When I heard that Okami was getting a sequel, my response to the announcement was mixed. Okami is definitely the kind of game that deserves a sequel, but its creator, Hideki Kamiya, is not at Capcom anymore, having left at the closing of Clover Studios. Thankfully the team that has taken up the reins of the sequel knows what they are doing and just five minutes into my playtime, I knew that this was definitely one to look out for.
The story of Okamiden picks up shortly after the ending of Okami, giving players control of Chibiterasu, a sort of chibi-fied descendant of Amaterasu. While not much was shown off about the story, if it is anything like the graphical style and gameplay, we can expect it to be incredibly consistent with the original game.
Brush powers make their return, and the demo featured four of them: Cut, Bloom, Rejuvenation, and Command. While some may complain that only one of those powers was new, all of them feel great. The stylus gives an excellent level of precision, surpassing the PS2’s or even Wii’s controls. To use the powers, players just have to hold down the L button (or R if they’re left-handed) and the rice-paper overlay pops up. While there is a limited amount of time for input, the game faithfully recognizes every type of celestial brush power.
Of the four, one of the most intriguing is the Command power. In addition to Chibiterasu, the game features another character who journeys with the young wolf. Players can use the command power, once unlocked, to draw paths for these secondary characters to follow. This power is especially useful for some of the later puzzles that require players to not only direct the secondary characters but also to use Chibiterasu to hold down buttons to keep their paths safe.
Partners are not just used for puzzles, however. They also play a major part in combat. Players are ranked on how well they utilize a partner after the conclusion of a battle. Better utilization leads to greater yen bonuses upon completing the battle. In the demo it appeared that the partner would automatically add his attack into the combo, and often this attack would stun enemies, opening them up to celestial brush techniques.
The Okamiden demo at E3 was very short, with only a few areas, but it left me wanting more. The game is consistent with the original game, while not being afraid to add its own spin to the gameplay. While the game is not set to ship until next year, this looks like one gamers should really be looking forward to playing.