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.
Check this baby out. Got it in the post this morning from YesAsia. Thankfully I didn’t order from Lik-Sang…
I haven’t had a chance to listen to most of it since it’s five discs, 218 tracks, and over five and a half hours long. I think that I actually have albums that are quicker to listen to straight through than it’s been to import this thing into iTunes.
The music while playing the game has been very good, obviously with strong traditional Japanese influences and more modern elements for good measure. If you like that kind of music I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. In any case how can you say no when it’s this purdy? Anything less wouldn’t do the beauty of the game justice, I suppose.
Now that I’ve finished MGS3 (reviewed here), finally managing to enjoy it, I’ve switched focus to Okami. As I’m sure you’re aware by now it’s to be one of the last titles to emerge from the brilliant-but-moribund Clover Studio, but, sad as it is, that’s not what I want to talk about.
Okami lets you play as a wolf. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess lets you play in the form of a wolf. Coincidence? More than likely, but I’m really noticing the similarities between this game and Zelda. I expected something more like a straight-up action game and, I suppose, if you’re going to make more of an open-ended adventure like Clover has, Zelda is the obvious template to borrow from. What has surprised me is how I’m finding myself enjoying it more than any recent Zelda.
Maybe it’s just the tremendous amount of personality that the stunning visuals give it, or maybe that in eight years Zelda arguably hasn’t matched the sheer quality of its first 3D outing. It might even be that the trend of giving Link a magical instrument with which to manipulate the world (ocarina, masks, rod, baton, talking hat, etc) is echoed and superseded in Amaterasu’s infinitely more versatile paintbrush. Whatever it is, Ammy is certainly an able rival to Link. And she, too, has an annoying sprite for a sidekick.
Whether it actually manages to top Zelda at its own game or not, Okami deserves your money. Sales haven’t met expectations, so make it a big seller and show Capcom the error of its ways. RIP Clover.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve actually got my copy of Okami here. The last time I saw this game in anything more than video form was back at TGS 2005 and I’ve been enchanted by it since then, counting down the days until an English-language version. No thanks to SCEE and their February 2007 shite. Imports FTW.
I think most people would by lying if they said that it was anything other than the truly spectacular art in this game that attracted them to it, because it really is beautiful. Like Shadow of the Colossus it maybe pushes the PS2 a bit too far: whizzy particle effects, flying cherry blossoms, and animated cel-shading are all well and good but for all its beauty, it can chug sometimes. Did I mention that the art style looks great, though? It really negates any technical issues for me.
Of course gameplay is more important than graphics and all that guff, so how does Okami play? Pretty well, actually. Probably not as suitably godly as the visuals (more like slightly saintly – say that ten times fast) but it does some unique stuff and complements the handpainted visuals with paint-based gameplay. Enemies are finished off by painting a slash through them, raging rivers are bridged by painting a bridge between the banks, night is turned to day by painting a sun in the sky, etc. Fits the whole art motif perfectly. Did I mention it looks reeeally nice?
This is definitely one of those games that always seems to come along in the last days of a console and becomes one of the defining titles. It’ll be interested to see how well the somewhat rudimentary combat holds up throughout the apparent 30-hour length, but regardless this is one game where I actually think that it’s worth buying for the graphics alone. I feel dirty for saying that but it’s true.