Release date: October 15, 2021
Mode: Multiplayer video game
Series: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows
Publishers: Aniplex, Sega
Genres: Fighting game, Adventure game
"Review Copy Provided By SEGA"
I’m not normally a fan of anime video games due to the fact that many of them, for the most part, seem to be quick cash grabs nd tie-ins to the shows with little substance to them. If you were into anime in the late 90’s to early 00’s then you will know what I mean by that as you had the terrible Dragon Ball GT and Ultimate Battle games release during the peak of the Dragon Ball popularity in the west. Other animes such as One Piece and Naruto have had endless entries on almost all platforms from the original PlayStation till now, and yet not all of them were great. When I heard that one of my favorite series, Kimetsu no Yaiba better known as Demon Slayer, was getting a video game; I was worried. I wasn’t sure that CyberConnect2 would be able to capture the full essence of what made the manga and anime so great even though they’ve done amazing work with the Naruto games. Fast forward to October 2021, and here we are with Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles. Does the game honor the franchise and live up to the expectations of aspiring Hashiras? Or is it simply another shameless cash grab to tie into the popularity of the franchise? Let’s find out!
Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles covers the story of young farmer turned Demon Slayer Tanjiro Kamado through the course of events that change his life forever. You’ll be reliving everything you saw in the first season of the anime all the way up to the Mugen Train arc.
Many will make comparisons of this game to the Naruto Ninja Storm games; while they have a lot in common in many regards from the camera angle and many of the core mechanics, Demon Slayer has its own identity in how it not only looks but plays.
The game has 2 different gameplay forms: Story Mode and Vs.
In story mode, you are essentially playing through the entirety of the story up to the end of the Mugen Train Arc. You’ll be reliving the events of the story almost beat for beat as you would in watching the anime with you having to do several things in each chapter such as interacting with various NPCs and characters doing sort of detective work as well as roaming about the levels and gathering up Kimetsu points to be able to be used in the Rewards section of the main menu. You’ll have a check list of things to do from mandatory conversations with characters and looking at certain things along with optional side things you can do to gain more Kimetsu points. These sections can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 20 minutes depending on where you are in the story and in many instances, you can encounter random battles with demons.
The combat system is surprisingly very deep for what is essentially an anime fighter even if it isn’t fully marketed that way. You have everything from light and heavy attacks, an evasion button, a guard button that allows you to do parrying in the same vein as Street Fighter 3, a button for powering up to a state called “Boost”, a button for Ultimate Arts, as well as a tag button that allows you to either tag in your back up character or call them in for either an assist or to pull you out of danger similar to the Marvel Vs Capcom games.
You can chain together so many light and heavy attacks and use the block button to do modified attacks such as anti-air knockdowns and grabs. The flow of combat is incredibly fluid and easy to get into, yet difficult to master. Many will probably want to button mash and while that could get you far in some instance; in many other situations it will get you destroyed against higher level CPUs and online against skilled players. The fighting game mechanics in this game run really deep for an arena fighter.
There are additional modes you go to such as VS Mode where you can fight against other players online in either Ranked or Casual Matches. You can play locally with another person next to you or even playing against the CPU. There’s the Rewards section where you can redeem Kimetsu points to unlock new outfits, characters, and artwork. You can go into Training Mode to learn your character and their move sets and see what are good and bad matchups and just lab your character. Archives mode allows you to check out what unlockables you’ve gained from Story and Rewards modes and see things like Battle Attires, Profile Photos, Quotes, and listen to Music Tracks. Then there’s Tutorial Mode that runs you through the core functions of how the game works. You can also press the Options Button to bring up Options which will allow you to change the controls, camera settings, display and sound settings, as well as the language settings to set whether you hear the game in English or Japanese.
This game is truly a love letter for fans of both the anime and manga.
This is one of the most beautiful games I’ve seen this year as it fully takes on the look of the anime and adapts it perfectly to 3D. There are times when I look at the game and it’s hard to tell that you aren’t watching the anime as the Cell-Shaded 3D graphics are just that good at replicating the show. If you want a perfect example of how the art style is perfectly represented, then go look at any of the Ultimate Arts when the Demon Slayers do their breathing techniques, or the demons do their Blood Arts.
All of the characters from NPCs to the main heroes and villains all look amazing and just like their anime counterparts. Tanjiro and Nezuko, Inosuke and Zenitsu, Giyu and the Hashira all look exactly as they do in the manga all the way down to their mannerisms.
The environments replicate what you saw in the manga and anime although they aren’t exactly stand out and aren’t memorable outside of key moments from the manga/show.
Honestly, the presentation of the game is so amazing that it is almost as if you’re watching the anime and is really a spectacle to see.
This is one of the most stand out parts of the game as everything from the voice acting to the soundtrack and more is just impeccable. If you love the anime and the performances there, then you’ll love it here as everything is near point for point to the show. Each character has a voice that fits them perfectly in both English and Japanese, although it is worth noting that the lip sync is for the Japanese version and not the English version.
All of the music you heard from the anime is in the game and plays at the same moments and in other moments too; so when you see those moments that are heavily impactful on an emotional level then just know that the same music from the show will be there in those scenes to make it hit that much harder.
I’ve got to just dive right into it and say that the biggest downside of this game is the online hands down. I understand anime games with online components don’t really expect you to spend a lot of time in online matches but when the game has such a good and deep fighting system; it comes across as a massive let down that you must deal with ungodly latency, disconnects, and constant pausing as the game tries to maintain connection by trying to check the connection status mid fight.
In each online fight that I was in; I keep having massive latency to the point where I really couldn’t really do much other than put my controller down and just wait for the match to be over. The input lag will have almost anything you do come out anywhere from 5-10 seconds afterwards which makes it pointless to play online.
The other thing I dislike is the lack of defensive options once you get caught in a combo string because if you don’t have full tag meter to use to get out of a full-on assault; then you’re going to be losing at least half your life bar with no way to get out. If the tag assist to get you out of danger didn’t take so long to build up then this would be a problem or if you could do mid attack countering then this would not be a problem, yet you can’t do anything to get out of these situations if you don’t have a full tag meter. The
The next issue is the amount of i-frames or invincibility frames during certain attacks. This basically will have many moves be uninterruptable and will allow whoever is using it to be able to whiff damage and punish the opponent. If there were defensive options to be able to punish these types of attacks then it would be better such as being able to immediately cancel any movement, you’re in to either dodge or parry, however, since you can’t you’re immediately open to being punished by the other player.
I feel like the movement speed in Story Mode is incredibly slow and can make traversal feel sluggish and it has me longing for a dash or sprint functionality to move around quicker.
Last complaint I have is the fact that of the 18 characters, 7 of them are variations and not exactly “new” characters. I love the fact that these variants all play differently from each other, I dislike that these variants couldn’t be incorporated into the existing characters and just be either a timed power up state that cost meter or be a form change like Ryu could do in Marvel Vs Capcom. It basically has the same problem (although not to the same extent) that Dragon Ball FighterZ has with the endless Goku and Vegeta variants.
If you're a fan of Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba-, then you need to pick up The Hinokami Chronicles as this is simply a love letter to Demon Slayer fans both of the anime and the manga and a great gateway into the series for those who haven’t experienced either. Even with it having some issues with the combat and exploration in the Story Mode, Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles is hands down one of the best anime fighters and games out there that will hopefully gain traction with both the established fan base and the mainstream audience. This is one of my favorite games of the year!