There’s no doubt that the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga and subsequent anime adaptation have proven to be immensely popular. Hence, it was only a matter of time before the demon slaying antics of Tanjiro Kamado would eventually result in the development of a game. That game is Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles and it’s a 3D arena fighter from CyberConnect2. The folks at CyberConnect2 are no strangers to such anime adaptations, with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot and numerous Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm titles under their belt. Does Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles deliver an exciting slice of the beloved series for fans to indulge in, or is it merely a hollow cash grab?
In many ways, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles perfectly encapsulates everything that’s wonderful about the anime, but it also struggles a little in providing longevity. The finger has to be pointed towards some of the gameplay for that.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles is an arena fighter based on the action found in the first season of the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba anime as well as the Mugen Train feature length animated film. The source material is evident from partaking in the Story mode, which is the heart of the entire experience. The eight chapters follow Tanjiro Kamado’s journey to avenge the slaughter of his entire family by a demon as well the turning of his sister Nezuko into a demon. It covers the road to joining the Demon Corps, the many confrontations with demons, and continued search for a cure to restore Nezuko’s humanity.
Focusing on the storytelling and presentation first, and the developers show an incredible amount of respect to the anime by doing a stellar job. Due to the actual anime cast being used for voiceovers, the cutscenes are very authentic and aid in giving every moment an accurate tone in terms of emotion. All your favourites, and the gruesome demons, have been faithfully recreated to such a high quality that it feels as if you’re watching the anime. It’s amazing how well the characters’ in-game models look when they’re displayed in scenes and even during a bout.
The only slight downside is the fact that the main cutscenes, despite being excellent, barely scratch the surface on the entire narrative. Thankfully, there are a load of memory fragments to unlock however, which fill in a lot of the gaps for each chapter. For example, the action might be centred on Susamaru and Yahaba (the temari and arrow duo) launching their attack on the secret hideout, while the memory unravels the events leading up to it. Viewing these events after concluding the battle seems disorderly to me and as such, it’s no substitute to witnessing the anime series. It comes quite close though!
Throughout the Story mode, there are battles and exploration sections to keep you occupied. The battles come in two different forms, with some seeing you go up against lesser demons and others featuring the memorable villains from the anime. The former are great for honing your skills and being a bit more experimental in your approach, while the latter are akin to proper boss encounters where you must be cautious and methodical as you assess the arsenal of the opponent.
If you’ve seen the show, then imagine going to war with the Drum Demon Kyogai; it’s an absolute thrill to avoid the attacks dictated by the beating of his drum and react to the room being rotated. It is not just Kyogai either; every single boss battle feels unique because each really showcases the fascinating Blood Demon Arts they possess. Another good one is a confrontation with a member of the Spider family, who rallies hordes of spider/human hybrids as he shoots webbing and venom your way – it’s creepy and exciting in equal measure. To finish off the intense encounters, excellent animated scenes and quick-time events are interwoven to create stylish endings.
The combat options are pretty decent to begin with, consisting of a strong and light attack, three skills, a throw, and an Ultimate Art. Obviously these are different for each character, but for Tanjiro in particular it means you can create combos using the standard attacks in tandem with the likes of the Water Wheel technique. His dragon shaped Ultimate Art, earned by building up a meter, is glorious when activated and it’s just as fantastic to pull off other characters’ Ultimate Arts. There’s also a lot of emphasis on evasion during fights, which is where the dashing, blocking and parrying come into effect. Depending on the battle, you might have a tag partner to call upon too.
Slowly, but surely though, the actions you’re performing do become a tad repetitive. That’s possibly due to the overuse of our hero Tanjiro as much as it is a potential need for a few more attacking options to be in place. Granted, there are a handful of opportunities to play as Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Inosuke, however additional skills would be welcome for sure.
Outside of battle, there are various sections in which you explore an area and make your way towards the demon who’s causing a ruckus there. I use the term ‘explore’ very loosely however, mainly because it’s restrictive as to where you traverse and is incredibly linear. Aside from a couple of interactions and the obtaining of memories or Kimetsu Points (the in-game currency), there’s not much going on. It may sound harsh, but on the whole it’s a pointless exercise and feels like filler.
Speaking of filler, and without spoiling anything, the two chapters leading into the finale are so bizarrely uneventful. No joke, it’s just cutscene after cutscene, with some rhythmic mini-games thrown in. Fortunately the Story mode as a total package is thrilling enough to cover up any drawbacks. The replayability factor after the – roughly – ten hour playthrough is dependent on your penchant for being rewarded with S Ranks for your performances. If perfection is of little interest, then it’s off to the VS mode.
In VS mode, the options are present to play tag matches (2v2) versus the computer or another player locally. Venturing online is also possible, with other demon slaying wannabes ready to show you the might of their sword. What more can be said except that there’s an online ranking to climb by defeating opponents online and the Kimetsu Points can come in handy to customize your Slayer profile. Limited comes to mind if I’m being honest, especially when you’ve got 18 characters at your disposal and only 11 are truly unique – the others are alternate versions. At this time, Nezuko is the sole demon on the roster, but more are expected via DLC in the near future.
Alternatively, a little time could be spent in the Training mode, which pits you against specific characters and sets certain tasks for you to complete within the confines of a battle. If you’re deadly serious about being a genuine threat online then these are definitely useful, but otherwise they’re best enjoyed in short spells to avoid monotony.
Ultimately though, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles is a great experience for fans of the show to reminisce and recreate those epic battles Tanjiro and his fellow slayers get embroiled in. It looks brilliant in many aspects, the sound is spot on in all areas, and the overall storytelling is great. For the most part, the combat lends itself well to exhilarating encounters, but it doesn’t offer the most expansive arsenal or roster of combatants. The only real downsides are the filler-like exploration sections which slow everything to a snail’s pace and the longevity post-story completion.
Nevertheless, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles is an adventure you should partake in. You’re bound to have a blast.
You too can join the Demon Corps by purchasing Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles from the Xbox Store