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Demon Slayer The Hinokami Chronicles Review – CyberConnect2’s latest anime fighter

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Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is the first video game adaptation of the anime series of the same name. Demon Slayer is one of the most popular shonen titles. With its anime series being available on Netflix, it has grown more popular, receiving attention even in the west. The Hinokami Chronicles adapts the first season of the anime series, leading up to the events of the first film, Mugen Train. CyberConnect2, well-known for adapting shonen anime series into action-packed fighting games, handled the adaptation of The Hinokami Chronicles. For fans of the anime, this game is a godsend, their first chance to finally slay demons and execute water breathing style sword techniques themselves. But how good was The Hinokami Chronicles in adapting the anime, and how well does it translate into the video game form? Let’s find out in our Demon Slayer review for the PS5.

You can purchase the game on Amazon through our affiliate links below. Clicking the links and purchasing from the website may result in ClutchPoints receiving monetary compensation. The game releases on October 15, 2021, on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and the Xbox Series X.

Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles [PS4] [PS5] [XSX]

What is Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles?

Demon Slayer is a popular anime series adapted from the manga of the same name. Its title in Japanese is Kimetsu no Yaiba, which also appears in the game’s extended title. It follows the story of Tanjiro, one of the demon slayers, in his quest for vengeance against the demon Muzan, all the while looking for a cure that will turn her sister Nezuko back to human. He fights against a lot of demons along the way, rising through the ranks of demon slayers. He learns and fights alongside the Pillars or Hashiras, who are the masters of the elemental styles of their order.

As mentioned above, The Hinokami Chronicles adapts the first season of the anime. As the series enters its second season on Netflix and through other platforms, The Hinokami Chronicles serves two purposes: as a way for long-time fans to relive the first season to hype them for season 2, as well as to introduce the series to unfamiliar gamers who might end up becoming fans of the series as well. But just how well did CyberConnect2 succeed in this? We explore in our DemonSlayer: The Hinokami Chronicles review.

Gameplay: A welcoming and solid fighting game, bogged down by poor exploration and story mode

Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles features a deep but accessible fighting game. It features an initial roster of 18 characters, 12 of which are unique, with the other 6 being alternate versions of the characters, dubbed “Academy” versions. Each one of the 12 unique characters have their own unique move sets, borrowing moves from the anime and improvising where necessary. Combat is simple and straightforward: you press the ⏹ button to execute light attacks, which can be chained up to four to five times. Hitting 🔼 will unleash a special attack, a more devastating move that also depletes the player’s energy. ⏺ is used to dodge away from enemy attacks as well as to close in unto the opponent, and ❎ is used to jump.

The control scheme is simple enough to get anyone who’s never held a controller to learn how to play the game easily. However, more experienced fighters may dish out combos by hitting different combinations of the buttons, juggling opponents even in mid-air. The game’s not a button masher, either, with an emphasis on well-timed parries and dodges that rewards players by letting them counterattack immediately when the opponent is at their most vulnerable. Hitting an opponent and getting hit by them will raise a special meter. The special meter can be raised for up to three times. Pressing L2 at any point that one gauge of the meter is filled will let the player enter Boost Mode. Having a second filled gauge will let players enter Surge Mode. While in Boost Mode, the player replenishes all of their energy, increases their damage and attack speed, as well as making them more resistant to staggering. Entering Surge Mode will allow players to use as many special attacks as they want during the limited time period.

As long as the player has at least one filled gauge, the player can execute a powerful ultimate move by pressing R2, which will make the character attempt to land an attack. If it hits, a short cutscene will follow, depicting the player using their ultimate move and dealing a significant chunk of damage on the enemy. This will always empty the player’s special gauge, and the damage dealt will increase based on how many special meter gauges have been consumed.

