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Okami HD review

When Okami first launched in 2006, it was lauded as gorgeous, creative, and most importantly, fun. Six years later, and Okami is still remembered fondly; Amaterasu is considered a Capcom icon, garnering her an appearance as a fighter in Marvel vs Capcom 3. Though Clover Studio is no more, Capcom isn’t done with everyone’s favorite wolf-god. Amaterasu, origin of all that is good and mother to us all, is back and sharper than ever in Okami HD, and with the added PlayStation Move controls, this high def rerelease comes off as a slam-dunk. Does this artful package coalesce into a recipe for success? You bet your celestial brush it does.
0 Okami HD review

Sharper than a #2 pencil on test day

Okami‘s cel shaded sumi-e style graphics set it apart from other titles on the PS2 and made it a beautiful game to behold, even on the relatively low-definition graphics of the system. If anything, the fewer pixels gave the game a soft, “smudgier” look that lent the aged sumi-e feel. But if the game’s original version felt like playing a story told through ancient paintings, its HD rerelease feels like playing a story that’s being drawn before your eyes. Every line and color is as bold and bright as fresh paint, which leads the presentation in Okami HD to be just as good, if not better, than some current-generation titles.

For many, getting this impressive HD treatment will be enough to merit downloading Okami HD. Others may need further coaxing, which brings me to the matter of motion controls.

 Okami HD review

Careful, the ink’s still wet.

Old dog, new tricks

Anyone who played the original Okami knows that using Amaterasu’s celestial brush to interact with the environment and fight enemies was a slow and clunky affair due to the exclusive use of analog sticks to control the cursor. You might imagine that painting feels much more natural with the Move, and you’d be right. Not only is painting with this responsive instrument faster and more precise, it’s a refreshingly natural experience. Freezing gameplay to scribble all over the screen no longer requires concentration and patience; with a flick here and a flourish there, demons will crumble beneath the power of your celestial brush. Getting those demons into the frame, however, is another thing entirely.

Because the Move has a single analog stick, camera control in Okami HD is woefully left to the d-pad, which is located directly below the analog stick. As a direct result of this placement, you’ll have to choose between moving Amaterasu or moving the camera; you can’t have it both ways. As a small consolation, freezing the frame to activate the celestial brush allows the stick to be used for camera control. This loophole thankfully alleviates some frustration by allowing the player to refocus without being penalized by unseen attacks. Nevertheless, the need for this work-around is disappointing.

For what it’s worth, camera troubles restrict themselves mostly to combat, as the view on the overworld is relatively open.

 Okami HD review

A lovely view, but you’ll have to stop the action to look where you’re going.

An improvement across the board

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that Okami has remained a great game since it first released 6 years ago. Even without its enhancements, releasing Okami on the PSN needed to happen. As it happens, these enhancements serve to make a great game even better than it was before, which is what a remastering should do. Lovely stylized visuals are made stunning with this overhaul, and the PlayStation Move gives the unique celestial brush mechanic the fluidity it needed. Camera control suffers from the navigation controller’s design, but the virtues of motion controls far outweigh any faults.

Okami HD is a title begging for you to download it. Veterans will love the visual overhaul and control enhancements, and newcomers will get to cut their teeth on a classic born anew. Whether you want to save the land of Nippon once again from the threat of the evil 8-headed serpent Orochi, or you just want to run through the beautifully painted landscape on four legs, Okami HD will not let you down. Get your brush hands ready, it’s time to paint a masterpiece.

  • Release Date: October 30th, 2012 (NA), October 31st, 2012 (EU)
  • Genre: Action adventure
  • Platform: PlayStation 3
  • Developers: Clover Studio
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • ESRB Rating: T for Teen
  • MSRP: $19.99

Our Score: 4.5/5

Reviewer statement: A download code was provided by the publisher for the sake of this review.

About Stu Strock

Stu lives for action-oriented and narrative-driven games. Forever changed after playing Metal Gear Solid as a boy, he tirelessly searches for those perfect gems that blend addictive, open-ended gameplay and an unforgettable story. His turn-ons include infinite-ammo bandanas and inventive boss battles.

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