Game 111: Ōkami
If I had to use three words to describe this game they would be: Japanese, long, and Japanese. If you pressed me to write a whole blog post about it:
Imagine the most Japanese non-anime thing you can and put it in game form. That’s Ōkami. This game has aesthetics down better than almost any other game I can think of. The game has a Japanese paintbrush art style, the game world is all samurai-era Japan, the soundtrack has every stereotypically eastern instrument you can think of, and the plot is heavily drenched in Shinto mythology. The gameplay actually further backs up the aesthetics with most of it consisting of drawing on the screen with the celestial paintbrush in order to activate special powers such as summoning fire, causing lightning to strike, or even making plants bloom. Using such powers that you steadily gain over the course of the game, you go through a bunch of dungeons and save the mortal world multiple times as the wolf incarnation of the sun goddess Amaterasu.
The environments range from giant towers stretching into the sky to great wide open plains to haunted shipwrecks to snowy mountain ranges and even inside the emperor himself (long story). The game is full of creativity and fun characters with some genuinely funny moments. The game is also full of puzzles and enemies to fight, but to be honest they’re all really easy and for about the first two thirds of the game, all the puzzles seem to get spelled out for you by your sidekick which does get a bit annoying. Along that note, this game is also very Japanese in the way that it interrupts you every two minutes for a short cut scene which can get a bit annoying.
I also mentioned that this game is long. You go through a huge adventure and defeat the ultimate evil you were destined to fight against and it’s all very climactic. You swear the credits should be rolling since everyone is enjoying a great festival and everything is right with the world. Then the game goes “wait a minute, I don’t want to be only 12 hours long, I want to be 35 hours long!” Then the game starts to really open up and expands and then you fight that “final boss” twice more along the way. The game remains fun and creative, arguably it gets more so, but it does feel a bit like they made a sequel at the same time and just mashed the two games together before release. For better or for worse, you will definitely get your money’s worth on this game.
I had plenty of fun with this game, but if you just want some action you’re looking in the wrong place. I found that the glaive weapons were almost useless on the Wii version since the game kept thinking I was charging an attack every time I swung so I mostly just stuck with the beads since they stunned enemies for so long and did so much damage. The only time the combat really shined in my eyes was during some of the boss battles, the final one in particular which is arguably the only challenging part of the game given how much damage he does, but by that time you have more healing items than you know what to do with so as long as you keep an eye on your health bar, you’re fine.
Another issue I had with the Wii version is that I have a very small TV I play on, so a lot of the time when I was painting attacks on the screen it would glitch out and go all wonky and I would end up with my screen covered in a big ink blob instead of summoning a cyclone of fiery death. Again though, it’s probably just my TV and it probably isn’t an issue for most people.
If you want to play a Zelda game, but are sick of saving princesses and dungeons that last longer than 20 minutes, this is the game for you. Seriously though, it’s worth checking out if it sounds interesting at all to you.