Wot I Think: Okami HD


It’s easy to mock Capcom’s seemingly endless stream of reboots and re-releases, but if there’s one game in the publisher’s back catalogue that truly deserves to be reincarnated for the modern age, it’s Clover Studio’s Okami. While Clover itself has since faded into the mists of time (the remnants going on to form Bayonetta studio PlatinumGames), its ink-washed tale of Japanese sun gods and monstrous demons remains as bright and vibrant as ever, the last ten-odd years bouncing off wolf heroine Amaterasu’s gleaming fur almost as if they never happened. Sure, there are still a few wrinkles and matted tufts here and there, but whatever anti-aging stuff Capcom and Hexa-drive used here, I want it, and I want it now.

To be fair, Okami was already a beautiful game when it first came out, but with support for up to 4K resolutions in this HD re-release, the sharp, crisp lines of its inky calligraphy are truly a sight to behold, with each of its large, sweeping vistas looking even more like a Hokusai woodblock painting than they did before. I sunk over 80 hours into the Wii port back in 2009, but actually being able to see the detail in enemy demons’ movements and behaviour instead of gazing at them through the haze of my tiny CRT TV almost feels like I’m looking at it completely afresh – and that’s a wonderful feeling to have with any game you love and adore.

Okami’s a lot more than just a pretty face, of course. Before Breath of the Wild came along and ruined action adventure games forevermore, Okami was the closest anyone got to a true Zelda successor, its sprawling plains, forests, towns, oceans and chilly mountains housing dungeons and quest-giving NPCs aplenty as you set out on a quest to stop a 100-year-old curse from besieging the land of Nippon once more.

Okami HD imp battle

Okami’s true masterstroke, however, was how it proved that the pen (or brush, in this case) was mightier than the sword. For just as its worlds are crafted from broad splashes of watercolour, so too are Amaterasu’s attacks and interactions. Hold down Ctrl and a parchment scroll appears on the screen, allowing you to pause the action and draw rudimentary signs and symbols with your mouse over what’s playing out underneath.

Whether it’s a simple line for a scathing slice attack in battle, a circle to draw out the sun, or a messy scribble to make a broken bridge reappear good as new, the mouse is an excellent fit for Amaterasu’s Celestial Brush. It feels far more natural than playing with a controller and brings a welcome sense of speed and immediacy to battles in particular, letting you pretend for the briefest moment that you, too, could be some kind of ninja calligraphy master.

Okami HD ink battle

Just be careful you don’t overdo it, as each successful brushstroke depletes one of Ammy’s ink pots. Use them up too fast and you’ll effectively be reduced to the canine equivalent of fighting in your undies, your weapons and godly crimson streaks stripped away until your ink recharges. You can still use simple bite and kick attacks in the meantime, but learning how to manage your ink reserves well is vital if you’re going to capitalise on the time and damage-based rewards doled out at the end of each fight. It’s pretty forgiving on the whole, though, and if you’re a bit rubbish at the combat there are still ample opportunities to make a quick dime by selling off the many treasures you’ll find around the world without getting into a scrap.

There are 13 different brushstrokes to learn in total, and you’ll need to use nearly all of them to exploit enemy weaknesses, in addition to Amaterasu’s standard melee attacks. These change depending on the combination of shield-like mirrors, beads and glaives you equip as her main and sub weapons. This keeps battles feeling fresh and engaging, for while later enemies are often tooled-up versions of their weaker siblings, peeling away their armour with different techniques still feels like a pacey, breathless puzzle as you juggle multiple foes in confined battle arenas.

You don’t necessarily have to engage with enemies in the wider world if you’d rather just get on with the story, but as with any game Hideki Kamiya’s had a directorial hand in, it would be a shame not to, especially when combat is stuffed with the same irreverent humour and sense of fun as the rest of the game. Okami’s fights aren’t as deep or intricate as those in Kamiya’s other works (Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, etc), but what other game has enemies slap their bum as a taunt and then lets you humiliate them in turn by peeing on them mid-battle?

