Celestial Brushwork

The brush is mightier than the wolf.

Okami HD (as the name would suggest) is a remastered version of the original Okami released in 2006 (which I have never played), and is a rare example of an experience that is complex yet thoroughly enjoyable throughout. It features a large open world and a surprising amount of freedom to go with it. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you’re encouraged to explore this open world as soon as you complete the starting experience. As there is so much to see, do, and unlock even with the limited variety of brush techniques you’ll have at that time.

There are plenty of secrets hidden in this vast world, too.

The focal mechanic of Okami is the use of the Celestial Brush. This allows you to draw onto the environment for a number of different effects, which are directly linked to the number of brush techniques you currently have access to and will be invaluable in unearthing secrets or making progress. It’s an expertly implemented and meticulously utilised mechanic.

Alongside this there is a rather interesting levelling mechanic which is vital to your success. While you can collect three Sun Fragments and increase your health, the primary way to increase your various attributes will be through the acquisition of Praise. Which is something you can find anywhere and everywhere in the world. Mostly acquired from restoring nature to corrupted lands or feeding animals (which is a whole mechanic of its own), you’ll also acquire praise for defeating certain enemies. Praise can then be spent to increase your health, the number of ink wells you have, how many Astral Pouches you can carry, or even how much currency you can hold. It’s an oddly refreshing system that doesn’t promote grinding out battles for experience.

Such a colourful and diverse creature you are.

You’ll also find (and hopefully equip) various weapons in the course of your adventure. Each class of weapon promotes a different advantage be it speed, strength, or combo potential. Visiting the Dojo will allow you to unlock new techniques or bonuses related to each class of weapon, too. While you can also earn rare Demon Fangs which can be used to buy various Holy Artifacts. These are not required for completing the story, but they do have unique bonuses for Amaterasu that you can’t find elsewhere. Especially if you collect all of the Stray Beads.

New Game+ helps greatly in acquiring them all.

One of the other focal mechanics of Okami is the unique storytelling approach. The story itself is an enjoyably awesome tale of epic heroes and ancient demons, but it is presented with such a gorgeous illustration style and brings together the visual style of the title quite well. It’s also rather light-hearted, comical, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously at any time.

There were many things that I enjoyed but the freedom to explore was most enjoyable of all. It’s rare to be allowed to wander around the map as and when you want to, while it’s equally as rare to be allowed to return to earlier areas to use your new brush techniques. You’d usually expect that to be hidden behind New Game+ or the like. In fact, New Game+ is rather well implemented as it isn’t required to access anything. It only really makes it easier to earn the resources required to collect anything you missed the first time around. In either case, I’ve greatly enjoyed this title and can easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys having fun while gaming. Which, in my opinion, is the only reason you should be gaming in the first place.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

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Alcohol and Resolutions

The two are inescapably linked.

I’m not particularly fond of New Year’s Resolutions, though. The concept is entirely fine but I’m of the opinion that if something should be changed then there’s no reason to wait. For that very reason I’m usually between several different things as I seem to have an endless desire to seek improvements, which is a problem and I recognise that. I might not do anything about it- but I recognise it. I like to think that it’s mostly a good thing. Except when I immediately realise that things could be better and completely invalidate my achievements as a result.

Maybe we should talk about video games instead.

I’ve been greatly enjoying my time with Okami HD in the last week or so. It’s an interesting combination of everything I’ve ever loved about the Legend of Zelda series and drawing to solve every problem ever. It’s also got an interesting yet somewhat exploitable upgrade system that’s akin to grinding experience, items, and currency in JRPGs. It’s pretty fantastic, though.

It reminds me a lot of the Legend of Zelda series mostly because the progression is so fluid. You can easily unlock a lot of different brush techniques, find unique items, and utilise varied upgrade materials from the start of the story. That said, each new technique you learn opens up new possibilities. Some of which are less evident than others. The boss fights are pretty interesting, too. They usually utilise the particular brush technique specific to that location but they’re presented like puzzles instead of button mashing contests. It also features a large and evolving open world that you’re free to explore, return to, and even fast travel around as and when you want to. I’ve found it refreshing to have that amount of freedom in progression throughout.

There are some mechanics prevalent in older video games that I miss. For that reason (and a few others) I’m rather fond of Chronicon, which I’ve also spent a day with over the last week to experience the new content and balance changes. I’m continually surprised as to how much I still enjoy playing that Warlock. He’s been around a while, he’s pretty strong, and probably could do with being on a higher difficulty level. But it’s still fun to develop his Masteries to build on his strengths and (more importantly) his weaknesses.

I’m looking forward to the day it releases in full.

I’ve even spent some time with my newly acquired Wacom Intuos Pro over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been working on a new digital painting that’s going much better than expected, which is due to both the upgraded hardware and an adjusted approach. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more about that later in January. It’s not quite finished yet so I can’t promise anything.

I’m rather hopeful for 2018 as a whole. Things have changed so dramatically in the last few months that it’s almost staggering to think how different things were, but they’re better (for the most part) and that’s what’s important. I can’t really anticipate and therefore can’t promise anything about the coming year but I hope I’ll be happier. At the very least. I’ve realised now that how I feel about things has a greater impact on everything than I could’ve imagined. It seems simple to say, but you get used to living in one way for so long that you forget there are other ways. Perhaps I’ll find one of those other ways and everything will be better as a result. Or maybe things will stay the same. But that’s what makes it exciting, right? Not knowing all the answers.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie