Saturday, 8 December 2012

Review: Okami HD (PS3)

If there's one thing that Okami HD brings into sharper focus than simply the graphics it's the line between generally accepted principles of video games today and what is a lemony poke in the eye from yesteryear.

Okami HD likes to slap players with unskippable cutscene narration, especially early on, which would be forgiveable if there was some stellar voice acting but it's accompanied by repeating Similish-like gibberish that gets old after about 5 seconds. But like that one friend you have that has a list of excellent traits and is always there for you, he also has this irritating habit of digging into his ear canal and flicking the contents onto the floor after having a good look at his findings.

It's much easier to overlook this single habit because everything else is so awesome. He even brings beer with him every time he comes over. You do wipe off the top of the can with a disinfectant wipe, but beer, man, beer!

That's Okami HD. Even if it does have that one annoying habit and the developers haven't made any changes to the original game (as far as I can tell), the combat is interesting, there's plenty of story to take in, areas to explore, and the style and feel of the game is unlike most other action role-playing games I've played. The single fact the player assumes the role of a wolf sets it apart from the usual game setup.

The other hook for the game is the "painting" aspect. Coincidentally I was playing Super Mario: Sticker Star and there's some obvious cues that game borrowed from Okami. Though it only really pays off in a few places, flipping the world to "paint mode" is a button press away. Essentially the world is shifted to a flat perspective so the paint brush can be used to fill in details or attack enemies or complete constellations in the sky. Sticker Star's version of this is to "paperize" the world and attach stickers to things or manipulate the world somehow.

Painting "slashes" through downed enemies is the most common use of the celestial brush and that part feels really good, even without the use of the Move controller, which Okami HD supports.

This is Okami's third appearance. It began on Playstation 2, was ported to Wii, and now we have the high-definition version. If you missed out previously, there's really no reason why you couldn't drop $20 on Okami now. It was originally released back in 2006, but it's one of those games that is standing the test of time extremely well.

- Aaron Simmer

The Good:
- Great style holds up well with age
- Use of the celestial brush during combat
- Fun to play and explore
- Core mechanics are rock solid
- Story is actually interesting...

The Bad:
- ...if only it included the ability to skip faster through cutscenes
- Backwards Similish

Score: 9.0 / 10