Several games have tried to replicate the soul of Nintendo’s Zelda series and Okami is one game that has come close to that formula. A unique game that not only bags several awards, but is a modern-day classic, making it to the hall of fame of the best games ever made. Recently re-released in HD for the Playstation 4, the same HD treatment makes its way to Nintendo’s spunky handheld, the Switch, and it is the perfect home for Amaterasu.
Okami HDDeveloper: CapcomPublisher: Capcom Price: ?1,300 for Nintendo Switch ($19.9)
What’s it about?
Amaterasu is a Japanese sun goddess, and the main character of Okami, who appears in the game as the white wolf Shiranui. Based on folklore, Amaterasu appears to cleanse the land consumed by a dark curse laid down by Orochi. Accompanied by a tiny artist known as Issun, you get to use the celestial brush to draw out evil, pun fully intended.
Released in 2006, Okami proved to the world that games can be works of art. The Playstation 2 sang as it churned out a beautiful world that was one large Sumi-e (a Japanese woodcut watercolour brushwork technique) painting come to life. An art style that has had an impact on Capcom’s games to this day, very evident in Street Fighter IV and V, adding movement via ink and brush strokes.
While the art style will leave your jaw on the floor, Okami does drag a lot in places. From its beautiful but annoying intro that you have to sit through, to a few pacing problems in the story. These are minor quibbles though, in comparison to the incredible world that is waiting for you to explore. So all you need to do is just survive that intro.
How does it play?
Made by legendary game designer Hideki Kamiya, the brains behind Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, Amaterasu’s fighting technique has flair and speed. In addition to that, a press of the button brings the celestial brush, which is perfect for the Switch in handheld mode, as you use the touchscreen to draw across enemies. It seems as though the game has been made for a console that launched almost 10 years later.
Exploration and puzzle-solving is a lot better with the touch celestial brush. Though in docked mode, you will need to use the JoyCons. The handheld mode is recommended though, not only because you get to take Amaterasu on your work commute, but also because it addresses one of the biggest problems we had with the HD remake. Due to the art style, on large TVs, the graphics look a bit like you are seeing double, with the cel shading and the brush work adding a bit of a second image. On the handheld screen of the Switch, we did not notice this phenomenon and were able to enjoy the game to its fullest.
Should you get it?
If you own a Nintendo Switch and you’re feeling that void after completing Breath of the Wild, then Okami is one game you should dive right into.
While Okami was inspired by Zelda, Dead Cells is an Indie game that’s inspired by Nintendo’s Metroid, combining two enthusiast sub-genres, Metroidvania — games that are like Castlevania and Metroid — and Roguelikes, games that have random generated elements that power their gameplay systems. Add to that a large dollop of Dark Souls, which has an enthusiast genre of its own known as Masocore, masochism+hardcore, and you have quite an interesting formula, and one helluva game.
Dead CellsDeveloper: Motion TwinPublisher: Motion TwinPrice: ?500 on Steam PC, ?1,643 on Nintendo Switch ($24)
What’s it about?
In Dead Cells, you play a collection of cells. A blob of sentient goo with one purpose, to escape this convoluted, ever-changing prison. After an experiment gone wrong, you take over the nearest dead host body, and have to keep killing other monsters to recover cells that are lost.
Story takes a backseat to a game that is all about its gameplay systems. Dead Cells thinks differently, which is not surprising, coming from Motion Twin, a small game studio that also thinks differently, and recently announced that they are an equal pay worker cooperative. This shows in every cell of Dead Cells.
How does it play?
Dead Cells is the most fun I have had in a side-scroller since Contra or Castlevania or even Metroid. These added subgenres just make this game all the more interesting and fun to play. Usually dying and starting over is perceived as a negative thing in games, but here it is the only way to progress. Every time you die, you may have to start at the beginning, but the entire dungeon has changed and new paths have opened up. The same goes for the weapons and powers you collect along the way.
The action is definitely Dark Souls-like, with its rolling evasion and pattern-based enemies and bosses. It’s Souls-Lite though, a lot more enjoyable and less punishing. The best part though, is the action, which is satisfying. The quick sword slashes and the sheer amount of power-ups and weapons make you want to come back to the game again and again. Things do get a bit repetitive in a rinse-and-repeat way, but the developers have got the action right, making it the perfect game to play on-the-go.
The retro pixel graphics and animations are superb and there is a lot on the screen at one time. From enemies exploding in globs of gore, to sparkles off the items and other particle effects, there is a lot going on, but it adds to the sheer energy of the game.
Should you get it?
Dead Cells is an addictive game that is best played in short bursts, and perfect if you have a laptop and want something quick. It’s great on the Nintendo Switch also, if you happen to own one.
The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel