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Playing a game where you fill the furry paws of a mythical white wolf that has the power of sun sounds a little absurd by Western standards. It gets even crazier when you’re sent out to take on the powers of thirteen other deities and use a magic paintbrush to harness their power; and you’re doing all of this to rid the world of Nippon from dark forces. “Where’s the relatable protagonist filled with machismo?”, I hear you cry. “Where are the guns, the explosions, the fast-paced action?”, you continue to question. Well, dear reader, Capcom and Clover Studio’s Okami came from a finer time in gaming. It came when the console FPS wasn’t king and the 3D platformer stood on top. Thanks to the popularity of remastering games for HD, the overlooked cult action adventure game Okami gets another go at stealing away your heart.
Steeped in Japanese folklore, myths and legends, Okami‘s somewhat peculiar story wraps around your mind and draws you into its world of classical Japanese history. Everything melts together to create an utterly brilliant Legend of Zelda style adventure, seeing you traverse across the vast world of Nippon exorcising evil from across the land. Each land you venture through looks like a fantastic work of art thanks to the sumi-e effect that sets the title apart from nearly everything on the market. It’s all brought to life through Clover Studio’s ability to imbue the world with character through wind blowing cherry blossoms, animals playing and foraging, characters going about their lives and a wonderful orchestral and traditional Japanese musical score.
Ameratsu herself is also a rather enjoyable protagonist, even if she’s a rather un-relatable wolf. Her exasperation with her sometimes annoying sidekick of sorts, Issun, is regularly amusing. Her other expressions are realised through manga styled animations and a wagging tale that add a nice sense of familiarity to an animal with no ability to personify their thoughts. Even the enemies you face are full of creativity. Each one is a different demon and they all have unique characteristics to their design, meaning you’ll have to deal with each type in a different way. It’s also quite difficult to not smile when you see a demon slapping its backside mocking you right before you bite it in the ass and then slice it in two with your Celestial Brush.
For the HD revamp Capcom handed the reigns over to HexaDrive (Snake Eater 3D, REZ HD, E.X. Troopers) and thankfully they’ve done a brilliant job. Clover Studio’s work has never looked better. Those previously jaw dropping scenes have done the impossible: become even more impressive. Everything runs smooth and quickly, and playing through with a Dulalshock 3 feels exactly like playing the PlayStation 2 original did. However, this time around HexaDrive have included PS Move support – which you would think would ape that of Ready At Dawn’s Wii conversion, but it doesn’t. It’s hard to tell which version got motion control play right though.
Motion play means that you’ll be using the Move controller to interact with the world and utilise the Celestial Brush, while the navi controller – or the left hand side of a Dualshock 3 – handles movement. So far, so similar to the Wii; except here’s where things get odd. Instead of waggling your hand like a madman to attack, you now just tap the Move button. Using the Celestial Brush requires a simple squeeze of the T trigger, but there’s no longer a button that lets you draw perfectly straight lines – although Move is more accurate than a Wiimote so it’s not the end of the world. What’s peculiar is how all the PS Move face buttons are in use, meaning that the only real use for Move over a standard controller is for painting more accurately over using the right stick. It’s a nice feature if you have PS Move and fancy using it, but really it’s just rather fiddly when you aren’t using the brush.
As you can probably tell, I love Okami. It’s reassuring to see that the charm and brilliance of the original hasn’t been diluted in the polishing process, although it was hard to imagine that anything could go drastically wrong with such a winning formula. The addition of PS Move is a nice touch but I, quite honestly, prefer the way Okami for Wii utilised its control scheme. However with a Dualshock 3 in hand Okami HD is in every way the excellent, under-appreciated, title it has always been. If you’ve never had the chance to play it before, now is the time to snap it up and soak up over 40 hours of stunning gameplay.
Audio/Visual – 4/5: Character warbles can grow irritating, but the score and astounding paintbrush visuals more than make up for them.
Gameplay -4/5: With a Dualshock 3 it’s utterly sublime, with PS Move it’s nearly as good, but occasionally clumsy to play.
Innovation – 4/5: Pleasingly nothing’s changed over the original, but even now its mechanics hold up as somewhat genre busting. Nothing beats slicing an enemy with a brush.
Value – 5/5: For the incredibly low price of $20/£14 you’re getting one hell of a game, bursting with more content than you can find time for. Worth every penny.
Final Score: 4.5/5