Demon Slayer is one of the biggest properties in anime at the moment, so it isn’t surprising that it has gotten a major video game release in the form of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles. After all, if there is one thing companies are good at, its making money off things that are popular, and the success of the Mugen Train movie was a signal that there was cash to be made off of Tanjiro and friends.
So, a Demon Slayer video game was all but inevitable, but is The Hinokami Chronicles any good? That depends entirely on what you’re looking to get out of it.
A Whistlestop Tour of the Demon Slayer Story
Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles starts a few episodes into the story, with Tanjiro already in his training to tackle the Final Selection exam. It immediately throws players into a fight against Sabito to introduce the gameplay mechanics. One of the best things about Demon Slayer is the art style, which is consistently gorgeous, so the fact that the game manages to replicate that art style is impressive. The lighting effects alone really pop and the overall polish to the cutscenes is a thing of beauty.
This is a gorgeous game, with character designs that could have been ripped directly from the anime. Movements during cutscenes are a little bit stiff, but developer CyberConnect2 has recreated the anime’s look and feel to a degree that I didn’t think was possible. The cutscenes and gameplay are all impressive and well worth checking out.
The story mode takes players on a quick tour of the main plot points of the series, with small optional cutscenes popping up that fill in the gaps with still frames from the anime. You’ll walk through corridor-like environments, fighting a few demons along the way, until you reach a boss fight. Tanjiro uses his sense of smell to navigate at times and there are some nice touches to how he moves and interacts with the world that invoke a feel of the source material, but the environments are pretty basic.
If exploration isn’t going to be what draws players in, then its up to the combat to carry the slack. Unfortunately, I found the fighting mechanics pretty basic and shallow. With one button for attack and another button to dish out special moves, there is a limit to how long players can string combos together. Standard fights feel repetitive once you pick up on the visual cues for when to dodge or block. Even playing against a human opponent doesn’t vary things up for more than a few fights.
Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles retells the plot of the anime up through the Mugen Train arc from the recent movie, which will be rehashed for the upcoming season, so this game can serve as a good refresher for fans of the show. There are plenty of characters to play as once you switch to the multiplayer mode, but they all play similarly enough that they feel largely interchangeable.
As stunning as the visuals are — and as impressive as it is that both the Japanese and English casts have returned to their roles — these touches weren’t quite enough to make up for the game’s shortcomings for me. The shallow combat and limited opportunities for exploration hold the game back from its potential.
The developers succeed at making the game look and feel like Demon Slayer, but unfortunately that isn’t quite enough to make the game good enough for a universal recommendation. Hardcore fans will likely get a kick out of it, but for the more casual fans, this may be one to pick up on sale down the line.
Though, to be fair, Conor seemed to enjoy his time with the game more than I did so it might be a personal preference at play here. I am more than happy to be proven wrong.
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