Despite its age, the PS2 has managed to hold out against next-gen giants over the past few years because of well-executed games that have wildly exceeded the expectations of gamers.
Okami, by Clover Leaf Studios, is an example of one such great game. The first thing that strikes you when you begin playing is the impressively original visuals that look straight out of a comic book, thanks to extensive use of cel-shading technology. Combined with an original and pleasantly melodic score based on traditional Japanese music, Okami is a treat for the senses.
The game borrows from Japanese folklore to create a story with content, that is entertaining from the start. You play as Amaterasu, the legendary sun goddess, who has been reborn as a white wolf in order to drive away the darkness that has befallen the ancient Japanese.
When you begin the game, you are in the small village of Kamiki, where you are befriended by a thumb-sized fellow known as Issun, who claims to be a ‘wandering artist’. Issun offers to be Amaterasu’s guide and the two are inseparable throughout the game, with Issun providing comic relief, often at Amaterasu’s expense, along the way.
As you will discover, the world of Nippon is a beautiful and wonderful one with many magical sights and secrets to uncover. However, with all the evil afoot, much of the land has fallen under the Blight.
It seems that the ancient Guardian Saplings, which protected much of the land from evil, have all mysteriously become weak, and now monsters roam much of the countryside. Your task is to bring back light to the land by reviving the Guardian Saplings and then find the root (no pun intended) of the evil behind the Blight and banish it.
Easier said than done, but fortunately, Amaterasu has some tricks up her sleeve. For one, she has a divine sword on her back with which she can make short work of her enemies and since she will find more exotic weapons along the way, ‘Ammy’ (as Issun calls her) can overcome enemies with ease. Her true power, however, is revealed by the ‘Celestial Brush’ techniques that allow her to unleash truly divine magic to aid her in her task. The brush acts and works much like a paintbrush, with which you ‘paint’ simple shapes that correspond to an elemental magic that does strange things to your environment.
For example, if you’re being attacked by a fire spirit and there’s a small puddle of water nearby, you can freeze the action by pressing R1 (which switches to the brush mode), draw a line from the puddle to the spirit and release R1 to unfreeze the action again. If you’ve done it right, you’ll see a fountain of water rise from the puddle to douse the fire spirit. You can now finish it off with your divine weapons.
The brush techniques bring a whole new strategic aspect to the game, seamlessly blending in with the action in a satisfying manner.
There’s so much to explore and discover in the game, thanks to its lengthy missions and numerous sub-quests, that you will always find something new and challenging to do. Never a dull moment, I tell you. Go get yourself Okami . You won’t regret it.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Price: Rs2,062, available on www.play-asia.com
Write to Arjun at firstname.lastname@example.org