Okami is a great example that games can change the way you see the world. It's incredibly brilliant, beautiful, and engaging. To call it poetry in motion would be an understatement, since we've used the term quite loosely before and towards experiences much less impressive than Okami.
The common non-gamer might see Okami and think it's a next gen game. They would be wrong, since it manages to look so good on a PS2, and it puts some new age games to shame. Playing the role of the sun goddess Amaterasu, repainting the world thanks to your trusty celestial brushstrokes quickly become a familiarity and necessity to restoring the world to its former and beautiful self. It takes but a few minutes to really get the controls down, but in no time, painting dead sakura trees to blossom in visual euphoria becomes an easy task. Rejuvenating bridges, passageways, drawing attacks on enemies and creating fountains all become second nature in but a few minutes. Gardening has never been more fun.
What makes it unique is its direct and visual display of the player's work in rejuvenating all of Nippon. You see it, right away. Areas that were once dark and depressing flourish with wildlife and vegetation. It just feels right.
Comparaisons between Okami and the more recent Legend of Zelda games should be expected, since it does follow along the same lines of every adventure game with pseudo-RPG elements. It's so common to link the two games, as they pretty much follow the same pattern through and through. Navi from Ocarina of Time is vividly represented in Okami as Issun, the miniscule and annoyingly talkative sidekick of Amaterasu, glowing or bouncing around key elements or actions necessary for the game's progression. NPC's that have errands or problems that need fixing are also very reminiscent of something you'd find in Majora's Mask or The Wind Waker. Still, calling Okami a direct clone of those games would be a crime, since it manages to be unique enough to shrug off the very idea.
For the most part, gameplay is pretty linear. The deeper you jump into Okami, the more complex and interesting the game becomes. What makes it unique is its direct and visual display of the player's work in rejuvenating all of Nippon. You see it, right away. Areas that were once dark and depressing flourish with wildlife and vegetation. It just feels right. In between repainting the world, you also come across dungeons housing the very demons that caused this worldwide epidemic. Wiping them out isn't very challenging, as the game is incredibly easy, but it allows for a much more streamlined experience.
But not everything in Okami is peachy keen, and its pacing is one largely to be held at fault. The game starts out brilliantly, putting the character in the heat of the story and shortly after in battle. After about 10 hours, the plotline and focus suddenly change and the pacing becomes exceedingly sluggish. So much that you start to wonder how close you really are to the final boss. It's the common cases found in most guilty Capcom games: the inability for the game to really come to an end and the insurmountable amount of fluff. It can take the average gamer a total of 35 hours to complete Okami, but consider taking part in the optional sidequests and that bumps the game up to 60 hours, which is clearly too long for any adventure game.
So it's a little too long for its own good and Issun will probably be crowned the most annoying sidekick in recent memory. Even so, Okami is an interesting and unique take on videogames. It's gorgeous, plays great, and is one of those games that do not require any justification to be worth playing. It is also a pleasant reminder to the gaming industry that you don't need to follow the routine of next generation graphics to create something universally beautiful. And what better than a wolf, an insect, and a brush to show you a thing or two about fun? Bob Ross would be proud.