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Video game review: 'Okami HD' is eye-poppingly gorgeous, incredibly chatty

POSTED December 26, 2017 5:59 a.m.
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Few games can consider themselves as lucky as “Okami,” a game so influential that Capcom has decided to release the title for a fourth time. “Okami HD” features a brand-new cinematic widescreen ratio, an upgrade to 4K and not much else to differentiate itself from past releases.

Despite this, “Okami HD” is a great game at a great value and will be sure to entertain PlayStation, Xbox and PC gamers alike.

“Okami” first launched on the PlayStation 2 in 2006 as a reverent tribute to “The Legend of Zelda.” While “Okami” borrowed the idea of embarking on a quest to explore dungeons and defeat evil, it innovated by adopting an art style akin to Japanese woodblock paintings. Instead of items and tools, “Okami” protagonist Amaterasu (a sun goddess who takes the form of a divine white wolf) utilized 13 different brushstrokes, which are used to affect the game’s world.

“Okami” was later released on the Nintendo Wii, allowing for pointer controls to draw these symbols. Finally, “Okami HD” was released for the PS3 in 2012 with Playstation Move support and offered remastered 1080p visuals, trophy support and motion controls. “Okami HD” in 2017 doesn’t add much to sweeten the deal, but that the game itself is so wonderful to play makes up for its lack of extras. The game’s current-generation release is a refinement on a visual and technical level and ditches gimmicks from older versions of the game. “Okami HD” runs at 4K, drops all motion controls in favor of touchpad support on PS4 and has virtually no loading times or frame-rate issues. Despite being locked at 30 frames per second, “Okami HD” is absolutely gorgeous.

“Okami HD” is a joy to play. Amaterasu is responsive and quick and easily traverses her environments with ease. Various features include the ability to jump, bark and bite any other character in the world, really playing into the charming fantasy role-playing experience. In battle, players can harness their divine reflector disk and a number of side weapons to vanquish imps and demons. Combat is smooth and responsive and feels powerful. Brushstrokes are fun to use in the middle of battle, and pausing the game to draw all over the screen feels fun and intuitive.

The only place “Okami” really falters is in its pacing and dialogue. The game’s story draws from Japanese folklore and mythology and involves Amaterasu’s quest to seal away the demon Orochi. Unfortunately, the game is plagued with slow-moving dialogue and suffers from over-explanation. Many “Zelda” games have been criticized for this reason, and it’s unfortunate that Capcom failed to correct this issue back in 2006. Character dialogue tends to roll across the screen slowly, and it can’t be sped up most of the time. Players could risk skipping whole scenes but could then find themselves at risk of not knowing what to do, since quest objectives and game mechanics are often explained in these moments. The gameplay itself is fun and satisfying, but some gamers likely won’t want to sit through 20 minutes of text rambling by to get to it.

“Okami HD” is a beautiful, fun game at its core, hampered by some clunky dialogue and story sequences. The game looks fantastic in both 1080p and 4K, and its art direction holds up well after over a decade. Spanning about 30 hours, Amaterasu’s adventure is charming and full of exciting moments, but it often requires gamers to sit through long dialogue sequences to get to the good stuff. Despite being overly chatty, “Okami HD” is a great value, and a game that deserves to be played.

Game: "Okami HD"

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Price: $19.99

ESRB Rating: T for blood and gore, crude humor, fantasy violence, partial nudity, suggestive themes, use of alcohol and tobacco

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