Unikum’s Corner of Hidden Treasures is a column in which Unikum recommends pieces of media they believe more people should know and love.
The Playstation 2 saw a lot of classics within the action-adventure genre, never quite rivaling that of Nintendo’s magnum opus “The Legend of Zelda”, but still providing a lovely breadth of action-adventure goodness on the console with “Jax & Daxter”, “Sly Cooper” and “Ratchet & Clank” amongst others. Coming in at the last moments of the Playstations 2’s lifespan is a classic that went underneath the radar of a lot of avid gamers, either due to poor timing or maybe simply because it did not carry the same appeal as the aforementioned games, that is Ōkami
Ōkami is an action-adventure game initially released in 2006 for the Playstation 2, however, has been ported to numerous consoles, even current gen in an HD remaster. As you might have grasped from the promotional art, the game is heavily inspired by Japanese culture, especially Japanese mythology, many characters sharing similarities and name with well-known character from said mythology. You’re playing as Amaterasu, the goddess of sun, who has descended to the mortal realm shaped as a wolf to save the people of Kamiki Village from the evil serpent Orochi. What makes the game unique is that to solve many of its puzzles and enemy encounters you will have to call upon the power of the Celestial Brush, drawing shapes to manifest them into the material world. This gameplay element works fantastic and never breaks up the pacing in the overworld or in battle and provides the game with a stylish flare that sets it apart from its competitors (as if the art direction and story doesn’t already).
So why have I claimed an entire page just to gush to you about this game? It looks like, how do the professionals say it, “Weeb shit”. Despite its Japanese background, it doesn’t dwell into typical Japanese tropes and artstyles, spouting unique cel-shaded graphics reminiscent of a moving watercolor painting, that despite releasing over 15 years ago, still hold up amazingly well today, something the HD port has proven which only ups the resolution and supporting wide screen. The gameplay loop is reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda, exploring a world, advancing the story, finding, and solving dungeons while acquiring new powers and abilities and defeating bosses. But as Zelda has proven, it’s a formula that works. Why change the recipe if the result is delicious? And with the combat/puzzle system with the Celestial Brush, Ōkami proves itself as its own distinctive entry in the genre and not just a good-looking copycat.
The brilliance of Ōkami lies not only in its gameplay and art direction, but in every single department. The story starts out with the usually tropes of a heroine story, but as the game continues, the story develops into something both intriguing and emotional. This is further heightened by the incredible score which captures every single emotion it sets out to do, epic battles, wide planes, suspenseful sequences and touching moments. I still occasionally listen to the soundtrack from time to time, marveling in its brilliance. Every element works in perfect harmony to create a masterpiece of a video game.
If you consider yourself a person who enjoys The Legend of Zelda, Sly Cooper, or games within the genre, Ōkami will definitely be up your alley. If you haven’t tried an action-adventure game before, Ōkami is beginner friendly, the only downside, you might be setting the bar a bit too high for every other game within the genre you play. Even after the credits roll, the game will stick with you for some time, either it be the numerous collectibles you can find or simply the amazing moments the game dishes out, it’s an amazing experience, one I recommend everyone to try out!