Okami is one of the most beautiful games to watch come to life on screen. Some might find the computer generated voices and large amounts of reading off putting. However, as someone who has practically grown up inside a book, Okami is simply an animated novel that I am able to interact with.
The narrative draws its strength from several Japanese myths and legends that deal with the never ending battle between good and evil, the concept of destiny, and the importance of a connection between gods and people.
Our tale begins long ago in the distant land of Nippon, Shiranui, a pure white wolf, battles along side the brave warrior Nagi and his beloved Nami, in an effort to defeat Orochi, a powerful demon. The trio, unable to defeat Orochi, seal him in a cave using Nagi’s sword as the barrier.
One hundred years later, the sun goddess Amaterasu is awakened from her slumber in order to defeat Orochi who has earned his freedom thanks to Susano, Nagi’s descendant. Susano removed the sword and broke the seal because he believed that the stories of his ancestor were nothing more than empty words.
Now it is up to Amaterasu to rid the world of Orochi. In order to do so, she must regain all of her celestial brushes, and rally Susano’s broken spirit so that he may fulfill the prophecy. This is not an easy task since Susano tries to run from his past in order to avoid the future. He hides himself in sake bottles and creates outrageous new techniques so that people can forget that he is part of Nagi’s lineage. It is only when his beloved Kushi is taken by Orochi as a sacrifice, that Susano embraces the past to save the future.
Throughout Amaterasu’s journey an omniscient narrator often inserts themselves into the story, reinforcing the mythological tone of the game. At times Issun, a wandering artist, and your envoy, will even respond to the narrator’s comments. After Amaterasu and Susano defeat Orochi for example, the narrator says “Our story, however, is far from over. In fact, it is just beginning….” To which Issun replies “That’s right, Ammy! We’re just gettin’ started!”
Occasionally, characters themselves begin to tell a story and players are treated to an illustration of what happened instead of a traditional flashback which would utilize the games graphics to recreate the scene.
The overall narrative looks at the relationship between gods and humans. In this world gods and humans rely on each other for more and praise and favors. There must be a connection between the celestial plain and earthly realm before peace can be truly achieved. For it is the connections that Amaterasu is able to create with the humans she encounters along the way, that grants her power required to beat Yami, the demon controlling all of the evil spirits, and rid Nippon of darkness once and for all.
It’s not everyday you get to step inside a myth and become part of the legend. So if you are looking for a change of pace and don’t mind reading, Okami is worth a try. In fact, I’m going to cut this article short so that at the very least you’ll do a read through.