Where do I even begin…
Okami has always had a special place in my heart and I remember vividly the first time I started playing this game. It was in second year of university I believe and I got so immersed that I was literally spending all of my free time on it. But I don’t regret a single second gone into this game, because it’s one of the best games I’ve ever experienced out there and also one of the few I wish I could get amnesia for, so I can experience it fresh again.
Speaking of which and here I put the SPOLER TAG, Okami is a heavy story-based game, set in feudal Japan (or Nippon as the game likes to call it) The story revolves around Amaterasu – the sun goddess, who has just been awakened from a 100 year slumber only to meet a cursed Nippon. 100 years ago, Orochi was terrorizing a small village, named Kamiki, and every year a maiden had to be sent in sacrifice to appease him. Each time the sacrifice drew near, Amaterasu would appear in the village waiting for the chosen one to help her slay Orochi. The villagers thought she was his familiar, therefor dubbing her Shiranui. On the 100th year, Amaterasu finally recognized the hero, who was supposed to slay Orochi, in the face of Nagi – a mighty warrior, who was skilled in battling with a sword. On the faithful night, both entered Orochi’s cave and defeated the beast, sealing it, with the help of Nagi’s sword, which was called Tsukuyomi, because it gained its immense power from the moon. All is good, however Amaterasu was gravely wounded and died from Orochi’s poison. The villagers erected a statue to honor her deeds.
100 years later, she is revived by Sakuya, the guardian tree, who watches over Kamiki and all of Nippon with her Guardian Saplings. This marks the beginning of our epic 50h adventure (and by that I mean you’d probably have your hands full with this game for around that much time, since I have played Okami 3 times and I have not managed to get a faster playthrough … and why would you want in the first place???). Amaterasu’s main goal is to cleanse Nippon of the evil forces, however she is greatly weakened than her prior incarnation (I’m talking about Shiranui). I mentioned she is the sun goddess, therefore she possesses the power over the sun and daytime. I’ll get into more detail about this later on, when we talk about the celestial brushes. So in order to reclaim her previous glory, Amaterasu has to gather the rest of the celestial brush techniques. This is done over the course of the entire storyline. However, that is not the only reason why Amaterasu is weakened. She is a goddess and in that, the more people believe in the gods, the stronger she is. However, after Orochi was benched the first time, peaceful times spread over Nippon and people gradually stopped believing in the gods. There is also another reason in that. Usually, as Shiranui, she travelled with a Celestial Envoy, whose name was Ishaku. The purpose of an envoy is to spread the gods’ tales and make people believe in them. However since Shiranui passed away and Ishaku retired, he started preparing his grandson to be the next Celestial Envoy when the times comes, however he didn’t really like it and he ran away from the village. The envoys are usually Poncles – a small species, tho amazing artists.
We meet with Issun (Ishaku’s grandson – though we find that out much later in the story) in the very beginning and since Amaterasu does not speak, he speaks in her stead. Issun decides to tag along, because he wants to witness the 13 celestial brush techniques on his own and what better way than to tag along with Ammy, as he has nicknamed her (or Amako in the Japanese version of the game). I have to say there is a lot of comedic dialogue in this game to lighten the story. Anyways, we journey through the first half of Nippon and at one point get to fight Orochi again – this time with the help of Nagi’s great descendant – Susanoo. We learn that he was actually the one who released Orochi, because he didn’t believe the tale was real. However, this is far from the end of the story, because Orochi’s defeat is not the end of the evil plaguing Nippon. We then set out to the other half of Nippon and get to fight 2 more evil beings, who emerged from Orochi’s evil essence, when he was defeated – Blight and Ninetails. But that isn’t the end of the story yet! After Ninetails’ fall, we set off to the land to the North – Kamui. The land is being plagues by a snowstorm and the villagers are in danger of freezing over if this matter isn’t taken care of. Here we go back 100 years into the past and have to play along history in order not to screw something up and meet up with our past incarnation Shiranui. We defeat the true Orochi and save Lika, who was brainwashed to go there. Now she can perform an incantation to save Kamui from freezing over (we also get the chance to explore Issun’s home village Ponc’tan – tho he isn’t very happy about that). Defeating Lechku and Nechku, we stop the blizzard from overrunning Kamui, get our last brush technique and we can proceed past the point of no return.
