Set sometime in classical Japanese history, the game combines several Japanese myths, legends and folklore to tell the story of how the land was saved from darkness by the Shintosun goddess, named Amaterasu, who took the form of a white wolf. It features a distinct sumi-e-inspired cel-shaded visual style and the Celestial Brush, a gesture-system to perform miracles.
The game was initially planned to use more traditional realistic rendering, but this had put a strain on the graphics processing of the PlayStation 2. Clover Studio switched to this cel-shaded style to reduce the processing required, which directly created the concept of the Celestial Brush gameplay mechanic. The gameplay itself is modelled off The Legend of Zelda, one of director Hideki Kamiya's favourite titles.