Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Okami Review

Okami Review, happily located at the original VFH, where you can find lots and lots of reviews for a whole slew of consoles.

Check it out.
UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead:

Okami is an adventure game staring a dog-goddess by the name of Amaterasu, whom has the special talent of being able to control the Celestial Brush. With this brush, she can manipulate a variety of things, using one of 13 different strokes.

Okami opens with a story about a mystical warrior and dog whom sealed away Orochi, an evil 8-headed beast, 100 years ago. However, someone has tampered with the seal that secured the demon in his prison, and now he is free and is spreading a curse throughout the land. The only hope these people have is to trust in the reincarnation of the dog that sealed away the demon exactly 100 years ago.

The game progresses like any other adventure game, such as Zelda, where you start in a small village and progress and travel to a variety of far-off lands exploring dungeons and defeating bosses, all the while collecting new weapons and powers which give you access to new locations. You can equip two weapons at a time, one as a main weapon and the other as a sub-weapon. These weapons have different effects depending on which one you equipped it as, main or sub, so experimenting to find a match that is suitable with your fighting style is key. The powers you collect in the game are used via your Celestial Brush, which you access at any point in time by holding the B button, which freezes time and allows you to draw using the brush with the A button. Luckily, out of the 13 different powers you have, most of them feature the same shape, for instance, there are at least 3 different powers that require you to only draw a circle. The different effects take place depending on what you drew a circle on, such as a dead plant, water, or the sky.

The canvas which you draw on using the Celestial Brush. The current technique being used will propel Amaterasu upward toward that green mark. You'll be using these techniques often, but they are all quick and easy to perform and the transition from the normal world to the canvas and back is instant, so you are not taken out of the experience.

Like most, if not all adventure games, there are a lot of side quests that you can choose to do. Much of the game centers around the search of treasure boxes, that contain a variety of things, such as jewels and scrolls. Scrolls help teach you a new technique, but these are usually right in front of your face. Jewels and treasures on the other hand are hidden on cliffs and some only appear at night. Most of these cannot actually be used except to sell or collect. Aside from treasure hunting though, there are a lot of other things to find and do. One of these includes receiving a wanted list from a specific character. Once you have this list, you must go out and attempt to find the enemies on the list and defeat them. Then you bring the completed list to the owner and reap the rewards.

Another semi-side-quest is the ability to feed wild animals. There are a variety of animals you will come across by simply traveling about and exploring your surroundings. The most common animals include birds and monkeys, but you will also see tigers and horses. There are four types of food: seed, herbs, meat, and fish, of which each animal only likes one kind, so you have to be sure to stay stocked up on all four. When you feed each group of animals, they "heart" you and give you Praise. Praise is collected from a few other things, such as reviving dead plants and helping characters with their problems. When you collect enough Praise, you can choose to upgrade a certain ability, such as increasing your health meter, ink meter, or wallet.

Feeding a fox. Luckily, with this and all other cut scenes, they can be skipped.

Battles are set up in a way similar to some RPG's, where enemies aren't simply strolling around and you can run up to one and slash him a few times and move on. Instead, these floating scrolls are lurking about and if you run into one, you enter a fight with a few enemies in a small, enclosed arena. Once you defeat the enemies, the enclosure vanishes and you can continue on your way. You can also escape most fights by attacking a weakness in the barrier and then jumping out. After you defeat the enemies, you are rated on both the time it took and the amount of damage you sustained. You get a certain amount of money for each fight, but you also get a bonus according to how well you were rated. Most of these fights only contain 2-4 enemies and take an average of 30 or so seconds to complete, although sometimes you get screwed and have to fight particularly annoying enemies that can take a little extra time to defeat. All the battles in the game, whether in an open area or in a dungeon are performed using this formula, except for the bosses. Also, each enemy is very different from one another and have their own methods of attack and weaknesses.

Taking a slash at an enemy. The meter in the top left is your health and then ink. The meter in the bottom right is the health of the enemy and the icon above that is the item you just picked up, which happens to be an ink refill, although ink slowly refills itself, but if you run out, you temporarily lose your powers.

