Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PC
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $59.99 USD – Available Here $99.95 AUD – Available Here
Few anime/manga properties have exploded in popularity quite like Demon Slayer has in recent years. After an initially slow start in 2016 the anime adaptation in 2019 saw the series’ popularity skyrocket to the point that it is nearly impossible to not recognize at least one character from the franchise even if you’ve never actually seen an episode. As such, it only makes sense that CyberConnect2, the developer with the highest pedigree of working with popular anime and usually creating fighting games out of them, would be tapped to make the first console title for the series. So now that Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles has been released, is this a solid and enjoyable enough adaptation for both newcomers and longtime fans?
Tanjiro Kamado had been living a fairly simple life as the only one capable of supporting his family until one day, after returning from a short trip, he returns to find that nearly his entire family has been slaughtered by a demon. Only his younger sister Nezuko has managed to survive the onslaught but has been turned into a demon herself as a result. With Nezuko somehow able to retain some semblance of her humanity, Tanjiro begins his search for a way to curse his sister. This search sets Tanjiro on the path of becoming a member of the Demon Slayer Corp who are specially trained fighters capable of slaying the demonic threats that roam the land, killing humans to consume their flesh.
It is interesting to note that thanks in part to the fact that the Demon Slayer anime series has only received one season and a film so far that the actual game chooses to only focus on covering these two story arcs. This includes the Unwavering Resolve and Mugen Train arcs and given the fact that the developers have not been forced to cram numerous arcs into the plot, the story actually has room to breath a bit as a result and this allows the plot to remain almost entirely faithful to the original anime or about as close as possible. This means that longtime fans of the series will be able to enjoy a great re-creation of these arcs alongside some seemingly new side-content while newcomers to the franchise won’t really be missing out on too much outside of some smaller details here and there.
These story segments are split between both major battles in the show as well as plenty of fragmented scenes that are unlocked throughout each chapter. Players are also able to meet and learn quite a bit about a numberthe other main characters that play pivotal roles in the storyline, giving them just enough detail to work well within the confines of the game and encourage fans to search for more once the story is wrapped up.
There is a small issue with pacing however as most chapters feature lengthy exploration segments in-between plot points and these areas tend to drag the experience down quite a bit as they offer very little narratively and only slow down the story as a whole. This level of detail is quite nice which is great considering the fairly lengthy narrative is where players will be spending most of their time considering the story mode is mostly all Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles has to offer.
Players will be spending most of their time in Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles playing through the game’s story mode, something that may be a bit odd as far as an arena fighter goes but this is due to how the game’s unlocks are structured. In an effort to give players incentive to play through the story nearly the entire roster and extra costumes have been locked behind story progression. This choice may be a fairly surprising one but it ends up being a rather welcome decision in the end as players are able to learn how to handle the game’s combat system and the unique playstyle of most of the cast within the confines of the story before trying their skills online or locally in versus mode.
Combat in Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles may seem simplistic at first as players can easily string together light attack combos as well as “Skill” attacks that are special for every character while either blocking or dodging incoming attacks from their opponents but it won’t take long before players learn how to perform heavy blows, grabs out of guards, alternative skills, boosts, and of course unleash their ultimate skills to finish a fight off with a flourish or try and turn the tables in a dire situation. This style of combat is fairly straightforward but also feels rather in-depth as nearly every character on the roster feels unique thanks to their skill attacks offering plenty of variety. It also helps that players will rarely be battling alone and can often call in an assist with a cooldown to either attack or break out of a combo, or in some cases, completely swap characters should your current fighter feel like a bad match.
In the game’s story mode most fights tend to be against humanoid opponents in the form of either other characters or cannon fodder demons that play similar to every other fight, however boss demons are far more challenging. Bosses in the game are often incredibly threatening and can utilize AoE style attacks, deal massive damage with unblockable attacks, and even avoid flinching from blows dealt by the player making sure that players truly have mastered most of the game’s mechanics to try and survive. These boss battles were always the highlight of the series itself and truly feel like they are the best of what the game’s combat can offer as well.
On the other side of the coin are the aforementioned exploration segments. Throughout the game’s chapters players will often explore various locations such as towns, forests, etc. and in these areas there are various sub-quests that players can complete for unlockables but unfortunately none of these quests are actually interesting. Most of them simply involve standard exploration or talking to every NPC in an area before continuing on to progress the actual storyline, dragging down the experience as a result.
Outside of the story mode Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles offers a rather anemic set of modes as players can either partake in custom versus matches locally against a friend or computer or take the fight online and test their skills against others. Unfortunately the online experience fighting against other players is a rather tedious affair as the game’s net code still appears rather rough as even the best matches can suffer from a bit of lag and, considering how flashy the game often is, these laggy fights are troublesome but can still be fairly manageable most of the time.
Visuals & Audio
CyberConnect2’s pedigree of working with anime licenses truly shines through with their handling of Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles as the game’s character models and flashy special moves are handled perfectly which will please fans of the franchise. Even the demons are varied enough with the boss battles actually showing battle damage that accumulates throughout the fight. It is a bit unfortunate that the game does lack some of the more in-depth costume customization that past game’s from the developer have seen as even alternate costumes are rather sparse here.
With Bandai Namco’s release of Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles in the West the company has provided both a freshly recorded English dub as well as the original Japanese voice track. Both voice tracks feature the original voice actors that previously handled their characters so fans will certainly appreciate the consistency and quality here. As for the soundtrack the title features a fairly standard set of background music fitting the theme of the game as well as some of the signature background music from the series itself though not all of it.
Once again CyberConnect2 has proven that they can take an incredibly popular anime series and create a solid game out of it as Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles is not only a highly enjoyable arena fighter but also one that is incredibly faithful to the source material. So much in fact that even newcomers can jump in without feeling as if they are missing out on too much. It does unfortunately suffer from lackluster exploration and doesn’t offer quite the same level of customization as similar arena fighters but both those who want to see what the fuss is about and longtime fans will find that Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles is certainly a satisfactory offering for this franchise.
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