Content at a glance:
Computer Platform: Nintendo Wii
Produced by: Ready At Dawn Studios / Clover Studio
Price Range: $41-50
Learning curve time: 1-2 hrs.
Age level: Teens
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Reviewed By: Josh
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER
Christian Rating: 2 of 5 (poor)
Gameplay: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Violence: 3 of 5 (mild)
Adult Content: 3 of 5 (mild)
Okami, a classic PS2 title brought to the Wii, is essentially a Japanese painting brought to life as a video game. There are pink cherry blossoms, majestic landscapes, and mythical wolves that bear crimson stripes. Combining a unique art style, exploration, and a boatload of Japanese mythology, Okami is different from almost any adventure game before it.
Without going too much into the story, Okami is about the Japanese sun god Amaterasu, who is incarnated as a wolf. After awakening from a hundred year slumber, she must defeat the newly reawakened evil that plagues the land of Nippon.
Okami has everything most adventure games have: epic tales, tiered power-ups, and exploration. The designers did a great job of polishing each of those aspects, but the most original part is the addition of the Celestial Brush, the perfect asset to Okami’s god character. The Celestial Brush isn’t just a gimmick; it’s a core part of Okami’s gameplay. On the Wii, players get to use the Wii-mote to paint circles or strokes that have a significant impact on the game world. The paintbrush controls work surprisingly well with the exception of the Galestorm technique, which was frustrating for a while.
The Celestial Brush is a helpful tool and a powerful weapon in combat with demons. To keep players from having unlimited power, the designers made the Brush powers run on ink. Once the limited supply of ink runs out, the player loses all of his/her power until the ink regenerates. The ink system keeps combat balanced and strategic, but it presents problems outside of combat when you have to wait on the ink to recharge.
There’s a lot to do in Nippon; players can spend their time fighting demons, fishing training, shopping, and a number of other things. While taking a break from the main quest, it is fun to go back and explore the land of Okami without restraint. Some of the most memorable times I had from the game came from running up and down the landscapes and admiring the awesome views.
Japanese culture is at the forefront of the game. While Okami does feature pagan religious elements (more on that later), there are a lot of things players can learn from this game regarding Eastern society. Okami’s vivid graphical style is truly amazing. This is really authentic Japanese artwork. Bright, colorful nature starkly contrasts the dark, poisonous aura that surrounds evil in Okami. The audio design is excellent too; Okami has one of the best video game soundtracks of any game that I’ve played, featuring classical Japanese instrumentation.
Combat is virtually bloodless, with the exception being the aftermath of one of the latter boss fights. Enemies do get cut in half with the Power Slash, but luckily it’s not graphic.
There is an alcoholic beverage called sake, and it’s used a lot in this game. Some types of sake can be used to increase offensive or defensive power, and others are used to intoxicate giant foes.
There are lewd sexual jokes and references scattered throughout the game that were meant for comedic purposes. There are also some female characters with unnecessary cleavage.
Spiritual Content: *minor spoilers*
Okami Amaterasu is really the central figure of the native Japanese religion Shinto, and she is portrayed as a wolf in the game. Okami uses much of its imagery from ancient Japanese legends and Eastern religious practices. Some of the religions represented are Buddhism, Shinto, and Confucianism. Obviously those are false religions.
Some (if not many) Christians will be bothered by the fact that you get to play as a god. Fortune telling, idolatry, and animal divination are all prevalent themes in Okami. Romans 9:22-23 says, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”
I found myself really bothered sometimes by the spiritual things this game had to offer. It was as if there was an alarm blaring “Red Alert!” in my head. Towards the end of the game, people started to believe that Amaterasu was really a god, and they all started to bow to her and pray.
I must admit that Okami was a blast to play, and there are few adventure games that are as original and fun as this one. At the same time, I believe that it would be safe for Christians pass on this one. Despite Okami’s bright, colorful art style, I could sense something darker at work. I’m not naïve enough to think that Okami is nothing more than a Buddhist recruiting tool, but Eastern spiritualism is something that Christians should beware.
*Special thanks to Phazon and PhoeniX for proofreading this review!
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Year of Release — 2008
[tags] 3 stars, Adventure, Nintendo Wii, T (Teen), Ready At Dawn Studios, Clover Studio [/tags]
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.
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