To sum up Okami for those who have yet to play it: It’s Zelda with a Japanese wolf deity who can bring the world to life with a paintbrush. There’s an evil threat to the world, and it’s your task to stop them. The fifteen minute opening cutscene goes into more detail than this review ever could.
While Zelda-like and Zelda-lite labels have been growing ever more popular since Darksiders, Okami is one of the few truly worthy of that comparison. It wears its influences openly and from the puzzles to the bosses you can see many obvious influences, yet that does not interfere with its own identity. Dungeon crawling and unlocking new areas will ultimately feel very familiar, but the way in which you approach each proves to be vastly different.
Rather than a wide arsenal of gadgets you utilise a variety of painting techniques to unlock doors and overcome enemies. As such it’s less about spamming a certain new item than it is using a new technique with a previous weapon. This significantly streamlines the experience and leaves you dealing with fewer menus selecting and deselecting items, one after the next. As a result, it proves to be a much faster paced and responsive experience. This carries over to all aspects of the game, from combat which is less Dark Souls than it is Metal Gear Rising at times.
The world itself is as colourful as you would imagine from a cel-shaded creation, but it is worked directly into the lore and core mechanics. It blends a careful kinship between art and gameplay, as you pick out key details or changes to overcome puzzles. You even gradually restoring the world about you by repainting various areas, transforming them from dying grey places into vibrant environments.
The game’s benefits as an HD port to PC are clear. Unlike the original release, you can skip cutscenes right from the very first line which significantly speeds up replays. With full mouse and keyboard support you can complete puzzles without the issues presented by a controller. Better yet, the HD improvements are evident even in the heavily cel-shaded stylings of the game with smoother textures. The animation quality thankfully hasn’t suffered as a result of this reworking either, and the world remains as engaging and wondrous as it did during its first outing.
Okami HD remains as beautiful as the original release, and it captures the wonder the game first inspired. With full controller support, an excellently mapped keyboard interface and near perfect optimisation, even a lock to thirty frames per second hardly hurts it. If you missed this gem during its initial release, you owe it to yourself to play Okami HD today.
OKAMI HD / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: CAPCOM / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW