Dumbass Design: Okami’s Gibberish

In an effort to clear out our PS2 queue before moving on to our next PS3 game, Kathy’s been playing Okami lately. If you haven’t heard of it, the story is a retelling of the Bible’s book of Leviticus: “Dog with spinning shield on its back must slay eight-headed demon, but only after learning to paint.”

The game’s sumi-e art style is beautiful, and the gameplay is solid action-adventure fare. I think Kathy’s favorite part is that she gets to spend hours seeking out woodland creatures and feeding them herbs and seeds, after which little pink hearts float above the beasties’ heads. If giving treats to fake bunnies is fun enough to distract Kathy from asking me to buy her a real one, I’m all for it.

As an observer, the game is fun enough to watch, except for one thing: the goddamn gibberish. All the characters speak in an annoying, made-up language that makes the entire game sound like a backwards-masked episode of Fat Albert.

It’s bad enough that the game’s creators let such a horrible design decision go through. Worse still, they made it impossible to silence the speech without muting the music (which is beautiful).

It’s almost a dealbreaker for me. In fact, it was a dealbreaker for me. I started Okami a year ago, and I could barely make it past the introduction, which comprises a half hour of unskippable, expository dialogue.

Now, Kathy’s about a dozen hours into the game, and I’m torn. Because there are so many good aspects to Okami, I’m trying real hard to tolerate it–and even convince myself I like it. But sometimes I have to remind myself not to yell, “Shutupshutupshutup!” This is probably how I’d feel all the time if we had kids.

Okami Cosplay

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