Developer: Hexa Drive/Capcom
Originally released on the PlayStation 2 in 2006, Ōkami was a visual masterpiece for those who experienced it. Sadly, it was overlooked by most and failed to make a huge impact on gamers. A Wii version was released in 2008, but again it was largely ignored. Flash forward to 2012, and Capcom has decided to try once again with a PSN version of Ōkami HD for the PS3 and give gamers another chance to experience this one of a kind adventure.
The Ōkami story is based on Japanese Shinto mythology, letting players control goddess turned white wolf Amaterasu. One hundred years after Amaterasu helped destroy the eight-headed demon Orochi, the demon's seal is broken by an unknown force and the sun goddess must return to earth to stop him. Upon awakening, Amaterasu is given the task of traveling all over the world and give life back to the dark and dying world. It won't be a short romp though, as this game has over 40 hours of gameplay and several different story arcs that will keep you busy for a long time.
The gameplay in Ōkami HD consists of moving from one area to the next, solving puzzles and engaging in battles with demons. Throughout your adventure Amaterasu uses the Celestial Brush, a sort of paint brush that can attack enemies, or open new areas by cutting through obstacles. You get a feeling of wonderment and curiosity with each new area you uncover, which really keeps things from getting boring. The Celestial Brush is also used to solve puzzles like fixing a broken bridge or painting a sun in the sky to bring life back to a dead area. One thing that is strange are the scattered boss encounters which feel a bit misplaced when they appear and are repeated a little to often, but this is a minor issue that doesn't hurt the experience.
Controls are fluid with the standard controller, but you can also use the PlayStation Move for more of a challenge. The set up for using Move is a bit clunky, as you can't control the camera and dodge attacks very well, but using the celestial brush with Move is excellent. It does take some getting used to, but most players will find the standard controller much better.
Graphically, Ōkami HD is by far one of the most beautiful games you can experience. This was true in the initial release, and is even more true with this HD remaster. The graphics have aged far better than previous HD remakes and are like an eye candy overload. You can also set the visuals to the standard watercolor effects and the rice paper look found in the original PS2 release and all the effects can be adjusted to make everything look amazing. As you play, you almost never get tired of the look and overall feel of the world you're in. The music and sound effects are all fantastic and really put you into the stylized Shinto world of Ōkami. Everything is presented in such a way that new players will have a hard time believing that this is a six year old title.
Overall, Ōkami HD is an experience that should not be missed. It's stylized graphics and engaging gameplay really show that this game was ahead of its time with its initial release. Old and new players alike owe it to themselves to download it and either relive the adventure, or experience it for the first time. With its updated visuals and awesome gameplay, this is one that should not be missed.