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Appearance aside, Okami was a joy to play, and the pedigree behind the game ensured its mechanics were fluid, simple, and inventive. The general game design was heavily influenced by The Legend of Zelda, but the team’s history with series like Devil May Cry lends a stylistic hand to the combat. Weapon-based combos were basic, requiring only minimal dodging and button mashing, but were still complex enough to be entertaining.
Okami’s fantastically creative Celestial Brush techniques (used both in and out of combat) lent themselves well to the game's artistic style, and provided a unique mechanic that no game before had ever attempted. Interacting with the environment by literally drawing on it unveiled secrets and removed barriers, while combining physical attacks with battle-specific brush strokes made for perpetually entertaining fights.
These techniques are central to Okami’s tale, which draws from Japanese myth to create an alluring good vs. evil story. It hits all the biggest notes of storytelling: Life, innocence, rebirth, and peeing on enemies for a better score. Some might say the game drags on a bit too long: 30-plus hours is a lot for an action adventure title. But they're wrong. It’s long, sure, but never dull; each new area to explore brought more quirky characters and side quests to the table, and each boss was so fascinating that we couldn't wait to reach the next. Never did we feel the dregs of boredom. From the moment we turned the game on and saw the story play out in scrolling ink drawings to the swelling victory music that bellowed when we put the final boss to rest, we were enraptured by everything Okami is.
It did far more than impress those who played it. It created a legacy. Ammy warranted inclusion in other games, like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, alongside icons like Ryu and Captain America. After Clover dissolved, Hideki Kamiya, Atsushi Inaba, and Shinji Mikami formed a new studio which later went on to become part of Platinum Games. Bayonetta, one of Platinum’s more well-known titles, is riddled with Okami references: The main witch’s panther form leaves a trail of flowers behind her when she runs, exactly like Amaterasu.
Okami is the definition of a video game cult classic. Though it wasn’t met with commercial success, it did succeed in creating an unforgettable experience and an incredibly loyal fan base. Okami is a thing of rare beauty, relying on a twisting, turning story and wholly unique mechanics to ensnare its audience. Much like Amaterasu when facing the Spider Queen, we shall forever be caught in its web.
"Why _____ is one of the greatest games ever made" is a weekly feature that goes through GamesRadar's list of the 100 best games of all time and highlights different titles, explaining why they're on the list, what makes them so amazing, and why we love them so much.
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