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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Okami HD is an adventure game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows PCs set in a fictional Japan. The game has stunningly beautiful scenery and original gameplay. While this action game has lots of fighting, the presentation is essentially bloodless. Some enemies get chopped in half, but most are turned into flowers when they die. The game is cartoonish in appearance but has some crude humor, including references to breasts and sexual innuendo. Some characters smoke, and sake drinking is a big factor in some story elements, and it provides powers to the main character. The story includes themes of duty and modesty, as well as selfless sacrifice and fighting against evil. Controls are very easy to grasp, but the Nintendo Switch version is particularly notable for being able to draw on the console's touchscreen or use the Joycon for intuitive painting.
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What's it about?
OKAMI HD tells the tale of a mystical white wolf that protects the people of Nippon (a fantasy version of Japan) from evil. At its core, the game is a solid third-person adventure, with dozens of characters to meet, treasures to find, vast landscapes to explore, and plenty of baddies to fight. As players roam the game's magical landscape, they learn "brush techniques" that give them god-like powers -- activating these powers freezes the game and causes a giant ink brush to descend over the scene. Players can then paint and change the game world: Night can be turned to day by drawing a sun in the sky, or walls can be destroyed by painting a firework bomb over them. The newest version features HD visuals for the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC installments, as well as the ability to use the PlayStation Move controller to control your ink brush. The Switch version also allows players to use their finger to paint with the brush, or use the Joycons to paint through obstacles.
Is it any good?
This game is a magical, intoxicating adventure that beautifully captures the essence of fairy tales and Japanese mythology in game form. Okami HD is an incredible game, with an engaging story and gameplay that's supported by its eye-popping graphics. The visuals are the most immediately striking feature of the game, and seem like a Japanese ink print or watercolor come to life with its mix of bold outlines and subtle, refined brush strokes. This is reinforced as you move through the world as Amaterasu, causing flowers and grass to spring up in her wake. Clearing out sections of demons or reclaiming territory for nature rejuvenates an area with a spring-like flourish that's beautifully captured in bright floral prints and tones. On top of this, the use of the "Celestial Brush" as a gameplay mechanic to do things like changing the time of day, blasting through walls, or repelling incoming strikes, makes you feel like an artist making specific changes to this visually distinct world. It's an expressive way of drawing you into the gameplay that stands out from any other adventure games. Particularly notable is the Nintendo Switch version; while the other installments of Okami HD were easy to control, the Nintendo Switch version feels like the most natural version of the game ever made. Using your finger to draw on the screen is possibly the simplest way of interacting with the environment, and that's possibly only second to the responsive Joycon controls, which are great to use.
On top of that, the characters are engaging. Whether it's the "annoyances" of Issun, the bug-like travel companion, the Cowardly Lion-like nature of Sasano the "hero," or the steady, calm presence of Amaterasu that gains respect from everyone she meets, it's virtually impossible to find a sour note with the characters. Some of the content (like the focus on some female character models' behinds and cleavage) and some jokes feel a bit childish or tone deaf, especially with the recent release that's 11 years after the original title, but these are minor issues. The same can be said about the blurry environmental textures and double images that provide a blurry visual, especially when the camera is tracking you as you run from one area to another. These older artifacts really stand out on an HD or 4K monitor, where you're getting both improved graphics and artifacts that can, at times, feel a little disorienting. That being said, these problems are secondary to an amazing story, a visually impressive game, and a title that should appeal to virtually all ages. You can't go wrong with this one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the violence in Okami HD acceptable because it's against monsters and mythological demons? Does the ink-like art style limit the impact, or is the fighting an issue by itself?
How much did you know of the mythology of Japan? Did Okami HD make you want to learn more about it?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Capcom
- Release date: August 9, 2018
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco and/or Use of Alcohol, Fantasy Violence, Crude Humor
- Last updated: December 11, 2017
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.