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Okage: Shadow King - Review

Originality

By: Traks


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 6
   Interface 4
   Music/Sound 4
   Originality 10
   Plot 8
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 3
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

20-25 Hours

 
Overall
7
Criteria

Title Screen
 

   I've always been a fan of games that try to be as original as possible. Some, like Earthbound, succeed in doing this, and end up being excellent games that play unlike anything else. Others fall short, becoming among the worst games in existence. SCEA's Okage: Shadow King falls into the former category. Okage provides one of the most original gaming experiences around.

   Fighting in Okage, however, is the same old bowl of chips. Battles are fought in an ATB-style mimic, where your characters' turns are decided when their action bars fill up. Luckily, the only required battles in the game are against urns that appear in every dungeon. Defeat all the urns, open up the next staircase. Fight only the urns, though, and you miss out on the hilarious enemy design.

   When you're not fighting, you're most likely running from point A to point B. Luckily, the world of Okage is tiny, spanning around a dozen areas. Menus are easy to navigate, yet their use is more often than not tedious. To use a spell multiple times, one must go to through the menu every time. Since the game is on CD format, load times are long and pronounced. If one can overlook the load times, the interface is good enough so that it doesn't deter one from playing.


Hail to the King, baby.
The Grand King Stan.  

   Perhaps the creators forgot about the sounds for Okage, because it's obvious that the graphics got all the attention. With the exception of the last dungeon, the music in Okage is tedious, monotonous, and boring. Sound effects are poor as well; each battle sounds exactly like the last. While containing a couple of good tracks, I wouldn't recommend investing in the soundtrack to this game. The sound definitely isn't where the creators put all the originality.

   Elsewhere, this game is so full of originality that it has it dripping from its bodily orifices. The story is unlike any other I have ever heard. The graphical stylings are unlike any I have ever seen. Even the names the characters call each other are original ("Dishwater Woman" being my favorite). The freshness contained in Okage: Shadow King alone makes it worth renting.

   The actual story of Okage is told like a book; parts of the game are even narrated. Few of the characters play pivotal roles in the story, but their presence is entertaining nonetheless. In some aspects, the story depth is about on par with a children's book; other times, it is complicated and thought-provoking. While overall nothing book-worthy, Okage certainly isn't a dungeon crawl. The story is even presented with no obscure comments that confuse the player.

   The localization of this game is excellent. The characters all talk naturally, each with their own individual style. At times, conversations are laugh-out-loud hilarious. I could see replaying Okage just for the laughs.


That be James.
The butler, James.  

   Unfortunately, that would be the only reason to replay Okage. Each and every time through, Okage will be exactly the same. One playthrough yields all the story that can be obtained from Okage.

The visuals in Okage are superb. Certainly, they are of Playstation 2 quality. Nearly everything is worth seeing, from the enemy design, to the character design, to the rock design. This category gets dinged a point for the ho-hum spell effects, which might as well have not been in the game at all. While the enemies were totally unlike those in other games, the bosses were as boring to look at as they were to fight.

It is possible to beat this game without spending any time at all leveling up. The game does it for you, in fact. The battles you are forced to fight do an excellent job leveling you up. Like Final Fantasy VIII, each character needs but one thousand experience points to advance in level. I've seen characters go up five levels in one battle, and fifteen over the course of one dungeon. On top of that, every tricky battle can easily be beaten using the same strategy.


Ari, Stan, Rosalyn, and Einstein.
Some of the other characters.  

This game is a number of events placed strictly in a series. Because of this, the game is not only linear, but also very short. I completed it in a mere twenty hours. However, I feel in no way that I wasted my money. Okage provides such a fresh experience that it can get away with being short. While many would feel Okage: Shadow King isn't worth buying, it is most definitely worth a rental.





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