Okami

okami100 years ago Yamato-no-Orochi. a eight-headed snake, was defeated by the swordsman Izanagi and the white wolf Shiranui to save the Kamiki Village and Izanami-no.Mikoto, Izanagi’s beloved. Now, Yamato-no-Orochi has returned and is cursing the lands of Nippon (Japan). Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun and the universe, appears in the form of a white wolf to save the lands from the darkness haunting it.


Breakdown
Story: 4
Characters: 4
Gameplay: 5
Graphics: 5
Music: 5
Total: 23/25
Average: 4.6/5


First, take note that in the translated version, most of these names are shortened, such as Nagi instead of Izanagi, Nami instead of Izanami-no-Mikoto and Orochi instead of Yamato-no-Orochi. But as this game is based on Shinto religion and folklore, I think it would be better to use the real names. But then I’m also a Shinto enthusiast.

The game is, as just mentioned, based on folklore and Shinto, and there are a lot of references to legends, although you wouldn’t know that if you don’t know these folklores. One of the main characters is Issun-boushi (Issun), a tiny wandering artist from the Poncle village. Issun-boushi is a child’s story about a tiny boy who falls in love with a beautiful princess and Issun constantly refer to this by liking every beauty in the game. The Lucky Mallet is also a reference to this very story about Issun-boushi. Poncle is a reference to something from the Ainu people, and Oina are based on this people. It’s very interesting for someone like me that understands the references and the basis for the different characters and events, monsters.

The game’s story is good and to some extent unique. I say to some extent, as although it’s the first game I’ve played with folklore, Shinto and Ainu as it’s basis for the story, the story is similar to many other games I’ve played. It’s still a very good story and it’s worth playing. I wish my tears at the end could prove that.

The characters are based on various legends, gods and characters from stories. I’ve already mentioned Issun-boushi. The main character, Amaterasu (Ammy) is based on the sun goddess with the same name (also called Amaterasu-oomikami or Oohirume-no-muchi-no-kami) who is the most important god in Shinto and was born from Izanagi’s eye. Izanagi (Nagi) in this game was a warrior living in Kamiki Village and was the one defeating Yamato-no-Orochi (Orochi) 100 years prior to the beginning of the game.

These characters are either loosely based (Izanagi, Izanami-no-Mikoto, Susanoo, Issun-boushi) or more heavily based (Amaterasu) from their respective source, but they are all very charming in various ways. I admit Issun could be a pain in the arse from time to time because his voice and bouncing was annoying as heck. But even so, he was charming. These characters had changes of heart, fought for what they thought was right or tried doing their best, without going to the point of too cliché. There’s a lot of jokes from the characters and comedic situations, which get even funnier thanks to the amazing soundtrack, but one thing might be lost in translation; The title itself is a pun on Amaterasu being a wolf, really. The original title is 大神, which is read as “ookami” and means great god/great spirit/great kami. The same reading is used for 狼, which means wolf. See why Amaterasu is a wolf? To me this at least explains that.

The gameplay is inspired by the The Legend of Zelda series and even though I haven’t played a lot of games like Zelda (and the only Zelda game I’ve beaten is Four Swords Anniversary Edition). I was having troubles with the puzzles, but eventually I learned how to think and it got easier. Coming from straightforward RPGs isn’t the best route for playing Okami or other similar games. I learnt that the hard way. When you finish the game, you can re-play the entire game from start, so not getting every single thing the first time isn’t that big of a problem.

The graphics are L-O-V-E-L-Y. It uses a sumi-e styled art and although the loading sometimes was a little slow and I noticed a few bugged places were Amaterasu got stuck (I had to, like, jump around in a circle to get out from a certain place although there was nothing in the way) it was easily forgotten because the entire games is just GORGEOUS to look at.

I feel like I’ve been raising this game a lot, but I’m not finished yet. The music was the absolutely best part of the entire game for me. Just as the graphics fit very well, because of the theme of the game (old Japanese/Japanese tradition), the music does too. It uses traditional Japanese instruments and the typical sound you hear in Japanese traditional music. There were a few tracks I really didn’t like, like the Issun-boushi/Poncle track (which I’ve forgotten the title of) which just ruined the mood for me every time it played. I don’t remember if it was in the game elsewhere but what I call “Rao’s theme” is also something I didn’t particularly like, but the second wasn’t as traditionally Japanese, so it’s not surprising.

All-in-all, I really like this game. It’s one of the best games I’ve played and it did made me cry at the end. It was prolly sentimental tears, but I really cried a lot. As I wrote to a friend on Skype:

I ALMOST COULDN’T FIGHT THE BOSS BECAUSE ISSUN MADE ME CRY, GODDAMMIT

You got to love things that make you emotional at the last boss, no? Although, I admit I was very disappointed when Waka didn’t die.


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