Best of 2006 #2: Okami

Okami

I suppose that epic adventures featuring wolves with annoying cohorts must be du jour this year. Expect a flood of them in 2007, presumably with cover and blind fire mechanics.

Despite underwhelming sales (I blame the other wolf game) and the culling of the development team, Okami deserves all of the credit it gets. Zelda’s is a formula that remains infrequently copied and more infrequently equalled, but on their first attempt Clover made a game that could easily stand alongside any of Link’s adventures. Not only did it have an extremely lengthy quest to complete, but also took the audacious decision to almost completely break from the ostensible storyline barely 15 hours in. Zelda comparisons may be obvious, but when this is such a good imitation – with, it must be said, some wonderful flourishes of its own – they’re hard to resist.

And those graphics! I can’t extol the game without mentioning those. While Gears of War was comfortably the most technically impressive-looking game of 2006, Okami is almost certainly the best from an artistic perspective. The whole game looks like an animated watercolour painting, even down to the texture of heavy paper that lies underneath everything at all times. It’s stunning, and I just wish I could have seen it in 720p.

For those of you in the UK without the means to play the import, show Capcom the error of its ways by marking 9th February 2007 on your calendar. It demands to be played.

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