Okami HD manners

Bosses in particular feel like real set-pieces, almost like blueprints for the kind of outrageous scale and magnitude that went on to become Bayonetta’s bread and butter. Defeating an eight-headed dragon by getting each of its yabbering numskulls drunk on booze is a fantastic climax to the game’s first act, as is going toe to toe (or should that be tail to tail?) with the famous kitsune Ninetails later on, who turns your brushstrokes against you.

Admittedly, Okami gets a bad case of Mega Man syndrome toward the end as it forces players to revisit earlier boss battles again and again before they reach the game’s true foe, but it’s hard to begrudge it too much when the preceding 60-odd hours have been so generous, both in its overall sense of adventure and the sheer wealth of stuff to do. When a game’s this good-looking, you’ll want to erase every last blighted bit of land and dilapidated demon gate to keep it looking its best, and everything from nourishing the local wildlife with bags of food to rejuvenating wilted cherry blossom trees feeds back into the game’s praise system that lets you upgrade your purse, life and ink bars.

Okami HD Mr Orange

The local people you meet along the way are just as charming as everything else, with their simple facial expressions and block colour designs hiding a wonderful sense of life and vitality. They fume in anger when Ammy accidentally headbutts them or digs up their turnips, and will look around confused if you use your brush to extinguish nearby lanterns and the like. Even locked doors have a personality in this game, and there’s nothing quite like watching a one-eyed lock sweat and squirm in its frame as you approach with the requisite key.

It can be a bit of a slow burner at times, and the inexplicable decision to let players speed through text one minute and then force them read EVERY. SINGLE. LETTER. REALLY. QUITE. SLOWLY the next during certain cutscenes can make it feel like a bit of a drag. I just want to play more of your lovely game, Capcom, not stand here listening to a boy blather on about his lost dog in his nonsense gobbledygook voice for five straight minutes.

Okami HD locked door

On the whole, though, Okami is a delight from start to finish. It gives you the freedom to savour and indulge in every last drop of its ink-washed world, and its combat and story are both superb – particularly if you have even the slightest bit of interest in Japanese mythology (the tales may not be quite as familiar to us in the west, but it’s as chock full of myths and fairy tales as Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us, for instance). The controls also feel reborn on PC, and the decade it’s taken to get here has been more than worth the wait. This is Okami how it was always meant to be played, and just goes to show you absolutely can teach an old dog new tricks.

Okami HD is out now for Windows PC and is available via Steam for £15.99.


  1. LennyLeonardo says:

    My review: Okami is the best. The end.

  2. RuySan says:

    What about the 100h long tutorial? Still there?

    • Masked Dave says:

      I think you played this game wrong if that was your experience.

  3. FuktLogik says:

    No mention of it’s 30FPS cap? Kind of selective not to mention something like that after you gush on about the game for 13 paragraphs…

    • Katharine Byrne says:

      It is capped, yes, but ultimately it made no difference to my overall enjoyment of the game. Still feels lovely, even at 30fps.

      • crazyd says:

        Lovely or no, this is something that matters to a lot of PC gamers, and I think it does deserve a mention. Even if it is just you saying the cap didn’t affect your enjoyment. Though, how can you really know it didn’t affect your enjoyment without actually playing at a higher refresh rate, anyway? You can’t know that it wouldn’t be better at a higher refresh rate (and it’s pretty safe to assume it would be).

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          Aerothorn says:

          It’s a PS2 game. The entire game was designed around the 30 FPS limit. It’s not merely a case of “it’s technically difficult to change” – art is always defined by constraints, and that reality (amongst many others) is what made Okami the game it is.

          There is a vocal minority of gamers who are really hung up on this, but in my experience they tend to do a lot of research on the topic and thus don’t need to be informed in a review like this (you yourself note that you ‘already knew.’)