Players can block attacks by pressing the R1 button. The defensive maneuvers in the game also has some nuanced moves that can help players outwit their opponents. Flicking the left stick towards any direction while pressing R1 will let the player attempt a parry. If they get hit by the opponent while parrying, they break the opponent’s stance and leave them vulnerable. A well-timed parry can help break off combos and open up enemies, but can also lead to disaster as it leaves a player vulnerable when the parry was mistimed. Alternatively, players can also simply flick the left stick forward while pressing R1 to attempt a light push which gives the player some space to maneuver.

Finally, fights in Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles are tag-team battles. Each player gets to bring two characters to each fight. Both characters share all of their gauges, including health, so switching between characters is mostly a tactical move to adapt to the situation with a different moveset at your disposal. Each player has a Tag bar with two gauges, which fills up over time. You can switch characters by holding the L1 button. Tapping the L1 button will summon your partner character for a quick special attack, while pressing the L1 button as you get hit will summon your partner, sweeping in to save you from further damage. The first two partner functionalities consume one gauge of the Tag bar, while the Tag Save takes up two gauges.

Each fight in Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is frantic and exciting, adapting very well the excitement you get from watching the anime. Each moment is suspenseful as you’ll have to juggle offense and defense, switching between attacking and dodging attacks depending on the situation.

The boss fights in the game’s story modes make very good use of the fighting mechanics. Iconic moments in the anime series translate very well in the 3-dimensional space of the fighting arena in-game. Being a fan of the series, getting to fight Yahaba & Susamaru in a 3D space and see their attacks get adapted to the game’s engine was exciting. It was very well-made and well thought out, making each boss battle in the game feel unique and special. The enemies you fight in story mode will switch between offense and defense as often as you do, forcing you to always be on your toes. Sadly, the design of these boss battles start and end in the story mode, as they are not playable in the game’s versus mode at all. That’s an understandable yet unfortunate development, as the demons’ skills will simply be imbalanced when played in versus mode. Still, it’s a waste since the demons’ move sets are just so well thought out and amazing that it’s a shame that you can’t play as them.

The Boss Battles are definitely the highlight of the game. However, they are inextricably tied to the game’s story mode. The Story Mode follows the anime’s story, dividing it into eight different chapters. Each chapter lasts for about thirty to forty minutes each. Story Mode is divided into two distinct gameplay: the exploration and the battles. The battles are just as satisfying as they have been described above, but the exploration segments feel more like a chore. The world you move in here is very beautiful, with set pieces that look amazing in CyberConnect’s signature art style. However, exploration feels more like filler as it mostly involves moving from one place to another, with nothing significant or worthwhile to do. At some points of your exploration, you will face random encounters of generic demons. Reaching the designated point in the level will then lead to another level, if not the boss fight.

The structure of The Story Mode feels very dragging. With its current design, it might have been better if they’ve removed the exploration segments altogether and just focused on transitions between battles and cutscenes.

Working through the Story Mode is how players will unlock new characters and content, however. With only a handful of characters unlocked at the start, you will have to force through the sluggish pace of the Story Mode if you want to fully experience everything that Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles has to offer.

Unlocking all of the characters without playing the Story Mode will be a significant grind, too. The most straightforward way is through completing the Story Mode, as new characters can be unlocked as you complete the game’s chapters. However, whatever unlockable you missed while playing Story Mode can be unlocked using Kimetsu Points, points that you earn by completing challenges and reaching milestones in the game. Most of the challenges award about 100 to 200 points each, and playing through Story Mode, you can pick up Kimetsu Points while exploring for about 50 to 200 points each. However, each new character costs a whopping 4000 Kimetsu Points. Completing challenges by playing through online multiplayer will force you to play with the game’s limited pool of characters for a long time, before even getting the opportunity to try out new ones.

