After playing Ōkami, of course I had to get my hands on the sequel, had to get back to that beautiful painted world because I didn’t want to let it go.
And you know? It was by and large worth it.
Ōkamiden starts almost immediately where Ōkami left off: dropping you into the world of Nippon only nine months after Amaterasu and Issun saved the day. This time, though, you play as Ammy’s son, Chibiterasu, who’s the cutest little pup in the world. You also get fun new powers, and an entourage of new friends to explore with! Your companions cycle in and out as the story progresses, allowing for some interesting new abilities and plot lines that the original didn’t allow for.
Admittedly, Ōkamiden is a much simpler game than Ōkami, and perhaps not quite as beautiful. Crammed onto the DS rather than a console capable of handling nicer, more detailed graphics, it had a bit of a blocky feel to it, and sometimes the controls felt a little slow, especially in combat, which was button-mashy and dull. Basically, it lacks some of the stunning fluidity that made Ōkami such a visually powerful game, which is a bummer. A sequel should know to build on the winning formula, not swap it out for less pleasing bits and pieces.
That said, I really loved going to visit the places in Nippon that we’d visited before with Ammy and Issun, plus a few new locations that hadn’t been on the map last time. It kept the world feeling fresh, especially since the changes to existing locations seemed directly tied to the events of the final showdown in Ōkami, and that continuity really pleased me. I love it when games are able to keep track of what happened and anchor the timeline so firmly!
I also just loved Chibiterasu because HE’S SO CUTE. Example A? This:
He is a GOOD BOY and trying his best! He just needs help from his human(oid) friends, because he isn’t quite as good as his mom at understanding humans, and he definitely doesn’t have opposable thumbs. Other than that, though, he’s doing a very good job, and like all good dogs, he brings the overall quality of the work up a dramatic notch.
I also really enjoyed that you switch partners throughout the story. It helps you get a better sense of the world through the eyes of the characters living in it, and introduces fun new abilities depending on who your current partner is. That said, I do wish you could freely switch partners, but there’s a reason you can’t, and it does benefit the story.
And the story! Again, not as vast as Ōkami (it really feels like an unfair contest, comparing the two), and much more linear, but it was fun in the ways it called back to Ōkami without being 100% dependent on it. Plus, it explores smaller moments than Ōkami did, looking at how individual characters are adjusting to the world they live in, one that has demons and gods and encroaching darkness. It feels somewhat smaller and more personal in scope in a way I enjoyed because of that.
Overall, I don’t think Ōkamiden can stand up to Ōkami. The latter is a stronger game in almost every way, especially since it’s been remastered and polished into its strongest shape, while Ōkamiden remains a DS only release, stuck on a system that isn’t quite on a level with consoles like the Switch or even a PC. Still, though, it has lovely character design, a plot that kept me invested despite its shortness compared to Ōkami, and an ending that makes me wish there was more. I suppose that ending makes me sad in a way, too, since it’s highly unlikely the questions it raises will be answered. To my knowledge, the studio responsible for the series went under, and any future Ōkami games have been scrapped. That is possibly the greatest disappointment of this game, and that’s hardly the game’s fault at all.
So, if you’re looking for some more fun in the Ōkami universe, and want to spend a while getting to know new characters in a familiar world, teaching a new dog old tricks, then this might be a game for you! It’s cute and short and fun, and its drawbacks are easy enough to overlook, making it an overall pleasant experience.
But hey, if you’ve already played Ōkamiden, what do you think? And if you haven’t think you’ll give it a try? (The correct answer is yes, because you should do it for resident Good Boy™ Chibiterasu, but go ahead, make your own choices, I respect that.) Either way, let’s chat!