Okami HD has been released to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and later this year to the Nintendo Switch! One great thing about a game being remastered or ported to new hardware is that you know what story you are diving into, especially if you’ve played the game before on past platforms. However, there seems to be a common issue in the growing Information Age; things happen at a crazy fast rate. I have picked up several GameCube games and started playing again on my old GameCube; just to find that the control layout didn’t age well, even if it only happened about 10 years ago or a little more. Okami HD seems to suffer from this same issue; an awesome story, with an amazing concept, that simply doesn’t age too well. Games like Metroid Prime get away with this because the industry was still growing in a time before Call of Duty and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. When Metroid Prime got a Wii port, they even changed the aiming scheme to use the Wii remote; which honestly made the game more playable. In the case of Okami HD for the PlayStation 4; they assigned select and start to the touchpad and called it a day. For a game like Okami, that makes sense, that’s all you need, especially if you’ve played the PlayStation 2 version when it first came out. If you originally played Okami on the Wii, then look into a PC title; moving the brush on a controller can feel stiff and not as smooth as it should.
Control scheme aside, should this be a world that we all waste another 12 or more hours in? I think so. If you love story driven games, Japanese culture, wolves, art, and super inappropriate jokes about a hero the size of a bug napping in a girl’s dress; then this adventure is for you. Not only does it have some of the most beautiful art that I rarely see in games of its time; it also has a beautiful take on Japanese mythology, giving you twists and turns, always keeping you engaged. The creators over at Capcom did an amazing job with Okami, it only makes sense it should get an HD release. For PS4 Pro owners, you can even enjoy this puppy in 4K resolution, something I wish I had experienced in my living room. But what beautiful art isn’t complete with a funny, captivating story to keep you locked in? Okami HD brings this story back to life, and I’m surprised at how I’m not clicking with it like I did as a kid. I know the story is good, and I was looking forward to jumping in and reliving it. I blame the intro to the story to be honest; it feels long and dragged out. My first hour of play felt more like being force fed the set up, and very little actual playtime. I may be spoiled in an age of sandbox worlds, but I think this may be another issue with games aging too fast.
Okami came out in 2006, and due to the popularity of interactive stories, I think story heavy games of the past might suffer with younger audiences. The Last of Us and titles from Telltale Games have shown us what it means to truly be part of the story, and allow us to control a character. Sure, you can save Peach as Mario, but do you get a chance to ask Toad why he just sat and watched as Peach got stolen to another castle, time and time again? This shift towards players being able to control their fates is going to affect the popularity of games like Okami. A common issue with Japanese games in the west, is that we don’t have time to sit around and wait for gameplay, a problem I personally had with Persona 5. Not everyone has two hours to waste getting into a game. I did have an easier time with the PC version of Okami; where by that time I knew I was able to skip cutscenes and ignore long speeches I already knew and didn’t need to hear again.
All and all; Okami HD is a game that I would recommend. The PC version does solve some of sluggishness of the controls, but you’ll have a good experience either way. I personally enjoyed the PC copy more than on the PlayStation 4, but if you have a Pro console, then go for PlayStation version of Okami HD. The art is amazing and seeing it in high quality on my PC was much better than my PlayStation 4. Another reason I enjoyed PC better is the use of the celestial brush; the main ability in Okami. This allows you to change the world around you, and it was easier to use with my mouse than the joystick on my controller. The story will keep you interested as there is a lot of story to take in. On the downside, you might have a small learning curve trying to pick up this game, as the celestial brush was a little awkward to grasp at first, and mastering each brush ability can be annoying at first. You’ll also need an hour to truly start the game when you first pick it up, as the introduction can be a little long. In my second try at the game, I was able to get 2 hours’ worth of gameplay done in a single hour, simply by skipping story I already knew. In the end, I give Okami HD an 8.6 out of 10. A beautiful game that even a decade later can keep my attention and rushing towards completion.