Videogame Okami is revived through HD remasterization for newer platforms

David Perez

Central Bureau Chief

Ōkami HD is a remaster of the classic game Ōkami, which was first released on PS2 in 2006 and then ported to Wii in 2008, where it became one of the most praised games on the platform, although it didn’t get good sales.

This new remaster, released on December 7, 2016 for PS4, Xbox One and Windows gives us a new chance to enjoy one of the most beautiful games ever made. Ōkami puts us in control of a white wolf called Amaterasu. Amaterasu, the reincarnation of a divine wolf called Shiranui, who a century ago saved a village with the aid of a swordsman called Nagi from an evil monster called Orochi.

A hundred years later, Amaterasu is tasked by the goddess Sakuya to remove a curse desolating Nippon with the help of an inch-long companion called Issun. The experience of playing Ōkami can be best summarized as “The Legend of Zelda meets Japanese folklore.”

Hideki Kamiya, the game director, proclaimed himself to be a “Zelda fan” and, indeed, the influence can be noticed in the gameplay, which combines action-adventure, dungeon exploring and puzzles reminiscent of the Nintendo franchise. Probably the most interesting feature of Ōkami is the Celestial Brush, which allows the player to overlap obstacles…by painting. Yes, painting. For example, if you need to hurt enemies or cut trees, you can draw straight lines crossing them simulating blade cuts.

Or if one needs sun, you can just draw a big circle in the sky. This feature is not only amusing; it also helps the player to immerse himself in the environment. Back on Wii, the brush was controlled with the Wiimote, allowing for even more immersion.  However, on PS4 the control is a little bit clunky because it’s used pressing R2—which freezes the game—and then by pressing square while you move the brush with the left joystick. It was a missed chance to use the touchpad, for example.

The second big influence is Japanese traditional culture, which permeates not only the story, but the overall aesthetic of Ōkami and is pretty much its most remarkable quality. Ōkami features a cel-shaded environment heavily influenced by the traditional sumi-e Japanese painting style, which is based on ink washing. The result is a very pleasing aesthetic.

The world of Ōkami is also influenced by the Japanese folklore, from the names of the main characters based on Shinto deities (Amaterasu, Sakuya and Susano) to the weapons Amaterasu can use (like the reflector) based on the legendary Imperial Regalia of Japan. The mellow soundtrack is also influenced by Japanese folk music.

Normally, HD remasters make games look outdated compared to newer ones, Silent Hill HD Remaster being a shabby example. Ōkami HD is probably the exception to it. The HD remaster doesn’t make Ōkami look worse, it washes it and polishes it. It looks cleaner compared to Wii and PS2; it almost feels like Ōkami was destined to be played this way. If I had to name a negative thing about Ōkami it’s probably the rhythm.

Ōkami is a game that requires you to chill down a little bit, read the dialogues and be patient when exploring dungeons or solving puzzles. This may explain why Ōkami was not a blockbuster game.

It’s a game that feels a little boring if compared to frenzied action games like Uncharted 4 or Battlefront II. Either way, Ōkami HD is a beautiful game that anyone who loves puzzles or charming aesthetics should give a try. As I said before, it requires some patience. But it’s definitely worth it.