The final arc of the story is set upon the Ark of Yamato, where it is said that all evil originated from. In reality, Orochi invaded the Celestial Plain and Amaterasu was forced to take him down to the mortal realm, but she fell alongside him as well. During the attack, all celestials were forced to flee their home aboard the Ark, however, it turned out to be a prison for all evil and they were all slaughtered. We have to finally mention Waka here, who we come across on many occasions during the game. He is one of the last 3 surviving members of the moon tribe – the other one being Kaguya (which we meet in the game) and I believe on more, which makes an appearance in Okamiden (Okami’s sequel). Anyway, he escaped the lunar realm with the Ark of Yamato and went to the Celestial plain. There after Orochi attacked, he told all the Celestials to board the Ark, unaware of the danger it poses and told Amaterasu that “only the chosen one can defeat Orochi”, therefore her decision to drag him down to Nippon.
Aboard the Ark, we get to fight all the monsters we previously did and after the last of them falls, we can finally face Yami – the lord of darkness and the final boss. Even with our brush techniques gathered it is still not enough and Amaterasu nearly falls in battle. However, Issun had finally decided to take the role of Celestial Envoy and return people’s beliefs in the gods, telling them about Amaterasu. With all of the people of Nippon praying, Amaterasu finally returns to full glory and defeats Yami for good … the inspirational cutscene makes me teary every time D:
That’s pretty much it about the story. I saved a lot of details, because it would take me a few more pages to tell the whole thing top to bottom and instead of doing that I recommend you sit down and play the game yourselves. I already said that it is amazing so I will not repeat myself. I like how it is told to us like a story (in truth Issun tells us the story of the game and we do hear his storytelling from time to time after a checkpoint of a sort). END OF SPOILERS
Now let us mention the celestial brush techniques, since they are a very important part of the game – both storywise and gameplay-wise.
In the world of Okami – 13 Celestial Brush Gods exist, each possessing a unique brush technique:
- Amaterasu – goddess of the sun [Sunrise – we can make from night to day – we get this by default]
- Yomigami – god of rejuvenation [Rejuvenation gives us the power to fix broken or missing aspects of the world]
- Tachigami – known as the rending god [Power Slash – basically we can cut stuff – this technique has 2 upgrades]
- Bakugami – god of cherry bomb [Cherry Bomb allows us to blow stuff up and also has 2 upgrades]
- Hanagami – the trio flora gods Sakigami, Hasugami and Tsutagami [Greensprout is the name of their collective flora based techniques. Respectively they go by the names of Bloom, with which we can bloom plants, flowers, guardian saplings, etc, Water Lilly, with which we can draw lilies on top of water surfaces and Vine, with which we can move around using the Konohana Blossoms]
- Nuregami – goddess of water [Watersprout is a technique with which we can draw water from one location to another, we can use to create geysers and climb places; its first upgrade allows us to use mermaid springs for free – which is one way of fast travel; the second one allows us to create rain]
- Yumigami – goddess of the moon [Crescent – just like sunrise, but the opposite, we can make from day to night]
- Kazegami – god of wind [Galestorm allows us to create wind and the upgraded version Whirlwind is very helpful in battle]
- Moegami – god of fire [Inferno – same as Watersprout but with fire and also the upgrade allows us to create fire from scratch, which is called Fireburst]
- Kasugami – goddess of mists [Veil of Mist – allows us to slow down time – by far the most useful thing in battle – 100% tested to work every time; by buying the Fog Pot, you get the upgrade, which allows travel through Origin Mirrors – another way of fast travel]
- Kabegami – the goddess of catwalk [Catwalk basically allows you to climb places you couldn’t reach before]
- Gekigami – god of thunder [Thunderstorm is the same as its fire and water counterparts and also Thunderbolt – the upgrade – allows us to create lightning from nothing, tho it does require some getting used to drawing the symbol, or actually getting it right]
- 13 Itegami – god of ice [Blizzard is the same as the fire, water and thunder one, but freezes stuff and the upgrade Icestorm allows us to create an icestorm out of nothing to freeze enemies in battle].
As you can see, these techniques are the main mechanic of the game and serve a lot of purposes. Some story progression, other mainly in combat or both. I will actually spend a few lines to give players some useful tips about these techniques and what is the most effective way to use them.
