be? They’ve been churning them out like there’s no tomorrow. We’ve enjoyed current-gen versions of Resident Evil, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, Mega Man, and more. Hell, we’ve recently found out that Street Fighter and Devil May Cry are getting similar treatment in 2018. This isn’t by any means a bad thing, Capcom have an impressively diverse catalogue to pull from – which brings us to Okami. Leaked and rumoured well in advance of it’s official unveil, Okami has come back from the depths of the last decade (or so) with HD treatment. Even today Okami stands out as one of the most unique looking video games in history. It’s utterly distinct in its art direction and style, and it stands the tests of time incredibly well I might add. Sure it might pale in comparison to modern games, but if you missed out on the ’06 release or the ’12 HD release, this is the perfect opportunity to dive into the experience head first.
Okami has you taking on the role of Amaterasu, a sun goddess who as taken on the form of a white wolf, and her journey to retrieve the thirteen powers of the celestial brush. The ever so evil Orochi has returned and it’s up to Amaterasu to gather the necessary power and defeat this monster once and for all. Orochi was defeated a hundred years prior to the events of Okami. The tale tells of a young boy who, alongside a white wolf, pummelled this monster to protect the girl that he loved from being claimed by it. With the eight headed Orochi’s spirit sealed, life in Kamiki village suffered no more. As a sign of gratitude and respect, a statue of the young boy holding the very sword that defeated Orochi was built outside the cave in which the beast was slain. The white wolf passed away as a result of sustained wounds, and also had a statue built in the aforementioned village.
Fast forward a century and Orochi has been brought back thanks to some inconspicuous figure removing the sword from the statue of Nagi, the boy. Desperate once again and in need of dire help, the spirit of the white wolf is summoned and just so happens to be the beautiful Amaterasu, back once more to rid the land of evil. If it’s not the fascinating story setup that captivates you first, it will be how well Okami holds up eleven years since original release. Okami HD is absolutely jaw dropping due to its style and detail. There’s not a single technical fault to be seen, and everything from the gameplay segments to each and every cutscene is captivating to the point of being damn near distracting. Okami houses a lush watercolour art style that’s packed to the brim with colour and careful detail.
Amaterasu has the ability to bring colour back to cursed darkened areas by defeating nearby enemies. Slowly making your way through the wonderful adventure of Okami and peeling away the curses to see the gorgeous life that awaits underneath is just one of the many alluring aspects of the game. There simply isn’t enough words to detail how remarkable Okami looks. Villages are packed with details, trees blossom with beauty, fields are teeming with gorgeous glazes of green, and much more. Having never played the original (or the re-release for that matter) I was pleasantly taken aback by how tranquil and interconnected everything is. The constant drive to defeating monsters who have stolen the colour from the world is one that never gets old and always feels as rewarding as it is intuitive.
Playing as a deity in the form of a white wolf obviously places a dialogue barrier, but this is somewhat annulled by how graceful and meaningful Amaterasu’s interactions with her surroundings is. Despite being a silent protagonist, Amaterasu manages to convey her responses via infrequent sounds and body language throughout the entirety of play. It’s a well set implementation that sits nicely with the theme and formula of the game. Amaterasu is gifted with more worshippers as she kills monsters, helps people and solves issues within the world. This extra worship will gradually enable you to utilise more power and abilities, but not everything in Okami is about killing and bashing. No, instead you’re equally as rewarded for your good deeds as you are for your might. Helping fellow creatures for example will grant you a blessing, which can be used towards beefing up your stats. It’s a give and take game for the most part, but the added notion of choice goes a long way too.
Gameplay remains fluid and although the combat is intriguing to begin with, this does become repetitive before long. Another nuisance is the camera, being that it just doesn’t want to play ball at all the wrong times, especially during combat sequences. These are small faults in an otherwise remarkable and magnificently crafted adventure, but the frequency of these faults arise more than they should. What sets Okami aside from other high profile adventure games is the inclusion of the celestial brush, which is a tool that can be used for a wide range of different things. Not only do you use this brush to battle enemies, but it’s a tool for solving one of the many puzzles within. You can use it to build bridges, break objects, and even meditate a time pass. You’ll be picking up several brush techniques as you engage with brush gods throughout the game, all of which prove to be useful for one thing or another. Ink for this brush is replenished over time, preventing players from abusing its powers for that easy ride.
You can indeed spend your hard earned Yen on better weaponry and tools, as well as quest specific items that are needed to progress further. Yen can be earned from a well fought battle, so it pays off (pardon the pun) to focus on your foes and ensure you lay them to waste with decent attacks and good time keeping. Amaterasu has a companion on her journey that comes in the form of a small bug known as Issun, who helps to make up for the lost dialogue via rambling at you. This is further bolstered by the NPCs that you will also engage with on your quest. Speaking of, your quest to rid the world of returning evil is not one that proves to be overly tough. In fact I didn’t find it all too difficult at all. It can be challenging, but it never really crosses that line that turns fun into frustration. Instead it seamlessly sits between that spectrum. Even the boss fights are fairly straight forward when you get the hang of them, and their varying mechanics. There’s roughly 35 hours worth of fun to be had with Okami, which is padded out by added side missions and challenges along the way. Safe to say that if you, like me, never had the chance to enjoy this game before, you’ll easily find out what all the fuss has been about.
Okami HD is easily one of the best Capcom comeback titles from their impressive portfolio. The distinct art style and visual palette is as dominant today as it was eleven years ago, and it’s aged incredibly well as a result. The gameplay holds up brilliantly by standards today despite some issues with repetitive combat and a wonky camera. Okami’s story is well told and an absolute joy to trek through, offering up an intriguing plot that’s full of life and colour. There’s plenty of longevity to be had here throughout the 35 hour (plus) campaign and side content combined. The clever implementation of the celestial brush makes for some interesting puzzle sections, which is further built upon as you venture deeper in. There’s no denying that Okami earned quite the following back in its day, and seeing first hand how breathtaking and captivating this game really is, I can hand on heart see why that was. Returning fans and newcomers alike will get a blast out of this.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.