Okage: Shadow King’s Tim Burton Feel Makes It Worthy Of A Remake
The second I first saw Okage: Shadow King on the shelf, I was drawn to it. The animation style is still my absolute favorite out of any game to this day. The characters and artwork all looked so quirky, I immediately associated it with Tim Burton’s work. I was honestly shocked that more attention hasn’t been called to this game for this reason before, though I did find a couple sources that had the same revelation. As soon as I actually took the game home and booted it up, it did not disappoint.
Okage: Shadow King was released back in 2001, and it’s an adventure JRPG with turn-based combat. You don’t have to play the game long to see that it’s one of the oddest games in existence. And if you’ve seen any Tim Burton films, the resemblances between them and this game are uncanny. The characters all have that beloved doll-like appearance, which is enhanced by their incredibly strange personalities. Throughout the game, the bizarre dialogue never ceases to be entertaining, as it rarely includes anything you could categorize as “normal” or fitting for a given situation.
But Okage: Shadow King brings much more than quirky doll-characters and strange dialogue to the table. The plot itself could have easily been straight out of a Tim Burton film. The journey is centered around Ari, a boy who is overshadowed by everyone. His shadow then literally becomes possessed by an evil king (through the strangest circumstances, I might add), and he must go on a quest to help this evil king gain back the powers that he once had. You gain peculiar companions along the way, and—without giving too much away—you find out that the whole world is not at all what it initially seemed to be. This turning point makes the game go from delightfully whimsical to brilliantly creative.
The reason I place so much emphasis on the similarities between Okage: Shadow King and the works of Tim Burton is because I believe that’s what would make this game worthy of a remake. Tim Burton is highly praised for a whole host of his works, such as Corpse Bride, which is still loved by many today. The release of a game that could capture a similar flavor of magic would be a spectacular hit, and it would stand out among the usual releases that we expect to see.
Okage: Shadow King’s gameplay itself needs some work, to be sure. The combat system leaves much to be desired, as it’s fairly clunky and mildly frustrating. Revisiting the decades-old title would present a great opportunity to introduce more chances to build or break relationships with dialogue options (especially romantic ones) that the game currently doesn’t leave much room for. But these issues could easily be tackled in a remake, and if they were to maintain the art style, the characters, and the extraordinarily eccentric soundtrack, this could be made into a phenomenal game.
More than likely, you’ve probably not played or even heard of Okage: Shadow King before. I know it’s a long shot that we will ever see it brought back, given how much time has gone by since its release, and the fact that it never became one of the “bigger titles.” But this is the perfect time to introduce something new and charmingly twisted into the world of JRPGs.
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