Most of the aesthetic attention paid to Okami centered on its beautiful, brush-painting inspired visual motif, but I hope we don’t overlook its music. The score is actually what made the game really stand out for the ages in my mind: at once sweepingly grand and surprisingly intimate, blending the traditional and contemporary, it draws upon a tremendous range of sources and associations over the course of the player’s journey.

Past video game series with music in the tiny subcategory of “synthesis of traditional Japanese instruments and the Western symphonic orchestra“ include Onimusha, Genji, and Otogi. There are also serious, high-art endeavors that attempt to do something similar – works by Toru Takemitsu and others – so while the conceptual basis of the score to Okami is not without some amount of precedent, the surprising degree to which the game’s four credited composers are able to balance and blend its influences distinguishes it from its peers.