You'll face many fearsome foes during your long journey, though the combat in Okami isn't very frequent or difficult.
Though Amaterasu has a daunting mission, the journey in Okami is never particularly difficult, mostly due to the abundance of health power-ups you'll find or that you can purchase. If there's a problem, it's that there's virtually no limit to how many of these items you can carry with you. You also have access to an "astral pouch" that can bring you back to life right on the spot should you run out of health, so with all that aid, it's possible and likely that you'll get all the way through Okami without ever seeing a "game over" screen. This is mostly to the game's credit, and it's still got some fairly challenging puzzles and jumping sequences, in addition to some other surprises in the form of a couple of fun minigames. The game's combat is also entertaining even though most of the fights, even against the biggest and seemingly deadliest foes, are quite easy. You'll encounter all kinds of imaginatively designed foes and get to lay into them with fierce-looking attacks, with some help from that divine brush of yours. The combat is fast-paced and, like everything else about Okami, it simply looks terrific.
Despite the sheer variety of demonic enemies in the game, combat isn't too frequent in Okami. As you explore the wilderness, you'll see packs of demons represented by floating talismans, and touching these will send you straight into the fight. However, it's easy to avoid most such encounters if you want to. While there's a lot of four-legged traveling to be done in Okami, since you run so quickly and the scenery looks so good, it's nothing if not pleasant. You do find means of fast transportation later on in the game, making it easy to cross from one side of Japan to the other in a flash. Much of the game also takes place in various towns and villages, in which you'll be speaking to dozens of unique characters, many of whom are quickly endearing due to the game's good dialogue and fantastic art style and animation. You'll also spend lots of quality time rejuvenating the land, bringing withered vegetation back to life, feeding woodland creatures, and so forth. This aspect of play is far more satisfying than it might sound like, partly because it's through these acts that Amaterasu earns praise, which functions as experience points that you can spend on improving your powers. Not that Amaterasu wouldn't be doing all these good deeds out of the goodness of her heart.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a better-looking game for the PlayStation 2. The game's look is unlike anything out there, with the possible exception of 2003's The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for the GameCube, less because the art styles are similar and more because the art styles are each so distinctly stylized and skillfully presented. While Okami doesn't include support for widescreen progressive-scan displays, it still looks positively spectacular. The game's visual style is cohesive, original, and flawlessly executed. Every scene shimmers with life, except for the scenes that are covered in the thick, evil fog that disperses in a flourish of lush vegetation when Amaterasu works her magic. Great character designs both for human characters and for all the weird demonic foes you'll encounter further guarantee that you won't soon forget the unmistakable look of Okami. While the visuals alone aren't what make this such an impressive game, they enrich every moment you'll spend in the game's surreal world.
You don't need a fascination for Japanese mythology to appreciate Okami, but you might come away with one from playing it.
The audio is similarly excellent, though you might wish Okami's story was delivered in full speech. The sound effects are great, while a superb musical score filled with traditional Japanese instrumentation and modern melody accompanies most every sequence of play. It perfectly matches both the game's art style and its tone. Speaking of the tone, since Okami is basically a fairy tale, it's rather kid friendly...with the possible exception of the tiny Issun's occasional lascivious comments when he's in the presence of attractive young ladies. The game's good-natured attempts at humor lend it a likable, distinctly Japanese sense of weirdness.
Okami's long quest is filled with high adventure and gives you reason to come back for more once you've finally finished it. You can restart the journey with most of the weapons you've found and abilities you've acquired and try to seek out all the world's remaining secrets and side quests that you didn't find the first time. So there's much more to this game than you've probably come to expect from the typical action adventure experience, and the game is so well crafted from top to bottom that it's bound to impress just about anyone who gives it a chance. Now that the PlayStation 2 is in the sunset of its years as one of the most popular game systems ever released, it's somehow fitting that a game like Okami should come around to help ensure we'll carry a fond memory of the system long after we've moved on.
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