          • FuktLogik says:

            That’s an absurd reason not to disclose something.

            “We figured anyone who cared already knew.”

            Also, as I mentioned, emulators, which are zero budget fan projects, already did it. So the fact that the actual developers and publishers refused to put in the same amount of effort screams laziness.

          • wengart says:

            If 30fps cap is *that* big of a deal to you then you’ll likely take time to look it up.

          • MattM says:

            If I cared I might take time to research it before purchase. Like I might read a review on a PC gaming site.
            Its like when I google a problem and the first result is a forum where a bunch of jagoffs are telling the poster to google it.

    • fuggles says:

      A lot of games, especially Japanese old ones, have everything tied to frame rate. It May not be possible to split it.

      • FuktLogik says:

        It played at 60 just fine on Dolphin.

        • epmode says:

          While you can get Dolphin to run Okami at 60 FPS, this just results in the game playing twice as fast as it should. Unfortunately, the developer tied game logic directly to the framerate which is why Capcom ran into trouble with the HD ports.

      • crazyd says:

        It’s never impossible. It might be difficult, and prohibitively expensive, but never impossible.

    • fuggles says:

      So as I said it’s capped to frame rate and the Devs posted a while ago saying they tried and failed to up the limit.

      link to wccftech.com

      I think some people have unrealistic expectations about how much Devs will chuck at an old game. The game was great at 30fps in ye olde days and will still be great now.

    • bill says:

      Oh no. It’s capped at 30fps! Boycott everything. RPS didn’t mention it. Boycott Christmas!

      • woodsey says:

        It is a PC gaming oriented website. It’s not an unreasonable request/expectation – especially since the review devotes a couple of words to resolution.

        • Masked Dave says:

          I’ve been a PC gamer for my entire life. Literally my earliest memories are of PC gaming. I have never given a shit about framerate.

          By which I mean that just because this is “a PC gaming oriented website” doesn’t mean they should *have* to mention it.

          It’s important to mention if the game feels sluggish or difficult to play or something. But not that it doesn’t meet some arbitrary number that doesn’t actually matter when you are playing.

          • pkroliko1 says:

            Agree with this so much. Feel like that vocal minority of people care more about resolution and FPS these days than actually enjoying their games.

    • Arthum says:

      Cap or no cap, the game feels a lot smoother than it did on the PS2. The animations although at the same FPS counter as on the PS2 do feel a lot smoother than on the PS2, and trust me I know I’ve run my PS2 copy of Okami to compare it as it felt that way from the start. I have no idea why people think that this 30FPS cap is such a big deal when with this game it isn’t.

  4. Rack says:

    If there’s a mod or hack or ANYTHING to improve the text speed I’m in. If not I don’t want to spend 60 hours watching text crawl in a 20 hour game.

    • flojomojo says:

      Count me among those who would love a hack to speed up the text. After all these remakes, no one fixed that? It was a dealbreaker for me the first time around and I’m certain I haven’t gotten more patient with time and age. This is what the MMO kids call a “quality of life improvement.”

    • Justoffscreen says:

      They did. This is something they literally did.

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        Mungrul says:

        One of the buttons on a controller speeds up text.
        But unlike in other games of its ilk, it unfortunately doesn’t stop speeding through the text unless you release the button. So it’s as bad or even worse than having to read through the text at a snail’s pace, as it’s entirely possible to skip entire pages and be left clueless as to the content.

        • Kamestos says:

          Actually there are two buttons which speed the text. B speeds and stops each screen and X speeds everything, skipping screens (xbox buttons).
          It doesn’t work during some cutscenes but all in all it works.

