One Final Send Off.
A lot of games could be classified art, after all games are a mixture of all the mediums we celebrate today, music, art itself, acting, and so forth. Ōkami was one of those games that always stuck with me with its vibrant world and colorful characters that truly made that argument for games as art point valid. A good 5 years later, its sequel arrives and not only that but it’s one of the games that sends off one of the most memorable handhelds in quite some time. Ōkamiden delivers in almost every way it matters, the jump to a portable console doesn't hold back the wonderful watercolor painting art style and it doesn't hinder that much in the gameplay department either. It just doesn't fully retain that grace that made the first one such a masterpiece.
Ōkamiden takes place 9 months after the events of Ōkami, despite Amaterasu’s battle with the Dark lord which wiped out all the demons in Nippon the world is still in danger once again. One of the retuning characters from Ōkami attempts to summon Amaterasu again but instead finds Chibiterasu, Amaterasu’s son, to help rid the world once again of evil. It’s a well told storyline overall with some favorites returning and some interesting new faces thrown into the mix, the story behind Chibiterasu’s tale has a lot of heart behind it and as a plus he’s just an adorable main character overall, I mean, he’s a puppy.
Ōkamiden plays like Ōkami in many ways; it will undoubtedly be compared to the Zelda formula because of how the progression works throughout the game but the biggest and most significant improvement that takes full advantage of the DS’s hardware is the stylus; creating what you want has not been as responsive or interactive as it was in the first game, no matter which iteration you choose. Everything you do is quite literally at your fingertips and this is where the transition to the DS mattered for me. It was with the controls, it’s very fluid and it feels like it was just made for the hardware.
The theme of returning life back into the world returns from Ōkami, along with pretty much everything else from the original. On the new side you can now team up with your partner to explore the world as well as fight enemies. Puzzles with the Celestial Brush also return and while a lot of them are quite clever there never was really any that got me confused throughout the 20 or so hour adventure. The Brush can also be woven into combat and while it’s not the games main focus it’s handled moderately well, the biggest issue is with the camera control which could have been much better.
One thing that has stayed the same and still feels as fresh as it does is the presentation of Ōkamiden; everything from the characters well done gibberish to how much the world changes when you restore life to it looks incredible. It really pushes the DS hardware and it also shows that the art style that this franchise has could work on anything. You’ll visit a variety of new and old locations which all give the game a really cheery feel to it. The soundtrack is once again excellent as well and all in all its just one gorgeous adventure to experience.
Ōkamiden may not live up to the legend its predecessor was but it’s an incredibly well crafted and finely tuned experience throughout. It may feel incredibly familiar at times and it may have shifted to a portable experience but that doesn’t tarnish of what this game is, the story is well told, the characters are memorable, the presentation is spot on and the gameplay is solid, it may falter in some spots but doesn’t ruin the experience as a whole. It may be one of the final games to send off the DS, but what a way to do so. After all is said and done it’s a game that’ll stick with you for a long time, just as the original did even if it does stumble at times.