Okami: single player games are still relevant

Normally I would do reviews on my website, but considering the fact I’m out of the country and don’t have access to the main site as a whole, talking about the game on here for now will have to do. A proper review will appear on my website at a later date.

So then, Okami. Originally released on the PS2 in 2006, published by Capcom and developed by Clover Studios, and then re-released on the Wii in 2008 (because who doesn’t want to use the Wiimote to draw lines and circles?) … and then released on the PS3 in 2012 and then released again on the PS4, the PC and the Xbox in the ass end of 2017, you could say that this game has seen a lot of releases.

More impressive still is that the game was developed by Clover Studios, who went defunct in 2007 and were dissolved into Capcom overall. So the developing studio wasn’t even around to re-release their game as many times as it was released, or at least, not in their original form as developers. So how does a game – whose developers went under – see so many releases over a span of eleven years?

Probably because it’s a damn good game.

For every release that the game has seen – and as we’ve established it’s seen at least a few – Okami has never failed to garner critical praise. Its original release in 2006 saw it do exceptionally well with the critics, and the release for the Wii was in fact a joke amongst many due to the fact the game had a drawing aspect to it that would lend itself well to the Wii. The Wii version also received praise for the small adjustments made to the game (including widescreen compatibility) and the eventual releases on PS3 and then later PS4 and PC continued to see praise. The game has its flaws, of course, but it should be important to know that the game has universally performed well at every release.

In other words, the game has aged extremely well and has managed to keep its relevance for over eleven years, which is incredibly impressive considering the longevity of games is a pretty hot topic and it’s widely considered that games don’t necessarily have particularly long lives in the first place. In a world and during a time when single player games especially are considered to be low in replay value, and when companies (looking really hard at you, EA) are hitting the headlines for shutting down studios known for producing good single player games, Okami’s success is a shining beacon in the dark as to just how untrue that notion is.

Good games will always sell. Games developed with care and love, and who have effort put into their development and have effort put into their subsequent re-releases if they get them, garner deserved praise and get remembered for their high quality. Okami has never failed to receive praise, and that’s because Okami was cared for when it was made and when it was released. Clover Studios might very well have been made defunct, but they went out having made a game that has steadfastly withstood the test of time and has proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that single player games can be games that sell well and are remembered generations after their release.

Okami has many things that work in its favour to keep it a memorable game and a memorable experience. It boasts an incredibly pretty art style, for instance, which we really haven’t seen before or since. The storyline is, overall, a good story with characters that you can fall in love with and enjoy even if you can’t outright relate to them or their experiences. The gameplay is extremely smooth overall, though it notably struggles to identify certain brush strokes which can cause minor frustration, and the game does a pretty good job of rewarding you for being good at the combat. There’s a metric fuckload of content to do for both the main quest as well as all kinds of side quests, along with the environment being interactive through the likes of being able to feed animals or make trees bloom. The game has optional hidden content and small minigames, and it rewards you for completing these things with achievements or with in-game items that you can use on a New Game+ file once you’ve beaten the game once.

It’s over a thirty hour experience on average for a first playthrough (and for me that was including gathering all the 99 hidden stray beads, having previous knowledge on most of them and having beaten the game several times previously to know the location of most quest objectives and side quests.) Thirty hours of gorgeous environment, wonderful music score, enjoyable if not slightly annoying characters, and a somewhat simple but nonetheless enjoyable story with several emotional moments.

Single player games are, most certainly, not dead. If game developers and, more importantly big name publishers, could see past their own hubris and desire to make quick cash by incorporating microtransactions or loot boxes into their game, they might be able to understand this concept. Okami took everybody to the bank and did it five times in the space of eleven years, without having online DRM or microtransactions or season passes or anything. Single player games are not dying as the publishers claim, and gamers aren’t moving away from them to seek constant online experiences. And beyond that, why would we want to move to online content where developers and publishers push consistently worse business practices in our face? Give me Okami re-releases any day.