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    Aerothorn says:

    “Admittedly, Okami gets a bad case of Mega Man syndrome toward the end as it forces players to revisit earlier boss battles again and again before they reach the game’s true foe, but it’s hard to begrudge it too much when the preceding 60-odd hours have been so generous”

    It was not at all hard for me to begrudge it, at least partially because the game pulls this trick earlier than just the final boss; there’s some boss that you have to fight *three times* over the course of the game and it’s the same fight every time. Combined with all the pseudo-random battles, and Okami really ground down my patience back in the day, though I was also a completionist and went out of my way to do its subpar sidequests; it probably would be better if I hadn’t. But to this day the main thing I remember about Okami is my “what is this why would you do this” reaction to the incredibly lazy final set of bosses.

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      The repeating bosses and re-skinned enemies in later regions are the one thing that keeps this game from being perfect… ok and maybe the gibberish voices and overlong intro, but everything else is *so good*. Just a stunningly beautiful wonderful game.

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    Aerothorn says:

    (My Okami bitching aside, it is genuinely nice to have someone on staff with the passion for these sorts of games – it can only be good for RPS coverage!)

  7. Babymech says:

    “(the remnants going on to form Bayonetta studio PlatinumGames)” Jeez, I know that it’s a difficult word, but that’s the worst bungling of NieR: Automata I’ve seen yet.

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    maenckman says:

    I have always been a sucker for Zelda games and the artstyle of Okami is gorgeous. As I bought it back then on PS3 I assumed it would be a match made in heaven. The reason it wasn’t and why I stopped playing it after less than an hour was the “voice acting”. I couldn’t stand the super annoying gibberish at all. Who likes this stuff (I am looking at you, too, Yooka Laylee) is beyond me. I assume there is no option in the PC version to turn this off, is it? I’d rather have no voices at all…

    • fray_bentos says:

      I felt exactly the same way, especially with the reams and reams of text and repetitive gameplay. It did not grab me at all. Beautiful, but ultimately annoying and boring for me.

    • Tuco says:

      I came from the same premise, with similar tastes and expectation. and I had pretty much the same initial reaction. But I decided to stick to my guns and I played plenty more hours of the game… just to learn that was nowhere near the end of my annoyance with it.

      The game has its moment, but it’s dragged down by incredible repetitive content and an absolutely glacial pacing.

      To this day I still think that people who claim “This is the best Zelda game” are completely insane or a bunch of posers who never actually played one.

    • K_Sezegedin says:

      Voices have their own volume slider in the HD version, the only other version I played was the Ps2 one and I don’t remember if it had the same…

      Anyway I have voices turned down to a low rumble, I can still get the gist of an NPC’s tonality without the annoyance.

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        maenckman says:

        Thanks, I might try this. I have to admit, though, that the other complaints (about pacing, repetitive gameplay, slow text speed) are not exactly encouraging…

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          Ninja Dodo says:

          I haven’t played it since it came out on PS2, but I would say it’s a brilliant 30-40 hour game that takes 60 hours. Very much worth playing.

  9. MattM says:

    I really liked Okami back on the PS2 but it had some serious balance problems. Between all the life-bar upgrades, sheilds, instant use health items, and auto revive items, you have an effective HP of hundreds of hits in a game where really botching a fight means getting hit a few times. I literately never died once in a 100h game.
    Some games don’t need death or any kind of fail state, but there is a lot of combat in this game and you never go into a battle with anything less than total confidence that you will succeed on the first try.

  10. Kasjer says:

    I have the game on PS3 (curious thing, it renders at 4k internal frame buffer on it, then gets downscaled to 1080p). I’ve tried to give it a go multiple times now but I just hate the way it explains the story. In horribly slowly appearing text. It is even more frustrating for me as I read a lot faster than average person (takes practice and a lot of reading) – Okami feels almost like torture. I’m actually considering tinkering with PS2 or Wii emulation on PC and make key bindings that will ramp up game speed to 200% just to not waste so much time waiting for few lines of text to appear.

    • Kamestos says:

      In Okami HD you can speed up most of the text with 2 buttons on your controller, so it’s a lot more bearable.

