Friday, November 2, 2012

S&S Review: Okami HD

Title: Okami HD
Format: PS3(reviewed), Xbox 360
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: HexaDrive, Clover Studio
Price: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T

I've always wanted to play the original Okami, seeing how everyone compares this game Zelda, I should have played this six years ago when it first came out.  It not only reaches the heights of a few Zelda games, it also surpasses them as well.

Story and Presentation:
This game is one big love letter to anyone who enjoys Japanese history or just the culture alone,  the setting depicts the lands of old Japan pretty spectacularly.  You follow the tale of the sun goddess turned wolf, Amaterasu.  Amaterasu has returned to Earth to stop the eight headed demon, Orochi, a demon who had already been sealed away by the sun goddess but had recently escaped.  Like I said, this game really puts a lot of emphasis towards ancient Japanese mythology.  This story is the strongest part of the game, besides the magnificent art, every character is strong and endearing.  Your companion Issun, is a charming yet courageous character, and just one of the many strong personalities found in the game's mythical narrative.  Each character feeds off of one another, and even though Amaterasu can't speak, the different tones the characters exude makes you feel like you have a voice.  This game is a living, breathing art piece.  The stylized art features the look of Japanese wood cut paintings, and it makes everything in the game pop.  It holds similarities too games that feature cell shaded graphics, like any anime game ever made.  If you've played the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the art style will feel very familiar.  Even though I haven't played the original, I've always noticed its beautiful visuals.  The Wii version only supported 480p, so when you bump up the game all the way to 1080p, the game's visuals makes a drastic jump.  There is so much color in the game, as you push through the story, it feels like you're walking through an old art museum.  Every HD collection has the potential to make a classic game look better, but Okami really beats every other remake out there in that respect.  The diverse locales adds even more vibrant color to the game, and the attention to detail gets amplified thanks to the high-def overhaul.  The music is just as enchanting as the visuals, the eastern oriental inspired score is the perfect compliment to the style of the game.  Since you won't find any voice acting in the game, besides grunts and mumbles, you will lean on the music more.  Make sure to pickup the soundtrack as well, if you're a fan of video game music, this is one soundtrack to have.
Core Gameplay:
The game always gets compared to Zelda, and now that I've had my chance to play it, I see where the comparisons come from.  I love how the game's look compliments its gameplay elements, the world represents your canvas.  You possess the Celestial Brush, which allows you special powers by drawing out different shapes.  The game plays well with the Playstation Move, but if you don't have one, the controller gets the job done nicely.  Over the course of the game, you'll learn 13 different brush strokes.  Each stroke grants you the ability to repair bridges, restore dead trees, slow down time, and even summon huge gusts of wind.  There are a lot of puzzles found in the world, and the Celestial Brush will be your main puzzle solver.  By combining your special abilities, you will be able to get past even the most daunting challenges.  Each brushing technique gives you access to new  opportunities and areas, just like any Zelda game.  The Brush can become a sword when the time comes to defeat a group of enemies.  There are three distinct weapon types that Amaterasu can wield, and you can set either as a primary or secondary weapon, which gives you more special abilities.  The combat as a whole isn't difficult, even though some enemies will require a back strike to defeat, or you might need to parry their projectile to make them vulnerable, it definitely won't cause you any headaches.  Lots of traditional treasures are scattered throughout the game world, so if you're looking for ways to add additional hours to your campaign, this is the perfect opportunity.  When you're using a Move controller, my only gripe with this mechanic has to be the camera controls.  The D-pad doesn't make a good alternative to the right analog stick, its a small but noticeable issue.  This game is a long one, it'll take you well over 40 hours to complete, and with completely different story arcs available, you'll have a ton of reasons to jump back into Okami and give it another go.  
Final Thoughts: 
Okami HD is a wonderful game, and an even better remake.  Me personally, I love the fact that more companies are restoring their classics, and bringing them into the current gen.  With some truly stunning visuals that are second to none, and great gameplay, I would recommend this game to everyone.  
S&S Rating: 9.5/10
@whatsPlay

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