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Okami HD Review

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Okami HD is an action adventure game set in the mythical land of Nippon. It was developed by Clover Studio and published by Capcom for the PS2 originally before getting a remake on the Wii and finally a HD update with Move compatibility on PSN.

100 years have passed since a legendary warrior and a pure white wolf defeated the eight-headed demon Orochi by sealing it away in the Moon Cave. Now the seal has been broken and Orochi’s evil has spread across Nippon. Meanwhile the protector of Kamiki Village, Sakuya, awakens the Sun Godess Amaterasu, who is the reincarnation on the original white wolf.

Ameratsu is joined by the tiny, wandering artist Issun; who provides Ammy with the Celestial Brush; a tool that allows Ammy to control or manipulate the environment and elements around her. The brush uses techniques that are conferred by the Celestial Brush Gods. Armed with the brush, they set out to remove the curse on the lands and to finally defeat Orochi.

Most of the gameplay revolves around using the Celestial Brush to bring up a canvas overlay, which allows you to draw on the screen. Different drawings will make different effects and depending on the object it is used on will also change the power used. Early on you’ll start with the rejuvenating power, it allows you to effectively restore some objects to their former glory or sometimes create a new object. It is mainly used to fix bridges but it can also create fishing lines and a few other objects.

Soon you’ll learn the Slash technique, which as it implies, allow you to slash objects and monsters; allowing you to cut down trees and attack enemies. Growth is another power that can be used; by drawing a loop on a barren tree, you can rejuvenate it or later on, when used on water, the loop will create a water lily for you to float on. Most techniques will use a single ink pot but eventually you’ll come across techniques that use more or can use more dependent on the size of the drawing.

Depending on the context used techniques can sometimes catch you off guard; as a power you would rarely or not even think of as a power is sometimes implemented in an unusual way. These are few and far between and are usually well hinted at by the parties involved.

Roaming around the environments is what most of the non-combat involves. You’re first task is always to remove the curse on the surrounding area by restoring the area’s Guardian tree with growth but beyond that, there is still plenty to do. There are plenty of treasures hidden underground, behind breakable walls and in hard to reach places, multiple types of animals to find and feed and finally there are other parts of the environment to restore to their former glory.

Enemies will appear as scrolls wandering around the levels and its very JRPG-esque in the way that crossing paths with one of these will initiate a battle within a small arena. Should you need to, you can always escape from battles by breaking the weak spots in the area’s walls and jumping out.

Combat involves using one weapon to begin with but you will soon find more and you will be able to equip a sub weapon. They come in three forms, with some also carrying other abilities or slight differences in attacks. Reflectors are the first type you’ll encounter; with Ammy already owning one from the off. It’s a simple slashing attack combo in the main slot and an almost impenetrable shield in the sub slot. Rosaries on the other hand are multi hit whip-like weapons in the main slot and act as ranged weapons in the sub slot; some can rapid fire, whilst others will be more of a shotgun blast. Glaives use slow attacks that can be charged and operate similarly in both slots.

Performing combos in Okami really do make a difference, as you build combos, it will increase your Godhood up to three times. Godhood is a barrier that saves you from taking damage; each level will let you take one attack without it making a dent on your health. Proper use of this will mean you never take damage and as a result you will earn more Yen after a battle is complete.

Another really good mechanic for stopping death is the Astral Pouch. This pouch fills itself up as you collect food throughout the land or can be instantly filled by a Golden Peach if you have one. Each full bag you have will be able to save you from death once. Refill the bag and it will save you again at a later date. It’s a really good spin on the standard lives system used in other games.

Side quests have a wide variety of objectives and stories but all end with the same outcome; getting praise. Unlike other praise giving actions these are usually much more fun and give a significantly higher portion of praise. This praise is basically attribute points that you can spend to increase your health, ink reservoirs, astral pouch and coin purse.

Yen is earned via multiple ways, some through killing enemies, some through selling items and treasures, and some from picking up food after filling your astral pouch. This in turn can be used to buy items, weapons and even new combat techniques from the Sensei that lives across the lands.

You can also collect Demon horns throughout the game by using special moves on enemies (if you’ve bought them) or by executing a particular enemy type in a particular way. These can then be traded with collectors for some specialist equipment or powerful items.

The game can be controlled in two ways for this HD rerelease; Dualshock or Move. Both work rather well but I would say that the Move feels more natural in this case due to how responsive it feels and how accurately you can draw with it. There are occasions where I had to go back to the standard controller but they were always tucked away. In the digging minigame particularly the water spouts were very unresponsive and while it was much easier to perform it with the controller it still had a few issues.

Story

A game set in a mythical Japan, it takes much from Japanese folklore and delivers an interesting tale with likeable characters. The story builds upon itself and even when it seems to take a detour it never feels like it is trying to prolong itself.

Presentation and Audio

The voices for characters are little more than mumbles or squeaky noises; this can be extremely irritating at first. It will grow on most people and muting may be the option for those that don’t but you then have to be without the lovely soundtrack the game offers. The art style based on Japanese Ink-illustration is simply beautiful and the HD update has done nothing but improve what was already a brilliant looking game.

Gameplay

Everything from roaming around the open fields to exorcising demons is fun. The celestial brush is a wonderful mechanic that gives you plenty of powers to use and is particularly fun and intuitive. There is plenty to explore and many side quests to take part in. The game may feel a little easy for some but the scores the game uses to rate you after encounters will show just how good you really are.

Overall – 5/5

One of the best action adventure games available and pretty much justifies owning a PS Move; this is the best version of the game to own. If you are a fan of the 3D Zelda games then you should definitely add this to your collection. It has an evolving story, plenty of side quests, fun combat, loads of exploration and is beautiful in both art and music.

Comments:

Having already played some of the Wii version (about 10 hours) I knew that the game was good but I wasn’t a fan of the combat as it felt a little clunky. Luckily this is something the Move fixes, it is vastly easier and more intuitive to use and doesn’t cram motion controls in when they are unnecessary. It’s a wonderful game and it is inspired by Zelda. In my opinion it does surpass some of the games in that series.

Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.


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