Okami: Thoughts on Art

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Often times art is regarded as a luxury. We assume that art is not a necessity. That has certainly been debated by many, yet as an artist I cannot imagine living in a world without art. To me, art is in fact a necessity. I think it enriches our lives more than we are aware of, and Okami demonstrates its importance in many ways, some of which are obvious while others are not.

The artistic style of Okami is the first thing that any player experiences. It is the first thing that sets the game apart from others, and it is a thing which usually gets a very strong reaction. I think that reaction has primarily been positive if the game's reviews are any indication. Forsaking traditional textures and models in its environment, Okami is a sumi-e in motion. The traditional medium of sumi-e and ukiyo-e painting comes alive in the the world of Okami.

Not only do you get the opportunity to experience the environment as a painting, but you also must interact with this environment in ways similar to how you would interact with a painting. Though traditional game controls are still used, non-traditional controls have been added. These allow you to change the world around you using a brush, by virtually painting on-screen in the sumi-e style.

Thus your objectives revolve around restoring the world to a beautiful and colorful painting. The antagonist forces in the story drain the world of color, and disfigure the landscape, and it is your celestial brush that can, essentially, re-paint it to its former glory.

The implications of these elements are important to note. The first element, being the artistic style of the game, is very unique to games as a whole. It proposes that there is a place for artistic vision and beauty in this industry. The second element is the ability to interact with this painted environment via old and new methods. This interaction demonstrates that the creation of art is appealing within a game, and that creating art is a powerful means by which the world can be influenced. Thirdly, Okami shows us an interpretation of what a world without color and art might be like, and in so doing instills a desire to create a world that is beautiful.

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