Okami is one of those rare gems that prove video games can be not only entertaining but an exquisite art form as well. You areAmaterasu Okami, usually called “Ammy,” a sun goddess who takes the form of a white wolf. Ammy is the reincarnation of Shiranui, a wolf who fought off the evil eight-headed serpent Orochi a century ago. Just before the 100-year anniversary of Orochi’s defeat, the serpent escapes his prison and takes command of monsters to strike a terrible plague on the country.
Ammy’s duty is to defeat these monsters and restore peace to the area. Ammy travels withIssun, a 1-inch-tall artist who serves as Ammy’s inner and outer voices, much like Jiminy Cricket with Pinocchio. Although this idea might sound silly, the myth has a place in history: Until the end of World War II, every Japanese emperor was thought to be a descendent of this wolf goddess.
Okami introduces gamers to the Celestial Brush something that gives this game a totally new wrinkle. This allows you to change certain aspects of the environment at any time in the game. You bring up a canvas that pauses the game and allows you to draw on the screen by using the left analog stick to control the Celestial Brush. There are 15 different abilities to unlock; each is marvelously creative, ranging from cutting enemies in half by drawing a line through them to making the sun rise and set by drawing a circle or crescent respectively in the sky.
The Celestial Brush is an innovative idea, and it’s complemented by the design of the land. To call Okamivisually stunning would be an injustice to its cel-shaded graphics. Every scene is breathtakingly gorgeous, like a Japanese watercolor. In addition to Okami’s spectacular scenery, the game’s audio score is a wonderful compilation of classical music (both Japanese and European) that adds depth and feeling at appropriate moments in the game.
Another nice aspect of Okami is the limited amount of assistance the game provides you. Instead of always spelling out what Ammy must do, Okami requires you to travel the lands to discover what task must be completed next. Rather than being a drawback, this feature ensures that most of the land will be traveled and gives you an opportunity to discover hidden treasures. Once Ammy is in the right place, Issun will then provide some helpful information to guide her through each quest.
The only downside to this masterpiece is the combat. Usually the underling enemies are complete pushovers, and once you discovers the weaknesses of the mini and main bosses, the battles are easy. Fortunately, the battles in Okami are nothing more than means to the end of a specific quest. The bulk of the game is the traveling and puzzle solving. Nevertheless, the stunning visuals and brilliant Celestial Brush puzzle-solving idea make Okami a game that should not be missed.