Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Genre: Fighting Game, Adventure, Anime
Demon Slayer (or Kimetsu No Yaiba) is currently one of the most popular manga/anime in the world, and one that I’m proud to be a fan of. It has revitalized shonen anime and last year’s Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba The Movie Mugen Train broke a bunch of box office records.
However, games based on popular anime are usually mixed bags that are made just to cash onto the IP’s popularity, and they are rarely decent games, let alone good or great ones. My Hero One’s Justice 2 and One-Punch Man A Hero Nobody Knows, both of which launched in 2020, were both bland and uninspired fighters. Unfortunately, they wasted everything that’s good about the original manga/anime and squandered their potential.
Does Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba The Hinokami Chronicles suffer from the same problems that plagued those games, or is it actually a decent game after all? My answer may surprise you, unless you saw the headline.
Reliving The Tale Of Tanjiro
Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba The Hinokami Chronicles adapts from the entirety of the anime’s first season and Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba The Movie Mugen Train. It attempts to condense 26 episodes and a movie into approximately 6 to 7 hours or so worth of content in its Adventure Mode, the game’s de facto story mode. Is it successful? I’ve watched all of the source material, and I’d say it does a decent job of adapting them.
Sure, the game’s Adventure Mode unsurprisingly has to gloss over details and cut all the juicy depth, but it covers most of the important bits. This makes the story in Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba The Hinokami Chronicles easier to understand and less confusing for anyone who isn’t familiar with the source material, but it also means that the majority of those 6 to 7 hours in Adventure Mode (almost 60 to 70 percent, I would say) consist of cutscenes and dialogue. You’ll be watching stuff rather than actually playing them more often than not in Adventure Mode.
But let’s not kid ourselves. These games will never be a substitute for the original anime/manga, and it’s clearly catered to the fans who are already familiar with them. These are the ones who will buy the game at launch, not the ones who don’t care about the IP.
If you do want more story details, the game features tons of unlockable viewable shorts called Memory Fragments, which are brief snippets and shots of scenes from the anime to fill in the narrative blanks.
In Adventure Mode, you’ll get to explore areas in each chapter (there are 8 chapters). However, these areas are extremely linear and the map only consists of three markers. One is where to reach in order to progress the story. NPCs are marked with blue exclamation points while the yellow ones will give players Kimetsu Points, which can be used to purchase additional playable characters, cosmetics and additional content like music and profile pictures for online multiplayer purposes.
While there are side missions, they ONLY involve literally finding NPCs or objects with the blue exclamation points and interacting with them. They’re not even hard to find, since everything is marked on the map, which is extremely linear by the way. Oh, and once in a while, you’ll encounter random weak demons to fight in the same repetitive battles in order to continue and make some progress.
Every chapter follows the same formula. Traverse the map to progress the story, fight some goons in between, lots and lots of cutscenes and dialogue, all of which ends in fighting the boss demon as the climax. Each demon fight usually has several phases, and each ends the same way. When the boss demon’s health has been whittled down to around less than 25 percent or so, it will trigger a QTE sequence featuring an authentically recreated scene from the anime and movie.
Fans will love seeing scenes from the anime and movie recreated in the game’s engine and it looks great visually, but not all the time. Most of the game’s recreated anime cutscenes and dialogue are static and stilted. Fortunately, the game does a great job with the particle effects and emulating the aesthetics of the anime, especially elements like Tanjiro’s signature water attacks or Rengoku’s flames. It can’t hope to match the original Ufotable animation, so don’t expect it to.
Slice And Dice
Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba The Hinokami Chronicles features a simple combat system. There are basically only two attack buttons, square and triangle. Square for normal attacks while the Triangle button is for the character’s special attacks like Tanjiro’s water skills. Skills use up a sort of stamina or adrenaline meter (which is located under the health meter), but it can be replenished faster by attacking with the square button or by simply not doing anything. You can chain the normal attacks and skills for longer combos.
At the bottom of the screen, there’s a special meter that will fill up as you deal damage or receive damage. You can stack up to three meters at maximum, which can be used either to activate a Boost mode (where you get stronger and faster momentarily) by pressing L2 or to unleash your character’s Ultimate Art (their super attack, so to speak) by pressing R2. Pressing the Circle button to dash or rush towards the enemy, but tilting the analogue stick while pressing Circle will allow you to side-step or dodge quickly to the side.
You can block by pressing R1 and perform parries by tilting the analogue stick while pressing R1. Last but not least, the L1 button is to summon assists from secondary characters you choose, who will jump in to attack or even save you from an enemy’s attack like Hulk grabbing Iron Man from falling to his death at the end of 2012’s The Avengers. That’s basically it for the controls in this game and how combat works.
I’m not a fighting game expert, but the combat in Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba The Hinokami Chronicles does feel fast-paced and satisfying to pull off. The skills are often flashy and fluid with lots of particle effects. Despite playing on the PS5 though, the game doesn’t seem like it offers full 60FPS support. There are noticeable framerate drops here and there, but nothing as bad as My Hero One’s Justice 2. In fact, my overall experience was smooth and great, so you don’t have to worry about bad performance (on the PS5, at least).
I previously mentioned above that Adventure Mode was mostly filled with cutscenes and dialogue. The highlight is the battles against the boss demons of each chapter, which ends in a scripted QTE sequence that recreates the same scene from the anime. You’ll be repeating the same cycle though, so it gets old fast. Fans will probably appreciate it all, but I don’t think there’s enough here to offer those who aren’t familiar with the anime or manga.
At launch, there will be 18 characters in the roster (many of which you’ll have to unlock via Adventure Mode or purchasing them using Kimetsu Point obtained by playing the game). You’ll practically be able to use almost every Demon Slayer or human character prominently featured in the anime and movie. Disappointingly though, none of those 18 characters is a demon (except for Nezuko but she doesn’t count). A bunch of them are even just gag or parody versions of existing characters (like the Academy counterparts from a spinoff manga).
Although the developer has confirmed that six more characters will be added in free post-launch updates (the first two will be demons Akaza and Rui), we still have no dates for when they’re coming. It’s bizarre that a game with Demon Slayer in its name won’t have playable demons at launch, especially considering that you get to fight them in Adventure Mode. Still, at least the bright side is that they will still be FREE and not paid DLC.
A Cut Above
As anime games go, Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba The Hinokami Chronicles is a relatively good one. It’s not remarkable, nor does it do anything new, but it’s first and foremost catering to fans of the anime and manga anyways. It seems like developer CyberConnect 2 has put a bit of effort into this one, compared to other barebones and horrible anime games like My Hero One’s Justice 2.
This fighting game adaptation will only make you love the source material even more, and it’s fun to play, unlike other anime-to-game titles. That will probably be enough for any fan of the Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba anime and manga.
- Beautiful visuals that recreate scenes and aesthetics from the anime.
- Simple but flashy and fluid combat.
- Fan service and easter eggs for fans of the source material.
- Free updates are coming, no paid DLC nonsense (yet).
- The cutscenes and dialogue can be static and stilted most of the time.
- There’s nothing much to offer those who aren’t familiar with the anime or manga.
- Only human characters at launch, no playable demons.
Final Score: 70/100
Review copy provided by Sega. Played on PS5.