- Abuse the sh*t out of Veil of Mist, especially after getting your hands on the Golden Ink Pot, I believe it was called, which lets you regen Ink faster.
- Use Power Slash regularly and Cherry Bomb on groups of enemies.
- Galestorm makes your life easier, when fighting the mirrors and the wheels.
- Don’t bother using Fireburst or Thunderbolt, unless absolutely necessary, because it’s hard to draw out the smaller versions and the larger ones waste too much ink. If you have the Golden Ink Pot, you can afford to use them more often, but otherwise I vouch against that.
- Icestorm on the other hand is very useful, so use that whenever you can spare the ink.
- Memorize each (or most) enemy’s weakness and use it to your advantage.
How do we use these techniques though? Well, we pull up the in-game canvas and draw specific symbols. Each technique has a symbol to it. For example the power slash is a straight line; the rain upgrade of watersprout is two vertical straight lines; thunderbolt is performed by drawing a bolt symbol, though it can be a bit tricky to pull off as odd as it might sound, inferno is an infinity symbol; sunrise is a circle in the sky; crescent is a crescent in the sky … etc. The game makes sure to teach you all of those, so don’t worry. And they are easy to remember as well.
Now that those are out of the way, let’s talk weapons. Okami hosts 15 weapons in 3 weapon subtypes (keep in mind that each weapon can be equipped as a main or sub weapon and that gives it different properties):
- Reflectors – relatively mid-ranged weapons, do decent amount of damage and are okay speed-wise. They serve to block attacks when equipped as a sub weapon.
- Rosary – my favorite weapon type. Why? They are fast (you get multiple hits of 1 attack), do the least damage, but compensate with lots of hits, have very long range, fill your godhood very easily and become projectile weapons when equipped as a sub. Godhood is an invisible shield you have in battle, it can take up to 3 hits before being depleted, you get it back by performing combos.
- Glaives – my least favorite weapon type. Those are swords, they do the most damage, but are slow as f*ck and also very uncomfortable to use. As a sub weapon they allow Ammy to dash forward with them or perform some other attack.
The player gets all weapons during the game from bosses or merchants and usually all, with the exception of the last 3, carry over to new game plus. They can also be upgraded using Gold Dust, and that carries over to new game plus as well. What does the upgrade do? More damages!!!
So apart from weapons and brush techniques, the other thing we gather is praise. Now praise is not necessary to gather, but it helps a ton, because we use praise to increase all our main … stats, if I can call them that. Those are our HP, the ink we need to draw with, celestial pouches, which revive us upon death and our money bag capacity. The HP can be further increased by collecting Sun Fragments throughout the game. However those give you about 3 or 4 solar energy units (HP, I guess you can call it). How do we earn praise? By doing good stuff for people, feeding animals and blooming clovers.
Another collectable, if you wish to go for it, are stray beads. The game contains 100, with the last bead given to the player by defeating Yami. What this does, mainly affects the new game plus, because it gives you an item that basically makes you do more damage, invulnerable and with infinite ink.
If you really wanna go ham on collecting stuff, like me, you totally can, and get into filling out the different tomes in the game. Basically there are different tomes you can fill out. There is the Animal Tome, which contains all the species of animals you feed (you do that by giving them the food type they like, which is an item you can buy off merchants – there are a few: seeds, herbs, meat or fish). Next up is the fish tome, which records all types of fish you catch. Well technically you don’t fish yourself, you watch different people do it, but you do the hard work trust me. Fishing is a part of story progression, but it can get real farmy and tedious if you go for the entire tome, because there is a lot of RNG involved. There is the treasure tome, which records all treasure types you get, the move list, which basically collects all normal techniques you learn (there is a special page for the celestial brush ones) and the travel guide, which give you some cool tips on some celestial brush techniques and some lore. Oh and don’t forget to check on your Bestiary often, it gives you cool tips on enemies.
Other available items are the standard HP, def up, atk up, temporary infinite ink, temporary invulnerability consumables. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
Another thing Ammy can equip are holy artifacts. There are some quite useful ones. I won’t actually list them all here, I’ll just say that you obtain them either from story progression or buying them with demon fangs (more on that in the currency section below). I’ll also give some advice as well:
- Get the Golden Ink Pot … a must have … asap!!!
