Title: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba - The Hinokami Chronicles
Release Date: October 13, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
If you know an ounce about anime or manga from the last few years, then you probably know about Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Aside from the standard gacha games that anime series typically receive, some deserve their own console adaptation, and this is one of those titles.
There are some truly stand-out moments of storytelling and character development found in these demon-slaying tales, and why not a video game to explore them. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles is a retelling of the anime from developer Cyberconnect2. While this team has delivered games such as Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, this bout feels way too similar to that series, with only subtle differences in terms of game mechanics.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles tells the story of Tanjiro Kamado, whose entire world has been destroyed by Muzan Kibutsuji, a powerful demon. After returning home, Tanjiro discovers that only his sister, Nezuko, is alive, but she’s been turned into a demon.
This transformation is usually life-altering as demons gain immortal life at the cost of feeding on humans without any human consciousness left in them. However, Nezuko seems to be a special case as she retains some form of humanity and doesn’t require the need for human flesh.
The story then follows Tanjiro as he searches for revenge against Kibutsuji and a way to turn his sister back into a human. He does this by training to become a demon slayer, where he must accept missions to destroy demons as he collects clues to get closer to his goal.
There are some incredible moments of storytelling, and a lot happens in the setup where we find strength in these male characters who aren’t afraid to show weakness or love. It’s an entirely different side of this hero dynamic and really sells this as a unique experience. Tanjiro isn’t necessarily my idea of a lead protagonist, but he grows into the role throughout each chapter.
The game follows this story to a T, and anyone who has watched the anime will know exactly what’s going to happen. Unfortunately, this is sort of where I fell off the experience since nothing surprised me, and I knew the outcome of every encounter. As a faithful retelling, though, it works incredibly well. Those who prefer video games over anime can now experience this high-action narrative. In that light, this is perfect, but longtime fans shouldn’t expect too much more.
The more exciting moments of The Hinokami Chronicles happen during gameplay. While the combat takes the spotlight, there are some adventure elements to the experience as players can explore various locals collecting items and interacting with NPCs. This ties into fully completing each chapter as there are optional tasks players can take on, but this is incredibly surface level. You see, by simply pulling up the map, you’ll be able to see all the places of interest.
I would label these more as distractions other than the memory fragments you’ll collect currency used to purchase unlockables. However, they aren’t needed to finish the game. The environments are diverse enough to be interesting for some time, but they’re pretty linear. Still, I found that they featured some cool camera angles from time to time. I wish Tanjiro could run a little faster, though.
The fighting mechanics here are elementary. This game doesn’t seem to be geared towards fighting games fans as much as it’s made for anime fans who aren’t versed in fighting mechanics. It’s flashy and fun as hell sometimes, but most of the encounters will likely play out the same. You’ll execute a few one-button combos, tie in a special attack, build a surge, and unleash a finisher. When you knock an enemy down, they become invisible until they get up, which is when they’ll likely attack, so you aren’t able to just rain combos with unlimited stun locking.
Enemies come in grunts and bosses. The grunt enemies are all mostly the same, and each area introduces a new enemy you’ll encounter during the adventure segments. They aren’t random, and you’re graded on how well you do, but they mainly just practice fights until the boss. Bosses are fun and actually feature moments similar to NieR Automata where the boss will unleash telegraphed attacks, and you have to avoid them. It extends the battles and makes them more interesting. Sometimes, you can even switch to a supporting character in a battle to extend combos and unleash longer attacks.
A staple from the developer that has found its way into this game is quick time events. They aren’t intrusive or overused and really add to the boss encounters with an extra dash of immersion with stakes on the line to see Tanjiro take out the powerful demon. Each playable character brings their signature fighting style and moveset to the fights, but the combos are all mostly the same aside from super cool animations for the special abilities.
Outside of this, there isn’t too much more to this game. There’s a high level of quality all the same in its presentation, though, as attacks, animations, and environments have a nice layer of detail to them. Further, the option to play with either Japanese or English dialogue adds to this quality. There’s also a versus mode that becomes more robust as you play through the story, but the novelty wears off quickly with such a limited combat system.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles features some incredible storytelling moments, but that’s mostly because it’s an exact retelling of the excellent source material. On top of this, you get to experience some of the most significant fights from the series firsthand. However, this comes at the cost of lengthy cutscenes and a game made for fans of anime and not necessarily fans of fighting games.
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