  11. Norbert says:

    Apparently, Koreans are not allowed to play this piece of art. They don’t deserve the japanese awesomness. Too bad I am living in Seoul these days. Will try it out when I am back home next year.

  12. bill says:

    The only real problem with Okami was it was too long.
    Long intro, long text times, too much grind/filler at the end, etc..
    Other than that, I remember it being lovely.

  13. Hypocee says:

    I would actually disagree with the statement that the mouse is necessarily an improvement over a pad for the brush interface. I played both on the PS2 and the Wii port. Leaving aside entirely the travesty that was trying to carry out Kamiya combat on waggle controls, the Wii pointer always worked well for me and it worked well for me in Ookami.

    But in being so responsive and precise for my every move, it also felt weightless and sterile. When I went back to the PS2 version (because playable combat) I noticed to my surprise that pushing the brush with the stick – capped at a reasonable top speed, and mapping my input to rate of motion rather than location on screen – felt more like calligraphy, more fluid, more powerful and kinesthetically rewarding, and easier to make look good and be recognised as well.

    I guess all I am saaaaying, is give pads a chaaance. In this game I enjoyed painting with a pad more than a good pointer.

    I’m going to be looking into a Cheat Engine mod to trip bCanSkipNow on the fucking text, though, yes.

    • karachokarl says:

      I can actually skip all the dialogues with F1? Not sure if that is what you’re looking for, but maybe no need for a work-around.

    • Kamestos says:

      Hold B or X to skip text (xbox buttons), except during major cutscenes where dialogue is synchronized with the story.

  14. shinyasan says:

    Well-written piece, nice to see. Cheers.

  15. Haborym says:

    My only problem with this game is that the fights are pathetically easy. Other than that, it’s a great zelda clone, easily one of my favorites.

  16. M0dusPwnens says:

    I’m two hours in and it’s pretty, but I can’t shake the feeling that the game is DESPERATELY afraid that I might actually play it.

    The first ten minutes of exposition with forced text speed are a sin, but a common enough one.

    But then the game is suddenly very, very afraid that I might not realize I can press buttons. “Press the X button to break this stuff” – okay, I might not have realized there were breakable things, though I think I could probably have figured that out. “Press the A button to jump, and press it again to walljump” – fair enough, I might not know about walljump and I guess at least it didn’t split up jump and wall jump. “Make sure to press the button hard to jump all the way up!” – first of all, I don’t think you even mean hard, you mean long, and second of all: this is not something that needs to be communicated.

    And then it just gets worse and worse. The brush stuff is especially egregious. It stops you literally every 10 seconds to remind you to use the brush and even tell you exactly which power to use. It tells you probably four times to use the brush to solve one “puzzle” before you even get to the puzzle. If you pull out the celestial brush before you get to that puzzle, every single time you pull it out, the awful Zelda fairy opens a dialogue box hinting that you don’t need it yet. To add insult to injury, after I thought that maybe, just maybe, I might actually go do something creative, something relatively obvious, but undirected, it doesn’t work: I’m told that I can draw the sun in places of darkness to light them, so I go back to the starting area and draw a sun there and…it doesn’t light the area. And so it feels even more like the game may as well have just been a movie.

    Every single piece of fruit you pick up needs to pause the game because GOODNESS WHAT IF THE PLAYER DIDN’T KNOW THAT THE ORANGE FUNCTIONED JUST LIKE THE PEACH AND GOT SCARED!

    I barely feel like I’m playing a game.

    An awful lot of the time so far I’m simply not playing a game, between dialogue sequences you can’t speed up and some comically bad cutscenes, like the thirty or so seconds it had me watch a bird loop a 2 second pecking animation as the camera circled.

    And the rest of the time the game seems desperately afraid that I might be unsure of what to do for a second and a half. So instead of a joyful romp through an undiscovered fairy tale, I just feel like I’m following the micromanaged orders of the world’s most annoying manager while the game slowly pours exposition into me.