Over the last few years, HD remakes and remasters have become a gaming staple, as classic games are updated so as to be made playable on newer hardware. It’s both a blessing and a curse; the games we loved in past years and console generations are given a new lease of life, although some see it at the cost of originality and innovation. Personally, I take it on a case by case basis, and so I was personally very excited at the prospect of playing Okami in 4K on my Xbox One X. Was that anticipation worth it, though?

Okami is generally considered to be one of the best games made, although one that I could never quite get into when it originally released over a decade ago. It’s a deep game that just keeps on going well after you expect the credits to roll, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but may be a daunting prospect to those looking to purchase it. Let me set the record straight early; Okami HD is the definitive Okami experience, and is how the game deserves to be played. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the review.

You can’t talk about Okami without mentioning its beautiful art style. The cell-shaded visuals, inspired by sumi-e painting from Asia, have always been absolutely stunning, but in 4K they stand out even more. There had never been a game as beautiful as Okami when it released, and I’m certain that hasn’t changed since. From the boss battles to simply just running across the landscape, every single moment of play looks like it was hand-drawn by a master artist, providing an experience that is unique to Okami. You won’t see anything like it anywhere else, and it’s something that you have to experience yourself to understand. Even if you don’t own a 4K display or a 4K-capable console/PC, the game still looks fantastic in 1080p, so don’t worry; it’s still worth a go.

As Amaterasu, you’re tasked with clearing Nippon of darkness, leading to a quest that is comparable in scope and gameplay to a Zelda game. The combat system is a slight let down, to begin with, as there’s not much you can do other than mash the attack button and draw slashes with your brush, although this does get better later on, once you’ve discovered more celestial brush techniques and Divine Instruments on your travels. This is assuming you make it past the 20 minute intro, which is set 100 years before the main events of the game.

Alongside Amaterasu, there’s a quirky cast of characters that give the game a little more flavour as you progress. Highlights include Issun, a little bug that lives on our white wolf protagonist, who is always on hand to provide commentary and innuendo towards the female NPCs encountered along the way, as well as Susano, a drunken descendant of a famous warrior, who constantly reminds everyone that he’s the greatest warrior that’s ever lived. Honestly, the story isn’t fantastic, with its barebones plot and nonsensical pacing, but it works well enough, and isn’t intended to be the main attraction anyway.

Although it is generally an absolute pleasure to play Okami HD, it’s not perfect. The only thing that could be a problem, would be the brush controls. Drawing can be quite difficult, as a standard controller just doesn’t manage it perfectly. The most simple celestial brush techniques are fine, but some of the later ones are a little more complicated, and can be a little difficult to manage with the thumbstick. Couple this with an annoying camera, and it won’t be long until you get frustrated. If this happens, take a break, come back refreshed, and you’ll remember how much you love Okami.

To summarise, Okami HD is one of the best games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. Yes, it’s a remaster of a game released in 2006, but it looks and plays as good, if not better, than any games released in the last year. The art style is simply beautiful, and the admittedly barebones story is supplement by quirky characters that will charm you until you love them. Words can’t express just how good this classic game is, and now that it’s in 4K, it finally feels like it’s found what it was missing.