Okami: Thoughts on Stories

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Okami also brings to our attention the importance of stories. Most directly, the game itself is based on Japanese legends and mythologies. The game manual lists some of the folklore which form the foundation of Okami. These include Urashima Tarō, Kaguya, The Hakkenshi and the Satomi House, Shita-kiri Suzume, and Issun Boushi.

Throughout the adventure, the player also comes across a multitude of side-stories. In addition, many items, as well as enemies, and characters in the game have stories associated with them. These short descriptions are accessible via the in-game menus, accompanied by traditional artwork. This creates a very vibrant and detailed world for the player.

Similar to how The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek create a sense of realism by using a tremendous amount of detail in their respective universes, so too does Okami. Because of such a level of detail, such a multitude of items, characters, and stories, the player has a sense of a vibrant world. Coming from actual folklore, this vibrancy feels even stronger.

Consequently, this feeling can be transfered to the real world. Realizing how these stories come from Japanese culture gives us a chance to reflect on the stories in our own cultures. The stories within our lives are some of the details which make our own world vibrant. Knowing this allows us to appreciate the role of stories in our lives to a greater degree, with an awareness of how they may shape our perceptions.

Without a strong story, Okami would soon loose its appeal. As such, it has been noted by Muriel Rukeyser that “the world is made of stories, not atoms.” This has been adapted in the world of game design to focus on creating games with better stories. If this is indeed true, I would say that Okami has taken care to stay true to this school of thought.

Not only is the game based on stories in Japanese culture, but it draws on so many stories that its world feels more real as a result. Each character in Okami, be it friend or foe, has its own story. Being a part of this world teaches us about our own world, as long as we can take the time to draw these parallels. If the world is made up of stories, then we can learn from them whether they be in a book or in a game.

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