Okami is not, in fact, the perfect console adventure game, as much as I’d like to say that it is. For one thing, it’s about four times as long as I expected it to be; titles like Space Channel 5 and Ico got me into the habit of thinking that “artsy” games are shorter than your typical 40-hour epic, focusing on providing an intense, focused experience rather than a long, monotonous grind. Okami doesn’t feel too badly padded out, but it does lose a little of its magic around the 30th hour of play.

One of the things that makes this sort of game longer than one might like is all the backtracking. It’s a side effect of one of the ways in which you get the player excited about the game: sprinkling a few not-quite-accessible ledges and objects throughout the early areas causes the player to make a mental note to come back to it later, and lets him or her look forward to being powerful enough to overcome the obstacle. The problem is that once you’re sufficiently buff to make the big jump or break down the hard barrier or whatever, you have to go all the way back to the old neighborhood to do it, which leads to lots of commuting back and forth amidst all the locations in the game using not one, but two teleport/taxi networks that are provided. (Why have two separate networks? I have no idea.)

On the other hand, one of the reasons I love this game is that once in a while, I can forget about the collection quests and the monsters and the myths, and just go for a run around the world, flying over plains while a stream of blossoms flows in my wake. A good game makes it easy to get around the world so that you can accomplish things more efficiently; it takes something really special, though, to make you want to take the slow route for no other reason than that it feels good.