Bosses are different than regular enemies, naturally, and have their own environments that you fight them on and require much different techniques to defeat. You must use your wits and powers that you have acquired to do damage to the boss, but once you figure out how to do damage to a boss, you mostly keep repeating the method until they run out of health.

Umm...do something...The first boss you encounter. A massive beast, like most bosses. Enjoy.

The thing that really makes Okami stand out from other games is its story telling and characters. I'm not one for story, but the overall theme the game presents is a good one. Throughout the game, the real goal is to help everyone and make the world a better place, which is done from simply helping being get items or dispelling cursed zones or feeding animals. Everywhere you go you make the world brighter and a better place to live, which is shown simply by running around and seeing the flowers blooming behind your feet. The other thing that makes Okami enjoyable is the characters, who are all off the wall and funny. The game is really funny, maybe not LOL funny, but it definitely keeps you engaged. There are two main characters who you see, aside from the studly dog Amaterasu whom you play as, who so happens to be a bitch(female dog). These characters are your side-kick, Issun, a little flea or bug or something who usually sits atop your nose, and Susano, the descendant of the fierce warrior who help defeat Orochi. Issun is a spunky little fellow who provides lots of humorous bits and tips throughout the game, and kind of acts as your Navi for navigation, in a sense, but not really. Susano on the other hand , while boasting to be the fiercest warrior of all time and the decedent of the legendary guy, is really a scardy cat. You constantly have to help him out and defeat enemies for him, while making him think he was the one to do it. The point is, is that everyone has a personality and the characters have been done nicely.

Oh, Susano. Maybe I wouldn't have to help you out so much if you had a sword made out of, oh I don't know, metal! Wood isn't the best thing to make a weapon out of.

The graphics are very nice and stylized. Details have been taken away from the characters faces, so you can normally only make out their eyes and form. Environments are nice though, all with a water colored style, which is a nice change from other styles.

A semi-annoying thing about the game is the fact that there are no voice-overs, but instead, little blips and bleeps, which are done in a character-specific tone, which is nice so you can differentiate who is speaking, but it would have been nice to actually have words being spoken.

Okami is simply a huge game. I got 11 hours through the game and I barely scratched the surface of what the game offered. I only had about 6 of the 13 brush strokes and was only on the 3rd real dungeon. There are just a huge amount of things to see and do, with a lot of great puzzles and towns to search through. Although, with so many things going on, the game seems to drag on at times. For instance, to gain access to one certain dungeon, you need to find 8 dogs scattered throughout the world and bring them to the dungeon's entrance, essentially. However, to get to the last 3 dogs, you have to accomplish another something else. To get to one of these dogs, you must find and retrieve a kidnapped sparrow girl, return her, and then learn that the hot spring has run dry, so you must fix that, and then you can figure out you need to do something else to open the gate to get to the dog that you must battle and THEN you can go find the other two, which of course you must have had gotten to this first dog to learn the new brush stroke that you need for the other two, except that I went to the other two first because there is no order only to figure out that I can't do it because I probably needed a new brush stroke in order to do the five tasks that led up to finding the dog.......yeah. So, it could be that the game, and this review, drag on and on, or it could have been that I was up at 2 in the am playing it for five hours straight....not sure which.

Anyway, to sum it all up, Okami is a fantastic, award winning game, that has plenty of things to do, lots of things to see and accomplish, and plenty of things to keep you busy. The game is long, and stays fresh by throwing lots of different tasks and mini-games at you, like fishing, from time to time, and powering you up with new brush strokes that give you access to new areas and allow you to unearth hidden treasures. The writing and characters will keep you interested and entertained as you make your way through the game. If you're a hardcore gamer and own a Wii, then you have no reason not to pick this one up, especially considering it's at a low price of $39.99, and only $29.99 at Best Buy for whatever reason. However, if you have already played the game on the PS2, then there is no real reason for you to get it again on the Wii, as the only difference is the ability to control the brush via the Wiimote's IR, which is done very nicely.



JDW said...

Thank's Zach, i'll edit it later, screen size, boxart etc.

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