With it’s first release back in 2006, followed by Ōkami has found itself to be a bit of a cult classic. Now, many years and consoles later, this beautiful, humorous, creative title makes its way onto the Nintendo Switch.
My first true console was the Nintendo Wii. Not the most amazing library, but it was Monster Hunter Tri and Ōkami that became my first loves in gaming. The title itself is actually a pun; ōkami is the Japanese word for wolf, but the kanji characters used for the title, 大神, pronounced the same way, translate to “great deity” and this perfectly describes the titular Amaterasu, the Shinto sun goddess, who is reborn as a wolf and uses the power of celestial ink to manipulate and revitalize the nature of folkloric “Nippon” (Japan). While the world and creatures are based upon Japanese folklore, the art direction is meant to emulate an East Asian style of ink wash painting referred to as sumi-e. This made the game standout and most critics agree that the execution is stunning.
I can feasibly see some players complaining that the game runs too long and repeats certain boss battles and unique mechanics too frequently, but at the same time this version of the game feels better despite the length. Amazing visuals, lovable characters, and fluid combat kept me invested, but back on the Wii port I got so so frustrated by the required fishing and digging mini games. Both rely on usage of the brush controls, but the way these are tightened up on Switch, I had much less trouble. This isn’t to say the challenge is lost, however! Puzzles and time pressure still maintain a healthy difficulty, while not feeling impossible and keeping satisfaction in tact.
Ōkami has remained at $19.99 for over a decade and is well worth every penny. In a AAA world where games are often $40-60, this is refreshing and comforting to those of us on a tighter budget.