Set sometime in ancient Japanese history, Ōkami combines several Japanese myths, legends, and folklore to tell the story of how the land was saved from darkness by the Shinto sun goddess, named Amaterasu, who took the form of a white Wolf. It features a distinct sumi-e-inspired cel-shaded visual style and a mechanic called the Celestial Brush, a gesture-system to perform miracles.
Ōkami was one of the last PlayStation 2 games selected for release prior to the release of the PlayStation 3. Although it suffered from poor sales, Ōkami received critical acclaim, earning the title of IGN's 2006 Game of the Year.
The game is set in Nippon (Japan) based on Japanese classic history, and begins with a flashback to events 100 years prior to the game's present, and describes how Shiranui, a pure white wolf, and Nagi, a swordsman, together fought the eight-headed demon Orochi to save Kamiki Village and the maiden Nami, Nagi's beloved. Shiranui and Nagi are unable to defeat Orochi but manage to seal the demon away. In the game's present, Susano, a descendant of Nagi and self-proclaimed greatest warrior, breaks Orochi's seal due to the fact that he does not believe in the legend, and Orochi escapes and curses the lands, sapping the life from every living being. Sakuya, the wood sprite and guardian of Kamiki Village, calls forth Amaterasu, the sun goddess, known to the villagers as the reincarnation of the white wolf Shiranui, and pleads her to remove the curse that covers the land. Accompanied by the artist Issun (an inch-high Poncle), Amaterasu is able to restore the land to its former beauty. Throughout the journey, Amaterasu is hounded by Waka, a strange but powerful individual that seems to have the gift of foresight, and further teases Amaterasu and Issun to his own mysterious ends. Additionally, Amaterasu locates several Celestial Brush gods who have hidden in the constellations that bestow upon the goddess powers of the Celestial Brush to aid in her quest.
Soon, Amaterasu, along with Susano, must battle Orochi to protect Kamiki Village and rescue Susano's beloved, Kushi, recreating events from 100 years prior. This time, the duo are able to fully conquer the demon, causing a black, evil spirit to float northward. Amaterasu and Issun then embark on a journey across Nippon, befriending many people along the way through their good deeds, and continue to remove Orochi's curse on the land, through defeating other demons that release similar dark presences floating northward. As Amaterasu travels to find the source of these evil spirits, she is brought to the wreckage of a ship able to travel through the stars: the "Ark of Yamoto". Waka appears and reveals himself as a member of the Moon Tribe, a race that had supplied the Ark of Yamato to the Celestials, who used it to escape from Orochi's assault on the Celestial Plain and sail the heavens, unaware of the evil spirits imprisoned on the Ark which attacked and killed all but himself, resulting in the Ark crashing to earth. Yami, the demon controlling all of the evil spirits, appears and strips Amaterasu of her Celestial Brush powers before entering battle with her. Issun takes up his role as the Celestial Envoy and encourages all those they have helped to send their thoughts to Amaterasu, causing her to regain her powers and defeat Yami, ridding both the Ark and Nippon of these evil beings forever. With her mission done, Amaterasu departs with Waka on the Ark to sail back to the Celestial Plain together.
- Much of Ōkami centers on characters from Japanese Shinto spirituality and legendary historical figures. A major plot parallels the slaying of the eight-headed serpent, Yamata no Orochi by the Shinto god Susanoo, recreated as the characters of Orochi and Susano, respectively, within the game.
- Holds the world record for "Least commercially successful winner of a game of the year award" in the 2010 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition.
- Amaterasu is referred to in the Japanese and European version of the game as a female, while in the North American version she was genderless.
- Throughout the game, the player encounters several other characters that are inspired from Japanese folklore such as:
- Issun- The Wandering Artist Issun you meet at the begining is based off of the story of Issun-boshi (The One Inch Boy), a boy who was born at 1 inch who goes off and encounters the attrative Princess of a wealthy Daimyo (Feudal lord). He is scorned for his height, but never the less, he becomes the playmate of the Princess. While travelling, they encounter a Oni (Demon) and the Oni eats Issun-boshi whole. Issun-boshi pokes the Oni with a needle with causes him to be spit out along with the magical Uchide's Mallet (Small Magic Mallet, also known as the Lucky Hammer in the game). As a reward for his bravery, the Princess uses the mallet to bring Issun-boshi to normal size, eventually marrying him. In Okami however, Issun is occuasionly potrayed as a pervert. This depicts to a more adult oriented version of Issun-boshi known as: The Love Affair of Issun-boshi. Much of the story is the same until Issun-boshi reaches the castle. The Daimyo asks him to do a dance, he was so amused by him that he let him be the playmate of the Princess. At first, Issun-boshi would just listen to the stories she would recount. Then one night, he was invited to sleep in the Princess's bed.... pleasuring her....
- Urashima Taro- In Northern Ryoshima Coast, there is a character names Urashima who tells Amaterasu about Orca, a whale who took him to the Dragon Palace. Urashima is based on the story of Urashima Taro, a fisherman who encounters a small turtle being abused. He saves it and brings it back to the sea. The next day, a huge turtle tells Urashima that the turtle he saved was the daughter of the Emporer of the Sea, Ryujin (dragon god), and that she wanted to see him. The turtle gives him gills and brings him to the bottom of the sea to the palace of the Dragon God (Ryugu-jo, known in the game as the Dragon Palace). There he meets the Emperor and the small turtle, who turned into a lovely princess, Otohime (Also a character in Okami).
- Sakuya- The protector of Kamiki Village, Sakuya, is inspired by Konohanasakuya-hime. Who in Japanese Mythology, is the blossom-princess and symbol of delicate earthly life. In the game, the tree residing in Kamiki Village is named Konohana. Konohanasakuya-hime is considered a avatar for life, since her symbol is the sakura (cherry blossom)
- Canine Warriors and Princess Fuse- The Canine Warriors and Princess Fuse come from the story of The Hakkenshi and the Satomi House, a novel written over the course of 106 volumes (making it the longest piece of classical Japanese literature). In the novel, the Hakkenshi (Canine Warriors) are human incarnations of the eight spiritual sons born to Princess Fuse of the Satomi House. They are associated with dogs due to the fact that their spiritual father is said to be a dog. As portrayed in the game, the Canine Warriors are the embodiment of the eight virtues of Confucianism.