Speaking of the multiplayer mode, this is where most players will get their replayability. We tried out the game’s online multiplayer, and it runs mostly smoothly, each press of a button gets registered immediately. There were times that the game would stutter or lag, but they are infrequent enough to be forgivable. It will be in the game’s multiplayer ranked mode that players’ thirst for a challenge will be sated. While the game mechanics are easy enough to learn, the skill ceiling is moderately high. It’s not the most complicated system in the world, but it offers a deep enough fighting mechanic that will leave 3D fighting game enthusiasts satisfied. Even when the online servers won’t work, the game still offers a great multiplayer mode, as offline couch gameplay is also an option.

Story

Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles‘ story is faithful to its source material in where it matters most. Demon Slayer‘s story is very gripping, very emotional, and at times also funny. However, a lot of these story beats have been removed from the main story in favor of telling a faster-paced story. This leaves most of the side-stories and back-stories to the game’s memory fragments, which players can collect throughout Story Mode. These memory fragments present side-story and back-story through old cinema-themed slide shows.

Most of Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles‘ Story Mode is fully voice-acted, including the memory fragments. All of the anime’s voice actors reprise their roles in the game, which will surely be appreciated by fans.

For longtime fans of the anime, the game’s Story Mode serves as a distilled version of the story – at best a good refresher on what happened throughout Season 1. For those new to the series, it serves as a good introduction to the anime’s major plot points. It can help bring new people into the fandom, but those who are leaving The Hinokami Chronicles and never touching other Demon Slayer media will be missing out on a lot of the game’s color, humor, and drama. Knowing that most of those picking up The Hinokami Chronicles will be longtime fans of the anime, then it’s moot at this point.

Graphics

The Hinokami Chronicles makes use of CyberConnect2’s distinct animation and art style. While the character designs still use the way they are presented in the anime, CyberConnect’s fingerprints are also all over the final product. The menus, the fonts, and the presentation style of the game all resemble CyberConnect2’s previous games, such as their work on the Naruto Ultimate Storm series.

Meanwhile, the environments you get to explore in the Story Mode do look very good. It won’t wow you on next-gen, but they’re pretty enough to merit a short stop every now and then to take in the scenery.

The special effects on the characters’ attacks are very well done, too, bringing in new life to the moves we see in the animation. The cutscenes for the ultimate moves are also well-made, making them worthwhile to watch every time you see them.

Music and Sound Design

The game borrows heavily from the anime, and that’s a good thing. Voice acting, sound cues, music, and even the sound effects for some of the anime’s gags are used in the game as well. On top of all of these, The Hinokami Chronicles makes use of dual surround sound audio, which adds additional depth to the sound design when you’re playing with compliant hardware. Playing the game with a headset helped us appreciate this feature very much, especially during exploration. Sounds that populate the world give the otherwise empty environments a hearty feel.

Accessibility

There aren’t a lot of accessibility options in the PS5 version of the game. You can map all of the buttons mentioned above, but you cannot replace them with other buttons not yet mapped, such as the R3 and L3 buttons. The game features five difficulties in the game’s vs AI mode, from Very Easy to Very Hard, but doesn’t offer any difficulty sliders in the Story Mode.

Verdict – Is Demon Slayer worth your time and money?

Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is definitely a treat for fans of the series. The game’s fighting mechanics are consistent and satisfying to play with, which makes it accessible to both new players and fighting veterans. There’s also a multiplayer mode that will extend the game’s replayability for those who really enjoy the fighting game, as well as loads of collectibles and unlockables that you can earn. However, the game’s launch state of only having 12 unique characters is an abysmal selection for a modern fighting game. CyberConnect2 promised to add six more characters in future free DLC, but 18 characters are still not that many. Granted, this is mostly a constraint of the title itself, as the anime really doesn’t have a strong selection of characters to feature.

Meanwhile, the game could be an easy pass for fighting game enthusiasts. There are obviously better fighting games out there, and your mileage will really vary depending on how much you’d appreciate the IP. While Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is best played for fans, it could also serve as a springboard for anyone looking to jump into the series. But there are cheaper and better ways to get into Demon Slayer, and it might even prove to be better for players to first watch the anime before deciding to buy the game.

Score: 6.5/10