The immense popularity of the "Demon Slayer" anime cannot be understated. It took the animation world by storm and became insanely popular not just in Japan, but pretty much everywhere that anime could be found. It solidified its place in anime royalty with the resounding success of its movie, becoming the highest-grossing Japanese film ever. And for me, it served as one of the shows that got me into the medium itself.
Soon after seeing a few episodes of "Demon Slayer," I remember thinking it was inevitable that we'd get a video game adaption. Now, here we are with Demon Slayer - Kimetsu no Yaiba - The Hinokami Chronicles, a title by CyberConnect2 that manages to be a rather entertaining title that also serves as a way to celebrate everything about this IP.
This title presents a decent variety of game content to choose from, and at the forefront of its offerings is its story mode. This retells several arcs involving Tanjiro and friends up to Mugen Train. Throughout a number of chapters in The Hinokami Chronicles, players are going to explore different environments, take on demons and other characters in fighting-style gameplay, and go through numerous cutscenes retelling Tanjiro's adventures.
The gameplay loop for The Hinokami Chronicles is extremely simple, so don't go expecting any sort of complexity in its mechanics. Essentially, players will experience a few cutscenes, then it'll be time to explore an environment where story events take place. Exploration is definitely the most monotonous part of The Hinokami Chronicles. For the most part, you'll be tasked with tracking the scent of a demon as our protagonist, Tanjiro. You can pick up collectibles on your way and talk to a few people, but that's about the only sort of interaction you'll get in these segments. These roaming sections are boring overall and break up the pacing quite a bit because I always found myself wanting to get into a scuffle with a demon.
There are, somewhat disappointingly, not a great deal of fights in The Hinokami Chronicles' story. In fact, at one point near the end of the story, players will experience a period without any action at all. Early on and during the game's finale, at least, there are some points where your investigations or other objectives are interrupted by a demon, prompting a battle. There are also a decent amount of boss battles, like the web-slinging demon Rui. At the end of boss fights, you'll experience some spectacularly flashy and genuinely exciting QTE moments that finish the boss off for good. Many loathe QTEs during boss battles, but for The Hinokami Chronicles, it's a perfect fit.
I'll be blunt, The Hinokami Chronicles' combat both during its story and other modes is entertaining, but also so very basic. There is no complexity to this fighter, so expecting something akin to Dragon Ball FighterZ or Guilty Gear is going to lead to much disappointment. Combat takes place within a three-dimensional arena with the freedom to roam around the entire perimeter, unlike a lot of the more complex fighters.
As for combat itself, I do believe players could get by through simple button mashing without and strategy or forethought on the matter.
This is not to say that the combat itself is terrible; in fact, I thought it to be quite fun. Moves are very flashy and responsive, and the way characters move are animated superbly. Experiencing the moves of different characters like Inosuke and Rengoku was a joy to see. Most of these fancy attacks are done via specials, which require a finite but regenerating resource to use, so you can't spam specials wantonly. If you either land a number of hits or get hit enough times, you can either boost for extra damage or use an Ultimate Art for massive damage.
Ultimate Arts are just awesome. These are the coolest moves in the game, where your character gives everything they have to pull off an incredible display of power. Nezuko's Blood Demon Art ability pulls of an incredible explosion that is visually stunning; likewise, Zenitsu's equally amazing explosion of lightning looks like it could have been hand-animated. These moves are very easy to pull off with the simple press of a button, so it's easy to experience every single Ultimate Art.
I say easy, and that's really what The Hinokami Chronicles' combat is. Even though the combat has no complexity, it's still so easy to play, so it's not hard to walk away with at least some satisfaction. Besides that, I have a gripe with a few ways the combat plays. There's a parrying mechanic that is just too clunky and makes it difficult to pull off. Parrying enables players to counter-attack with a well-timed button press, but it just doesn't feel good to use at all. I found it more beneficial to string attacks rather than attempt to parry since it broke up the pace of the gameplay too much.
There are other times where, after a string of attacks, the opponent (or conversely, you) are knocked down and are invincible. For some reason, it takes a weirdly long amount of time to get up after being knocked down. When someone is knocked down, you'll be left standing around awkwardly waiting to attack again. It should be noted, this is all experienced through singleplayer, both in The Hinokami Chronicles' story mode and versus mode. On release, there's the ability to play online. I'll be interested to see some high-level gameplay and see if parrying is used and also how players respond to those awkward moments when someone is knocked on the ground.
As for the roster itself, it's varied but heavily biased towards human characters. There's only one demon to choose from right now, which is Nezuko. More demon characters are on the way, but for right now, The Hinokami Chronicles' roster is full of sword-wielding slayers. What is this, Super Smash Bros.? Joking aside, although just about every character wields a sword, there's a decent offering with nice, individualized movesets. I would have liked to see fewer characters utilize water breathing to break up some repetition, but inclusions to the roster like Rengoku and Shinobu make up for it. New characters are going to release post-launch with two demons being the first two. I hope to see even more demons, and a couple more Hashiras would be nice, too.
Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles Review | Final Thoughts
If you look at some of the environments and non-essential characters in The Hinokami Chronicles, it's all a bit mediocre. All of the bosses and fighters themselves look great and are animated very well. There were times when cutscenes could be mistaken for animation, so I was very impressed despite some graphical shortcomings in other areas. Unfortunately, The Hinokami Chronicles is locked at 30 FPS for the time being; there's going to be a 60 FPS patch later on. The decision to release this later is puzzling and would definitely make for a better experience if it ran at 60 FPS.
One thought that constantly bounced around in my head during my time with this title was that it was a celebration of all things "Demon Slayer." The developers seemed to really care about the IP and put a lot of effort into its unlockables. There's a glut of excellent music to listen to and unlock; additionally, you can customize your online profile with an array of profile images from the show and more.
Demon Slayer - Kimetsu no Yaiba - The Hinokami Chronicles is a little rough around the edges with its bare-bones exploration and some lacking combat mechanics, but I cannot deny that this is a competently made game. It achieves what it set out to do, which was to cover several arcs of "Demon Slayer." I was entertained the entire time, if anything because it reminded me why I enjoy "Demon Slayer" so much. For fans of the IP such as myself, they're bound to be pleased with what CyberConnect2 has cooked up.
TechRaptor's Demon Slayer - Kimetsu no Yaiba - The Hinokami Chronicles review was conducted on PlayStation 5 with a code provided by the publisher. It is also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.
- Authentic Anime-style Graphics
- Exciting Combat Animations and Flashy Boss Battles
- Plenty of Unlockable Music and More
- Tedious Exploration Sections in Campaign
- Extremely Basic Fighting Mechanics
- Environments Look a Little Rough and Runs at 30 FPS (For Now)