- You won’t use this during story progression a lot, but it saves lives during the Devil Gate Trials [these are basically sequences of hard demon fights] is the Wood Mat. What it does is restore HP when you go AFK for a few seconds. It does cost yen, but it’s totally worth it.
- This is something I like to use – the Peace Bell – mainly because it gets very annoying when demon scrolls start chasing you at night.
- Or you can use the Golden Lucky Cat, if you are too lazy to gather dropped coins, ink pots and solar energy units on the ground.
- The Water Tablet becomes available very late into the game, but since it allows Ammy to walk on water and not having to swim (which is a pain in the a*s) I’d say it’s a must have in your inventory at least and equip it when you need it.
- Do not forget to equip them … like I did half way along the game …
Let’s talk combat now. As far as difficulty goes, I’d say the only real challenge the game poses are the Devil Gate Trials. Story progression battles are very easy and you shouldn’t really be dying on them a lot or at all, at least I never did … yes, even boss battles (remember to abuse that veil of mist). As far as Devil Gate Trials go, they are not mandatory to do, but if you do go for them … STOCK ON ITEMS!!!! AND HAVE THE GOLDEN INK POT AND WOOD MAT!!! If you do not have those, don’t even go … it’s a suffer otherwise. They are not undoable without them, but these artifacts make your life so much easier. Other than that, just use whatever type of weapon you like and never forget to use your brush techniques.
There are a few other techniques that Amaterasu can learn, such as double jump, adding an extra moves to a combo on specific weapons, taunts, dodge, more dmg on same type of weapons, etc, etc. All of this can be found in the dojos. There are 3 dojos total and each dojo has progressively more techniques, alongside the old ones from the previous dojo. Umm, I wouldn’t say any of the techniques is a must have (except for the double jump, cuz you need that to progress the story), but I would recommend going for the extra combo move ones first and the first taunt so that you can farm demon fangs easier.
Let’s talk about the dreaded currencies now, so you can stop wondering what demon fangs are. Okami has 2 currencies: Yen and Demon Fangs.
With Yen you can buy everything and you sell stuff for Yen (all those useless to you treasures you find in the game).
Demon Fangs are a bit trickier though. With them you buy the artifacts I mentioned earlier. However, demon fangs are obtained by defeating enemies with their specific floral finisher (or taunting them, hence why I said the taunt is useful for farming fangs). So what is a floral finisher? Remember when I said to remember all enemies’ weaknesses and use them to your advantage. Yeah, well, when an enemy dies, in a short window of time you can finish it off with a floral finisher, which will be one of the celestial brush techniques. When you do that, the enemy will drop a demon fang and some stronger ones drop 2 or even 3 (+ the bonus 1 from taunting). I won’t list any of the floral finishers here, there are guides for these things in google and some of them are pretty obvious, but I will give a few tips about farming them for the must have artifacts.
- The easiest and fastest way to farm demon fangs is to get the taunt asap and just start taunting everything you battle.
- The best way for farming them is in the devil gate trials, since you face a lot of enemies.
- Start farming early – the imps’ floral finishers are power slash (with the exception of 1 I think) so make use of that on every imp you encounter.
- If you’re really behind on demon fangs (which you shouldn’t be really, if you farm them alongside the story progression), go back to Shinshu Field and farm demon scrolls there – fast and easy, but don’t forget to have the taunt.
I’m gonna be honest with you. I did go a little ham on this review and I don’t really remember if I have to mention anything else, but I am pretty sure I covered the main aspects that I had to so take my word for it and go buy the game … it’s a great game, I have nothing to complain about. It’s engaging, immersive, dynamic, unique – not only in mechanics but the sumi-e art style as well, has over 120 pieces of music, that you never get bored of, a lot of character development and world-building … I am obviously gonna give Okami a 10/10, no regrets, go buy the game.
Now … since obviously this is a review and I gotta talk about everything … I have to mention the 30 FPS lock on PC, since a lot of people complained about it. There is only one thing I can legitimately say and that is the following: As a person who hates lag and fps drops, to all of you newbs complaining about the fps lock … sit the eff down and shut the eff up … was the game locked on low fps – yes it was; was that bothering me in any way, in comparison to ALL the other things it has to offer – eff no. If you are a person bitching about the low fps lock and denying this game a chance because of that, then please slap yourself and never touch video games again, thank you very much.